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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Using Children's Literature to Teach Life Long Social Skills: Making Friends, Dealing with Bullies and Accepting Who You Were Made To Be!

Lately I was discussing some social skills issues, specifically making friends, dealing with bullying and building up self-esteem, with a group of ladies who have young children in the preschool years.  I mentioned to them that I have found children's literature to be a HUGE help with these particular areas as I was raising my young children and also in my own preschool classroom.  I spent some time looking over the different books I have used over the years and thought that I would share them here in this blog.  Keep in mind that this is only a teeny-tiny peek into the VAST world of children's literature - there is soooo much out there.  But I have found the following to work well and many of these rate among my favorite pieces of literature of all time! 
Chrysanthemum , Kevin Henkes
 - deals with the issue of teasing
The Berenstain Bears and the Bully, Stan and Jan Berenstian
 - bullying
Bootsie Barker Bites, Barbara Bottner
 - bullying
I Wish That I Had Duck Feet, Dr.Seuss (writing as Theo LeSieg)
 - being comfortable with yourself as you were made to be
Yo! Yes!, Chris Raschka
 - making friends across cultural differences
Yes We Can!, Sam McBratney
 - making friends and positive play
The Friendly Book, Margaret Wise Brown
 - provokes thoughts about what a child likes - what makes them unique and what we might have in common
Do You Know What I'll Do?, Charlotte Zolotow
 - great book about being a sibling
The Mixed Up Chameleon, Eric Carle
 - being satisfied with who you are
The Grouchy Ladybug, Eric Carle
 - emotions/bullying
The Very Lonely Firefly. Eric Carle
- making friends
From Head to Toe, Eric Carle
 - body parts, movement
 - social skills of listening, focusing attention, and following directions
Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth, Eric Carle
 - unique characteristics of individuals
Best Friends, Steven Kellogg
 - good times and challenges between friends

The Little Scarecrow Boy, Margaret Wise Brown
 - passing on knowledge from one generation to the next
I Love You The Purplest, Barbara Joosse
 - unique qualities in two siblings
 - the love of a mother to a child
A Rainbow of Friends, P.K. Halinen
 - celebrating differences
Do You Want to Be My Friend?, Eric Carle
 - making friends
Pancakes, Pancakes, Eric Carle
 - being helpful results in good things
Swimmy, Leo Lionni
 - teamwork and strength in differences
Rainbow Fish, M.Pfister
 - cautionary tale of selfishness and vanity
Amazing Grace, Mary Hoffman
 - positive message of self-affirmation
Frederick, Leo Lionni
 - respecting others' differences, mediation and imagination
It's Mine, Leo Lionni
 - selfishness
Peter's Chair, Ezra Jack Keats
 - sharing with siblings
Ruby In Her Own Time, Jonathan Emmett
 - self esteem, late bloomers
The Lion and the Mouse, Bernadette Watts
 - helping others
 - differences
The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper
 - endurance and seeing a task to its finish
 - also the engine (hero) is a girl in this story!
The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
 - accepting positive boundaries
 - the love of a mother
 - trust
The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf
 - staying true to ones self
 - uniqueness in individuals
 - I love to read this with an accent and roll my "rrrr"s :)


Monday, March 7, 2011


  "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh...
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."  
Galations 5:16, 25

I am reading Francis Chan's book, Forgotten God.  If you have not had the opportunity to dive into this book, then I recommend that you put on your swim trunks and take the plunge!  It is AMAZING! If you have read the book, then you will probably agree with me in saying that God is using Francis to be a voice of instruction for "radical living" in this crazy, selfish world!

I just finished Chapter 6 (yes, I am a little behind Bible Study friends from FBC Bentonville)  and was left with some thoughts that I wanted to journal about here on my blog.  God continues to reveal His Word to me in new and refreshing ways - even though I have read some of the  scripture over and over!  And that is the case with Galations 5:16 and 25.  In Paul's letter to the Galations, he is encouraging the believers there to "keep in step with the Holy Spirit."  We often hear the phrase or even say it ourselves, "walking with the Spirit".  And often times we use it as a desire for the revelation of God's ultimate "will" for our lives.  If we "walk" with  the Spirit, then surely God will reveal His plan for the rest of our days, right?  But Francis puts it so beautifully in his book.  I am quoting from Chapter 6 in Forgotten God:

I think dwelling on God's plan for the future often excuses us from faithful and sacrificial living now.  It tends to create a "safe zone" of sorts, where we can sit around and have "spiritual" conversations about what God "might" have planned for our lives.  Thinking, questioning, and talking can take the place of letting the Spirit affect our immediate ACTIONS in radical ways.  God wants to see His children STAKE EVERYTHING on His power and presence in their lives.        

That hit me so hard this morning - stake everything on His power and presence!  
People, that is what RADICAL is all about!  
I don't want to just "talk" about it anymore.  Tim and I have been "talking" about God's plan for our future - wondering what it will look like, praying for His will to be revealed - and all that is well and good.  But what RADICAL (not ridiculous) steps are we taking to "walk by the Spirit" daily?  Walking is a verb - which means ACTION!  

My prayer is that Christians would truly WALK -TAKE ACTION in their daily lives to live for Jesus and make His name renown!  This is a call for radical faith:
"Being willing to suffer anything and forsake everything for the sake of the gospel!  

Friday, March 4, 2011

One Crazy, Dramatic, Creative Crew!

This is my lovely family!  
We had this taken at Thanksgiving of 2010!  
My grandmother, Mammy is sitting center.
Also pictured is my brother, Buddy Blue (on the left) and his family 
- Brandy, Lesley, Chloe, Kinley, Gini and Ji-Eun.
 My Aunt Carla and my cousins and their families.

I treasure each and every one of these lovely people!
They each have incredible talents  and gifts and life stories that would amaze you - together we make one crazy, dramatic, creative crew!  

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Many times I wonder why we don't see the hand of the Lord so evidently as the people of the Old Testament.  I sometimes feel a bit envious of what they were able to experience.  I long to have the Lord speak to me out of a burning bush or part the waters or lead me about by a pillar of fire!  But then I realize, His evidence is all around me and in me!  I speed through life so fast that I often miss the times that He is speaking and working and moving.  And it is in moments like this morning that He truly gives me my own little "burning bush"....

Our family is going through a trying time right now.  I won't share in depth, but what we have known as "normal" in our daily lives, is beginning to be changed - drastically.  So, our family has made a covenant to hold fast to the Lord and to one another and be an example of what the Lord can do through trying circumstances.  It is our desire for God to be glorified in our actions.  But to do this, we seek Him daily!  Tim and I both read the Daily Bible Reading Plan  through an app on our i-phones.  We both are reading the Chronological Bible Plan (which by the way is amazing!!!)  So, I was reading in bed early this morning while Tim was up getting ready and we were discussing some of the things I was reading in Job.  Then Tim went out to the living room to read his daily reading.  He is in the book of Numbers.  He had only been out there for a very brief time, when I heard him calling for me.  So, I went out to the living room and he was sitting in his usual chair with his i-phone but he was just staring at it with this face of amazement.  He went on to tell me that he had sat down and opened his Bible app - thinking that it would open, as it always does, to the last place he was reading on the previous day.   (And this is where the "burning bush" started flaming!!!!)  When he opened the app, instead of it being in Numbers it was directly on Philippians 4: 12-13!  If you are not familiar with that scripture, let me just share with you:

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

WOW!!!!!!  Can you say - "burning bush"!?!?!  YES - it was a burning bush!  Do I believe God ordained for that to happen to us this morning - YES!  God is good!  It may not be apparent by your physical circumstances in life - perhaps you have lost all your belongings in a fire or your finances are burdened due to the recession or you are suffering from a tragedy or physical illness.  But just as Job experienced extreme loss in his life, he still stood up and said -  God is good!  May I have the same attitude and faith - that is my prayer!  And the scripture sent as our "burning bush" stands as a testament that God is with us in the good times and what we consider the bad times.  It is my prayer that "He is working all things for the sake of His glory."  

So, my encouragement to you today is to take time to see, hear, taste, touch and smell God's handiwork.  He is moving and working and is ever-present in our lives.  We just need to slow down to really see the "burning bush" - or it just becomes a flash of light out the window as we speed on down the road of life.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It's been a while since I have "blogged" here, but believe me, my mind has been racing and I definitely need to "dump" some of the content - so, here goes!

As I have shared before, I had the great privilege to go to Passion 2011 in Atlanta back in January.  It is a weekend of diving into God's word and worshiping with other believers - most of whom happen to be college students.  I was able to hear God's Word taught by wonderful, Godly men and women such as Louie Giglio, John Piper, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley and David Platt.  

After listening to David Platt, author of Radical, and after allowing myself time to digest what his message was about, I began thinking about what a "radical life" would look like for me.  My first thought and reaction was to give away everything I had, quit my current occupation, join the IMB, go to Africa or Thailand or Romania, never wear another name brand piece of clothing again, eat only once a day, and so on and so forth!  Radical?  or Ridiculous?  In my case, RIDICULOUS!  Now, am I saying that those things are ridiculous?  Absolutely not!!!  Because you and/or I may be asked to do any number of those things in the name of the Lord.  But what made it ridiculous is the fact that it was MY thought and MY reaction to what I heard.  It was never bathed in prayer!  It was from my own mind and my own human reaction.  That is what made it ridiculous.  

God calls us to live radically - and I personally believe that it is the way to reach this modern society that we live in; however, we have to seek God in all that we do so that our lives reflect Him and His radical way of loving others and drawing them to Himself!    

So, as I walk through this life and seek His will in what I do and what I say, I have to ask myself, is this "radical" or "ridiculous"?  It's my way of reminding myself of the importance of praying and LISTENING for God to speak truth in my life.  

So, today, are you living radically or ridiculously?         

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Thoughts About "Thank You" Cards

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday!  


My husband went to great lengths to surprise me by throwing a BIG party!  
It was a bit overwhelming but very, very fun!  
It was so humbling to look across the faces and think how blessed I am.  
After the party I sat down to write a few thank you cards.  As I was writing, I began thinking just how important that process is!  When you write a card to someone, you are honoring the person you are writing to by using those few moments to reflect on that individual person alone.  I so enjoyed thinking about dear friends that have been a part of my life for so many years, as well as, those that in such a short time have become priceless to me!  It was a pleasure to take an afternoon to honor my friends and family.  

Thank you all for honoring my special day!  Love is such a splendid thing!  
I am so appreciative of my friends and family
-I know how quickly they can slip away.  
Thank you Lord for your blessings-not just the tangible, touchable things but those blessings that abound in the spiritual realm-those things that are unseen but so lovingly felt through faith!     

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reading Comprehension - What's Wrong With Our Fourth Graders?

     I picked up a book this morning and was reading away, but the snow outside and the quietness of the early morning began to draw my attention away from my reading and my thoughts began to wander.  I began thinking about the concept and skill of reading itself.  (The words of Dr. E D Hirsch were echoing in my head - love that man!)  I was thinking of just how important background knowledge is to reading comprehension and when we look at the reading levels of our fourth grade students in America why we see such a deficit in their reading skills - we are so short-sided in the way that we teach reading!  Sure, we can teach decoding and questioning the author and finding the main idea - all "how to" concepts, but what about the importance of prior knowledge?  We give endless practice to strategies instead of learning substantive knowledge of reading.  We must give children a good base in equality education - science, history, math, language arts, music, and art to see an increase of background knowledge and, thus, a rise in reading comprehension!
     Schools that place a high priority on math, history, science and the arts are boasting the high reading scores!  It's really a "duh" when you think about it!  Here's an example that I have heard used in a teacher workshop:  There was a study conducted of a group of children in the fourth grade where the large group was divided into two groups.  One group had low reading skills but knew a lot about baseball.  The other group was comprised of  high level readers but they knew very little about the subject of baseball.  They were given a written description of a scene in a baseball game and the instructions were for them to read the scene and then "act it out" on a game board shaped like a baseball diamond with baseball player figurines.  Guess which group scored higher on the activity - the group that were low readers but knew a lot about baseball!  Their prior knowledge assisted them in "making sense" out of their reading!
     Don't get me wrong - it's not that we stop the "how-to's " of reading - those strategies I mentioned earlier in this post, but we have to create a friendship between those strategies and the advancement of the subject areas like history, science, math and the arts to continue to add to the students' prior knowledge base.  Take a stand for your child by talking to their teacher about this and when the school district wants to cut time out of the day studying history, math, science or the arts to allow for more "quiet reading time"  - speak up about this concept of prior knowledge affecting reading comprehension.
     For more information regarding this topic check out any of Dr. E D Hirsch's books and visit the Core Knowledge Foundation web site! Happy reading!    

I am not a Mormon

Just wanted to clarify to anyone who might read this....I am not a Mormon!  Google posts ads on this blog and one of them was about Mormonism.  I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and I choose to worship and fellowship at a Baptist church - not that my church or "religion" is really a defining characteristic of myself, though.  I am a Christian.  I believe in God as creator of all things.  I believe that sin came into the world and that the penalty for sin is death - eternal separation from God the Father.  I believe that God sent His Son, Jesus, to be born as a man and live on this earth.  I believe that Jesus gave His life for my sins and the sins of this world by dying on a cross.  I believe that Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb and raised from the dead after three days. I believe that He appeared to His disciples in His resurrected body and then ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father awaiting the purposed time to call His children home.  I believe that you are a child of God when you believe these things and seek a life that glorifies God - repenting of the sins that your humanness cannot fully escape from until the day you die or Jesus comes again!  These are the things I believe.  Just in case you were wondering.  :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I recently returned from Passion 2011 in Atlanta GA.  Passion is a 3 day conference for college students and High School seniors along with the adults who work with them.  My husband, Tim, and I were both moved to go because of our daughter being a senior this year and also due to the fact that we work with college students in our church.  I had always heard how amazing and transforming the weekend was but I never could have imagined just how life changing it would be!  

The weekend was filled with general sessions and small community group sessions with Godly men and women like Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, John Piper, Andy Stanley and Beth Moore.  Worship was led by David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall, Christy Nockels, Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman.  The Phillips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta were filled with students worshipping together!  I can’t begin to describe just how incredible it was to experience worship in that way!  It is truly encouraging to know that there is a generation of young people with hearts that burn for the Lord and His work in this world! 

Leaving it at that would not be telling the whole story.  The most moving experience of the weekend was our visit to the “GO” Center.  The bottom floor of the Georgia World Congress Center was transformed into a rustic, third world environment where you could visit various booths and take part in hands-on activities to learn about ways you can “DO SOMETHING”  for others!  It was amazing!!!  I have always known of the needs in our world but to experience them in this way was so meaningful and transforming!  Organizations such as Compassion, Feed the Hungry, International Justice Mission, Homes for Haiti……… were all present.  How could I ever be the same after seeing the table of food set up representing what an average American family of 4 eats in one week versus what an average family of 4 in Africa eats in a week – unbelievable!!! (I will say that in some ways, they are eating much less but more whole than we are!)  Also, the Compassion market where you could walk through a mock village and get a glimpse of how people live in different areas - see the way the mosquito nets that are provided by sponsors are used and what the schools, the markets and the medical clinics look like.  I also had the opportunity to speak with a young man from Africa that had been a part of the Compassion program since childhood.  It was amazing to be able to ask all the questions I have wanted to ask our own sponsored child in Rwanda - what they think about their sponsors, how are they affected by our support each month and what can we do to create an even tighter bond with our child.  He encouraged me to write to Daniel and create that bond with him through letters and pictures.  

And then there was the International Justice Mission booth.  Life-changing for me!  Please check out the IJM website at and see what you can do to get involved!  Tim and I will be attending the Global Prayer Gathering in Washington DC with International Justice Mission.  We are just praying for ways that we can support this great ministry and the work that they do for those who are suffering in slavery around the world.  And if you ever get the chance – go to Passion!  Next January it will be held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta!  Go to their website for registration information             

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


While sitting in the airport, I am listening to a lady talk to her young son – he’s probably around 3-4 years old.  He is eating breakfast at the table in the cafeteria and is picking at his muffin making a mess on the table.  The mother says, “Stop making a mess.”  The child continues to pick at the muffin leaving little crumbs all over the table.  She then says, “I told you to stop that.”  But the child continues to “eat” his muffin in the same messy way.  The mother then says, “You better start listening!”  

The question I have is – does this child even know what it means to “listen”?  Has he ever been TAUGHT what “listening” looks like?  I share this with you to encourage you parents of young children – children must be TAUGHT those social skills that we so often take for granted!  Teach your child what listening is!  What does listening “look” like – where are our eyes when we listen?  What is our mouth doing?  How do you let the person you are listening to know that you are doing just that – listening?  In frustration, when we say to our children, “I want you to listen!” we are wasting our words and our time if we have not TAUGHT them what that social skill is all about!  Set up opportunities for your children to practice the skill of listening.  Role play with them what listening is all about and when you get into real life circumstances when you ask them, “Are you listening to me?”  it is then that  they can truly be held accountable for what is expected of them.  

We have to remember that children are not born into this world with the innate knowledge of all things.  We know that they have to be taught language, history, and math, but they must also be taught those social skills such as listening, ignoring bad choices, taking turns, keeping their hands to themselves, respecting others and many more.  Take time to decide what social skills you want to instill in your children and set out to spend time teaching these to your children.   And remember to “practice what you preach”!   Your example is one of the most important tools that you  have!     

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Art Criticism - Talking About Art with Your Kids

What is Art Criticism?
It is simply talking about art - a way to aid children in gaining an appreciation for art!

Art criticism involves asking questions. The questions can be very simple such as, " What is this?"or "What does it mean?" But with young children those questions can be broken down into even more direct and specific questions and discussions. Here are some examples:

- Given the name of the piece, why do you think it has that title?
- What does the art tell you about?
o What do you see in the piece? – people, animals, things?
o What’s happening?
o What time of day is it?
o Does it look like the action is happening now or a long time ago? Why?
- How was it made?
o What materials do you think the artist used to make this?
o Does it look like it was made with any materials that you have used before?
o It is a painting, collage, drawing, print, sculpture?
Can you find….?
o Can you trace a line with your finger? Is it straight or curved?
o Can you trace a shape with your finger? What is the shape?
o Can you point to all the places that the color (red, blue, etc) is used?
o Do you see any patterns?
What is the same or different?
o Can you find the longest(smallest, thickest, etc.) line?
o Can you findthe biggest circle?
o Is there more red or blue?
o Which person looks older?
What comes next?
o What do you think will happen next? What do you think happened before?
o What do you think might be inside of this?
o What do you think might be behind this?
o Who do you think lives here?
Can you do?
o Can you stand just like this person?
o Can you make your face look like this person’s face?
o Can you pretend to (action) like this person?
How does it make you feel?
o How do you think this person feels?
o How would you feel if you were here?
Personal taste
o Do you like this? why or why not?
My Family
This past Thanksgiving I had all my family at my house!  What a crew!  It has been 10 years since my mother passed away, 3 years since my father passed and 2 years since my grandfather.  This was the first year we were all together without it being for a loss in the family.  It felt good!  It was such an amazing time of renewal and rejoicing!  Even though we each still have so much going on in our lives, everyone found a way to come together and really enjoy!  Thank you family for loving me and for believing in the bonds of family!  I love you each one  more than you can imagine!  Can't wait til the next time we are together!  

International Justice Mission - Who We Are

International Justice Mission - Who We Are

2011 IJM Global Prayer Gathering - RegOnline

2011 IJM Global Prayer Gathering - RegOnline


I was looking at this blog this morning that was started 2 years ago and realized that I have wasted such an opportunity to share with others!  So, at the start of this new year - I am going to attempt to post something every day!  or at least every week!  I will be sharing, in the following posts, how God has stirred my heart to be a voice for the gospel!  Matthew 16:15 "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."