Building Holiday Traditions within Your Family by Linda MacKillop {GIVEAWAY}

Making Christmas Traditions

As the product of a broken home, building a sense of safety, security, and continuity in the lives of my four sons became a priority as they grew up. We wanted them to have a strong foundation filled with assurance that certain activities would happen on a regular basis, and ultimately showing them the steadiness of both their parents and God. In the midst of a changing world, we wanted them to count on certain events returning each year, each month, each day—like dad coming home from work in the evening, mom being available after school, supportive family members to show up for their activities, and the fun of birthday and holiday celebrations.

Traditions mark the arrival of a special event, but they also provide sought-after predictability and continuity. Holiday traditions, in particular, mark special occasions as both a promise that the celebration returns yearly and as a reminder to kids that some days stand out more than other days because they are the basis and reminders of our faith. These moments are so important and influential that we celebrate them with regularity. By tradition, we remember Christ’s sacrifice weekly or monthly (depending on your church tradition) by taking Communion. By tradition, we baptize our children. By tradition, we baptize them into the faith through the passing on of knowledge through stories and reading.

In our home, we had traditions for each holiday, Christmas especially. While struggling to celebrate this most commercial of American holidays without letting the secular emphasis take over, we found a mixture of fun traditions balanced with sacred traditions that did the trick for us. We always had similar food each year, and the food is still expected today, now that our sons are grown. Chinese food on Christmas Eve (because way back when, most other restaurants closed on Christmas Eve so people could celebrate the holiday); sour cream coffee cake made from scratch on Christmas morning; and turkey, Ritz cracker stuffing, corn pudding, and pumpkin chiffon pie arrived at the table for Christmas dinner.

I find my sons must think about these dishes before they come home for the holiday, because they most certainly expect to see them on the table when they arrive. In addition to food, we always read the Christmas story, set up a manger scene in our living room, set out luminaries to light our way after the Christmas Eve service into the house, and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

M is for Manger

Age-appropriate reading material, in addition to the Bible story about Christ’s birth, also offers the opportunity to teach about Christ’s entrance into the world. M is for Manger by Crystal Bowman is a wonderful book as the youngest children among you to begin to learn the great story of Christ’s arrival. This book is designed to become a family classic you will be able to return to each year until your children outgrow its simple format—unless they request the familiar story be read again – even to their own children.

Someday your family traditions may have to morph, and may disappear altogether as parents age, but for now, bask in the safety and warmth of them. Each family needs to develop their own traditions, but we suggest you begin with an idea as simple as M is for Manger that allows you to begin tradition-building early. Gather your young ones together this holiday season and form some lasting memories.


More about M is for Manger: Travel through the alphabet with this beautiful rhyming storybook that tells the story of Jesus’ birth. Begin with the angel who tells Mary that she is God’s chosen vessel and follow along until you reach the zillions of stars that paled in comparison to the star that announced the birthplace of the newborn King. Beautifully illustrated and written, this book will be a classic for parents to read to their children every Christmas season.

Sneak peek:
Mary gently wrapped her son,
then rested in the shed.
She placed the newborn Savior
in a MANGER for his bed.

Want to win a copy of M is for Manger? Leave a comment telling us about your favorite Christmas family tradition! We will choose five winners on October 16th. 

Four Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Love the Bible (GIVEAWAY)

BBB Sheep cover

As Christian parents, we want our children to develop a love for Christ and know that the stories in His Word are true and still meaningful today. So, how do you foster a love of God’s word in your children? How do you encourage them to appreciate the Bible, make it applicable to real life, and continue to read it as they grow older? Start when they are young! Make the Bible come alive to them as you share stories that capture their imaginations and teach them about the character of God.

Kids love to interact with books and the stories they tell. However, in this time of digital, interactive, and animated content, children expect to be entertained more than ever before. Providing a way for them to learn more about God without staring at a screen of some kind is becoming much harder to do – but it is not impossible. Below are some ways you can make learning about the Bible fun without the help of tablets, TV, or any other type of screen.

  • Find books that encourage your little ones to act out the stories you are telling. Watching them as they pretend to walk on water or pretend to see for the first time will be fun for you and for them.
  • As you read through a book with your child, think about ways you can put the lessons learned into practice. Some examples would be taking dinner to a sick friend, cleaning up the neighbor’s yard, or sponsoring a child who needs help. Plan together and help others!
  • Create small craft projects that help them remember and engage with the stories you read together. Some craft ideas include:
    – Have them find as many pictures of bread and fish as they can and glue them into “baskets” showing God’s provision for our needs like the time Jesus took care of the 5,000 hungry people who were listening to Him teach
    – Use brad fasteners to create a movable scene retelling the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites
    – Let them color Joseph’s coat of many colors with their own design
    – Be creative and come up with ideas of your own!
  • Find books that have creative formats that will engage your kids. And what is more fun than a book that is also a toy? Bouncy Bible Buddies are fun, interactive, engaging stories from the Bible written for kids 3-6 years old. The easy grip handles turn these lovable animals into carry along friends. Push the handle down to make them bounce! This creative and fun design will draw little ones in time after time and help them learn more about God’s word and His love for them. Daniel in the Lion’s Den and The Lost Sheep are available now!

There are many benefits to sharing these experiences with your children. You will build a stronger relationship as you spend time together, your child will learn to love God’s word, and who knows – you might even learn a few things yourself.

Want to win some adorable Bible Buddies for yourself? Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Each winner will receive BOTH Daniel in the Lion’s Den and The Lost Sheep!

BBB LION cover

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More for Girls Only {GIVEAWAY}

More for Girls Only

Young girls today live in a world that’s changing so fast their parents can’t keep up! How is a girl to process all the advertising, broadcasting, entertainment, and social media out there? And how is she to think biblically about this constant barrage of messages, many of which come from her close friends?

Girls need help finding their identity in Christ and modeling their behavior after Him rather than after media stars, sports figures, or popular kids at school. But parents need help getting the message out, and Tyndale has just the resource to help! In a broken and sexually charged culture, girls often find their parents’ Christian values attacked and minimized. Glamorous people model lifestyles in direct opposition to what they hear at home and in Sunday school, and many girls lack strong role models.

At a time when “truth” has become subjective, how’s a girl to find her way? If you’re looking for relatable scenarios and scriptural advice to point your daughters or granddaughters or nieces or friends in the right direction, Carolyn Larsen’s More for Girls Only! Devotions is a must-read, serving as a light to guide young girls as they learn to make good and wise decisions. Girls will learn not only how to be a caring person, modeling the love of Christ, but how to pursue God in every aspect of their lives. Who doesn’t need that?

More for Girls Only! Devotions introduces real-life situations and looks to Scripture for answers while also offering a call to action for readers to put into practice. Here’s just one example: Kylie is certain she will get the solo in the upcoming end-of-the-year school choir concert and lets everyone know it. But when her friend Maria suggests that Shauna might be chosen, Kylie brags about her own abilities while putting down Shauna’s voice, sending Shauna from the room with hurt feelings.

The author asks readers to consider honestly how often they promote their own gifts while neglecting the gifts of others. A sample quiz is provided so readers can take a personal inventory and look at their own willingness to build others up. The author offers suggestions for ways to show care to friends—such as paying a compliment to someone every day. At the end of the devotion, Scripture passages reinforce the lesson—“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Other examples of topics include handling advice from adults; seeking after inner beauty—like kindness and caring—rather than up-to-date styles; putting God first, even above passions like sports; learning to pray for those who are mean to you; asking God into every situation through prayer; remembering to be thankful; serving others. These devotions will teach girls how to grow in godly character in all areas of their lives, becoming testimonies for Christ to everyone around them.

We’ll close with two meaningful and powerful quotes included in the section on forgiving those who mistreat you:

  • Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. —Anne Lamott
  • Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? —Abraham Lincoln

Aren’t those powerful lessons every girl (and person) needs to remember?


Want to win a copy of More for Girls Only! Devotions? Enter using the Rafflecopter below. We have five copies to give away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Anchor in the Storm: One Mom’s NICU Journey


In 2010, Kayla Aimee found herself pregnant after infertility and miscarriages. She was thrilled. But her pregnancy only began a rocky sail as Kayla delivered her daughter, Scarlette, at 25 weeks gestation and spent six months with her in the NICU.

If you’ve ever read Kayla’s blog, you know she finds humor almost by accident in every situation, especially now that Scarlette is 4 and adds quite the commentary. But alongside this humor, Kayla found deep faith, a faith she’d never really had to test before. She writes about it in Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected.

Check out this Q&A with Kayla.

How did you keep it together when you felt like your world was falling apart?

I didn’t. Absolutely I fell apart with it. I think it surprises people to hear that because on the outside I looked like I had it together, I was stoic and did the hard things in order to keep myself together when I was at the hospital. Away from that space was different, full of fear and sorrow. But it was in allowing myself to fall apart that I discovered the truth in the Scripture that says that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I learned that God’s grace really is sufficient and the only thing that was comforting was knowing that I could just lean into that and let it do what I could not.

How would you say humor and the ability to laugh at yourself have helped you through parenting? In your marriage?

I remember the first time that I laughed after Scarlette’s birth. I was weary from weeping with heartbreak when the nurse brought me nursing pads and they were wrapped in a bag that said DANGER! HAZARDOUS MATERIALS! I laughed so hard that it hurt my stitches and I remember that was the moment when I knew that I wasn’t lost to my grief. Finding the humor in the moments that are hard helps to shift my perspective. It keeps me from being too quick to anger and makes me appreciate the little things more.

Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry and I think that the intersection of the two is a beautiful portrait of our humanity. Plus, it just brings me so much joy to live a life that is full of laughter and so I chase that, I try to seek out the hope and the humor because that just makes everything a little bit brighter.

What is the #1 thing God taught you through Scarlette’s birth experience?

I tend to want to control things or at the very least to know what is coming. Our experience with Scarlette’s birth and NICU stay really revealed to me that I had a tendency to layer my own plans over my prayers. When there was nothing I could do I learned what it meant to genuinely trust God. I think it was this specific time that sharpened my faith, when I was the angriest at the situation and when I least wanted to be faithful was when I found God faithful to me. Not because of a happy ending but because I felt the hope of Him staying steady in the chaos.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

I love the promise of First Corinthians 13:12-13. I love that it acknowledges how life unfolds in a way that we can’t always know what is around the bend but we can find joy in the middle of the unknown in faith and hope and love.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

What is a funny/favorite parenting story that you don’t share in the book?

Oh man, there are so many to choose from, I could write an entire book just on that topic alone! Recently we had a day where I was having to say “No” a lot and my four year old expressed her disappointment that things weren’t going her way, telling me, “I don’t like it when you say no to me, Mommy! That is very bad.” So we had what I thought was a lovely, fruitful discussion about why Mommy sometimes has to say no and why that is a positive thing, because Mommy’s job is to help her.

Later we went to the grocery store and the cashier greeted Scarlette and asked her how her day was. And my daughter responded “Well, not so good, actually. My Mommy has been saying BAD WORDS to me ALL DAY.”


Would you like to win a copy of Anchored and this beautiful print from Gracelaced? Just use the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why Making a Mess Can Help Your Whole Family Learn God’s Word (GIVEAWAY)

Kids are the ultimate doers.

They come home from school with a backback full of papers they’ve colored, figures they’ve drawn, and crafts they’ve made. Before their bags have even had time to make an impression on the couch, they’ve raced to the backyard or to the park with their friends where hours pass as they build castles out of sand, rainforests out of monkey bars, and as-yet-unseen worlds seen only with the eyes of their imagination.

When we grow up, it’s easy to look back at all of this activity and dismiss it as childish play – fun, certainly, but not educational. By middle school, we come to believe that real learning comes from sticking our nose into a book until knowledge mysteriously transfers from the ink-splattered pages into the recesses of our brain. The problem is that this simply isn’t true.

Don’t misunderstand: book-learning is good and necessary for a well-rounded education. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Christians that learning through doing is equally as important for adults as it is for kids. After all, Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations.

Of course, the gospels tell us that Jesus was a stand-out student of the Hebrew Scriptures, and He would frequently quote or paraphrase those Scriptures to His followers in order to reinforce or remind them of what God has said. But just as often, Jesus chose to teach those around Him by doing.

He walked on the water. He broke bread and fish into thousands of pieces. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He cleared the temple. He died and rose again.

Even when Jesus taught with His words, He often used parables, metaphors, and illustrations instead of simple statements of fact. He created mental playgrounds for His followers where they could feel the surroundings and circumstances of the characters. They could feel the outrage of the older, faithful brother when their father welcomed his repentant brother home and celebrated with a feast.

It will always be important to read Scripture. But as Jesus demonstrated by His own teachings, it is equally important for kids and adults alike to do Scripture.

Hands On Bible

That’s what makes the Hands-On Bible so special. The Hands-On Bible uses this same type of experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way.

With hundreds of fun, memorable activities, the Hands-On Bible is packed with activities and experiences that invite kids (and maybe even their parents!) to crawl inside the Scriptures and do God’s Word! There are over 102 Hands-On Bible Experiences, 52 Key Verse Activities, and 16 Bible Bonanza Experiences that serve as jumping off points to learning God’s Word by doing.

Whether you use it for family devotions or for your kids not-so-quiet time, the Hands-On Bible is the only children’s Bible that teaches and reinforces the lessons of the Bible in the same way Jesus taught – by seeing, experiencing, and doing. As James says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says” (James 1:22 NLT).

Want to win a copy of the Hands-On Bible? We have five to give away! Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Over 100 Bible Stories and Songs Help Kids Remember Key Bible Truths {GIVEAWAY}

My Sing-Along photo

My Sing-Along Bible provides hours of fun and activity for kids ages 3 and up. Through easy-to-understand stories, catchy songs, and colorful pictures, children will learn about God and his character. They’ll come to understand and embrace Bible-based concepts such as God always keeps his promises, we should pray every day, Jesus wants us to follow Him, and many more.

Perfect as a “keeping me busy” activity, bedtime story, car ride, Sunday school, or family devotions, these stories connect the Bible stories with sing-along songs and key Bible themes. Also included are bonus songs to help kids learn and memorize the names of the books of the Bible.

Author and songwriter Stephen Elkins is the creator of My Sing-Along Bible. His Nashville publishing company, Wonder Workshop, has been producing book, music and DVD products for over 25 years.

Want to win a copy? We have FIVE copies to give away. Use the form below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Perfect Road Trip Accessory Every Family Needs This Summer

The summer looms ahead, and with it we find families everywhere preparing for that American tradition: the summer road trip.

I remember road trips from my childhood. I spent many hours in the backseat, reading a book while out the window I could see towering redwood trees, canyon walls, or the reflection of the ocean in the windows. The first hour of a trip can be exciting, but we all know that soon boredom kicks in and the whining begins.

If you are looking for a way to entertain your entire family this summer on that long road trip, check out Radio Theatre’s Chronicles of Narnia from Focus on the Family.

Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia Set

Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre has been entertaining and enriching the lives of both young and old for decades. From timeless classics like The Christmas Carol to C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Radio Theatre makes the stories come alive and real to a whole new generation of listeners. Radio Theatre isn’t just storytelling or a recorded book. It’s an audio movie that plays on the biggest screen of all: your imagination. Enjoying world-class actors, cinema-quality sound, and an orchestral score, your entire family will be enthralled and your car ride will pass in no time.

The entire set of the Chronicles of Narnia is available now on CD in a beautiful package perfect to keep in your car for hours of fun.

Want to win a set from Tyndale House and ParentLife? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Family Shares Success Story and Practical Advice in Conquering Childhood Obesity {WIN IT}

In Who’s the New Kid, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers this May, ordinary mom Heidi Bond details the healthy regimen that rescued her daughter from childhood obesity and benefited her entire family.

Breanna Bond talks about changing after obesity

In Who’s the New Kid?, Heidi Bond, a self-described “ordinary mom,” shares her story of how she helped her daughter overcome childhood obesity. She provides helpful insights and practical tips, equipping families to help their children establish healthy habits as well as lose weight. Bond’s hope for her new book is “to shine a light on the truth surrounding childhood obesity, to let other families know that they are not alone, and to show the world that childhood obesity is 100 percent reversible and can be reversed in less time than you might think.”

Childhood obesity is a pervasive problem in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” In 2012, over a third of American children and adolescents were diagnosed as overweight or obese, which is concerning because according to the CDC, “childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.” Despite the alarming rates of childhood obesity and related health risks, the CDC confirms that healthy lifestyle and habits, “including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.”

Who's the New Kid?

These statistics were all too real for Heidi Bond. At nine years old, her daughter, Breanna, weighed a whopping 186 pounds. Just walking up the stairs to her room was a challenge. Her legs chafed to the point of bleeding from rubbing against each other, and her school days were filled with hurtful taunts of “Hey, Fatty!” Watching her daughter suffer like this was devastating for Heidi, prompting her to action. Heidi helped her daughter lose weight without the aid of fad diets, medication, or surgery, and in her new book she details how other parents can do the same for their kids.

To help Breanna, Heidi instituted a daily regimen of healthy eating and family exercise. In just over a year, Heidi’s plan worked! Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight and was transformed from a morbidly obese child who spent her days in front of the TV eating chips and chocolate to a vibrant, healthy, energetic little girl.

Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who’s the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally, but will also introduce them to simple and effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

When asked why she wrote this book, Heidi Bond responded, “We needed to share our journey to give people hope and inspiration, and to show them that change is possible. My goal in writing this book is to let others know that they are not alone. I know firsthand the fear and hopelessness that surround this epidemic.”

Heidi Bond on mothering an obese child

Heidi Bond has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, and The Biggest Loser. A sought-after speaker, she has helped thousands of parents who are struggling with overweight, underactive children. Heidi lives in Clovis, California, with her husband, Dan, and their children, Breanna and Nathan.

Jenna Glatzer is the author of 23 books, including Unthinkable by Scott Rigsby (Tyndale), Never Ever Give Up: The Jessie Rees Story (Zondervan), and Unbroken: A Memoir (Thomas Nelson). She has written hundreds of articles for magazines and online publications.

Want to win a copy of Who’s the New Kid? We have five to give away. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Faith That Sticks {GIVEAWAY}

I am a firm believer in teaching children to love reading at a young age. As soon as my children were old enough to maintain eye contact, I was reading to them. They loved listening to my voice and looking at the bright colors. Soon they were big enough to turn the pages on their own and understand the story. Before I knew it, they were sounding out words and reading me stories all by themselves!

We rarely went anywhere without a book or two tucked in a bag, ready to bring out at a moment’s notice. As a result, I raised two kids who still value reading and love to immerse themselves in a book—so much so that when my son started to drive he kept getting lost. He had spent his riding in the car time reading books and therefore he didn’t know how to get to basic places like the store or his school.

To help build the value of reading in your child, check out the new line of Faith That Sticks books by Tyndale House Publishers. Filled with faith values and Bible stories, these books not only teach important lessons, but engage the child to understand the story by encouraging parent interaction. The stories also include stickers and activities to help keep children involved and reading the story over and over.


Enter to win copies of the five latest Faith That Sticks books—just in time for Easter! Or check out the full line of Faith That Sticks products at

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Big Thoughts for Little People – the New App and a Giveaway

Tyndale House Publishers is excited to announce its first children’s app. Released to the iTunes store in January, 2015, the Big Thoughts for Little People app is the perfect companion to the bestselling alphabet book with the same name, written by Dr. Ken Taylor (over 560,000 sold).

big thoughts

In the app, each letter of the alphabet is accompanied by five unique interactive games designed to teach children letter recognition and beginning word identification skills. Activities include matching games, coloring activities, puzzles, picture comparison, and much more!

The Big Thoughts for Little People app will encourage kids to remember that God has created each of them and the world they live in. This app is a worthwhile investment in any child’s spiritual and educational growth.



Courtesy of Tyndale House, we have 5 copies of the book Big Thoughts for Little People to give away. It’s a beautifully illustrated, hardcover book that would be wonderful for your kids or to give awy. Enter using Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway