jesse florea Posts

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

Tyndale Kids


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.


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].


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.


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 Kids New Release Giveaway!

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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



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Tyndale Kids New Release Giveaway

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.

Devotional Success With Your Child by Joshua Cooley


The tree is lying dead by the curbside for pickup, its brown needles falling away at the slightest touch. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” has mercifully disappeared from the radio airwaves for another eleven months. And you’re wondering who’s going to finance all the batteries that your kids’ new toys and gadgets require.

Yes, you survived another holiday season. Well done! But you might be thinking to yourself, “Now what?” Well, now is the perfect time to begin a devotional plan with your child!

Perhaps that seems a bit intimidating to you. Maybe you’ve never done it before, and you’re not exactly sure what to do or how to do it. Fear not! You just conquered Black Friday shopping, endless eggnog, and mall Santas. You can do anything.

Leading your family devotional time isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of intentionality. Here are seven keys to success:

breakfastTiming is everything.

  • Every family’s schedule is different. Find a time of day that works for your family and make it devotional time. For example, it could be during breakfast, dinner, or right before bedtime. Just make sure it works for everyone and is free of distractions.


Be consistent.

  • Kids thrive on routines, so when you pick a devotional time, stick to it. If you model consistent, faithful time with the Lord, your family will see the value you place on dedicated moments in the Word and certainly reap spiritual benefits.

Make it fun!

  • Devotional time shouldn’t feel like a trigonometry exam to your kids—or to you! If your kid senses it’s drudgery to you, it will become drudgery to them. So make devotions enjoyable! Be creative. Don’t do the same thing every day. Show them you’re excited about worshiping God with them, and they’ll follow your lead!

Accommodate your child’s learning style.

  • Each child’s personality and learning style is different. My ten-year-old is a classic, overachieving firstborn. She loves to read and learn. If she could, she’d probably bring New Testament Greek commentaries and a Bible concordance to our nightly devotionals. My third child, on the other hand, is a sweet little pixie, flitting through life without a care. So I often do separate devotional times for them that look completely different. It takes more time, but the payoff is well worth it.

Allow time for Q&A.

  • Remember: Devotional time with your child is not a sermon. It’s two-way communication. A young mind is an amazing processing plant of knowledge. Give your child an opportunity to ask questions and work through what they’re learning.

Don’t forget to pray.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” Modeling prayer for your child is an important part of parenting, so strive to show your child how to speak to their Heavenly Father. Here are some suggestions to do this:
    • prayingMemorize the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 together and walk them through what it means.
    • Pray as your child listens to you.
    • Have your child repeat what you say in prayer.
    • When your child feels comfortable, have him/her pray on their own.
    • If you have multiple kids, go around in a circle and give thanks to the Lord for specific things.
  • But whatever you do, pray without ceasing!

Keep your times gospel-centric.

  • Above all, make the glorious good news of God’s salvation through Jesus the focal point of your devotions. The entirety of Scripture points to Christ. As 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” When you think your child has heard the gospel enough, share it again. They can never hear it enough!

Hopefully, these tips will help spark a successful devotional time in your home. If you’re looking for devotional books to go through with your child, there are plenty of great options available. May I suggest my latest book, The One Year Devotions With Jesus? As a 365-day devotional that walks kids through comprehensive biblical Christology at a pre-teen/teen level, it’s an easy-to-use tool for your family. And there’s no better time to begin than at the turn of the calendar since the book is set up, starting on January 1, to chronologically take them through Jesus’ pre-incarnate state all the way to his second coming. It’s not too late to pick one up!

You can also check out my other children’s devotionals, the Heroes of the Bible Devotional and The One Year Sports Devotions For Kids. But whatever you choose, I encourage you to spend time with your child in God’s Word. Unlike endless eggnog and Mariah Carey holiday songs, you won’t regret it!



cooley_josh_01Joshua Cooley is the children’s minister at Chapel Hill Bible Church (North Carolina). You can learn more about Joshua and his books on his website, You can also follow Joshua on Facebook and Twitter.