August 2017 Posts

Help Your Child Discover the Power of Words

Tyndale Kids

The 101 Commandments of School

Not so long ago, I visited schools across the United States, asking kids questions. I put their answers into a book and called it The 101 Commandments of School.

I learned a lot about school, about kids, and about words. My favorite commandment was, “Thou shalt not suck on a marker. . . . The color will come off on your teeth . . . so everyone will know you did it. Plus, they don’t really taste that good.”

School Days, School Days, Dear Ol’ Golden Rule Days

I love words. I make my living with words. So does my husband. Words have power when strung together in just the right way.

But when misused, words can hurt. Forget that nonsense about sticks and stones breaking bones and words being incapable of inflicting pain.

Dropping off a child at school can feel like turning that child loose in a pool of alligators, if not sharks.

It’s not hard to detect a big bully who’s looking for a fight. But emotional bullies come in all shapes and sizes, armed with invisible, sharpened words. And sometimes, emotional bullies come in the form of our own kids.

As you get ready to send your children off to school, think back to when you were their age.

Did you ever get called a name? Did you ever call someone a name—just teasing? Skinny, Fatty, Shorty, Dummy, Airhead, Hick, or something worse? I’ve been called all of the above, always accompanied by laughter. Usually, I laughed along . . . but not always.

Just Sayin’

I used to be master of sarcasm, saying one thing, but meaning another. I thought I was so funny, and so did my school “audience.”

To someone with a new haircut, I might say, “Is this weird-hair day? I must have missed the memo.”

About someone who failed a math test, I might comment, “He’d fail a taste test” or “Brains aren’t everything . . . and in your case, they’re nothing at all.”

Just joking. But joking with an ounce of truth is a recipe for hurt feelings.


I cringe recalling words I misused for a laugh at another’s expense. But those painful memories spurred me to write Just Sayin’, a novel for school kids. In that book, my main characters write letters to each other and enter a contest: “The Last Insult Standing.” (They love words too much to text.) In the process, they come to understand the power of words and the emotional pain of insults.

Emotional pain can be replayed and refelt for years. Not so with physical pain. If sticks and stones broke your bones in second grade, you may remember what happened and recall that your body hurt. But physical pain can’t be felt again.

On the other hand, if someone called you “Loser!” when you struck out at recess, you may still feel that hurt whenever you come to the plate. Hurtful words can stick with us for the rest of our lives. James 3:5 warns, “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”

The Right Words

Thankfully, words are also powerful when used the way God intended. Words are gifts. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus is called “the Word!” The apostle John begins his book, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Hopefully, our children won’t be emotional or physical bullies. But there’s more. We can challenge our kids to be encouragers and to speak up when others are being teased or bullied.

Paul wrote the Ephesians,  “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).

Word Power

As our kids go back to school, they go equipped with hundreds of words. Make sure they know how to use them.

Psalm 19:14 is a great back-to-school prayer for parent and child: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of over 450 books for children and adults. She visits countless schools, conducts writing assemblies and workshops across the United States, and presents keynote addresses at conferences and young author events. She is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and has made dozens TV appearances. She is has won several awards for her writing, including the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature and a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Joe, their three children, and their horses, dogs, and cats. Visit her at

Tyndale Kids New Release Giveaway!

Tyndale Kids



Enter below for your chance to win 5 great books on…


Sharing the Gospel with young children:

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


Learning great communication skills: 

Girl Talk Guy Talk by Jesse Florea & Karen Whiting

Just Sayin’ by Dandi Daley Mackall



Answering kids’ questions about God and how the world works:  

Does God Take Naps? by Crystal Bowman & Teri McKinley

Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? by Crystal Bowman & Teri McKinley



These recent releases & more products from Tyndale Kids are available in bookstores and online! Head to to learn more.

Tyndale Kids New Release Giveaway

The Promise of Breeze Hill Mississippi Gift Basket Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Pam Hillman’s latest novel, The Promise of Breeze Hill, we’re giving away this fantastic gift basket!


Win this Mississippi Themed gift basket filled with Southern goodness including 2 fabulous dessert recipes!  Fill out the Gleam form below to enter, and follow the directions to earn extra entries. The winner will be chosen on 8/20!
The Promise of Breeze Hill Mississippi Gift Basket Giveaway

More about The Promise of Breeze Hill:

Natchez, MS; 1791
Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.

The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.

Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe? LEARN MORE HERE>>

Freedom’s Ring Boston Themed Gift Basket Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Heidi Chiavaroli’s new novel, Freedom’s Ring, we’re hosting this exciting giveaway!

Win this Boston themed gift basket filled with goodies from this historical city.  All you have to do is fill out the Gleam form below, sign up Heidi’s e-newsletter, follow the directions to earn extra entries and you’re entered to win!

Freedom’s Ring Boston Themed Gift Basket Giveaway

More about Freedom’s Ring:

Boston, 2015
Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated—plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770
As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender.  LEARN MORE HERE>>

Girl Talk, Guy Talk: Communication Tips for Teens

Tyndale KidsDo you remember what it was like to walk up to a person you liked during high school? You wanted to say the right thing, smile the right smile, and make a good impression.

That sounds easy enough; but it wasn’t. Whether it was getting tongue-tied, being self-conscious about our braces, or sweating uncontrollably, communicating with the opposite sex didn’t come naturally for many of us. And relationships haven’t gotten any easier.

Sure, communication is done more with a thumb than with the tongue these days. But the teens in your life still need help building their confidence in communicating.

Healthy relationships start with communication. Encourage teens to go beyond text messages with real conversations. Reinforce the skills they have and help them grow as communicators through practical skill development:

  • Converse with them authentically.
  • Model great communication skills when they are in your presence.
  • Ask them to share their dreams.
  • Let them know you’re happy to be a sounding board for their problems.
  • Encourage them with words of acceptance, affirmation, and approval when they demonstrate positive attributes and actions.
  • Ask them to tell the best, the funniest, and the worst things that happened during the past week.

The teens you know want to connect. They may have lots of “friends” on social media, but studies show most teens feel disconnected. No amount of electronic communication can replace face-to-face conversation. Give the teens you know a gift by encouraging deeper relationships through authentic communication.

We’ve included some conversation starters you can share with teens you know and love. See if they think these ideas would help them get to know a guy or girl they like.

For Guys:

Little Things Matter

Baseball sluggers grab highlights on SportsCenter with 400-foot bombs that fly over the fence. But the World Series is not usually won by a team of power hitters.

It’s the little things that matter in baseball. Laying down a bunt to advance a runner into scoring position and playing a step closer to third base to cut off an extra-base hit can lead to victory. And just like the little things matter in baseball, those things also matter to girls. Hitting a home run with an awesome “promposal” can be a nice highlight. But girls prefer guys with a good batting average, so try to hit a lot of singles and doubles with these ideas:

  • Compliment a girl when she changes her hairstyle = A single
  • Walk to the door instead of texting that you’re at her house = Another single
  • Deliver a favorite candy bar to celebrate that she made the musical = A double
  • Write a note to tell her that you respect her and the way she loves God = Another double!

If you constantly swing for the fences, you’ll strike out a lot. Going for base hits makes you somebody a girl can count on. So be consistent in showing kindness. When you do the little things, you’ll set yourself up for big-time success.


For Girls:

Food Thoughts

Great generals from history have said that an army marches on its stomach. Teen guys definitely do. Guys walk in the door after school, sniff the air, and then shout, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

When it comes to meeting and getting to know a guy, it’s good to mix food with fun. Try these ideas:

  • Make some cookies or brownies, bring them to school, and whisper, “Anyone hungry?” Instantly, a pack of guys may surround you.
  • Make plans with a few girls to cook a meal at your house and invite some guys to be the tasters. If you cook it, they will come.
  • Plan a youth group activity with food and watch the guys line up . . . and say thanks.
  • Ask a guy to name a few favorite foods, and watch his expression as he describes a special meal or treat. Just thinking about food gets a guy going.
  • Snap a photo of what you’re cooking, post it on Instagram, and ask who wants a sample.

Food is also important in the Bible. You’ll find that food, celebrations, and miracles often went together. Food breaks down barriers and makes things fun.

By enjoying some food together, you can relax more and simply talk. Just be sure you don’t eat and talk at the same time!

Related scripture

Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people! (Proverbs 18:16)

girl-talk-guy-talk-jesse-florea-karen-whitingCheck out Girl Talk Guy Talk: Devotions for Teens, the latest book from Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting. These fast-paced devotions will give the teens you know biblically based insights to help both guys and girls better understand and communicate with each other. Various styles of devotions, including stories, checklists, quizzes, fact-based news, text messages, and skill-building tips will encourage and equip young girls and guys to understand how the opposite sex is wired and how to best relate with them.



Karen Whiting is an author and speaker with thirteen published books, and hundreds of articles and short pieces for over four dozen publishers including Focus on the Family Magazine and Christian Parenting Today. She was a contributing writer for Focus on Your Child 2008-2009, writes a quarterly article for Enrichment Journal for pastors and leaders of the Assemblies of God, a quarterly column for Discipleship Ideas magazine, and writes a family page for a monthly denominational newspaper. Whiting has also been the community producer and host of the television series, Puppets On Parade, for Miami educational TV. Whiting has a heart for families and encourages families to connect and live more fully for God. She is a mother of five, and a grandmother.

Jesse Florea has worked at Focus on the Family for nearly twenty years. For more than fifteen, he’s been the editor of Focus on the Family Clubhouse (for boys and girls ages eight to twelve). He’s also worked as the associate editor of Breakaway magazine (teen boys) and developed and edited the Growing Years Edition of Focus on the Family magazine and the Focus on Your Child’s Tween Ages newsletter. He earned bachelor and master’s degrees in communications from Wheaton College, Ill. Additionally, Jesse has written or co-written seven books (including The One Year Sports Devotions for KidsAdventures of Average Boy: Growing Up Super Average, The One-Year Devos for Sports Fans and The One-Year Everyday Devotionswith Tyndale House Publishers). He lives with his wife, Stephanie, and two teenagers, Nate and Amber, in Colorado Springs.