Top Five Devotional Books for Tween Girls

This blog post is for all the moms of tween girls who are hoping to instill a habit of daily time with Jesus.  I have two girls ages 9 and 11.  I’ll be honest with you; most of the time I feel like I am barely pulling off this “mom” thing.

  • We rarely eat a meal at the kitchen table.  Usually we’re eating Taco Bell in the car or processed chicken nuggets on the couch while watching The Middle re-runs on the Hallmark channel.
  • After I’ve asked  my youngest to clean her room 50 times without a response I end up yelling at her and threatening to ground her from screen time for a month.  #MomFail
  • I put up job charts and forget about them.
  • I read lots of parenting books and blogs and the concepts sound great, but usually my implementation falls flat.
  • While I completely believe in the importance of consistent discipline, I don’t do it.  Half the time I don’t discipline and half the time I’m overly strict.  So I guess I am consistently 50/50.  Does that count?

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But there is one thing I think I have done a good job of and that is having a pretty consistent nightly devotional time with my girls.  (And “pretty consistent” in my house is about 70% of the time.  I call that a huge accomplishment!)  I started with they were little and some months we’ve done it almost every night.  Some stages of life I’ve been lazy and had my priorities out of whack and we’d go months without reading and praying before bed.  But we always come back to it.  My girls are the ones who usually remind me when I’ve fallen into bed exhausted.

Here are my top recommendations on devotional books for girls ages 7-12, in no particular order:

  1. The One Year Mother Daughter Devo by Dannah Gresh and Janet Mylin
  2. 3-Minute Devotions for Girls by Janice Hannah Thompson
  3. You’re God’s Girl by Wynter Pitts
  4. A Girl After God’s Own Heart Devotional by Elizabeth George
  5. The One Year Be-Tween You & God Devotions for Girls by Sandra Byrd

When my girls were a little younger sometimes I’d run across a topic that I thought was too mature, and we’d go to a different devotion, but most of them have been great for their ages.  Some examples of topics:

  • Happiness vs. Joy (A Girl After God’s Own Heart)
  • How Do I Speak Love? (You’re God’s Girl)
  • Me?  Stuck up? (3-Minute Devotions for Girls)
  • The Beatitudes:  Peacemakers (The One Year Mother Daughter Devo)
  • I’m Not Popular at School (Be-Tween You & God)

This devotional time has not only been a great opportunity to build a habit of daily time with God, but it has also opened up opportunities for discussion about what my girls are dealing with in their lives.  And when it comes down to it, that is what is the most important thing to me: teaching my girls to be more like “Mary” by spending time on what matters most.

Even if they don’t always eat healthy, have messy rooms, and unfinished job charts . . . if they are spending daily time with Jesus everything else pales in comparison.

Praying for my Husband

Several years ago I purchased The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian at the Goodwill and it was one of the best purchases I’ve made.  I love this book.  It helps me direct my prayers for my husband and each prayer is so personal and powerful.

I especially loved today’s prayer that started more for me than my husband:

“God, I proclaim You Lord over my life.  Help me to seek You first every day and set my priorities in perfect order.  Reveal to me how to properly put my husband before children, work, family, friends, activities and interests.  Show me what I can do right now to demonstrate to him that he has this position in my heart.  Mend the times I have caused him to doubt that.  Tell me now to prioritize everything so that whatever steals life away, or has no lasting purpose, will not occupy my time.”

This is my prayer for today – and hopefully every day.  I want to prioritize everything in the order it should go and keep my time and energy focused on what matters most.

P.S. One slightly embarrassing, though related, side-note:  when I was a kid we had Stormie Omartian “Exercise for Life” workout tapes.  Not VHS tapes.  Actual cassette player tapes.  I’d get my leg warmers on and do these tapes every day.  I found a YouTube copy of the cassette.  Just listing to this 80’s Christian techno makes we want to workout!

 

Book Review -Homegoing

I just finished reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  Five star book.

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Homegoing is Historical Fiction that traces the family lines of two half-sisters who never met, but at one point were both in the same “castle” – a slave castle in Ghana.  One sister was a slave in the dungeon, soon to board a ship and travel to the United States.  The other sister lived above, married to one of the men who ran the castle and sold the slaves.

(These slave “castles” still exist on the Coast of Ghana.  A picture of a slave cell is below, from the article Ghana’s Slave Castles: The Shocking Story of the Ghanaian Cape Coast)

Interior of Slave Cells - St. George's Castle - Elmina - Ghana © Adam Jones Interior of Slave Cells – St. George’s Castle – Elmina – Ghana © Adam Jones

Each chapter tells the story of one of the characters in the family line.  On one side the family tree travels in the United States from the cotton fields and coal mines in the South to jazz in Harlem in the North. The other side of the family experiences the turmoil of slavery, tribal wars and colonization in Africa.

The scars of slavery and loss run deep through both sides of the family tree, leaving a lasting imprint on each of the limbs.

Beautifully written.  Each character is fully developed in only one chapter and themes of scars, fire, water, fear and trees run through the books.

Reading the book made me long for Africa and cringe at the pain that humans have inflicted on other humans through all of humanity.

My favorite take away from the book is the name of the book that the character Yaw Agyekum wrote:  “The Ruin of a Nation Begins in the Homes of Its People,” which was based on an Asante proverb.

There is great truth in those words.

 

 

 

 

 

I kept my 2016 Resolutions . . .

I kept my 2016 resolutions . . . but the results weren’t quite what I expected.

I had very high hopes for 2016.  For the first time ever, I was being extremely intentional with my life and I was making massive changes.  My main resolutions at the beginning of 2016 were to:

  • Make a career change
  • Read through the Bible in the year
  • Minimize my personal belongings
  • Cut out things that waste time and focus on what matters most

And for the first time ever, I really stuck to my resolutions.

I quit my company that I had had for years – I let all my clients go by the end of May.  I walked away from a large source of revenue in order to cut down on stress and give myself a less crazy schedule.

I read through the Bible and used the SOAP method to journal (most days) outlined in the Divine Mentor.  I just finished Revelation yesterday morning!

I did a massive purge following Marie Kondo’s supposedly Life-Changing Magic.

By the end of the year I was finally off Facebook after many attempts.

And I really thought 2016 was going to be amazing.  That with these massive changes I thought I would start 2017 a new person with a completely new life.

It’s been a little like our trip to the Dominican Republic – lots of planning but the outcome wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for.

I’m still trying to figure out my job – and how to use my strengths in my job.  I’m not used to not being the boss.  I’m used to calling the shots and making my own schedule.  The adjustment it much harder than I imagined.  And where I thought I was going to be changing the world on a daily basis, mostly I’m still trying to figure out how to maneuver the organization’s database.

And for all the purging and the massive garage sale we held in June, my house is still a mess.  This was my kitchen when I went downstairs to reheat my day-old coffee.  I am sure Marie Kondo would be appalled.  This wasn’t her vision when she said everything should have its place . . . and the magic didn’t seem to work on me.

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I still struggle as a parent and a wife.  It is a daily struggle.  I fail and get back up.  Fail and get back up.

So what did I learn in 2016 . . . and what I am still learning?

  • The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.  And regardless of the color of the grass – whether it is green or brown – I’m what ultimately needs to change.  A change in circumstance can be a good thing.  But an internal change in me is what is going to make the difference in how I see and experience the grass, regardless of the color.
  • Having less stuff is freeing in ways, but it is also time-consuming and a never-ending process.  If you think my kitchen is bad you should see the pile of crap in my bedroom.  The lack of stuff or the accumulation of stuff won’t make or break me.  It is more about how I view my material possessions.  Am I living for stuff (whether it is the accumulation or the minimization)?  Or am I living for what really matters – God, People, Loving Others, etc?
  • Does God care about what I do for a living?  Yes, I think he does.  He cares about if I am doing my work (regardless of what it is) for his glory and that I am putting him first.  He cares if I am seeking his will and following it.  He cares about my priorities and what is in my heart.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV): Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV): Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV): In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

So do I regret making very intentional changes in 2016 and sticking to my resolutions?  Absolutely not.  Reading through the Bible in 2016 was the most serious spiritual discipline I’ve ever accomplished, and I hope it is just the beginning of a life-long dedication to daily Bible reading and application.

And for all the other changes – only time will tell how they shape my future and future generations.  I’d rather be intentional than not, but I also need to keep in mind that results might not be apparent for years to come.  And some actions won’t have the results I hoped for at all.

And as I kicked of 2017 with my morning devotions I read:

Philippians 1:6 (NIV):  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

A very comforting thought as I begin to prepare to write my 2017 Resolutions.  And even more so a reminder, that whatever I plan to do, I need to make sure the Lord is the one establishing my steps.

The Divine Mentor

I belong to “small group” at church of wonderful, funny, broken people who are all in different places on our Journey of faith.

At our 2015 Christmas party we busy playing games, eating cookies and exchanging white elephant guests when it was announced that everyone needed to vote on the next Bible study we’d be doing as a group.

With my white elephant gift in tow – a bag of quinoa and a can of mandarin oranges – I checked out the options:

  1. “Effective Parenting in a Defective World” by Chip Ingram
  2. “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard
  3. To read through the Bible in 2016

I voted for the study on parenting. I struggle as a parent.  And my husband and I have very different parenting styles.

Also, I’ve already read Renovation of the Heart previously and reading through the Bible seemed like a very daunting task.  Finding even 10 minutes a day to read the Bible has often been a losing battle for me.

The group voted and we tallied up the ballots – Reading through the Bible in a year won.

Pinterest to the Rescue

I love Pinterest.  I have a huge collection of Pins – recipes to make, places to travel, great cleaning tips, DIY projects and gardening hacks.  98% are pages I like and pin, but never attempt.  I’d much rather read about  “green” cleaning techniques and how to make mason jar crafts than actually attempt any of them.

January was quickly approaching and my group had yet to come up with a reading plan.  I decided to see if Pinterest had any ideas.

Who knew how many great Bible study ideas are on Pinterest?  From color-coding your Bible to creating a war room out of a closet, Pinterest had everything!  Before getting too distracted by the ideas on creating Bible Study baskets out of shower caddies, I discovered a Pin recommending “The Divine Mentor” by Wayne Cordeiro.

Game changer.

The basic premise of the book is that nothing has the power to transform your life like sitting at the feet of the Savior.

The book includes a reading program – I have the app – and use the Life Journal Reading Plan.  I also use the SOAP method outlined by Cordeiro:

  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer

Every morning I meet with Jesus.  I bring my coffee, Bible, journal, pen and “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian.  My phone buzzes and my You Version app tells me what I need for the day.

Every day has been a blessing. What a privilege that I have the opportunity to spend time with a Moses, David, Paul and Peter.  I have gotten to know women who have experienced so many of the same highs and lows that I experience thousands of years later.  But mostly, I have been able to read a love letter from a man who died for me.

1 Corinthians 2:13 New International Version (NIV):  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

If you are wanted to grow in your spiritual life or are struggling to find a reading plan or Bible study, I highly recommend this plan.

Will you join me in sitting with Jesus and seeing where he leads us?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV):  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Reading through the Bible Plan
The Divine Mentor

Reading PlanApp or Written Plan (there is a plan in the book as well)

Tools

  • Bible
  • Journal
  • Pen

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 New International Version (NIV):  Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.