Emily Bonga Posts

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.


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.


Help Your Tween Girl Avoid the Comparison Game by Sherry Kyle

Tyndale Kids

When was the last time you heard your tween girl compare herself with others?

Maybe the person she is comparing herself to is better at sports, gets better grades, or has more friends. Or maybe she has perfect hair, flawless skin, and can sing and dance.

Maybe your daughter feels like a loser with a capital L.

Most of the time, tween girls feel awkward in their bodies and hope their BFF still wants to be friends. Most of the time, tween girls want to know they are loved.

How do you help your daughter in times like these? How do you help her understand God’s unconditional love?

  • As a parent, before you can do anything for your daughter, you need to understand God’s unconditional love for yourself. When you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you will understand the sacrifice he made for you—and for your girl.
  • Next, show your daughter how much you love her. If you love your child during the good times and the frustrating, get-on-your-last nerve times, you are telling her that nothing she does will make you love her any less. By loving her through thick and thin, you are showing God’s unconditional love.
  • Finally, get your daughter connected. Are you part of a church? Are there people in your daughter’s life who can speak God’s unconditional love to her? Do you have books for her to read that encourage and inspire?

Love, Lexi: Letters to God is an award-winning and exciting devotional experience for girls ages eight through fourteen. Each entry starts with a fictional letter to God from seventh-grader Alexis Dawn Cooper, a.k.a. Lexi, who humorously shares with God what’s going on in middle school and her life.

Love, Lexi: Letters to God also includes responses directly from God’s Word, short devotional thoughts, and journaling pages for your daughter to share her story.

Your tween girl will discover, along with Lexi, that when she compares herself with others, it’s easy to feel like she doesn’t measure up. She’ll always be able to find someone who she feels is better than her in some area. But God created her special and one-of-a-kind, and He loves her just the way she is—with her unique looks, talents, and personality. God loves her hair, the shape of her nose, the color of her skin, and the sound of her laugh. Your tween girl is made in God’s image and exactly how He designed her to be.

By the end, Lexi learns to seek God first above all else. And by reading Love, Lexi: Letters to God, your daughter will contemplate her own special place in God’s eyes.

Sherry Kyle has written several books for tween girls, along with women’s fiction. Her award-winning book for tween girls, The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, was awarded the God Mom’s Choice Award. Her second nonfiction book for girls, The Girl’s Guide to Your Dream Room, was nominated for the Christian Retailers Best Awards.


Tips for Memorizing Scripture in the New Year by Kathryn O’Brien

Tyndale Kids

The thing about New Year’s Resolutions is, well, they get old pretty quickly. No matter how resolute we feel on the first of January, most of us seem to lose that resolve by the time February rolls around. We should probably start calling them New Year’s Considerations. Or how about New Year’s Not Very Likelys!

With so many worthy resolutions out there, from getting healthy to getting organized, from spending less money to reading more books, why do we lose our drive? Why do we give up? Why do great intentions that start with such sparkle end up fizzling so fast?

Even the most worthy aims, the resolutions that would have the most valuable consequences for our families, can get lost in the busyness of a new year, new activities, new stress. One such goal, one that is bound to have significant implications on our children, is Scripture memory. Committing to learning and memorizing Bible verses is a resolution that goes far beyond dropping a dress size or growing our savings account; it’s a goal that could have an impact on the rest of our kids’ lives.

Knowing how slippery those New Year’s resolutions can be and that some goals, such as Scripture memory, are worthy of our very best effort, consider these ideas as we head into 2018. They are tips for making Bible verses stick the whole year through.

Make it a family affair. Instead of announcing Mom’s good idea or declaring that Dad made a decision, invite children into a discussion of valuable goals for the new year. Ask them for input, which will provide accountability for everyone involved, then write a resolutions list together. Suggest Scripture memory as one of the family goals, and together list reasons why this is a worthy task. Open the discussion, and lead your kids to think about the value of learning God’s Word.

Keep it simple. Instead of the huge, sweeping resolutions that tend to get overwhelming and eventually left behind, make Bible memory happen in small, doable, and therefore, more realistic steps. Especially for younger children, be sure to choose a reasonable list of shorter verses (I suggest one per month to start), rather than a multitude of lengthy or extensive Scripture verses. Looking for a place to begin? Check out Psalm 46:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 4:32, Luke 6:31, and Proverbs 3:5.

Plan it out. A great idea fades quickly without practical steps to put it into action. So the next time you’re out, pick up a 2018 monthly calendar then pull out the colored markers. Ask your kids to help you choose one color for marking the introduction of a new verse, another color for practice, and a separate color for checking progress. Add some variety to the schedule by reserving a few dinners each week for practicing together, or save the weekends for solely reviewing past verses. As they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish!

Get a helping hand. There are many ways to make the commendable goal of memorizing Scripture a bit less daunting and a lot more lasting. Kids can create personal reminders by making Bible verse bookmarks or posters for the fridge. Use seasonal progress charts to keep track of the family’s progress. (Tyndale House Publishers offers several darling designs.) Ask relatives or friends to assist with accountability by checking in regularly. And be sure to reward all growth, big or small, with a fun family outing or a special meal.

So this year, let’s hear it for resolving to keep our resolve in keeping a great resolution! And instead of letting our desire for Scripture memory disappear with the melting snow, guide your kids in hiding God’s Word in their hearts for a lifetime!

To help even the youngest children get their first start on memorizing Scripture, check out Kathryn O’Brien’s Sit for a Bit series from Tyndale, coming soon in board book version!


Ways to Learn More Bible Truths as a Family This Year by Kathy Cassel

Tyndale Kids

For many of us, the ink is barely dry on our New Year’s resolutions; yet within a few weeks, those same resolutions are forgotten or ignored. The motivation has worn off, and the newness of the year is past. We skip the morning run and eat that dessert we swore off.

While those resolutions may be important, the best resolution we can have is to get into God’s Word in the new year—individually, and also as a family.


It is crucial that we have personal time for Bible reading and prayer so we can grow in our faith and be the role models God plans for us to be for our children. Yet, it is also vital to establish a time to dig into God’s Word as a family.

If the thought of a family devotion time causes dread or anxiety, you might be making it too hard or overthinking the matter. While family time needs to be a daily priority, it doesn’t have to be a long, formal time. Set aside fifteen minutes each day to plug into God’s Word.

Make it fun to learn more about the Bible. You can do this by using The One Year Book of Bible Trivia for Kids, which will help you teach your children something new about the Bible every day. Even though the book is geared for youth, it’s appropriate for the whole family. You might learn something new too!

Each devotion starts with a trivia question about the Bible. Begin the year in the book of Genesis and end with Revelation. Since the devotion starts with a question, it might be fun to read the opening trivia question to your children in the morning (or write it on a white board) and let them figure out the answer before you meet at dinnertime or in the evening to read the devotion. Or if you prefer to have your family devotions in the morning, give the children the question the night before and encourage them to find the answer by morning.


Some of the answers may be obvious, but others may be about Bible people or places that are unfamiliar. If children are reluctant to take part, make it a competition. You can have your children write their answers on a piece of paper and give them to you. Tally the right answers during the week, and have a prize at the end of the week for the child with the highest number of correct answers or for everyone who reaches a prearranged number of correct answers.

No matter what other resolutions you make this year, set a goal as a family to get into God’s Word each day to learn something new.

Katrina (Kathy) is author of several Tyndale books, including The One Year Devotions for Girls Starring Women of the Bible and the One Year Book of Bible Trivia. She’s also the author of The Christian Girl’s Guide to Being Your Best, The Christian Girl’s Guide to the Bible and several other books for the teen/tween audience. Katrina has a BS degree in elementary education from Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana, and a M.Ed. with a reading specialty from The University of North Dakota. Katrina has worked with children of all ages in a variety of educational and church settings. She and her husband have eight children and live in Panama City, Florida.



To learn more about Kathy, find her on Facebook, or visit her at her website, www.kathycassel.com.

Seven Snow Day Activities for Endless Indoor Fun by Emily Bonga

Tyndale Kids

When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember the excitement of the phone ringing bright and early after a night of intense snowfall. Mom or Dad would answer the phone, and their face would say it all: We had a snow day! A whole day of freedom from schoolwork was a dream come true for my little, elementary-aged self; but I’m sure my parents were wondering how we would pass the time on these completely-unanticipated, stuck-inside kind of days. They would have loved a list of outside-the-box activities for me and my sisters that provided fun, active alternatives to watching television all day.

Below are seven interactive, indoor activities for your little ones the next time a snow day blows into town.



Make Your Own Play Dough—Play dough can be made from just four ingredients that are typically found in the home—flour, salt, warm water, and food coloring. Not only will your kids enjoy making the play dough with you, but they’ll also love using it to make their own creations after the mixing is finished! Click here to find an article that not only has a recipe for creating your own play dough, but also suggests various household items your children could use while playing with the dough.


Story Travelers Bible Game—In The Story Travelers Bible, the Story Travelers, Lana Griffin and Munch, hop on an extraordinary bus and take a tour through some of the greatest stories in the Bible. The kids watch Noah build his ark, see Moses discover the burning bush, and stand on the shore as John baptizes Jesus.

Your kids can become Story Travelers, too, with the free, downloadable Story Travelers game! In this game, players must act out Bible events to make it to the finish line. You can make the game as long or as short as you want by printing out extra blank spaces. The game could go over furniture, under tables, or up stairs! The possibilities are endless with this story-traveling adventure.


Hot Chocolate—Who doesn’t love a cup of hot cocoa on a cold, snowy day? Here’s a list of fun mix-ins for your kids to add to their cocoa to make it snow-day-special:

  • Candy Canes (which double as stirring sticks for anything else you may be mixing in!)
  • Marshmallows
  • Colored Sprinkles
  • M&M’s or other chocolate candies
  • Whipped cream
  • Hershey’s chocolate syrup and/or caramel sauce
  • Pirouettes (which can also be used to stir)

Pool Noodle Race Track—Do you have a pool noodle in your garage or attic from summer days spent poolside or at the beach? Repurpose it into a racetrack for marbles or matchbox cars and enjoy the racing fun! Click here for materials you’ll need to get started and for instructions on how to set up your track.

your-magnificent-chooserYour Magnificent Chooser ActivitiesWe all have choices to make each day, even the youngest children. The choices we make play a large part in forming who we grow to be as adults. In Your Magnificent Chooser, author John Ortberg whimsically addresses the ability to make choices, inviting children to use the “magnificent chooser” that God gave them to make right choices every day.                                                            

Lots of free resources are available for you and your children as you apply the concepts found in the book Your Magnificent Chooser! Click on the links below to check out these various activities.

Create a Blanket Fort—Forts are warm, cozy spaces that are perfect for playing pretend, reading books, or sharing your favorite stories. Using extra sheets, blankets, couch cushions, or pillows that you have on hand, help your child create a blanket fort. When we made them in our house, we would pull out the kitchen chairs and use those to build the “outline” for our forts. Clothespins were clipped to the linens to close gaps between blankets or sheets. Be sure to have a flashlight on hand if your child will be reading inside the fort!


Throw a tea party—Growing up, my sisters and I had a little, plastic tea-party play set that would keep us entertained for hours. Each time we threw a tea party, we would fill the teacups to the brim with “tea” (usually water from the tap!) and don our fanciest dress-up clothes as we sat cross-legged on the family room floor enjoying our oh-so-fancy snack that usually consisted of Goldfish crackers or pretzels. Tea parties provide a great way for your kids to exercise their imagination while also honing their etiquette skills!

Here’s to a future snow day full of creative, playful fun!




Emily Bonga is the Marketing and Publishing Coordinator for the Tyndale Books team.