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A New Year's Challenge

1. Challenge: Evaluate your reading

I’ve often been challenged and now want to challenge you to evaluate the books that you are reading:

- Family read-aloud books

- School assigned books

- Books for free time reading

- Books you are planning to discuss as a family

In your evaluation check for:

- Ideas that encourage

- Messages for how to live especially in difficult circumstances

- Patterns worth copying

- Language that stretches thinking

- Principles that fit with your philosophy of living, discussing when they don’t

- Opportunities to see lies and evil defeated

- Thoughts that spur discussion

For our reading the greatest source is the Bible. In it we discover that we are loved. We learn the the ONE who loves us is the Creator of all. We are led to hunger to know Him — the very one who wrote this great Book.

2. Great Books

For me, great books are those which have shown examples and illustrations of the great teachings from the greatest Book.

For example:

* Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. In this book we get a picture of the struggle it could be to arrive at Celestial City. We are also vividly shown the character of God. It is well worth your time to read, discuss, apply and enjoy. And reread!

* The Holy War by John Bunyan and The War for Mansoul (a retelling of the The Holy War for children) are also books that help you separate evil and holy. These books are helpful after Pilgrim’s Progress has been discussed and the student is in middle school.

Looking at more examples in no particular order:

* The Basket of Flowers by Christoph von Schmid is a great choice for dealing with being mistreated and seeing God with you during unfairness. This was an unusual book to me because we all want to be treated fairly, yet here is a story of God with her during the unfairness.

* Mary Jones and her Bible by Mary E. Ropes. We have Bibles in every room of our house, in the pew at church or on the big screen during preaching. Bibles for us are readily available but the great story of Mary obtaining her own copy of the Word reminds us of how precious the Word is. We are given a new vision for wanting the Word.

* The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford. The needed character trait of perseverance is beautifully illustrated in this true story.

Many other excellent books from whatever your need can be found from publishers such as:

Banner of Truth

Lamplighter Publishing

Ligonier Ministries

Master Books

Focus on the Family

Mission organizations as OMF International

The main point about reading: Read with a purpose, always include Bible in your daily reading. Read other books to point you to understanding the Bible. Remember to have fun!

3. Wonderful Winter

Why not add something to your school that winter encourages. For example:

* Learn to make hot chocolate from scratch

* Research a recipe from years ago and try it — such as taffy or cinnamon rolls

* Make a big pot of bone soup and take a quart to someone who may be lonely

* Stop in to visit someone who would love to hear you read a Psalm

* Memorize a Psalm as a family as you sit by the fire and munch apples

* Check on those flowers you dried and make a wreath or arrangement as a gift

* Learn to knit. Use YouTube if needed.

You may, of course, add your own ideas to suit the interests of your family. You might want to invite another family in for a Lego competition or a round of Monopoly.

How are these activities school? As the mind works on different activities it is growing in ways that will make other learning easier and encouraged.

4. Singing

Have you ever thought of writing a song or poem — doing it together as a family. Maybe you could include things that are unique about your family or things that your family enjoys. You could include fun things or funny things, vacation preferences, habits, animals and scares. Then you might decide to recite (read) it as a family on each member’s birthday. Enjoy!

5. Looking Forward

If you are looking for a good place to begin 2020, consider memorizing as a family:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Take advantage of the teaching in these verses as phrase by phrase you memorize.

God bless you and yours in the New Year and always. Merry Christmas!

Love, Becky

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