Emily Bonga Posts

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.

bible-reading

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.

tally-bible-trivia-competition

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.

Enjoy!


play-dough

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

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

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!


tea-party

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!


Sources:

https://www.diynatural.com/homemade-playdough/

https://familyfoodandtravel.com/2015/08/pool-noodle-race-track.html


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

Start Your Year with a Powerful Non-Resolution by Stephanie Rische

Tyndale Kids

It’s the beginning of another new year, and I might as well make my confession now: I am terrible at resolutions.

Oh, I might make an impressive list of goals with corresponding sub-points. I might write them down in a pretty journal and even color-code them with fancy pens. But don’t be fooled. Before the Christmas decorations have had time to gather any dust, I will have forgotten all about my lofty aspirations and bullet-pointed lists.

So I’ve made a new resolution: No more New Year’s resolutions! Instead, I’m shooting for the “New Year’s for Dummies” version of goal-setting and choosing a word of the year instead. That’s right—no lists, no striving after a bunch of unattainable ideals, just a single-word theme.

The idea is that throughout the year, my heart and mind can settle on that one word and be open to what God wants to show me on that topic. This is a relief for a recovering perfectionist like me, because it offers a lot of room for grace. My yearlong quest won’t be about succeeding or failing; it won’t be about how many boxes I check off or how far off the mark I find myself come December. It will be about anticipating the transformation God is going to do inside of me in the year ahead.

As this new year begins, I’d like to invite you to join me on this adventure of non-resolutions. Whenever you can sneak in some moments of quiet—in the morning, while you’re in the car, or over a cup of coffee, ask God if there’s a word he wants you to focus on this year. And then, once you’ve settled on your word, jump in with both feet.

The beautiful thing is, there’s no wrong way to pursue your word. Maybe you’ll write the word on a sticky note and post it on your mirror or your refrigerator to recalibrate your thoughts throughout the day. Maybe you’ll read the Bible with an eye open for what God has to say on the topic. Maybe you’ll meet with a friend each month to share how you see this playing out in your life. Maybe you’ll find a book that speaks into this topic or tells the story of someone who lived out this word well. You might even have a family meeting and decide on a word of the year for your whole family.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few ideas to get you started, along with some books that go along with each theme. Some of the books are for you, some are for your kids, and some are read-alouds for the whole family. I trust that they will be good company as you pursue your word of the year.


 

story-travelers-bible-tracey-madder

 

breaking-cover-michele-rigby-assad

 

treasure-island

 

jungle-book-rodyard-kipling


 

the-giraffe-that-was-afraid-of-heights-amy-carlson

 

under-the-cover-of-light-carole-engle-avriett

 

the-red-badge-of-courage-stephen-crane


 

wow-dandi-daley-mackall

 

so-close-to-amazing-karianne-wood

 

loving-luther-allison-pittman


 

give-thanks-board-book-kathryn-obrien

 

long-days-of-small-things-catherine-mcniel

 

little-women-louisa-may-alcott

 

great-expectations-charles-dickens


 

one-year-book-of-bible-trivia-for-kids-kathy-cassel

 

oy-book-of-did-you-know-devotions-for-kids

 

chronological-life-application-study-bible


 

i-can-be-kind-amy-carlson

 

daily-acts-of-kindness-devotional

 

love-kindness-barry-corey


Once you decide on your word for the year, we’d love to hear from you. What word did you choose? How do you hope to see it play out in your life and in your family in the year ahead?

Happy 2018!


Stephanie Rische is a senior editor and team leader at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Marriage Today, and Significant Living magazine.

Stephanie is a retired serial blind dater who happily exchanged her final blind date for a husband. Since getting married, she has been reaping the benefits of having a live-in dishwasher emptier, a homemade ice cream concocter, and a humorist-in-residence. Several years into this marriage gig, Stephanie is still trying to learn the finer points of sharing the covers.

She and her husband, Daniel, live in the Chicago area, where they enjoy riding their bikes, making homemade ice cream, and swapping bad puns. You can follow Stephanie’s blog at www.StephanieRische.com.

The Secret to a Stress-Free Christmas

Tyndale Kids


Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.


girl-praying-at-sunset

She became a space.

Mary—she opens her hands and she nods.

And the promises come true in the space of her surrender—the pod of the Most High God lodging within her willing yes.

Beneath her heart—in one yielded space—beats the thrumming love of God.

There is no need to produce or perform or perfect—simply become a place for God. That is all.

Now, here, in this juncture of time and space, God chooses the inconceivable—grace.

And conceives Himself to deliver grace into the world.

Conceive: it’s not passive, but an active verb. Its root in Latin means nothing less than “to seize, to take hold of.” When grace conceives in you, you take hold of God.

woman-praying-in-field

When you are a space to receive whatever the will of God is in this moment as grace, you take hold of God. You most take hold of God when you simply receive Him in this moment taking hold of you.

Taking hold of your unsure hand.

Taking hold of your unseen needs.

Taking hold of your unknown stress.

He wants to take hold of you, to be with you. He wants to carry you, to be carried by you, to have relationship with you.

The being with is always the gift, not merely the doing for. Because God knows: relationship is the only reality; there is nothing else. The way He lives in Trinity, the way we are tethered to Him, to His Body. The way He is with us and in us; the way we make space for Christ to grow us, unfold Love in us; the way the life of Christ stirs amazing grace within.

The way anywhere you make space for someone, you become a womb for God.

woman-comforting-child

He comes to you as the exhausted man over a plate of cold food, the brushed-off kid in the hall, the loud woman peppering your patience with a thousand questions. When you slow and let your eyes fully receive theirs or your words nourish small things—anytime you’re a safe place for another soul or you open and conceive grace—you become a womb for God. Nothing is impossible with Him.

Christmas is conceived in your world when you simply receive it—however Christ and His will comes to you. When we think we’re the ones who will have to produce Christmas, we only half-wrap the notion that we think the saving of the world begins with us. There is a name for this, and it is called idolatry.

No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven,” says the one who is preparing the way (John 3:27, emphasis added).

Hear it like an echo of the heavenlies: Christmas can’t be made, like people can’t be self-made, like dreams can’t be force-made. Everything is given from heaven. Everything is gift. Your life becomes a masterpiece the moment you see it as a gift of grace to willingly receive.

woman-with-arm-outstretched

It is more blessed to give than to receive—and it may be more of a struggle to receive than to give. Christmas humbles: we are not the givers we long to be. Nor are we the receivers God woos us to be.

Mary kneels before us this first Christmas not as a woman producing, performing, or perfecting but simply bending before a God who has all the power to dispatch angels, enfold Himself in embryonic cells, choreograph the paths of stars—a God who quietly beckons every man, every woman to simply come, bend, make a space, receive.

This is the chronology of grace, the chronology of Christmas: before we’re called to give, we’re called to receive.

This can be the hardest. We struggle to receive. Sometimes we are better givers than getters. Grace? For me?

woman-staring-at-mountains

I don’t have to bring anything? I don’t have make anything, produce anything, perform anything? What if someone sees . . . how empty I am? How I am not enough, how my gifts are not enough, how giving all I’ve got is never enough? How there are empty places in me, gaping places in me—all these hollow, starving places?

And Mary nods to you in the last days of Advent. Only one thing is necessary—be a space for Love to come. You simply have to receive Love. Let yourself be loved.

Will you let Me fill all your emptiness with Love? Receive my Love? Conceive My grace?

It’s for you.

“Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace,” writes John Wesley.[i] And nothing is harder for capable people at Christmas to simply come and receive.

Don’t let this be the gift you refuse. The grace is for you.

Your greatest gift is not your gifts, but your surrendered yes to be a space for God.

woman-praying-in-snow

The miscarriage of Christmas begins when anxieties crowd out space within simply to carry Christ. Make room; be a womb. Be a womb to receive Christ everywhere, and it is He who delivers everyone.

So you let the last of the trimmings go.

Cease the pace to do, buy, produce more.

Find the calendar and erase.

Somewhere make space.

And you can feel the space become a sanctuary. Sanctity stilling the crush. Glory overshadowing everything else.

And time holds its breath, and the whirl of this old whirligig world holds for half a blink . . . and God comes in the fullness of His love into the willing space.

And time exhales relief, and the angels dance joy, and the velvet hush of grace received falls over this place like a coverlet over a waiting child.



Take ten today. Ten minutes. Make five minutes of space and stillness and silence just with God. Then make five minutes of space in your day for someone else, and let that person fill all your attention. Invite God and His love to indwell you today.



[i] David L. Larsen, The Evangelism Mandate: Recovering the Centrality of Gospel Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1992), 155.


from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.

2014 “Christian Retailing’s Best” award winner!
In what is sure to become an instant holiday classic, Voskamp reaches back into the pages of the Old Testament to explore the lineage of Jesus via the advent tradition of “The Jesse Tree.”

Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ.

Sure to become a holiday staple in every Christian home, The Greatest Gift is the perfect gift for the holidays and a timeless reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.


Learn more about exciting new ways to celebrate this Advent season with your family! >>