I selected the book Get Your Teenager Talking because as a mom, an English teacher, and ministry worker, I interact with teenagers regularly. I believe I will use the book as a resource for both my personal and professional use. The book begins with a short preface entitled “5 Tips to Get Your Teenager Talking”. In this brief article, Jonathan McKee reminds us that Jesus noticed people and asked questions to lead seekers to salvation. The main idea presented in the introduction and the foundation of the book is “Notice what teenagers are excited about, ask them about it, and then you won’t have to do much talking at all..our teenagers really want to be heard.” The author reminds the reader that in order to receive thoughtful answers one must pose insightful questions, not ones that will have a one-word response. The remainder of the book is a list of 180 “Conversation Springboards” covering a range of topics including sex, food, education, work, and faith. In addition to an initial question, McKee includes follow-up questions, insight, comments, and Bible verses in some cases. I believe these “conversation springboards” presented in McKee’s book can help to facilitate discussions with students and teens and are great to use as icebreakers, as a journal prompt, and at the dinner table. The only suggestion I have for the book is to organize the prompts by topic. The “conversation springboards” are only listed with a number, and in the Index the topics are listed, but the prompt number is given, not the page number. I feel if the “Conversation Springboards” were listed topically and the page numbers given in the index, the book would be easier to navigate. Also, some selections have Scripture verses included, but the references are not listed in the index. It would be great if all the “Conversation Springboards” had a biblical link. However, the random order of topics may be just the thing to jump start discussion in some settings, and the author encourages parents, teachers, and others to keep the conversations flowing naturally. I recommend this book and Jonathon McKee’s website TheSource4Parents.com. I received a free advance copy of this book from Bethany House.
I can’t believe it is Groundhog Day and we are looking at six more weeks of winter! January was a busy month. It contained SNOW, SICKNESS, SEMESTER CHANGE, and STREAMLINING GOALS.
SNOW–In January we had quite a bit of snow, and a tiny bit still remains on the ground. Since I am a teacher, I had three snow days. we expect more snow this week. I still enjoy relaxing at home on snowy days, drinking hot chocolate and reading a book. However, I hate the cost of heating oil!
SICKNESS–last week, the stomach bug hit each one of us. We all missed school and work and lost a few pounds. Now we have to catch up on work and restore our energy for the week and month ahead.The house and bedding got a thorough scrubbing, but that was the only benefit. Stay healthy!
SEMESTER CHANGE–This year I have a student teacher, so she had to jump right in as I missed school due to illness. It is a busy time of year as I wrapped up the previous term and now have new students to get to know. I have three very different classes, 2 freshman courses and 1 junior course. My children also had to change classes, and it went well for them so far. My husband is in school, and he has an important certification test this week. The semester change means we are halfway through the year!
STREAMLINING GOALS–During my Christmas vacation, I had lots of time to dream about the many plans I hope to execute this year. However, the busy day-to-day got in the way a little bit, as it usually does. I listened to another teleseminar by Donna Partow this weekend, and I decided to focus primarily on managing my home and finances, which will free me to be more creative and pursue my writing goals. Most of my time is taken up by work right now, but I feel that is important as I anticipate receiving my professional license this summer. Are you meeting your New Year’s Resolutions?
We recently had a winter storm; the cold weather is a great opportunity for me to get cozy and read during the dark afternoons and evenings. Here is a sample of the new books I am enjoying.
A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman
Last year I discovered Emily and her work; the fact that she was speaking at She Speaks was a big motivator for me to attend the seminar last summer. As with Grace for the Good Girl, this book is one I keep reading and meditating on daily. The question that is posed today is, “What does it mean to live life like an artist in the midst of this everyday hustle?” I am struggling to find time for my blog posts and creativity goals because of the busy schedule of our life right now. I am glad that the answers this book supplies are not trite; instead Freeman challenges us to wrestle with the deeper questions and “sink in” to God as he defines us and our art. I would love to create an artist’s circle and use this book as a starting point. I am still waiting on God’s timing for that.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
This is a great work of fiction recommended to me by my friend Becky who never steers me wrong. The setting is World War I and the story follows the life of a woman who had been a servant at an English manor. As she is dying, a movie is being made about the lives of the wealthy people who owned the home and a young man who committed suicide on the property. The story flows seamlessly from the present to the past, and the story’s twists and turns kept me up past my bedtime many nights as I tried to predict the outcome. Go out and read this book!
Prayer Warrior Mom by Marla Alupoaicei
My mother often gifts me with a book to aid my spiritual growth, and as a mom of two teenagers, I was grateful for this helpful volume. Each chapter is full of insight and Scripture as well as guiding prayers for any mom. Again, I want to start a group to pray through this powerful book.
The Zion Covenant: Vienna Prelude and Prague Counterpoint by Bodie Thoene
This is a historical fiction series. The novels are extremely well-written and researched. The story is compelling and the time period fascinating. The setting is just prior to World War II, and the main character is a Jewish musician who begins helping Jewish children to escape the Nazi Reich that is taking over Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
I have to confess I love December as it rushes towards New Year’s Eve. The radio plays a countdown of the top songs of the year, the news programs cover the year’s memorable events, and it is a chance for me to reflect on the outgoing year as I make plans for the one to come.
2013 was a challenging year filled with both positive and negative events. February was a particularly difficult month. My son was poked in the eye at a basketball game. He ended up with a blood clot in his eye and had to end the basketball season prematurely as he was put on complete bed rest, getting up only for visits to the doctor where the pressure in his eye was monitored regularly. He has permanent damage to his eye, but we are so grateful for the many skilled doctors that gave him timely care. One week after Jeremy’s injury, a blizzard hit our region, and thousands of people lost power. When our power was restored within 24 hours, my sister and her family came to stay with us. They lost power for almost a week, and our children missed several days of school. Next, my grandmother broke her hip and had an extended hospital stay. She lives in Arkansas so we missed her and made regular phone calls to check her health. Fortunately, she made a rapid recovery and I heard she was dancing at a family wedding in October!
In April I had the opportunity to chaperone a school trip to Dublin, Wales, London, and Paris. I took hundreds of pictures and enjoyed seeing international landmarks, including Shakespeare’s birth place, St. Patrick’s church, and The Eiffel Tower. We were in Wales when the Boston Marathon occurred; as I live just south of Boston the news hit home for many of us on our trip. I was on the steps of St. Paul’s cathedral in London just hours after Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. I was so grateful my husband was willing to spend his vacation time taking care of the home front while I was away. I hope to go on another trip soon!
The summer was welcome after a long cold winter, and it was a productive season for the family. Our daughter completed eighth grade and had many memorable activities, including field day, a promotion dance, and graduation ceremonies. In July and August she participated in a residential summer program held at a local college. She made new friends and took part in two performances. Meanwhile, my son took his driving lessons, and I completed my Master’s Degree in teaching at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. In July I had the chance to attend She Speaks, a Proverbs 31 conference for female writers and speakers. I made some new friends, and heard two of my favorite authors Holley Gerth and Emily Freeman speak. In 2013 I had about 6 articles published.
Returning to school in the fall is always a defining moment in the family, and this year my husband returned to school full time to study computer technology. This has been a passion of his for some time, so he is thrilled to have a new career. This comes with some challenges as we don’t have his income and we have additional bills to pay for his tuition. God has been faithful to provide for our needs and has blessed us with many opportunities. Our daughter Summer started high school and played volleyball, and both children are great students and beginning to define their future.
As always, I am so grateful to God for answered prayer this year. My guiding verse was Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” He led me every step of this year’s exciting journey; I look forward to what next year will bring!
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6
Recently I have been thinking about this idea of sowing and reaping. One of my children was very discouraged after not seeing progress in an area that is a great passion for this child. This child is diligent and self-disciplined; This child is a super student and has a heart for spiritual things. I was shocked by my child’s pain and frustration, and what’s worse, I had no words of encouragement, as this child is talented in a sport in which I have no expertise. After listening to the hurt and being there for the tears, I continued to pray for my child to have success in this area of life that is so dear. I continued to meditate on the reason why my child wasn’t seeing success despite the practice and dedication.
God brought to mind Charles Stanley’s teaching on sowing and reaping. His devotional in the One-year Bible reminds me that we reap What we sow, Later than we sow, and More than what we sow.
“A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 My child is seeking to perfect a sports skill. That is going to pay off. When I read my Bible and pray, when I fellowship with unbelievers, when I cultivate my relationship with God, that is sowing to the spirit, and God’s Word promises that when we “Draw near to God, he will draw near to you.” (James 5:8) When we persevere and discipline ourselves in any area of our lives, we know that we will reap positive benefits from that discipline.
We have to remember that success doesn’t come instantly. God makes all things beautiful in his time, in light of his eternal plan. God promised Abraham a son, but in his impatience, Abraham took matters into his own hands and created a lot of problems for his family. Despite his sin, God was faithful to give him the gift of a son. Right now I am seeking God for his will regarding my time this summer. I hope to finish my Master’s Degree and write a book proposal. My son needs to get his license and a job; my daughter plans to attend a residential summer program for six weeks. My husband still seeks better pay and work hours as he works nights and weekends, causing our family time to suffer. As I pray about these plans, I want God to answer right now, but he keeps telling me, “Be still before the Lord and waiting patiently for Him.” Psalm 46:10.
Finally, God is so faithful that he promises we will reap even more than what we sow. The key is perseverance. If you are discouraged, do not give up. God is faithful! “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9
I returned on Sunday from a 10-day, 4-country trip to Europe. I visited Dublin, Wales, London, and Paris. I was able to attend the trip as a chaperone for the high school English department. We had 28 students and 5 chaperones from our school. We were joined by two other small groups as we toured each city. While I was gone, the bombing of the Boston Marathon occurred as well as the explosion in Texas. I was in London on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral shortly after the funeral for Margaret Thatcher. Wherever I am, it is a comfort to know that the Lord is with me wherever I go, and he’s got the whole world in his hands! I am so grateful to friends and family that helped out while I was away and my husband was home holding down the fort. I loved the trip! Here are some pictures of some the highlights:
I have been reading some very good books lately!
- Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks–This is a fascinating story about a Puritan settlement in Martha’s VIneyard in the 1660’s. The heroine is a pastor’s daughter who has secretly befriended a Wampanoag boy. The novel is based on a true story of the first native American to graduate from Harvard College. Go out and get this book!
- Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman–This is a book that I have returned to several times to soak in each chapter. It really fits the season of my life as I am trying to see what living in Grace looks like for me. I can identify with many of the “masks” that “good girls” wear. I even wrote the author to continue the discussion. I am wondering what role the church has played in this, and then I am curious to see what living out this grace looks like. This would be a great book for a women’s group to study and discuss.
- The Charles Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible–This year I read my daily Bible in bed before sleep. It has been a great blessing to end my day with God. I think I even sleep better! I am enjoying the familiar Genesis stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. If you haven’t tried reading through the Bible, it is a great resolution for 2013.
- The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley is on deck as recommended to me by my colleague and fellow bibliophile Becky.