Friday, May 12, 2017

Tyndale Book Review: Bible Promises for parents of children with SPECIAL NEEDS by Amy E Mason

Thoughts about parenting & special needs kids... 

Special Needs Defined

Parents of special needs kids, hold a special place in my heart.  Special Needs kids is a broad based term.  Many of us think about physical, intellectual, or developmental delays or limitations as the definition of special needs children.  But as God has created us as individuals and each one of us unique to Him, it is a much broader concept.  Gifted or High Intelligence children would be special needs children.  Autism and ADHD are very common diagnoses for children. A gifted athlete or musician is a special needs child when you factor in the practices, lessons, and special events that will become a part of daily living to meet this child's passions and needs.  

But the category of special needs children that most touches my heart is the invisible disabilities of many children from hard places, many of these kids look normal, may act and interact in social settings in somewhat typical ways, but often their brains are anything but typical.  As science can study the brain that God put inside each human being, we have discovered that in utero and the first three years of life, give our brains wiring that gives us certain advantages or disadvantages in life.  The good news is, our brains continue rewiring and building connections our whole lives, and into adulthood our brains can build more connections than they loose each day.  

Parenting....
But as we've included a child from a hard place with in utero stress and early years stress, I've read and learned so much more about the benefits that many of us take for granted.  Love heals a child, love builds a brain, and that love is best received when it is consistent, dependable, and demonstrated in a connected way.  So our actions and emotions impact our children's formation substantially in utero and in the first 3 years of life.  

And the children who don't have consistency in those early years, or who are parented by an adult in crisis or high stress, will pick up on that toxic stress and join the adult in living in high emotion and low functioning.  This steals valuable connections for the child's future.  It can be built later on, but it takes a concerted effort on the part of ALL adults in the child's daily life. 
All parents need self care to maintain a good perspective in life and to parent with love, joy, gratitude, contentment, and a place of abundance.  Children with special needs bring with them brokenness and a level of wonder as you guide them into the adult world.  I've not met many parents who say they have this parenting thing down pat. Most of us doubt, wonder, and pray a whole lot for guidance and direction as we go through the gamut of emotions in the role of parenting. 

I've said that parenting is the most sanctifying experience in my entire life.  Nothing like being wholly responsible and living 24/7 with a baby/child who is still new to this world, and models/replicates how you live, or recognizes that they want to do the opposite of what you do... either way it speaks volumes to your soul and helps you reflect and develop a whole new sense of self awareness and recognition of how others see you, and often that glimpse in the mirror is ugly and not flattering.  It makes you recognize how big God is and how amazing His Grace and free gift of salvation really are.  I saw sin in my life and choices that had never been raised to the surface before.  And this of course always happen mid-parenting when your child has shocked you with their __________ (attitude, behavior, thought, actions, questions,....) and you don't know how to handle it, or you over react and don't like your over the top response.  Parenting is full of so many wonderful things, but it's balanced by a lot of self doubt, loneliness, wonder, and brokenness.  

Book Review
This book is an amazing tool to help you put your mind back into a healthy perspective and recognize the Hope that lives in you through the Word of God, and that you can redeem this situation, this day, this week, this month.  And not just survive, but thrive with refreshment, strength, and new hope for this situation.  We all need a little bit of this!  




Details about the book
Bible promises is a book that is a topical content book.  It gives you topics that come up in ALL parents lives and then  shares a when statement- a wonder you might have connected to that situation.  It then shares a scripture reference and a simple connected thought to the reference and the when.  Each topic ends with a brief thought or connection about a way to re-frame the thinking of this situation in a positive light.  I found the book a delightful asset.

Con/Pro:  I wished the references had included the full scripture, but then the book wouldn't be about 5 x 7 in size and small enough to have in your work bag, or your purse, or the door of the car, or next to your bed.  It's small, lightweight, beautiful inside and out, and simple to pick up and choose a topic.  It's reader friendly. The thinking about situations is generic but specific to the topic and our feelings, so I think if you are thinking about the topic, you will relate to the thinking aloud to connect the scripture, and there are several when... concept statements with each topic.  So it's relevant for all parents, but parents who go the extra mile with kids who have special needs that demand a village to help support, with appointments, OT, PT, speech, therapy, medical interventions, hospitalizations, intensive at home practice, at therapy practice, mental health supports, can especially relate.

Another reviewer felt that looking to God is not the same as looking to other people, and she's correct.  She was unable to find this book helpful, but she missed the key audience for this book.  Those who care for a special needs child and who see God and His promises as a '"wellspring of refreshment, strength, and hope" and who have or desire to deepen their relationship with him.  If your faith and the Word of God is not a guide and source in your life, then this book isn't for you. But for those who seek out the Bible's promises, I found this book therapeutic and helpful for recognizing my circumstances and identifying the emotions in my situations. 

I'm blessed to be a part of the Tyndale blog review network but all ideas, concepts, and opinions shared are my own.  I'm not required to share a positive review.  It's just hard not too with this helpful tool for my coping skills bag!  (some of you will know what that is!)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tyndale: The Big Pig Stampede



This book is written for tweens and especially boys- and that demographic in my home loved it. (and as a teacher/kidmin person grade 3 and 4 boys are the hardest group to reach and motivate, and I concur!) 

I loved that it brings to life in a fictional account what life for other children could have been like at the time of Jesus miracles.  It builds connections for Bible lessons and study, it helps kids visualize the setting and time of Jesus life, and to recognize that people are the same no matter when they lived.   

This book is funny, cute, and charming.  If you are looking for bible verses, study, or a Bible storybook, this is not it.  It is a book that should spur higher level or critical thinking in the readers mind.  It clarifies what historical setting Jesus lived in.  It is funny, proving that everything biblically connected isn't for stoic grown ups or traditional classically written.  But because of that, some grown ups will hate it, and find it irreverent.

As a teacher and parent, especially the reading teacher in me, I love that it helps build comprehension of this period in Jesus life, and my son (a 2nd grader who read it) actually wanted to check the Bible and see if it happened like that.  And for those reasons it is golden!  
It develops connections, clarifications, will help build vocabulary, and critical thinking, keys to making great readers.  Yes the humor involves some potty humor, but that is better than the secular options that motivate boys. So it's an awesome alternative.  

Thank you tyndale for the privilege of reviewing this book.  Sorry for the delay in posting it, we read it last year!  

Kregel Book Review: Would You Like to Know.... Collection by Tim Dowley and Eira Reeves



Here's the publisher's description of this cute little set:

In this new addition to the fantastic Would You Like to Know? series, six little books are featured in one boxed gift set. Each book offers a starting point for young children to explore some of the key points of their faith and gain a greater understanding of Christianity. Each title has accessible illustrations, an inscription page, and notes for parents. A wonderful gift for those getting to know the church. 

Contains: 
Would You Like to Know About God?
Would You Like to Know How to Pray?
Would You Like to Know Jesus?
Would You Like to Know the Bible?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Christmas?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Easter?
 


My review:

In a nutshell: the books claim to be simple and clear explanations for children on the six topics presented.  I found that they are just that and more than I anticipated.  

They also include: applications for a child's life, quality images, sturdy,  durable while beautiful books/box, and presented in a way that will aid comprehension of these truths. 

Doctrine is accurate as well, and I liked the skills and practices mentioned like reading your Bible and going to Sunday School (in the Jesus book after the gospel message).   They are not denominational oriented either, but content driven, so if the Word of God and salvation by faith in Jesus and forgiveness of sins by His death on a cross is central to your belief system, this series should be acceptable, and even enjoyable.  I enjoyed them and believe children will enjoy them as well, my younger children like them.  

My least favorite book was the knowing Jesus book, and I think it's just hard for authors to present the gospel to children authentically/accurately.  It's not awful,  it just rubs me the wrong way.  The book presented  a relationship with Jesus through "I'm sorry"  on one page, and the next encouraged us to apply it in our lives/friends.  I'm a nitpick- on the page after the book says "say "I'm sorry" for all the wrong things I have done," the next page says, "sometimes we need to say I'm sorry to other friends too."   I think mentioning asking God to forgive our sins, is not too sophisticated for children, and then wondered with the language chosen if it would be confusing to children to see why Jesus forgiveness is so much different.  But it's a concept that those who choose these books are likely to have their own preference, and hopefully will teach their children that Jesus rescued us from our sins and the wrath of God we deserved.   

So those giving this set as a gift, might want to be aware of this.  I didn't have concerns about any of the rest of the books presentation of content, I actually found them charming, delightful, and clear with excellent thinking about what simple content should be present.  

I was blessed to be given these books in exchange for my honest review. Thank you Kregel Publications for the chance to review my favorite genre of literature- christian children's literature.  

EXTRA info:    

Construction of the Book:  
The six books fit into a sturdy, glossy little box, and each book has a sturdy cover, and glossy thick pages inside.   Each book has a "this book belongs to:" page which ended with "and I'm finding out about ____" and that is appealing to children, but also a great reading skill, building connections and repeating the concept of the book.  There are also summary pages at the start (or end) of the Jesus, Easter and Christmas books, that build/reinforce vocabulary, connections, clarify, reinforce the question and set the up that this still matters to us.  

Illustrations: 
The illustrations are colorful, realistic, and child oriented.  The children and bible characters depicted had great expressions and would draw children in, help clarify, are relatable, and build wonder in the reader/listener's mind.  

Content: 
The content is accurate, evangelical, and theologically accurate if you are a follower of Christ.  The word friend is used throughout the books making them easy to comprehend and grasp for children and adults alike.  Friend is used as a way to explain our relationship with God/Jesus as an approachable deity whom relates with us, and loves us.  The books are twofold- they teach a concept and encourage the reader to apply this knowledge in their own life.  Well chosen facts and explanations are included.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: The Simplest Way to Change the World (Moody)

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This book is a very practical guide to the biblical command to hospitality. It builds on the premise that hospitality is counter cultural and that true hospitality builds connectedness and relationships, and believers must be intentional and purposeful. The authors are point on, with the suggestion, that while we want our homes to be an oasis or refuge in life, that home is to be a refuge for all who enter it, not just me, and that will be radical to many people. They explain how this is a book for ordinary people to have no excuse to change the world in which they live!

The books not only shares the theology and biblical reasons to be hospitable, it is a resource of ideas, strategies, and authentic examples of a lifestyle of hospitality. Having grown up with hospitality ongoing, and continued the practice in our home, this concept was not one that was new to me. I appreciated how the authors addressed simple ideas to fulfill this command in your neighborhood. It's an easy read, has bullet point summaries throughout, personal reflection questions at the end of each chapter, and a built in discussion guide for small groups. So it's an excellent resource and would be most appropriate for group discussion.

It's really a book centered on how to live out the gospel, wherever you live- house, apartment, dorm room. You can love your neighbor as yourself.

Some favorite quotes: "When we are loving, warm, and gracious, we put the gospel on display."
" Any time we practice hospitality, we put human flesh on this gospel story"

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One wonder I had- was if adoption/foster parenting could have been also included as a way to change the world, even knowing that it will prevent or alter your in your home hospitality. It definitely is a fitting lifestyle to help heal the broken, and lead them to a Savoir.

Thanks for the chance to read a pre-release copy. I was provide a copy in exchange for my honest review