Category Archives: Must Reads

Must Read Monday: Your Story


One of the favorites at our house is the book:

The Adventures of the McClimb Brothers.

The author is yours truly and it is a handmade, glued, made-up story using my son’s pictures.

One thing I know for sure is that kids love hearing about themselves and looking at pictures of themselves. They are kind of mini-narcissists.

The idea came to me when I was playing with the kids at a park and they were climbing up a slide. I started calling them the McClimb brothers and making up a story about enormous mountains, deep rivers, and different adventures. They loved it. When I got home I started looking through their pictures and seeing what stories I could write using the photos I had. So the McClimb brothers book was born.

I have a picture of us in a paddle boat, but then I added a pic of real rafting as well just for fun. There are lots of pics on clipart that you can add too. I used Microsoft Word and added (copy/paste) photos and typed the story. I printed it on cardstock paper to be stronger and then hole-punched the pages and looped yarn to bind them. You could also use a small binder, stapler, or other creative ideas. I glued some pics from a magazine to the front because my sons love trains.

What is the going to be the title of your story?


Sometimes as a parent you just need to read articles like this. I didn’t write it either so that wasn’t a self-promoting statement.

This article: The Down-to-Earth Gospel for Parenting, is fantastic. It was encouraging, Biblical, and should be re-read many times to be reminded of some truths.

Some golden nuggets from this article:  

1) “Many parents fall prey to the lie that we can discipline the sin out of our children.”

2) “Though it may seem counterintuitive to let down your guard and reveal personal sin to your children, by doing so you’re teaching them not to depend on themselves, you, or any other mere human as their example. Instead, you’re pointing them toward the sturdy, never-failing resources of Christ.”

3) “Yet I am convinced what they need most is the full-bodied gospel that involves a down-to-earth theology of sin. They must learn to travel often down the gospel road of confession, forgiveness, and freedom in Christ.”

Parenting Boys: Book Recommendations from a Pastor

Parenting Boys: Book Recommendations from a Pastor
I felt the need to add in the title that these are book recommendations from a Pastor because:
1) They ARE book recommendations from a pastor. 🙂
2) We tend to trust pastors since they are called by God to share the Word.
3) Pastors have great resources for people on various topics
I’ll introduce the pastor before you read the blog.
Pastor Tyler is a senior pastor (and worship leader, associate pastor, garbage taker-outer, etc) at an Evangelical Free Church in Iowa. The church was a church plant started January 2011 and he was called to pastor in May of that year. He was previously a youth pastor for 5 years at another E.Free church in Iowa and only left because of the Lord leading him to become a solo pastor at a church plant. He’s a Bible-believing, gospel-centered, discipleship-promoting evangelist. He’s also a pretty great dad to two sons and a great husband. I can say that with confidence because he is my hubby. 🙂
Blog from Pastor Tyler: 
Books on Parenting Boys
1. The Bible – for some reason people roll their eyes like they’ve been ripped-off when a pastor (or anyone) suggests the Bible is a book to be read by parents but this isn’t simply a pastoral cliché.  The Bible is a book you should read.  You should read it personally, with your family, and with a community of committed followers of Jesus Christ.  You should read it not simply as moral guidance or parental advice.  Despite the fact that most Americans still hold the Bible in high regard, we don’t actually read it.  In fact most professing Christians don’t actually read the Bible (consider this or this).  It is important to say (cheesy-pastoral-passive-aggressive-humor-aside) the best book you can read on parenting sons is the Bible.  In the entirety of the scriptures you’ll read the story of our Father in heaven who sent Jesus His Son to make us His children forever through adoption by the Holy Spirit.  So before everything else read God’s Word.
2. Future Men by pastor, author, and Classical Christian Education Advocate Douglas Wilson – this book addresses some of the current foundational issues our world is facing in raising boys.  Wilson is a very entertaining writer who is engagingly biblical.  He addresses gender issues, parents, scripture, and faith community.  Chapters address very practical issues such as sin, work ethic, money, freedom in Christ, relationships with the opposite sex, and even an appendix about marijuana use and the book of Proverbs.  I’d highly recommend this book!

3. Raising a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis – though this is written for fathers, many principles are applicable to both parents and equally important for moms and dads to understand.

4. Wild Things by Stephen James  – a thorough exploration of specific needs of boys as they become men.  Many ministry moms and dads I know and trust said they liked this too which helps!
In almost every book I’ve read about raising boys (including those written from Christian, Jewish, Psychological, Sociological, and non-religious perspectives) these two themes emerge:
-Get them in a tribe.  
Make sure your boys are regularly influenced by men who you wish for them to emulate in life.  Ideally this begins with their dad, (stepdad), grandfather, brothers, uncles, or cousins but must also extend to spiritual fathers in the church, community, or (in the very least) character-driven humanitarian organizations that instill boys to accept responsibility, lead in truth and tenderness, be disciplined, and love sacrificially.  It is important to differentiate this tribe from a peer group though it may include peers.  A tribe is intergenerational.  A tribe includes older, wiser, more-experienced men as well as (ideally) their sons/grandsons or perceived peers of your boy(s).  This is the biblical model given to us: 2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,  (2)  and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
-Rites of passage.
Within the context of their tribe, there should be various rites of passage that both recognize/honor the boy as a man while simultaneously calling/commissioning him as a man.  This is a tricky task but it is important to be public or simply within the tribe.  It should not involve any sort of shame or have any sense of insincerity.  If possible the boy’s father should give his blessing (at Jesus’ baptism God the Father declared in Matthew 3:17, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased”).  If not his own dad, or perhaps in addition to his own dad, another fatherly-like-man who is respected within the tribe should share these words.  It is both a blessing and a charge, an expression of favor and a call to display this favor to others.
5 Secrets Great Dads Know by Paul Coughlin – a great resource explaining the unique call of dads for their kids.
What a Son Needs From His Dad: How a Man Prepares His Sons for Life by Michael O’Donnell – an excellent practical guide
Raising Teens:
Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp – if you have teens or soon will buy this book and read it.  It is the best book on raising teens.
That’s My Teenage Son by Rick Johnson – I got this free in Kindle format, it does a good job addressing specific needs of preteen/teen boys and has specific practical ideas for mom’s.  Not the most gospel-centered but certainly from writing from a biblical paradigm.
Comprehensive Biblical Study of Theological Issues with Practical Considerations:
God, Marriage, & Family by Andreas J. Kostenberger – a thorough overview of the entire biblical teaching on marriage, sex, divorce, parenting, and family with chapters on special issues – excellent resource!

Must Read Monday: This is No Fairy Tale

This is No Fairy Tale by Dale Tolmasoff isn’t another fairy tale book. It is the very true story of Jesus. It talks about that if Jesus’ story was a fairy tale he would have been born a prince in a castle and lived with the king and queen, but His story isn’t a fairy tale so He was born to a poor family and laid in a manger. Page 22 says “if this were a fairy tale, King Jesus would have lived a long life and died in his bed surrounded by his family and friends  This truth is when Jesus was still a young man the people killed him. They treated him like a criminal, even though he was good.” I love the part where it says “if this were a fairy tale, the story would end when Jesus died.” But we know it didn’t so this is such a great book for kids. Fairy tales are great fun and allow your imagination to take you to far away places and go on great adventures. But the greatest story ever told wasn’t a story, it was real.


Must Read Monday: Shapes

Shapes: A Busy Fingers BookFinal book for Math March is Shapes by Janie Louise Hunt. Since I’ve written about math books for older kids I wanted to include this one because my 16 month old wants me to read him this book every day. It is a cute rhyming story and the shapes have different textures for little fingers to touch. This book is a Busy Fingers Touch and Learn book and there are other books like: Follow the Line, 123, and ABC. Touch and feel books like this help children begin to love books. He also said “a-pole” for the first time after seeing a picture of an apple in this book. So there is a chance I might be biased toward this book because of that. 🙂

Must Read Monday: Fraction Fun

Fraction FunI should just call this Math March since all the books I’ve recommended are children’s math books. Dang it! Now I have to figure out one more math book for next week. It shouldn’t be hard since David Adler has written many math books for kids. Fraction Fun is another great one for learning fractions. His books are very colorful and have some great hands-on activites to learn fractions. The only activity I didn’t like in this book was one that included using a small scale and coins. You need to weigh the coins on the scale to figure out the ounces. If you don’t have a scale you can’t do that one. He does use a pizza to teach fractions, but I think he should have made that a hands-on activity. Mommy ate 7/8’s of the pizza, how many slices do you have to eat?

Must Read Monday: Shape Up!

Shape Up!SHAPE UP! by David Adler is a great book to learn shapes and polygons. The one thing I absolutely love about David Adler book’s is he includes activities to do to help really let the information sink in. He has you use pretzel sticks to make an equilateral triangle and then take a bite out of one to make an isosceles triangle. This book is geared for ages 6 and up, but I still read it to my 3.5 yr old because he won’t know what a dodecagon is unless I show him (it’s a 12-sided polygon, by the way. I didn’t know what a 12-sided polygon was until I read this book. Now I sound smart!)

Must Read Monday: Anno’s Counting Book

Anno's Counting Book Big BookAnno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno has been around for many years. Like before I was born amount of years. I had this book when I was little and now I bought it for my boys. It’s a great book for learning to count. On the side of each page is cubes counting up to whatever number it is. The pictures are great and they add up to the number as well. For example: The pages for number 8 have 8 houses, 8 children playing, 8 clouds in the sky, 8 trees, etc. I have learned that my 3.5 yr old cheats and looks at the number on the side of the page instead of counting objects so I just cover the number with my hand. He’s a clever little devil. 🙂 description

First there is an empty field. The it is January, the first month of the year.
All alone in the snow stands 1 yellow house. In front, 1 child builds a snowman.
Behind the house is 1 tree and 1 black cow. Now, five months later, it is June.
There are 6 buildings in the field, 6 children playing, and 6 adults working.
One adult tends 6 ducks. Another drives a trains with 6 cars. From 1 to 12,
through the months of the year, the town grows. More houses and trees and
animals and people can be seen until December arrives with all it’s magic.

Must Read Monday: Small Pig

smallpigArnold Lobel is one of my favorite children’s book authors. He writes clever, fun, and humorous stories. I love that Small Pig is one of the “I Can Read” series so you know what reading level it is. description:

Small Pig loves to sit in good, soft mud. When the farmer’s wife cleans his
pigpen, Small Pig runs away. In the city he finds a new mud puddle—but it is not
full of mud at all. And now Small Pig has one big problem!

Must Read: The Church Planting Wife

I’m linking up with Christine over at Grace Covers Me today as she releases her book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, and collects heart stories from church planting and ministry wives. Join us?

I personally had the opportunity to read this book and it is fantastic. If you love your pastor’s wife you need to buy her this book. Even if you only just sort of like her you should give her this book. If you don’t like your pastor’s wife, then definitely don’t give her this book because your heart might change toward her, and you might end up liking her! 🙂 Any of the following people would greatly benefit from this book: missionary wives, ministry wives, church planting wives, elder’s wives, and any wife of a man who is obeying God’s call even if it isn’t in a church.

How has God used church planting or ministry to change your heart?revised moody cover

There are a few words to describe how the change occurred in my heart during the year and a half my husband and I began church planting. The first is trials. We went through many trials when choose to obey how God had called us. We had to move in with family close to the town where the church plant was because our house hadn’t sold yet. After 2 months of tense relationships, we realized we had to move out.  So with our 3-year-old and 2 week old baby, we moved into a rental house.  With all the added stress of a new baby, moving twice in 3 months, not sleeping well at night, financial pressure from paying a mortgage on a house we no longer lived in, and a new church we got to our breaking point many times. The church itself was going through major trials. As we begun to discuss bylaws for the church there was major divisions. The church was full of immature baby Christians and unbelievers, and they far outnumbered the few strong mature Christians in our church. During that first year of church planting my husband had a ridiculous amount of illnesses and pain. He was sick almost weekly. If there was a sickness going around, my husband had it. He suffered intense headaches, and even tooth pain requiring a removal of the tooth because we couldn’t afford a dental crown.

The next word to describe the change: trust. God had called my husband to preach the Word without watering it down and he obeyed because He trusted that God’s word is enough. He began small groups and a men’s discipleship. God had called me to support my husband and love him and to learn what it meant to be a biblical wife. Through a Bible study that he discovered called “True Woman 101: Divine Design” my heart began to break and soften. I learned my purpose as helpmate to my husband and my call to be a spiritual mother. I trusted God at His word.

The last word to describe the change would be purified. Through the trials and trusting God at His word I became a different person.  I loved in one of the chapters of “The Church Planting Wife” when Christine Hoover quoted Jenn Atwell saying “Is God really enough?” My husband and I got to that point. When nothing was going as planned, relationships hung on by a string, financial pressures built up, and we jokingly stated “Now our cars are probably going to crap out?” Was God really enough? We got to the end of ourselves and the answer was: Absolutely. God is always enough, He is all we ever really need. Oh how thankful I am for God putting us through all the trials and hardships. My marriage is stronger than ever and focused on Christ, my oldest son accepted Jesus and asked him to “fix his heart”, and my prayer life and study of the Bible has become as necessary to me as eating. So the question of “How has God used church planting to change my heart?” is best answered by saying: He put me through fire to refine and test me.  Does fire hurt? It is not only very painful, but it burns. It burns away at the selfishness, pride, disobedience, and distrust. What is left after a fire? A purified life and a changed heart.

Zechariah 13:9: And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.