Friday, June 24, 2011

Revolutionary Parenting

Revolutionary parenting, George Barna

I thought I was having a break from parenting books, but a request for input combined with a trip to Koorong drove me to the ‘parenting shelves’ and now I have made another few purchases.

First one I read was Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna. It’s a short book to read ~150 pgs and it only takes about 2 hours, but it packs a punch which I am still thinking through.

Barna’s premise is that we are over-saturated with parenting books, however none are based on objective research. Rather virtually everything we read on parenting is someone’s opinion, assumptions, observations or experience. He set out to change that. He is founder of the Barna Group, a research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. What they have done is survey, research and interview people who he terms ‘spiritual champions’; and their parents, whom he terms ‘revolutionary parents’. ‘Spiritual champions’ are
individuals who have embraced Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord; accept the Bible as truth and as the guide for life; and seek to live in obedience to it’s principles and in search of ways to continually deepen their relationship with God. (xvi)

He goes on to further expound how they might look:
  • they possess a biblical worldview that affects decision making, including the fact that there are moral absolutes
  • they believe they have been created by God to serve Him
  • they believe that our lives should reflect the character of God
  • they carefully screen the media they ingest
  • they have a deep and intense commitment to their relationship with God and other Christians
  • they strive to change the world in small but life-impacting ways

The book is then divided into 3 sections. The first section describes the crisis in parenting (in an American context). The second details the research and the third summarises some bible teaching and a way forward (I thought this third section was the weakest).

The second section which details the research and its results, and is by far the bulk of the book, is excellent. Barna has divided it up into chapters which address all aspects of parenting, and how being a ‘revolutionary parent’ can affect real change in our children, helping them to become spiritual champions. He addresses character, discipline, roles of a parent, planning as a parent, faith and how we teach it, and many other aspects.

Personally, I found it very helpful. It made me stop and think again about the choices we have made and continue to make for our children. It gave me confidence that some of the decisions we have already made were good and that we should stand firm in them, despite what others may think. It also made me think again about what the most important things are that we want to teach our children and to keep trying to keep them at the forefront of our minds and planning. These are primarily the matters of faith we want to teach our children, and the way we want to do so.

However, I suspect this book also (like any parenting book) has the ability to cause doubts, despair and guilt. Because it’s research that’s being presented, it is quite dry and then quite directive. He draws direct links between this is what they did and it worked, therefore you should do the same. As a result, many who are already a little way in to this whole parenting thing could just end up feeling inadequate and guilty for what they have not done with their children.

Having said that, the overriding message of the book is: you can do this. You can parent your children this way. He also gives two very helpful and important reminders along the way.

1. Many parents they spoke to did not have an upbringing that prepared them to be spiritual champions, and many are not ‘superstar’ Christians today. This is immensely relieving! What those parents decided however was that the greatest gift they could give their children was a sound upbringing based on biblical principles. (p30)

2. We cannot control the outcome of our parenting. Our responsibility is the obedient to God in raising our children, but the outcomes are up to him. (p24). This is incredibly freeing! All we can do is continue to be faithful, and trust God with the outcome.

It’s a book well worth reading. If you are willing to be challenged about what your parenting priorities are in raising children who will love the Lord Jesus, add it to your parenting book collection – it will get you thinking about how you want to do so.

Friday, June 17, 2011

for men only

for men only, Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn

Last year I did a series on the book for women only, by Shaunti Feldhahn. I though it was a very helpful book giving insight for women about the man they love. It addressed the way men think and respond to us as women, focusing on the relationship between a husband and wife.

Husband and I have now gotten around to reading for men only and we both though it was just as helpful. It helps to explain women (generally of course), but has observations and insight that many men will find helpful. The topics generally match those in for women only, but explain the female perspective to the male reader. These include:
  • that she has an underlying insecurity about the steadfastness of his love, which means she needs him to reassure her of his love.
  • how she thinks - like a computer with lots of windows open and running - many often with feeling attached to them. Sometimes she cannot control which thoughts dominate over other ones
  • she wants emotional security much more than financial security, although few men truly believe this
  • she often really does just want him to listen, not fix it
  • if her desire for sex is less that his, it is likely nothing to do with him, but rather how she is made. That is, it is not because she doesn't find him desirable.
  • she needs to know he thinks she's beautiful and has eyes only for her

Reading it from a female perspective, I thought it had some good points.  Husband found it helpful to clarify some things I have been trying to explain for years.

I think these books would be good reading for any couple. But you have to be willing to talk about the issues raised. No point deciding 'all women' or 'all men' are like this if you or your spouse aren't. As we read both books, what we were really interested in was the answer to 'is this true for you?'

Worth reading, especially in those early years of marriage, when you are really are still trying to figure each other out!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Benefits of literacy

I love it when my children learn to read and write. For my daughter, who would talk all the time if she could, it has opened up a whole new way to communicate with me.

This is the type of note that now greets me in the bathroom.

Can't underestimate the benefits of literacy, you might even get your hair done the way you like!

Friday, June 10, 2011



This is the Good Book Company's devotional material for adults. I have only just started it in the last few months, having been sent a promotional copy with an order.

So far I am pretty impressed. It has been enough to easily manage in one sitting, but yet still enough to make you think. A couple of the studies have stuck in my mind for days, which shows I have really learnt something.

I have just ordered a subscription for a year. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, June 3, 2011



Moving up in age from Beginning with God material, we come to XTB.*

XTB is marketed for 7-10 year-olds. We have found it's perfect to start using whenever a child is a relatively competent reader. When our son started using this material, he just did it on his own and we asked him about it after. Now our daughter (6) has just started using it, and one of us sits down to do it with her every night. She can follow the instructions, loves filling in the activities, and can either follow along when we read the bible passage or she can try to read it herself. It's become a lovely way to end the day together.

Our 8-year old son is still doing XTB as well, he is up to Volume 7 or 8 and has declared he wants to finish them all before he moves on (there are 12 volumes to date).

XTB also have specific material for Christmas: Christmas Unpacked, and Easter: Easter Unscrambled, as well as a summer holiday version: Summer Signposts. All 3 of these combine XTB and Table Talk material (See *below) in the one booklet. We have used both the Christmas and Easter material and are very happy with them. We may just keep ordering new booklets for each year.

To see some sample pages of material, go via here.

* Actually there is a resource in the middle called 'Table Talk', which is suitable for families with children from age 4 or 5, but we have gone with the individual age-appropriate ones for our children. It just seems to work better for us at the moment. I know many families who use 'Table Talk' and it works well for them.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

5 books that changed who I am: meme

Nicole tagged me in a meme, started by Ally. To play along, I need to share five books that changed who I am. Rules are:

• Tag between 3 and 5 people
• link back to this post.
• call the post '5 books that changed who I am'
• enjoy.

I agree with Nicole, I really struggled to narrow it to 5.

1. The Bible - completely transformed my life with God's gracious offer of salvation through Jesus Christ, and continues to do so. It was the book of James from which I was converted and it still holds a special place in my heart.

2. Praying the Scriptures for your children, Jodie Bernt. This book helped me to think about better ways to pray and how to pray straight from the bible. It changed my whole prayer life.

3. The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness, Tim Chester. This is a recent addition and it has really helped me at what I would categorise to be 'an extremely busy life stage'. I have had many misconceptions about the reasons for my own busyness torn down, and I still trying to think through much of it and how I need to deal with a tendency to overcommit for sinful reasons. (I recently blogged through this one in detail on in tandem).

4. Operation World, Jason Mandryk. While I don't read and pray from this nearly as often as I would like, I love what this book does. It's a prayer guide that covers every nation and contains a wealth of information to help you pray for the people of the world intelligently and informatively. It will broaden your horizons and make you realise how big God is, how large his church, and how small you are in comparison.

5. And for fiction, I can hardly choose. To sneak in a few extra titles, in the past year I have absolutely loved The Book Thief and The Time Traveller's Wife. However, for a series of books that I love and are my 'comfort' books - I read them when I need a break - I can't go past Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series. They combine history, romance and a wonderful story of an entire marriage. If only she would finish the 8th in the series soon!

I am going to break the rules at this point, and not really tag anyone, but if you want to continue go for it. However, I do know 3 bloggers who are big book fans, so perhaps Meredith, Tamie or Jenny might be up for it? No pressure is a little like a chain letter!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grief just is

Following on from yesterday's reference to Sarie's blog, there is another great article there by Narelle Jarrett on the grief of singleness. Here is an extract:
Grief demands to be recognized and allowed to be what it is - an uncontrollable emotional response - sadness - in the experience of a great loss.

No one chooses grief - it just is.
It sweeps across us unexpectedly, it catches us by surprise and it refuses to disappear just because we want it to.

It demands acknowledgement, it demands that we pay attention. That is why it is so cruel when we are called to 'trust God and get on with serving'.... In most instances we are in fact already doing just that...

Because the griefs of singleness and of not having children are so deep, so real and so totally right, they can't be dismissed or dealt with by anything other than allowing ourselves to grieve. Grieving with the friends who understand and who don't imply we are being self centred or self-pitying or even that we're doubting God's goodness. Such hurtful and totally inappropriate, even cruel responses to women and men in grief, do not help. In fact they add to the isolation and loneliness of grief.

It's a good, honest article, which many of us would benefit from. Read the whole post here.