Sunday, September 11, 2011

God Bless America 9-11-01 Tribute

September 11 is this generations “Pearl Harbor.” It is an indelible mark on the collective conscience of America…a wake up call to help us all recognize that freedom is not free. Indeed, it is very costly. God Bless America.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review of SAT Prep Course by James Stobaugh

One of the lovely privileges afforded to me as a writer for Homeschool Village is that of occasionally reviewing educational curriculum for the homeschool market. Having two high schoolers currently in the house and another two rising students on their tails, the opportunity to review the following SAT Prep Course was very appealing to me.
SAT Prep course
SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student
by Dr. James Stobaugh Published by the great folks at New Leaf Publishing under their Master Books division. Interested in getting your own copy? Visit their website by clicking here.
What this course is:
This is a SAT preparatory course intended to be used over the course of several years. There is some flexibility in that plan, however the author feels very strongly that vocabulary knowledge (i.e. a very strong vocabulary) has the potential to make or break your SAT score. He asserts, and I agree, that an individual cannot ‘cram’ for vocabulary development and expansion, you must gradually build it.
It is recommended for High School students and if you choose to use the three year plan, you would start your student in 9th grade. There is also a two year plan and an accelerated one year plan. Having both a Junior and a Freshman in my family, we are planning on using both the accelerated and more relaxed recommended schedule.
How this course is laid out:
The book consists of 150 lessons. How quickly your student would cycle through them depends on which schedule your family would choose. Every lesson consists of an opening scripture and devotional followed by an application question or action point. Next, the students are instructed to keep a devotional journal. Instructions for journaling and a list of possible target scriptures are included in an appendix in the back of the book. Next, students are instructed to read 30-50 pages from a recommended book in the reading list. As they read, they should be keeping track of any vocabulary words they do not know for further study and review.
At this point the lesson changes from day to day. It may contain a critical thinking question, with the emphasis varying between comparison, analysis, essay, classification, facts/inferences/opinion and many more.  It may contain a critical reading question (a practice reading comprehension question containing a passage to read and a multiple choice question). Some also feature grammar, sentence completion, vocabulary matching, or math questions to solve.
Huge parent help: answers and solutions to the questions are found in the back of the book. 
The sidebar is rich with hints and tips for test-taking, improving study skills and habits, good books to read, author insights into the SAT, and inspirational quotes.
The back of the book is full of additional resources. There is a recommended book list as well as a sample reading journal page. (The students should be reading challenging literature and keeping a reading journal as they finish each book.) A list of test-taking strategies, as well as an entire section devoted to “the maze of college admission” complete with fifty different examples of college admission essays. 
What I thought:
Personally, I was very impressed with this course. As a Christian homeschool mom, I loved the emphasis on keeping a devotional journal and the assertion that having such Spiritual discipline will serve you will in all the areas of your life. It’s so true and very nice to have someone other than “mom” impress that upon the kids.
The questions and exercises were meaty and challenging, but the author emphasizes (in more than one place) that while these questions are hard and the test important, your value is not determined by your score. How very refreshing and wise to remind students who are studying for such a difficult exam that their worth isn’t tied to their performance. Loved that!
I will say that the questions seemed so challenging that I could easily see how the one year accelerated course will be very weighty for my older student. I would strongly encourage using the longer suggested (and author recommended) schedule as that is a pace that I believe would be just challenging enough, but not overwhelming.
The book list was a great resource for helping parents find a great cross-section of challenging and appropriate literature for their students to read. Some titles I was familiar with, some I had never read. The author assembled this list to offer a list that would help build students vocabulary as well as be interesting to read. I am looking forward to expanding my boys reading lists past the sci-fi genre. =)
I would heartily recommend this course to any Christian family looking for a unique way to prepare for the SAT. Instead of practice tests and a “500 best words” list, the author used his 30+ years of coaching students for this test and has prepared a very sound, day to day study guide approach to preparing for the test. If you have high schoolers in your home, you won’t be disappointed in this course.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Elected Officials, Personal Bias, and Discrimination

The last few days have been packed with drama and emotion. Here in our local county, the School Board had before them the issue of allowing homeschoolers access to public school athletic teams. My husband wrote a great blog post urging them to allow access and addressed it to the school board. A local university grad student was at the workshop where this issue was discussed and wrote and open letter to the board disassembling the arguments they offered in the workshop. For a look at the illogical, irrational and ludicrous statements offered (that the student very eloquently rebutted)and to get a feel for the tone of that meeting, be sure to read his article/blog post. It was published as a letter to the editor in Sundays paper.

I personally do not have a student in secondary school who wants to play, but as a leader in the local homeschool community as well as someone invested in the furthering of our cause everywhere, I took a personal interest. I came away from both the workshop and the actual board meeting itself irritated, aggravated, frustrated, angry, belittled, and feeling very discriminated against. I pay taxes into this local economy, just like every other law abiding citizen. My taxes entitle me to certain rights or benefits in this community. Just because I choose not to take advantage of all the benefits extended to me should not necessarily exclude me from the rest. To be excluded from benefits I pay for because I don't choose the whole package is nothing less than discrimination. Pure and simple.

If my tax dollars should open the door for those benefits, which in this case was access to public school athletics, what stands in the way? The elected officials that serve on the school board. At the Tuesday workshop meeting, there was certainly a prejudice present among certain members of the school board. The discussion, while not supposed to center around the 'merit of educational choice' but rather the equal access homeschoolers ought to have to athletics, repeatedly cast doubt on the process of homeschooling, questioned both ability and results of teachers (parents) and suggested that regardless of our tax dollars, our educational choices made us ineligible for inclusion in sports programs. There was no real logic in the vehement opposition to homeschooling and sports inclusion voiced at that meeting. While I understand that they are the 'stewards' of the public school system in Bradley County, I believe forward thinking folks should begin to recognize that there is 'more than one way to skin a cat.' The education of ones children is a highly complex and personal decision. We are blessed to live in a country where we can pursue a variety of educational options and find the perfect fit for our children and families. Public schooling isn't wrong or inferior, just different! However, the reality is that there are some on the school board and in administration who are vehemently anti-homeschool and decidedly pro-public school. As elected officials, shouldn't they be more open minded? Isn't it their duty to represent all their constituents?

That's probably what frustrated me the most...the clear personal bias that colored many remarks as well as the ultimate decision the board handed down. If we're honest, that equals nothing more that pure discrimination. I understand that everyone brings their world view to the table and we all have experiences that shape our perceptions and opinions. However, I believe that part of being an adult is being willing to take in new information as it becomes available and changing my viewpoint if the new information calls for it. In this case, new information was presented to the school board in many ways...via e-mail, by letters and phone calls and even by personal appointments with administration. Yet the personal bias many on the board held prior to these meetings was held to so tight fistedly, that some were willing to tell outright lies to defend their position. That does not show open-mindedness or even a willingness to engage in an exchange of shows a juvenile predisposition to bullying in order to get your own way. I really expected more out of my elected officials.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Should homeschoolers be allowed to play public school sports?

You'd think Tim Tebow would have changed a lot of minds on this issue...but alas, here in my little corner of the world, the school board is voting this week on whether to allow it or not.

I attended the school board meeting both to show solidarity with other local homeschoolers and to get an education on how our school board feels about homeschoolers. Boy did I get educated!

Part of the problem stems from an 'us vs them' mentality. You cannot go into a meeting with the people who steward the local school system and imply that while you have nothing against public education, your choice to home educate somehow makes you better than them. We know that the statics bear it out...and any educator who thinks long and hard about how students with personal tutoring attention excel would have to concede that the *way* homeschoolers are educated (lots of personal attention and tutoring) would naturally be reflected in higher test scores. However, I believe the merits of educational choice should NOT have entered the argument yesterday.

Instead, the talking points should have centered around the principle of discrimination going on here. We pay taxes to support the local economy...our taxes go into all kinds of different community programs...the library, the roads, the parks and recreations system and the schools. Now granted, they (the schools) are not getting *extra* money because our children are not enrolled, but we are still paying for the facilities they use for school. It's also important to note that the school board is comprised of elected officials. I want my representative to be aware that even though they sit on the board for the public school system, the decisions they hand down have the potential to affect ALL students in their district. I believe votes were won and lost yesterday!!

The point that they get tax money from us, but they do not get *extra* enrollment money comes into focus here: The school system is already required to offer help, counseling or intervention programs for 'special needs' homeschoolers. Those kids are not enrolled either, yet the schools are already obligated to give them help if their parents ask for it. They are not getting extra funds from those kids, yet that program costs the school a LOT of time and money because we are talking about specific intervention speech therapy or intensive special needs on one student teacher time kind of programs.

This issue of sports is nothing like that program, it has the potential to bring in money because athletic and extra curricular programs are generally not in the budget... that's why there are fundraisers, booster clubs and parents paying out their nose for the kids to be involved. It doesn't cost them (the schools) any extra time...the program is established and extra man power or time investment will not be needed to accommodate homeschooled students. The arguments yesterday, while continually stating they were not arguing the merits of educational choice, boiled down to just that. "You've chosen to homeschool, so you don't get the benefit of the wider community education arena." I'm sorry, but that's just wrong.

As to the question of displacement, over and over it was said that if we enrolled our kids in school, they would welcome them. At that point displacement becomes a moot issue...if our child is talented enough to displace a current student, they would displace them whether homeschooled or not. That argument also stretched common sense when they suggested that an entire team might be composed of HS students there-by robbing PS students of the opportunity to participate. It's ludicrous to think that a coach or teacher (in an extracurricular activity) would select all HS students in any scenario...the last sob story yesterday of the student who 'needed' the 'connection' that choir offered her because of her home situation...a touching story to be sure, but the argument that those kinds of kids would miss out takes a caring teacher completely out of the equation and stretches common sense and personal touches in favor of proving a point on principle. Then there was the point about a student *outside* the school zone being on a sports team would be disruptive to school spirit, would make the student feel disconnected from the wider 'school' community and be a potential hindrance to the team since they wouldn't have a relationship with that student in the halls. This argument falls terribly flat when you consider that there are students from the neighboring county listed on our sports rosters here every year. Their county doesn't offer the same extracurricular sports activities we do, so they are allowed to participate. How is that any different from homeschoolers participating?? Pure hypocrisy at it's finest.

The other concern they mentioned over and over was the question of accountability. How can they trust that parents are actually doing their job? It's as if they have never heard of standardized testing or portfolio review. While we don't have a legal requirement for portfolio review here in TN, I think most families willing to pursue this option would welcome a review of the coursework their child is doing as long as the school district didn't make the review taxing, burdensome or impose some extra onerous restrictions on what the student should be doing or learning in order to participate. A quick review of the TSSAA policy suggests that there are already standards in place and the school board simply needs to recognize and comply with them in order to allow homeschoolers to play. No need to re-invent the wheel here, just follow what's already been thought through and laid out.

Based on the tone of the room yesterday, they will probably vote against it. And while it will be sad to lose this local battle, I don't think it will be long until it will be mandated and legislated in Nashville...and then the school board will have to comply. Both city (who is completely against the idea right now) and county schools will have to open their doors and welcome homeschoolers no matter how they really feel.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Free spirited. Fun loving. Flies by the seat of her pants. Spontaneous. Open ended. Flexible.

These are all descriptive phrases that others have used to talk about me at various points in my life. What you don't see there are words like...scheduled, consistent, on time, reliable, dependable, orderly, organized. Why? Because those words do NOT describe me. Oh how I wish I were more of all those 'grown-up' traits, especially when the responsibilities I have begin to overwhelm me.

I have always resisted a schedule. Truth be told, I have a planner graveyard going in a box in the garage. It has always felt so stifling to be 'told' what to do with my time! I *do* like to be flexible and spontaneous! I want to drop everything and have coffee with a girlfriend who needs to chat. I'd love nothing better than to declare it a silly holiday and take my kids out for milkshakes at the drop of a hat.

What I have come to realize is that living this way is neither effective or productive. I was definitely created with a bent for people and relationships over tasks and keeping busy. I recognize that and am trying to find a way to embrace my love for people and pursuing friendships and balance that against the demands of homeschooling my children and managing my the demands outside my home that I have become involved in. Most are important things that are a natural extension of what I do at home like helping lead our local homeschool support group, speak at monthly meetings and teach at our co-op. Some reflect my desire to help others, like serve on a community board for storm recovery (our community was hit hard by the April,2011 tornadoes). ALL take a level of commitment and intention that I sometimes feel is above and beyond my natural abilities!

Praise the Lord that "in our weakness, He is strong." I couldn't do so much of what I do with out the daily grace of God. I hear young moms say all the time, I could never do what you do, I don't have the __________!" Fill in patience, organization, ability, belief in myself that I could actually TEACH my name it, I've probably heard it. Let me tell you something: I CAN'T DO THIS EITHER! I'm no hero or saint. My house is messy, my kids rooms are dirty (one more than the others...her room gives me hives!), we have cereal or mac and cheese for dinner a lot more than we should, we sleep in, clean laundry is moved from the bed to the basket to the bed again before it is ever folded and put away.

What I have found when it come to those daily responsibilities is that a checklist is a good thing. It gives a sense of purpose to the day with out restraining one to an hourly schedule. It helps a free spirit like me (who would frequently be distracted by facebook or twitter or sparkly things) stay focused and intentional. And I actually get things done! It gives the best of both worlds though as a 'list' system lends flexibility and leaves room for spontaneity while still giving direction and purpose to the flow of your day/week/month.

What do YOU do to stay organized while still embracing who you really are??

Monday, July 18, 2011

A boy and his dog.

Sent from my Palm Pre on the Now Network from Sprint

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Purity....More than saving yourself.

When I think of something pure, I think of something untarnished, unblemished, not used up...something beautiful, sparkling, chaste. I think of a clean mind and heart, someone who doesn't choose to sully their conversation with coarse jokes or crude and foul language. Someone who carries themselves with a sense of modesty and propriety. Someone who reflects Christ and walks out their faith in a manner worthy of Him.

Unfortunately, I think we as parents and youth workers may have a tendency to reduce purity to lessons on safe far is too yourself for marriage. As a result of this misunderstanding of true purity, we end up with a lot of 'technical virgins.' Girls and guys who have saved 'the act of intimacy' for marriage, but blessed little else.

And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity

I would much rather use a book like the one pictured above to emphasize with my daughter that purity as more than just having physical boundaries (though that is part of it) but as something that is reflected in your attitude, thoughts, appearance, and actions.

For my sons, I believe they need to be equally challenged. So many books on this topic are geared for girls, but our boys struggle too!! We need to challenge them to rise above today's debased, self-seeking culture by examining God's standard, train their eyes and mind, clean up their thought life, and develop a plan of action in the face of temptation. A couple great resources to help dad's and their boys work through that are:

Every Young Man's Battle: Strategies for Victory in the Real World of Sexual Temptation (The Every Man Series)

Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is): Sexual Purity in a Lust-Saturated World

We cannot continue to let purity be relegated to just abstinence training, we need to teach and train our young people to think broader. It's about the friends they choose, the clothes they wear, the attitudes they reflect, the music they listen to, the books they read, the movies they watch, the TV shows on the DVR...all these things greatly affect the mind and ultimately the heart.

After all, the Bible admonishes us~
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. Prov. 4:23

Click here to read part one and part two of this series on dating.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

True Love Waits...but only a little while

If you haven't read my first post in this series, click here.

In today's post, I want to address some specific dangers when our teens choose to date. We've already seen a retrospective look at attitudes, mindsets and character issues many parents recall from their own dating years, but we've also seen that time seems to dull our memories as parents. In fact, many parents may see dating as a "harmless phase" that all teens go through. I would even argue that many Christian parents feel a false sense of security because of the heavy emphasis on Abstinence Education in both the public and private sector.

Abstinence programs are a great idea, but we have the misguided notion that they offer protections for our dating kids. Let's think about it though... Isn’t it unrealistic to expect a teenager who has been pursuing emotional romance since age 12, and a limited physical relationship for about the same length of time, to refrain from sexual relations until he marries a decade later? What about those kids who 'take the pledge?' It’s interesting to note that a study done in 2001 by the American Journal of Sociology states that virginity pledges were found to delay intercourse only by an average of 18 months.In other words, for many kids, a pledge might delay activity for a while, but not until they are married.

Make no mistake, I am THRILLED with the moves towards abstinence education, but I believe educating our kids about sexual purity and expecting them to remain sexually pure while they date is a lot like an Alcoholics Anonymous group choosing to hold their meetings in a bar.

Equally as sobering is the sad statistic Josh McDowell quotes in his book Why True Love Waits: The Definitive Book on How to Help Your Kids Resist Sexual Pressure regarding 'churched kids.' Lest we assume, as Christian parents, that because of our faith and church involvement that our kids are safe, we should be aware that while “religion conscious” girls are 86% more likely to say that it is important to be a virgin at marriage than “non-religion-conscious” girls, those same religious conscious girls are only 14% more likely to actually be virgins. Thus, being active in church is no guarantee that a young person is immune to the pressures pushing teens into premarital sexual involvement.

If our kids become sexually active, 1 in 4 will get an STD. Out of all the teen girls you know, 4 out of 10 of them are likely to get pregnant. 

Makes you want to lock them in a tower a la Rapunzel, doesn't it? 

As parent, we need to be careful to not reduce purity to just sexual purity...the term purity encompasses to much more. That's the subject of my next post. Hope you'll be back.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Dating. Or...This fruit isn't as tasty as it looks.

As a parent of young adults (some would call them teenagers), we are entering a vast new territory with regards to issues in parenting. No more are we worried about how to stop tattling or separation anxiety...No, now there are bigger fish to fry.

Like dating.

Many families today subscribe to our cultures ideals that casual dating, or 'catch and release' relationships are a harmless part of growing up. We are not one of those families. Perhaps after being challenged to consider--really consider--this teen ritual, you won't be either.

Like many of our parenting choices, this isn't a decision we arrived at overnight or after a casual conversation. We labored, prayed, discussed, read, talked and studied. We recalled our own dating experiences. We wanted something better for our children.

In reflecting on what exactly teen dating is, and considering what the motivation is for such behavior, I concluded that this is yet another place the worldly philosophy of humanism has crept in and usurped Biblical principles. Think about it. Humanism suggests that man is supreme and everything revolves around man. The Bible says we should consider everyone better than ourselves. Humanism is selfish, Biblical Christianity is selfless. While Christians everywhere may struggle with selfishness, to have a whole practice based on selfish motivations is completely different. Thus, my conclusion that recreational dating by it's very nature is based in humanism.

There are far more egregious sins that are commonly attached to humanism because they are much easier to peg. A selfish spouse pursuing adultery, an inconvenienced woman considering abortion...most Christians see these actions as clearly wrong. Recreational dating though, really??

It's very subtle.

Jesus says in Luke 6:44 that we will know a tree by it's fruit. Let's have a look at some of the 'fruit' the modern dating scene provides. A short (anonymous) survey of other parents identified these 'fruits' from their dating experiences.

Suicidal thoughts.
Improper thoughts.
Hindered Spiritual growth.
Strained relationship with parents.
Feeling of being used.

Suddenly, the dating scene looks a lot less enticing, doesn't it. And it's a lot easier to see the inherent dangers associated with the teen dating scene.

The problem of course, is that this survey is a retrospective survey given to parents. Teens may not give the same kinds of answers for reasons of self-preservation, selfishness, or just because they are dishonest and don't want to admit that some of these feelings are happening to them, right now, as a result of their relationship choices.

Honestly, if parents were not asked to think about and reflect on their dating experiences, it probably wouldn't cross our minds. For most of us, dating was such a long time ago, we've forgotten how it felt. Time has the tendency to erase hard edges and even 'romanticize' young love. We don't remember the pain, hurt, disillusionment and heartbreak associated with those early relationships.

I would even venture to say that as parents, we may even equivocate the idea that because our teens relationships can't really "go anywhere," there is no harm or danger involved. In other words, "Meh, they're only 13 and 14...They can't get married...What's the harm in them having a little fun. They're so cute."

Oh friends, if only there were no real 'dangers.' Remember the list...and stay tuned. Part deux is coming.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Purity. Dating. Courtship. Intentional Parenting.

I just had the opportunity to speak to my local homeschooling support group on Dating and Courtship. While composing the list a resources, it occurred to me that my blog readers and cyber friends might could benefit from my research...

God has also granted us a plethora of resources on the topic, starting of course with the Bible. Here is a list of other resources, many of which I referenced or studied in preparing my presentation.


There are a couple of online sermon series that I found to be both relevant and challenging. The first, from Pastor Brian Watts, is entitled Deterring Dating and Clarifying Courtship. This page has brief outlines as well as audio files for you to either listen to online or download. If you prefer a longer printed outline for reading, click here.

Another series I found was by Pastor Steve Lewis, From Modesty to Marriage:Training our Sons and Daughters in Purity. This is a six part series that explores modesty and purity as well as relationships with the opposite gender in a Biblical context. I have not listened to the whole series, but found the outlines to be very Scripturally sound and I am looking forward to listening to the whole series. You also have the option to watch a slideshow with audio on this site.

Respected and Author Michael Farris wrote this article: Five Lessons on Courtship. He also wrote about avoiding the dating trap through emotional abstinence. I like to call it 'guarding your heart.'

Dr. Jeff Myers writes about having integrity in relationships. In this article, he covers three simple principles to apply to relationships.

This graph illustrates the three stages of courtship.

If after reviewing this material, you and your family decide to pursue courtship, you may find these "parent/child agreements" beneficial.

In our Christian faith, it can be very easy to take new ideas or teachings and begin to elevate them to a place they don't deserve. We begin to follow the 'letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law.' That's called legalism and it's very dangerous. Here's a good read for some perspective on how to best avoid the legalism trap: Morality is not the Point.


One of the questions at the meeting was wondering how to best equip our kids to navigate the questions and pressure from peers. I have a couple thoughts on this. First, we cannot expect that if we simply tell our kids our convictions over and over that they will understand or comply all the time. One of the challenges of parenting is getting our kids not to be outwardly compliant, but motivated by the condition of their hearts. We must get them to own the principles, values and faith of our family for themselves. The best way to do this is start early. While it's never too late to introduce new principles or convictions to your children, you have an edge when they are much younger. To this end, these are fantastic resources dealing with the broader topic of purity geared toward tweens and younger:

8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters: How to Talk About True Beauty, Cool Fashion, and...Modesty! (Secret Keeper Girl) A very helpful, fun, fresh and relevant guide for mom's to go through with their little girls. Lots of fantastic conversation starters. There is also a Secret Keepers website loaded with tons of other great resources!

Princess & the Kiss: A Story of God's Gift of Purity
This is a beautifully illustrated, sweet story on purity to read to your daughter. Appropriate for 4-10ish.

Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss (Revive Our Hearts)
This is a Bible Study Guide that accompanies the book. Good for you to work through with your tween age girls.

The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Reward of a Pure Heart This is by the same author as the Princess books, only targeted towards boys. Appropriate for 4-10ish.

Life Lessons from the Squire and the Scroll (Revive Our Hearts) This is a Bible Study Guide that accompanies the book. great for dads (or moms) to work through with tween boys.

Teknon and the CHAMPION Warriors: Mentor Guide - Father
Teknon and the CHAMPION Warriors Mission Guide - Son
Teknon and the CHAMPION Warriors
This is a fantastic 16 week interactive course for fathers to tackle with their tween-age boys. The lessons are fast paced, practical, and easy to use. There is a 'mentor guide' for dad, a 'mission guide' for son, and a fast paced, futuristic, sci-fi novel as well. The lessons tackle themes like family relationships, pornography, peer pressure, dating, managing discouragement, overcoming failure, sexual temptation and developing convictions. I highly recommend it.

Passport2Purity (Book & CD Set) If you are looking for a product to give you a weekend away and a chance to impact your tween by giving you some sound Biblical talking points, look no further than this great resource from Dennis and Barbara Rainey. It's worth noting that you will want to review and customize this material and your presentation to fit your child and your families convictions, especially if you are leaning towards the courtship model for relationships. However, this is still a sound choice for reviewing Biblical standards for purity, modesty and morality.

For older kids:

Author Vicky Courtney has written some very helpful books on navigating the teen years with a good dose of Biblical wisdom and practical applications sprinkled with wit and humor. These are some of my favorites. It's worth noting that if your family prefers a 'dating' approach to the 'courtship' ideals, these books provide some tips, tricks and helpful parameters and boundaries for romantic relationships in the teen years.

Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World This book is rich in scripture and advice to help you navigate the culture and gives you key talking points for discussion with your daughter or even a group of other moms!

Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter This book by the same author as the book above is a vital tool in any mom's tool box. She covers five specific areas
1. You are more than the sum of your parts
2. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up
3. Sex is great and worth the wait
4. It's OK to dream about marriage and motherhood
5. Girls gone wild are a dime a dozen--dare to be virtuous
and gives points to have these discussions from 5 yrs and up!

Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World This book is rich in scripture and advice to help you navigate the culture and gives you key talking points for discussion with your son or even a group of other moms!

Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty If you are looking for talking points on modesty, purity and how to 'dress appropriately' for your tween/teenage daughter, look no further than this powerful, insightful and relevant book by Dannah Gresh. Fun, fresh, and fashion forward.

Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman In this book, author Leslie Ludy candidly shares from her own experiences her journey to realize her worth should be found in Christ. She explains how finding that worth transforms you and helps you realize and begin to live a set-apart life. Very personal, some details may be a bit intense for your younger girls, I recommend this for about 14 and up. A wise mom might couple it with the Bible study guide listed below.

Authentic Beauty, Going Deeper: A Study Guide for the Set-Apart Young Woman
In this accompanying journal, Leslie gives you the opportunity to talk, write, and think through what it means to find unshakable fulfillment in a daily romance with Christ. Whether you are reading on your own or with a group, this 12-part guide will point you to Jesus Christ - the heroic Prince you have always dreamed of — and enable you to fall in love with Him like never before. Discover what it means to become fully set-apart for Christ, and experience the only true answer to the deepest longings of your feminine heart.

On sexual purity:

Why True Love Waits: The Definitive Book on How to Help Your Kids Resist Sexual Pressure
From leading Christian Apologist and well known speaker Josh McDowell comes this definitive reference book loaded with sobering statistics. It is intended to prepare adults with answers and a solution to kids' struggles to remain sexually pure in today's culture.

Back to the topic at hand...Courtship and dating:

I Kissed Dating Goodbye
This is the first book I read that both challenged my thoughts on recreational dating yet validated what I had been telling teens in our youth group. (You shouldn't date until you are ready to be married.) The main message of this book (to me) was that teens should treasure the gift of the season of singleness that the teen years provide and instead of pursuing empty romantic entanglements, pursue a stronger relationship with Christ. It challenges young people to use that season for worthy pursuits like missions trips, apprenticeships, volunteer opportunities or even entrepreneurial pursuits.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations While not on dating or courtship, I'm including this book. Written by Josh's younger brothers (Alex and Brett), it takes the message of harnessing your teen years and using them for good and really challenges the reader to do something exceptional. I highly recommend it.

Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control Before Josh Harris came onto the scene with his book (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), this was the definitive work on leaving your love life in God's hands. By Elisabeth Elliot

Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship
A practical follow-up book to I Kissed Dating Goodbye filled with true-life stories, personal anecdotes, practical principles and Biblical wisdom. A "nuts and bolts" look at what to to do when you are ready to pursue a romantic relationship without being legalistic or contrived.

The Dating Trap: Helping Your Children Make Wise Choices in Their Relationships
I found this under-rated jewel perusing McKay's one day. Highly practical, Biblically grounded, thoroughly researched, deeply challenging. Well written, and since the intended audience is parents, this book provides a completely different perspective. I highly recommend this, especially if you find yourself on the fence.

Of Knights and Fair Maidens: A Radical New Way to Develop Old-fashioned Relationships
You remember when you reached that epiphany, "I quit this dating stuff. I'm just going to be friends with everyone until I get a 'green light' from God." I had that kind of 'stop light' moment and took a break from the dating scene for a little over a year in college. I would venture that most adults remember a time like that. This book was birthed from the authors moments like that...only while they were taking their break, they were introduced to the ideals and principles of courtship. Written in a highly readable, interview style...this book helps readers learn fun, creative ways to get to know each other, strategies for developing character together, ideas to help a guy get to know a girls dad, and answers to tough questions about relationships.

When God Writes Your Love Story (Expanded Edition): The Ultimate Guide to Guy/Girl Relationships In this book, Eric and Leslie Ludy want to offer an exciting vision of hope, proving that the Author of romance is alive and well and that true and lasting love can become a reality. Using the “four secrets to an amazing love story,” Eric and Leslie present a Christ-centered approach to building a relationship that will stand the test of time. The principles presented here will benefit any young adult pursuing a romantic relationship.

When Dreams Come True: A Love Story Only God Could Write This book is a first person account of Eric and Leslie's relationship from their individual upbringings, through when they met and finally married. A beautiful story, with alternating chapters written by both of them, you get both perspectives of their budding romance. I think everyone wondering about principled romantic relationships will enjoy this book, but I believe youth workers will find it especially relevant to refer their youth struggling with relationship choices to this story. The authors are both brutally honest and transparent about early teen mistakes and heartbreaks. Their honesty gives their story a great deal of credibility and brings a message that will resonate with many young people searching for 'something better.'

Whew! That's a lot of reading, isn't it? Pick what sounds good to you and go slow. Be ready and willing to have your ideas challenged and your mind stretched. Pray a lot. Do your level best not to turn this is new idea into a formula for success or set of hard and fast rules, instead adopt the principles that work for your family. I'm praying for you!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year full of Promise

It's a new year. I remember in elementary school playing some silly game (MASH, remember it?) that determined who you would marry, where you would live, how many kids, what kind of car, etc. I also remember thinking how utterly OLD I would be when the 2000's rolled around. Funny how that perspective changes, isn't it?

Now, while I am not as decrepit as my elementary self thought I might be, I have come to accept the fact the I am 'middle aged.' With that comes the realization that I cannot continue to consume crummy foods and not reap some kind of consequences. My metabolism has slowed down. Sometimes, I am that old lady on the couch whose joints actually creak when I get up! My husband has jumped on the healthy eating bandwagon and has begun reading a ton of books that are challenging, mind bending, and even (sometimes) convicting. I have joined Weight Watchers with the hope of shedding a few pounds. I got exercise equipment for Christmas (can you call a weighted hula hoop exercise 'equipment??') that I have been faithfully using almost every day. Okay, I had to take a few days off because those weighted hoops...they leave bruises!

You know what else needs to be fed good food on a constant basis? Our spirit man. Mine is starving. I have not been as consistent with daily Bible reading or memorization as I know I should be. I also know that accountability in areas of commitment are a requirement for a person like me, so I have joined the Scripture Memory Team at Living Proof blog. Almost 9000 women are committed to memorizing 24 scripture verses this year! You can join too, if you start before the 15th of this month... Click HERE to join!

I've also joined the community over at and enabled a mobile version of the Bible so I always have it with me. There are a ton of fantastic tools there to explore the Bible...devotionals, reading plans, etc. It's a very cool site and I'm looking forward to feeding my inner man a better diet of encouraging words this year with the help of technology. =)

So, happy new year! Hope you have a year filled with great new promises and adventures too!