Free Christmas Music

Looking for great music to play during your upcoming family, volunteer or staff Christmas party?  Download this free (yes I said FREE) CD sampler from

Christmas sampler cd

The Beauty of Partnering With Parents

“Partnering with parents” is a very popular phrase for those in children’s ministry and student ministry.  We realize that (or we should realize) that this is one of the key relationships that we should foster as ministry leaders.

I have always struggled somewhat with what it means to truly partner with parents.  Sure, we can send home a take-home page that reviews what was taught in class, knowing very well that these pages will either be left behind on Sunday mornings or serve as mats in the car.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s very important to put resources into the hands of parents.  But we can’t stop there.

As I continue to wrap my brain around this concept, I am convinced more and more that true partnership is (1) each partner knowing what the common goals are, (2) knowing what role each partner plays in moving toward the common goals and (3) communicating effectively and regularly about the progress being made.

This weekend, I’ll wrap up teaching our three-week Communion class for 2nd-5th graders and their parents.  Having the parents attend with their child is great because they are able to not only hear what we’re teaching their child but it allows them to engage in dialogue about their own spiritual walk right on the spot.  (Parents are also provided a tool to use in continuing the conversation at home about what was provided in class.)

In my opinion, true partnership between the church and parents happens when there is conversation between them as well as resources being put into the hands of the parents.  There is also a responsibility for ministries to encourage and provide venues for conversation between parents and children.

For the past two weeks, I have witnessed parents and children talking at the tables and parents helping their children understand what it means to be loved by Christ, forgiven and welcomed at The Lord’s Table.  Parents were happy to share and children sat in awe of hearing their parents share with them.  It was  priceless exchange.  No take home page could replace that.

What are your thoughts?  How do you partner with parents in your ministry?  If you’re a parent, what ways does your church help you to be a better parent and spiritual leader?

{Book Review} and Free Book Giveaway: “The One Year Be-Tween You and God”

My thirteen-year-old daughter, Kennedy, and I recently reviewed Sandra Byrd’s recently released “The One Year Be-Tween You & God”, a devotional for girls ages 9-14.

About the Book

You have questions, some very personal and deep, others lighter and funny.  In this devotional, bestselling teen and tween author Sandra Byrd tackles 365 of those questions with scripturally based answers designed just for today’s girl.  

This devotional is like a personal diary between you and God.  Your questions and God’s answers from Scripture will lead you to a solid faith and deeper relationship with him.

Kennedy’s Thoughts

The outside cover of the book had a really cool design.  I think that is a big hit for girls my age.  Each devotional began with a “Dear God” question that is relevant and age-appropriate for preteen and teen girls like me.  I liked that each devotional had a corresponding scripture and an application prayer at the end.

I felt that the devotional lacked color and was kind of dull in appearance in the inside.  That part is not appealing for girls my age.  I like that while the book has a scripture index, I think that a topical index would help girls find devotions around a topic that they are going through at a given time.

Overall, I think the content is great and would help many girls my age answer questions about God and life in general.

Kathie’s Thoughts

I was thrilled to receive a copy of “The One Year Be-Tween You and God” devotional book for girls.  As a mom of a teenage daughter, I am always on the lookout for great resources to help her grow in her relationship with Christ.

The book contains 365 devotions, one for each day of the year.  Each devotional contains a “Dear God” question (written from the prospective of a “tween”); a “Consider This” devotional thought written by the author; a follow-up question; and a passage of Scripture. The scripture passages were taken from the New Living Translation, which I think makes God’s Word easily understood by preteens and teens.

I think that the majority of “Dear God” questions were age-appropriate.  They covered friendship, self-worth, popularity, fashion/beauty, school, following God and family relationships.  Some, in my opinion, seemed geared towards older teens.  For example, “Dear God, I still feel embarrassed about some stuff I did in the past.  How can I stop thinking about it?”  I’m not sure how much of a past a nine-year-old would have.

I agree with my daughter that it would have been more appealing if the pages were in color instead of black, white and gray.  I also agree that a topical index would allow for more personal application.  Finally, it would have been great if the book included a space for the girls to journal some of their thoughts.

Overall, I think the book is a great option for preteen and early teen girls.  I think it will help girls grapple with their faith and other issues they face during these impressionable years.

I am giving away a free copy of this resource!  You’ll be automatically entered to win when you leave a “Pick Me!” comment along with your name below.  The opportunity to enter ends at 5:00 pm EST on October 31, 2012.  

Tyndale House Publishers provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.