This is not a list of my "top ten,"
or my favourites,
or the best books out there,
but simply some books I either grew up on or grew from...
W. G. Vandehulst's children’s books, always warm, quite Dutch, and yet wrapping up with a cozy ending and the reminder of a God who is willing to forgive.
Piet Prins' children’s books provided the adventure and excitement my ten or twelve year old self craved, also from a Christian perspective.
The Shining Sword by Charles Coleman is a most excellent allegory of the Christian life. I thought John Bunyan had the final say on allegory until I read this. A must-read for kids.
Elizabeth Prentiss’s Stepping Heavenward is a book I read and reread through my later teens. The autobiographical nature of this book and open talk about the spiritual struggles going on inside a young girl (and, as time went on, a married one) are a blessing.
In Trouble and in Joy by Sharon James was one of the first nonchildren’s biographies I read, and I recall really appreciating it.
Maurice Robert’s The Thought of God, The Christian's High Calling, and Great God of Wonders are books I return to over the years. With such a variety of topics, there is a feast for the mind, and with such a warm heart-felt tone throughout, also a feast for the soul.
Jeremiah Burrough’s The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment was a puritan’s thoughts on contentment. In Burrough’s words, “Contentment does not come from addition but from subtraction. Contentment comes from subtracting our sinful desires for more.” Convicting.
Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hanna More - Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Prior is a favourite recent biography.
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic was a blessing in the years of having a house full of little ones. With humour, Jankovic points busy moms back to the heart-work that should be going on under all the surface activity.
John Flavel’s The Mystery of Providence was a second tackle of the puritans. A view-shaper as Flavel shows how providence is at work through all areas of life.
A Passion for the Impossible: the Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Rockness was another grown-up biography favourite. Warm and devotional in style, it is the story of a missionary-artist-writer to the Muslim in North Africa.
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield helped open my eyes to the church’s and Christian’s relationship to the mission field outside our front door. An excellent read for all church-goers.
The Pilgrim's Progress and Christiana by John Bunyan. A dramatized but unabridged audio version of this made the work accessible to the whole family. With excellent spiritual lessons for everyday life, it serves as a constant reminder that there is more to life than what the eye can see.
Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching From Rest is a book full of rest and reminders of grace for a busy home-educating mom. A great book to read and reread.
Women of the Word was helpful in making study of the Bible more purposeful and less of an aimless reading of chapters. By Jen Wilkins.
Favourite Children's Books If you are always on the look-out for a good story and wonderful picture books (like I am), HERE are some of my favourite books for kids. It’s very hard in a life-time of reading to make up a list of favourites, but the criteria I used to decide whether a book was a favourite or not was simple: each book had to be one I would gladly read for the second or third time!
Books to Buy At present, only Wait till you see the Butterfly is available, but other books are in the works, and A Better Ending will be in print very soon! Wait till you see the Butterfly is a collection of stories that help children bridge the gap between one’s Christian beliefs on paper and everyday life. [more...]
Books I Grew On This is not a list of my "top ten," or my favourites, or even the best books out there, but simply some books I either grew up on or grew from. [more...]
Book Reviews I’m always on the look-out for wholesome books and when I find them, I try to share them. You’ll find many reviews by myself and like-minded reviewers over at abcbookreviews.wordpress.com. These are mostly children’s books, but the reading level is creeping higher as our children grow. Use the categories “audiobook,” “history,” “ages 10-12,” and so on, to find another good read!
Welcome to this small corner of the world-wide web! I’m so glad you found it. A writing and home-making mom, I hail from Prince Edward Island, these days, but completed my teaching and literature degrees in New Jersey. It was there that I first began writing poetry and putting on grand family plays with some of my nine siblings. You read that right! I was blessed to grow up middle child of nine and had a mom who read to me until I was twelve.
I'm still thankful for a childhood of wholesome freedom and responsibility—from building tree forts and digging clay from the neighbourhood creek to delivering newspapers and selling strawberries—experiences that molded me and gave fodder for the children’s stories I would write on my return to Canada. Back in Ontario, I taught elementary school, edited magazines, and wrote stories—a collection of which forms my book Wait till You See the Butterfly.
As a book-loving, story-writing, mom to seven, I believe that when the pen is used to outline God’s truth, writing is a tool God can use to transform lives. You’ll find me, then, dreaming up stories and poems while bouncing babies or solving algebraic equations. If you’d love to be a fly on the wall in our busy home, here’s a peek through the kitchen window...
While Supper Boils Over
Amid the chaos there’s the joy
Of sticky kisses from the boys.
A box of tissues buys you time
While toddler pulls out seven, eight, nine…
Surprise! A child cleaned their room,
(Just don’t expect a repeat soon).
The baby’s antics make you laugh
And laughs are never done by halves!
(Neither the tears, but they help clean
A face that’s lost its rosy sheen).
Gigantic mess means heaps of fun
(And lots to do when fun is done!)
Once in a while you see the floor,
The table, counter, closet door—
Don’t worry if they’re smudged or dinged
The stuff will soon hide everything.
Words of “wisdom” overheard
With far-fetched thoughts bring heaps of
While stories, books, warm everything,
And songs bring joy to all who sing!
What you will find here are Bible stories for young families, and children's stories that put "hands & feet" on living to God's glory. By God's grace, I am pleased to offer these free resources, along with poems for young and old! Enjoy some children's songs or print off a colouring page for that special child before you leave. Be sure to check back for new stories and material as it is added! For weekly encouragement follow @an.everyday.faith on instagram or HERE, or look for practical ideas in the journal entries below. May God bless you in your quest to provide Bible teaching material for the children in your life. Thank you for visiting!
From the Journal...
We are planting, these days—seeds and God's word. Praying for His blessing on both! When I was a teenager, we began reading the Bible in turns around the dinner table. Followed by the singing of a psalm, this was a blessing—a time to let go of the squabbles and differences that inhabit homes with teenagers—a time to focus on truth, and lift our voices in praise!
Lord, let me feel the weight of blessing—
Every golden drop
Of sunshine, nature, song confessing
Praise to our Creator great.
Let my soul rise joyous, strengthened
Under such a weight
Of word or quiet, gladsome noise,
A footfall at the gate.
For all of this and so much more,
Lord, let my spirit feel
Thanks for this sweet weight of blessing
Under which I kneel.
Just thinking today that every bit of goodness that we share with our children is worth something—whether it be taught through story, song, art, handwork, recitation, nature or another means! It seems like the best lessons are often at risk of being sabotaged, but we keep on, convinced that “line upon line; here a little and there a little” is forming character and, by God’s grace, creating an appetite for the good. Hard winds of temptation will blow and so we squirrel away all the good we can!
I heard this in a sermon recently: “Learn the promises of God in advance. When the time of crisis or darkness comes, it is too late to start learning them. Store up the Word of God, like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter; for the wintertime of life will surely come when you will need God’s promises to act as an anchor for your soul.” Sinclair Ferguson
“Normal childhood play, riddled with joys and conflict as it has always been, “educates” at a profound level. The secret is not to deprive a child of his sword, but to make the sword with him and teach him a code of honour. In other words, chivalry. Responsibility. Character. Justice.” —Michael O’Brien in A Landscape with Dragons: the Battle for Your Child’s Mind. I am really enjoying a second read through this book—as the lengthy quotes I am copying out attest!
'The way to do a thing is to do it' J.C. Ryle.
"Effective Bible study is largely a matter of good work habits. Begin with firm determination; begin at once. Never wait until you are in the mood, or you may wait for weeks. Get in the mood by starting; the Bible creates its own mood. As J. C. Ryle says about it, 'The way to do a thing is to do it.' The way to read the Bible is actually to read it--not wishing and meaning and resolving and intending and thinking about reading the Bible, but actually reading it. You will not advance one step until you have done that." This resonated with me! I came across it in the article ‘Reading the Scriptures’ in the Reformation Heritage Study Bible, p. 1920.
“There are many precious things we shall never see unless we read the Word of God in large chunks. We would never read fifteen lines of any other piece of literature and then set it aside, believing that we had thus satisfied the author's original intentions. To see the whole massive movement of biblical thought, the Scriptures need to be read frequently and from Genesis to Revelation. The Christian must be content with nothing less. He will not understand individual verses unless he has the framework of knowledge which a larger aquaintance with Scripture provides.”
Snow just makes the cold more bearable and the short days more cheery. Along with candles and music and baking, of course! Perhaps you can also tuck a notebook and pen among your Christmas décor…I can’t help thinking that candles and beautiful music are two of those “good and perfect gift[s]” that come “from above from the Father of lights,” yet, as general, good gifts, they only open our eyes to something of the Father’s character—they do not impart grace. For true worship and for the receiving of grace we must come ready to hear, for God has ordained “the foolishness of preaching” as the primary means of grace. Perhaps, then, when we make preparations for the Christmas season, we could include a blank notebook and pen for those church services where we wait to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches”!
The early church did not celebrate Christmas, but each year, it seemed, Paul was eager to commemorate Pentecost. What a day that had been when the veil was abruptly lifted from thousands of Hebrew eyes—and for the first time they saw their Messiah, crucified, risen, and ascended! The Light of the World had burst into their darkened thoughts and given understanding. And Paul wanted to be there each year, not to reenact the old traditions, but to preach the Lamb of God! Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16-17; 1 Corinthians 5:7.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
“A truthful story that lacks beauty is nearly as dangerous as a beautiful story that lacks truth.” There’s something to that! Curators of “living books” walk a narrow line—on the one hand there are those truthful books that are dull and perhaps even stultifying, and on the other hand are beautifully written books that disguise a lie!
With a prayer for wisdom as parents and discernment for our children, we choose carefully—and if I had to fall into one of the two ditches…I would choose the unadorned truth, because truth is living, after all, embodied in the Son of God who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and if the Spirit breathes through the dullest book, its truths will become living indeed. And a beautiful story of truth, winsomely told? It is a treasure, indeed! A welcome breath of fresh air…
("Living books" refers to first-hand accounts or books written by authors who are passionate and knowledgeable about the subject.)
“It is not enough to teach our children Truth. They must also grow to love it!” And while we cannot manufacture a love of truth in their hearts, (2 Corinthians 2:14), we can strive to present truth in a winsome way! Present truth as beauty, present it with love, present it through story, and hold up the beautiful Saviour as Truth incarnate. Our attitude towards what we are teaching may carry even more weight than all that we say...
But why even bother with this “persistent truth-speaking”? Why take time to “delight in beauty” with your children? Paul writes that those who reject the gospel in favor of a lie, do so because they are easily deceived—because they did not Love the truth... (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
Just as the body feeds daily on food, the mind needs daily ideas to feed on. When I consider how listless I feel because I haven’t read anything or had a stimulating conversation for a day or two, this observation by Miss Mason seems entirely self-evident! And when I consider how restless the kids can become during summer holidays or breaks, it becomes even more clear.
Ideas are the cure for restlessness or boredom, not simply more activity. A single idea, attractively couched in a story or anecdote, awakes the dormant mind and gives direction to the day. (I guess this is my long-winded way of saying get your kids to read a little every day, or read to them!)
Grant love for my children, O Lord, and a quiet tongue;
eyes to see their soul;
patience to accept their abundance of attention;
and joy in their swarming affection.
“What do you have to say that’s worth sharing?! Look at your own home! Look at your own life!” Ever have those thoughts planted in your mind? Well, I don’t need to argue with “that old serpent.” He’s right! I don’t have it all “together,” and that FAILURE he stamps on my forehead is accurate. But what he wants you and I to forget, is that if Jesus is our Saviour, there’s a new stamp on our forehead: REDEEMED. And so we have something to say, after all. Not “look at me!” but “look at what this gracious Saviour is willing and able to do! He has been faithful through my daily failures. He is more than worthy to follow!”
“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations” Psalm 89:1. “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works” Psalm 105:1-2.
“Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.” Charlotte Mason
We provide, by God’s grace, the ideas, resources, plan, and atmosphere. The kids sabotage the plans. God blesses the children with curiosity, wonder, and the desire to soak up free minutes with all kinds of interests. And time, faithful time, marches steadily on, stealing the minutes but—we pray—yielding the years’ fruit.
Good Friday 2019
Behold the Lamb of God! Good Friday, when we remember our Lord's suffering and atonement for sin on the cross, is nearly here. The Old and New Testament of Scripture have much to say about this momentous event and we and our children can benefit from reading some passages aloud. Click HERE for a printable Bible reading compiled from Isaiah, John and Lamentations.
"We will not hide from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done...that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." Psalm 78:4-7
When I ordered some Bibles on clearance and found they have very fine print (not good for my young readers), we started using them to highlight all the verses we have memorized. This has been great for review, as well as encouraging for new readers when they pick up their Bibles, since there are many verses that they can read!
I do love reading daily from a well-written Bible storybook with the 3-5 year olds, but these littles can take in a lot from the other daily Bible readings too! Here’s a simple way to make unabridged Bible readings much easier for them to comprehend: substitute pronouns with proper nouns, that is, replace “he” “they” “you” “thee” etc, with the person’s actual name. It makes a huge difference!
If you are looking for something different this year as a Bible reading plan, the printable over at www.bible-reading.com has a read the Bible in one year plan that arranges the books by topic. This means you read something from the epistles on Sundays, history on Tuesdays, gospels on Saturdays etc. And it’s not too late to start! The first reading is scheduled for the first Sunday of January 🙂
This year is fast coming to a close and may be bringing an end—or a fresh start—to your Bible reading plans. Why not add in a notebook this year, if you don’t? Carolyn Mahaney suggested in one of her books to write down two sentences after each Scripture reading. The first begins with “God...” and the second begins with “I...” So simple, yet it can bring great truths to light.
I found this helpful list of passages relating to the birth of Christ, in the back of my daughter’s Bible. They have been good to read through the Christmas season together...
Immanuel, God with Us, Isaiah 7:14
The Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:1-7
The Stem of Jesse, Isaiah 11:1-10
The Branch of Righteousness, Jeremiah 33:15-18
To be born in Bethlehem, Micah 5:2,3
Gabriel appears to Mary, Luke 1:26-56
An angel appears to Joseph, Matthew 1:18-25
Christ born in Bethlehem, Luke 2:1-20
Visit of the Magi, Matthew 2:1-12
Flight to Egypt, Matthew 2:13-23
The Word became flesh, John 1:1-18
God sent his Son, Hebrews 1:1-12
Listening to the leaves fall on the front lawn...yes, listening! With such a heavy frost, they were falling steadily the other day, each with an unmistakable swish One day we'll all let go that limb of life--a swish--and this life's done. Until then, there are smoother seasons and harder ones. Here, a poem from a few Octobers ago...
"Oh!" said the bow to the hand that bore it,
"I'm stretched far more than I can bear!
My cord will snap, or else my frame;
I wasn't meant for such hard wear."
The bearer asked reluctant bow,
"Did you not say you wished to see
A fleet of arrows fill the air;
A useful bow of mine you'd be?
"Then bend and bear the taxing strain
I lay on you with strong, sure hands
And know that, so, your arrows fly
Each fitted to fulfill my plans."
In the middle of a sibling squabble, it’s easy to look around and see someone else’s children getting along so sweetly. In the early days of parenting I would think, “What am I doing wrong here? What is she doing that I’m not?” But time has shown the answer. “She has been to the mercy seat on behalf of her children....again and again.” For it’s mercy and grace that they need in order to overcome that enormous “I” so they can get along with each other. And the most perfect parenting in the world can’t reach that inner place that grace can. So it’s grace when I see four feet poking out from under a big book. And I grab my camera with thanks!
“The man who can read but doesn’t, has no advantage over the man who can’t read.”
Attributed to Mark Twain
"Sunday" books. Did you have those growing up? Those books, or that shelf of books, from which you could choose your Sunday reading material? In a book study conversation last year we were discussing how peculiar this idea sounds: "No, my dear, you can read that book during the week but not on Sunday. It's not a book for Sunday." ?? Isn't this a little two-faced? If you shouldn't be reading it on Sunday, should you even be reading it during the week?
Like many things, however, on reflection the practice makes good sense... Yes, one's faith is to be carried out during the week as well as on "the Lord's day" (as John puts it), but our Lord knows how weak and forgetful we are in our walk, and bids us set aside one day a week to recall who we are and who He is! And it is the books that help us and our children do this, that become "Sunday" books. .
Isaiah speaks to this beautifully in chapter 58: "If thou turn thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Pictured above, is a book from a series by Patricia St. John that I'm excited to see back in print! Great "Sunday" material for kids. For myself, I read a variety of books, but a collection that has stood the test of time and speaks so warmly and biblically on a wide range of topics are Maurice Robert’s "The Thought of God," "The Christian’s High Calling," and "Great God of Wonders." They are just as good the second time around
It is a strange feeling, this, having no idea what God has in store for your children’s futures, but called to prepare them—character, intellect, heart and soul…
"Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage." C.S. Lewis
Reading in Ryle these days. He has a gift for being clear and practical, even a century later! I found this insightful...
"Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer." J.C.Ryle in Practical Religion
Ready for the parallel? Life doesn’t come out as smoothly as some knitting projects do. Progress slows as we return for missed stitches and untangle knots. So there are times of running and other times it is all we can do to crawl on—but John Bunyan puts it best himself in The Pilgrim’s Progress as he wrote centuries ago:
“I looked then after Christian, to see him go up the hill, where I perceived he fell from running to going, and from going to clambering upon his hands and his knees, because of the steepness of the place...”
"When night comes and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much which one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take it all as it is, lay it in God’s hands and offer it up to Him. In this way we will be able to rest in Him. Actually to rest. And to begin a new day like a new life." Edith Stein
January seems to be a time for planning, but often things don't go as planned--even when they are good plans! We fall back, then, on our Lord's words that "my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are my ways your ways...."
Lilias Trotter came up against so many obstacles in her inner city outreach in North Africa, and she expresses this faith so beautifully! "I am full of hope that when God delays in fulfilling our little thoughts, it is to have Himself room to work out his great ones."
What a pity when you pick up last year’s Bible memory work and realize no one remembers it anymore! So often God speaks through his memorized word, hidden in the heart. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee...” Psalm 119:11. But how to keep it there?
I was excited to find this index card box with tabs and a simple system for reviewing previous memory verses while learning new ones. It’s an ideal system as you simply follow the tabs to recite a daily verse, a verse for the day of the week, a verse for the date of the month, and an odd or even numbered verse. In this way verses are reviewed daily, weekly, and monthly.
For a complete explanation, a free download of hundreds of Bible verse index cards in KJV or ESV, see SimplyCharlotteMason.com and look under Bookstore and then Bible Study. You can print off your own cards and cut them out, or order them ready to go. For a lovely wooden index box, visit the dollar store then get out your sandpaper, stain, and varnish 🙂
No, our life is certainly not made up of tidy, picturesque moments, nor our hours saturated in sweetness. We are working at living and shaping characters, and having our rough edges sanded is never a comfortable experience. However, I find it so easy to focus on the mess and strife and burden and difficulties involved in running a big household, that these pictures of grace poured out in moments here and there is a reminder to me of God’s goodness and overflowing blessing and support.
"The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord." --George Muller
And just because....another Lilias quote . An amazing woman, by God's grace...
"The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. May it not be that the human impossibility is just the very thing that sets His hand free?—and that it is the things which are possible for us to do that He is in a measure to let alone?" Lilias Trotter
I’ve been reading about Lilias Trotter in “A Passion for the Impossible,” and want to share a favourite quote...but it will be hard to keep it to one!
"It has come with a sense of utter rest, these last days, that God expects nothing from us in all this or in anything else for that matter—and it is when we have got to the point of seeing that God expects nothing from us, that we can expect everything from Him." Lilias Trotter