October 2017 Posts

If God Is Saying “Go,” Why Am I Stuck Here? by Gary Bower

Tyndale Kids

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It was a beautiful July evening, back in the olden days before GPS and cell phones. The weather was perfect as we left the rustic lodge in the foothills of Appalachia. With my new bride in the seat beside me, I was enjoying gorgeous scenery inside and outside the vehicle while we drove to a special event. The winding road threaded through a dense forest of hardwoods, and with every twist and turn I became a little more unsure of my bearings. Somewhere along the way I missed a turn, and we became lost among the trees, unable to find our way out of the park. The signage was poor, and there were no hikers to ask for directions. I could have kicked myself for leaving the lodge without my park map.

As a Christian, I have a map, directions to help me navigate my way through thick forests. It’s called the Bible.

Same week, same honeymoon, different region. In a sparsely populated area known for its countless inland lakes, we found ourselves, once again, driving along a winding road, this time with a map in hand. But a few miles from our destination, around midnight, all the lights of our 1967 Plymouth suddenly went dead. We pulled over and sat in darkness wondering how to find our way, until a friendly local stopped to offer help. After hearing our situation, she said, “I know the place. Follow me.” For the remainder of the dark journey, her tail lights gave the guidance we desperately needed.

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As a Christian, I have a mentor, a guide to lead me through places that are so dark I struggle to see the map clearly. He’s called the Holy Spirit.

Moses received his directions, his map, when God spoke clear instructions to him at the burning bush and again, later, on the mountain. Moses also had a guide—his mentor—in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, so he and the people could keep going even in the dark. After all the opposition they had faced in Egypt, Moses and his people were finally making some real progress, heading down the road toward the destination God had for them. Except for one problem: They ran out of road.

You’ve probably been there. I know I have, trying to follow God’s Word and seeking Him for guidance. And just when you think you’ve received your directions and you’re heading down the path He has for you, you hit a brick wall (or in Moses’ case, a sea). There simply is no more road. The career door closed. The ministry opportunity ended. The family plan dissolved. The medical options ran out. The money dried up. You’ve taken the last step you can take, right up to the water’s edge, and the hostile army is closing in. Here’s how I describe it in my kids’ book The Hurry-Up Exit from Egypt: “[This is] the sea that made them all cry, ‘We’re trapped here like rats, and we’re all gonna die!’”

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Sometimes, I’ve found that same mentality in me. I’ve followed my map and my mentor right up to what seems like a brick wall, and here I am at the end of the road. But God had a third “m” for Moses: a miracle. While hundreds of thousands looked back at the approaching terror, Moses looked forward and watched the Waymaker make a way. God used a tremendous wind to heap up the waters of the sea like a wall on each side. Extraordinary! Truth really is stranger than fiction.

And while this was a truly incredible miracle, it was by no means the only miracle God did for His people. How about water in the desert . . . out of a rock? (Exodus 17). Or defeating an innumerable army while standing still and singing? (2 Chronicles 20). The Bible is filled with mind-blowing miracles done for the helpless in times that were hopeless. It tells us repeatedly to remind ourselves and our children of the wonders God has performed (Joshua 4:21-24; Psalm 78:2-7; Psalm 105; 1 Chronicles 16:8-12; Isaiah 43:16-19). These reminders build faith in our children. They build faith in me. And as my faith starts to swell again, I realize that, with God, not even the sky is the limit. You never know what He might do! After all, many years after He parted one sea, He simply chose to walk on top of another one.

I’m not exactly sure why my painful losses tend to be easier to recall than the incredible answers to prayer I’ve experienced. Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to tell and retell my children about God’s wonderful deeds. I can’t afford to let myself forget the miracles God did yesterday; I may be needing one tomorrow.

I’ll continue to look to my map. I’ll try to keep up with my mentor. And sometimes, when I run out of road, I’ll just have to remember to ask for a good old fashioned miracle.


Gary Bower is an award-winning author, speaker, and ordained minister. His many years of experience pastoring small children, tweens, teens, and adults have helped him develop a rare ability to touch hearts of a wide age range simultaneously. He is the author of sixteen books, including Perfect Christmas. His books have received high praise from Gary Smalley, Randy Alcorn, Chuck Bentley of Crown Financial Ministries, and the Duggar family. Gary speaks all over the Eastern United States at homeschool conventions, churches, and MOPS groups. He loves to read to his children and grandchildren.

Why I Wrote and Illustrated God Made the World by Sarah Jean Collins

Tyndale Kids

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People say that becoming a mom changes everything. I definitely found this to be true. I have always loved art and creating things, and when my daughter Campbell arrived, even this artistic area of my life was influenced. Campbell was a lot like most babies when it comes to books. She loved them from the time she could grab one and use it as a teether. As she got older, it was fascinating to see her engage with the stories I read aloud and to watch the way the artwork caught her eye. She particularly loved books that rhymed, such as Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss books, and the Madeline series. When she was about eighteen months old, I could read any line of a book, and she would be able to say the last word. Even though she could not speak in sentences, she was beginning to understand and really absorb what I was reading to her.

This is when I started to think about writing and illustrating my own children’s book. I thought it would be great if I could write a Bible story for kids that contained all the elements that really caught my own daughter’s attention. I wanted to write something geared toward her age group at the time—a story that was short enough to hold her attention span, but also memorable. I knew I would want the story to rhyme because rhyming books held her interest the most. I was nearing the completion of a degree in graphic design and had come to really love illustration. The thought of illustrating an entire children’s book seemed like a huge undertaking, but also an incredible amount of fun.

I was very excited about the idea, but I did not work up the courage to even attempt it for about six months! At this point, Campbell was two and was enjoying books even more. One day, during her nap, I decided to get started. I felt that the story of creation was the one I should tell. It seemed intuitive, not only because it is the first story in the Bible, but also because I believe it is extremely important for children today to know that God made the world. I also knew it would be both fun and challenging to illustrate this story. After I finished writing it, I immediately began working on the pictures. My goal was to make the artwork appealing to both kids and their parents. I wanted the pictures to be modern and sometimes abstract, but also colorful and childlike. Each page presented a new challenge as I tried to incorporate these elements and still effectively portray the story.

My hope for this book is that it will tell the story of how God created the world in a way that young children can begin to absorb the wonder of these events. I also hope the book is something both parents and kids will enjoy. Since I began this creative process, I’ve had another baby, a little boy named Houston. I am so excited to share this book with both of my kids, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to share it with the children who are special to you, as well!


From now through October 31, 2017, when you buy God Made the World at Tyndale.com  using the code GIVEABOOK, Tyndale House Publishers will donate a copy to kids in need. It’s that simple.


sarah-jean-collins-author-photoSarah Jean Collins is an artist and graphic designer from Bradenton, Florida. She graduated from Samford University in 2008 with a BA in history. Three years later, she decided to go back to school to pursue her lifelong love of art by obtaining an AS degree in graphic design from State College of Florida. While in school, Sarah Jean realized that she is passionate about illustration. She is inspired by minimalism, world cultures, and life on the Gulf of Mexico. In 2012, her design was used for the 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival T-shirt and poster. She and her husband, Tim, have two children.

Teach Kids About the Power of Prayer with the Prayer Monsters Series by Tracey Madder

Tyndale Kids

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My daughter, Kiera, was the inspiration behind the Prayer Monsters. Kiera suffered from bedtime anxiety when she was younger. She would come to us each night with a million worries, thoughts, and fears running through her head. I would take Kiera’s hand and lead her back to her bedroom. Then, we would discuss her worries and pray about them. I told her, “If you hand all of these worries and fears over to God, he will take care of them for you. Then, you will never have to worry about them again.”

The wonderful thing about children is their unwavering faith. Together, Kiera and I would pray. Then we would physically toss each worry up to God so he could take care of them for her. When I saw what a powerful and profound effect prayer had on my child, I knew I had to share this with other parents. Prayer completely eliminated all of her fears.

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I am often asked why I chose a monster family as the books’ characters. The reason is really a combination of things. At that time, Kiera had a fear of monsters, as most children ages four to seven do. Before turning out the lights at night, she wanted me to check under the bed and in the closet.

I also believe God placed the term Prayer Monsters in my head then basically harassed me until I used it! Just kidding! But I did feel a very strong calling by God to use the phrase Prayer Monsters. I was writing a book series for kids to help them with their fears. How could I ignore the fear of monsters? The more I thought about it, it was so wonderfully ironic.

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Why do monsters have to be scary? Why can’t monsters be friendly, lovable, and have a strong faith in our amazing God? My choice of monsters as characters has become a highly debated topic. Someone recently said to me, “No thanks, I’ll stick with veggies and bears.” That made me laugh. Aren’t bears scary? And after all, Pixar’s movie Monsters Inc. generated $577 million dollars in worldwide sales. Apparently, kids are not afraid of friendly illustrated monsters!

About a week after sitting on the Prayer Monsters idea, I attended a charity event at the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The speaker for the evening was Richard DeVos, cofounder of Amway. In his speech that evening, Richard said, “If there is someone in the audience right now that has an idea for something, go home and start on it immediately.” He said, “Don’t wait. If you wait until you know everything about how to do that idea, you will never do it. You have to learn along the way.”

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I felt immediately convicted by God and as if Richard were speaking directly to me. I had never written a book before. But I went home that evening and wrote the Prayer Monsters books. I pitched the idea to publishers a week later and had multiple offers for a book deal. I did not even have a literary agent. Truly, God had a hand in this.

Prayer Monsters is such a great book series, and I am extremely proud of it. Each book centers around a particular problem or situation a child might face, and that problem is always resolved with prayer. It could be a prayer of forgiveness, a prayer of healing, or a prayer for guidance. The objective is to teach children to pray about anything and everything!

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7).

I want kids to learn from an early age that they can go to God with everything. There are also a lot of character–building themes in the storylines. I am a mother of four children. I wrote a series I wanted my kids and future grandkids to read. And when life is difficult for my kids—no matter what age they are—I hope they always turn to God through prayer.


Tracey Madder began her career in the entertainment industry as a model, actress, and photographer. She has a BA in Communication from the University of Pittsburgh and has also worked in marketing and sales. Tracey is the owner of Super Faith LLC and Bus Stop Bible LLC, companies that create faith-based products for children. She is also the author of a children’s Bible story book and the Super Faith Blog, a Christian blog for families that inspires grown-ups and kids to “Be Super,” promoting character building and virtue. However, it is the title of stay-at-home mom that Tracey is most proud of. Married to her high-school sweetheart, Tracey has four little monsters of her own. Inspired by her daughter’s bedtime anxieties, Tracey created the Prayer Monsters to help children learn to pray and hand their worries over to God.

Teach Your Kids to Love God’s Word! by Linda Howard

Tyndale Kids

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I think all of us can admit that there are times the Bible feels a little overwhelming and hard to understand. I mean, why was God so seemingly harsh in Old Testament times? And, who in the world could follow all of the laws and edicts given to the Israelites in the early books of the Bible?

The fear of discussions like these can make us hesitant to teach our children about God’s Word. But, Scripture tells us that we are to do exactly that: Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

So, how do we overcome the fear of sharing the Bible with our kids? How do we turn opportunities to teach into a time of joy for everyone? Consider these five ideas to help you get excited about “Bible time” with your kids.


1. Teach the Bible as one overarching story of God’s love for us, not as a bunch of separate books that were thrown together. From creation to the Garden of Eden; to the flood; to Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and second coming, the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that God will go to any lengths to remind us that we have been loved from the beginning of time and will continue to be loved forever. This truth changes my perspective on sharing God’s Word with my kids and grandkids. I get excited when I am able to tell them that God has been showing His love to us since before time began. How wonderful for them to absorb this truth at a young age!

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2. Find a translation that is easy for kids to read and understand. Some versions are hard for a child to grasp. Others are easier. You know your child’s level of comprehension, so look for a translation that will meet them where they are. Personally, I love the New Living Translation. It’s written with the everyday person in mind, making it easy for all ages to read and comprehend.

3. Encourage your kids to act out Bible stories. Use dress-up clothes and other props from around the house to make the stories of the Bible come to life. As your little ones act out the stories, they engage more fully with the lessons being taught.

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4. Create songs to accompany what you are learning, or find kids’ Christian music online that recreates the events of God’s Word. Music helps us better remember what we have learned, and it is just plain fun!

5. Make collages or art projects based on favorite Bible stories. Read a story together and then let your kids loose with crayons, paints, scissors, paper, and whatever else you are comfortable with their using. Let them create their own interpretation of the Bible story on paper, and invite them to retell the story as they explain their creation to you.

Use the ideas above or think up some of your own to make “Bible time” a joy for your children. The benefits will be long lasting and life changing for your whole family!


Linda Howard is Associate Publisher for Kids and Youth products at Tyndale House Publishers. She has been with Tyndale since 2007.


character-builders-bible

The Character Builder’s Bible (Available Now!) is the perfect tool for teaching your little ones to love God’s Word!

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