Bold Middle School Faith {Bible GIVEAWAY}

Bold Middle School Faith
photo credit: Lauren Macdonald via Flickr Creative Commons

Tweens feel like they are in a constant state of change. And they’re right. With all of the adjustments they go through physically, mentally, and emotionally, nearly every aspect of their lives is changing! If you know anything about middle school, you know it can be a pretty tumultuous time. Sometimes friends embarrass each other on purpose because they think it’s funny. Gossip and B.O. abound. Blending in is a survival tactic. First crushes develop. Things get plain awkward, scary, and upended at this age. Most who survived middle school would never willingly return.

Could you imagine if you knew then what you know now—about the Bible, God, faith, and prayer?

You may have heard about God’s unconditional love and His faithfulness back then, but the longer we walk with God, the stronger our faith becomes. Chances are, you’ve learned to depend on God much more as you’ve seen His faithfulness and consistency play out in your life. Most likely you’ve learned to extend grace to others more freely as you’ve experienced God’s mercy and unconditional love firsthand.

Imagine if your middle-schooler’s faith was resilient and flourishing at this young age!

What would happen if your middle schooler prayed more faithfully? worried less? trusted God more? navigated friendships and hurtful or humiliating situations with more grace, care, and understanding? What if your middle schooler had bold faith?

Each one of us is on our own journey. Our particular paths may look different, but as Christians we are all seeking to follow Jesus every day of our lives. We are continually gaining new perspective on life and faith and seeing more clearly our purpose here on earth. To walk with God is to be in a constant state of change, not unlike middle school. The minute we become stagnant in our relationship with God, our growth suffers.

How can we help tweens fully embrace their faith in God and live boldly?

The Bible is God’s love letter to us. Every word in it was written just for us. God speaks to us through the inspired words on the pages of Scripture, and the more time we devote to reading God’s Word—the Bible—the stronger our foundation will be.

One of the most significant influences in your child’s faith is you. What are they learning about God by observing your actions, your words, and your prayers? Do they see you reading your Bible? praying? depending on God in tough times? modeling bold faith?

Practical ways to encourage middle schoolers to be bold and courageous in their faith:

  • Model it for them!
  • Pray and ask God for wisdom and insight into how you can encourage and deepen your child’s faith.
  • Seize the big and small opportunities to encourage your child’s relationship with God each day.
  • Reflect on ways you can help them notice and discover God working in their lives.
  • Talk about what they have read in their Bible, then explore how God might be speaking to them each day through their Bible reading.
  • Discuss ways to apply the Bible to their own life in specific situations they are going through currently.
  • Talk about what God is doing in your life. Share ways that you personally are depending on God, or ways that your family is.

As we teach middle schoolers to always trust God—even when things get hard at school, with friends, or at home—they can develop a faith that withstands the trials. God loves them as much as we do—and way more! God speaks to them through his Word, and he speaks directly to their hearts.

Faith becomes real for kids when it connects with their world, and the New Living Translation is great for tweens because it is so easy for them to understand. The language isn’t archaic or difficult, which can cause barriers to understanding and application. Instead, they can glean more from reading their Bibles with confidence. When tweens read the Bible and understand what it says, God can work in their hearts!

Girls SlimlineGuys Slimline

The Girls and Guys Slimline Bible covers were designed just for tweens! In fact, they were chosen by a focus group of tween students! The Bibles also include a dictionary/concordance to help tweens look up key words and find passages on subjects they are interested in, full-color maps, a matching ribbon marker, and a presentation page. The extra-special Girls Slimline Bible has a BOLD FAITH theme on the back cover and endsheets, and the cover is made of soft, bright neon material with a glittery silver lining around the edges! The Guys and Girls Slimline Bibles make great gifts for the tweens in your life! Be encouraged as you begin (or continue!) the exciting and joy-filled blessing of walking alongside your tween on their faith journey through middle school and beyond.

Want to win a copy of one of these Bibles for a tween in your life? Let us know in the comments whom you would give it to and whether you’d want the Girls or Guys version! We will choose a winner from the comments on November 15.

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winners: Debbie, Angela Barnes, Ken Ohl, Marianne Sandling, and Charles-Linda Bradshaw.

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.

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5 Educational Websites for Summer Learning

Are you out of school yet? It feels funny to ask that, seeing that my daughter’s kindergarten year ended on May 18. But I know most schools get out later than that. I didn’t graduate until June 16 in Virginia, where we had the no-starting-until-after-Labor-Day rule.

I’m sure, like me, you don’t want your child’s reading level to go down during the summer, not do you want him or her to stop learning. But how do you make it fun? There are a million great ways (I highly recommend I Can Teach My Child if you have a toddler/preschooler/kindergartner). And one tool we use at home is our basic desktop computer.

While I certainly don’t want to fry my kid’s brain with screens all the time, she is allowed to use the computer a couple times a week for a half-hour or so. We are pretty insistent that she stay on educational sites, despite her new interest in finding URLs on brochures and wanting to visit the “Lego GIRLS” site. (Bleccch.)

Here are some of our favorite sites and some others I’ve seen highly recommended.

abcmouse_classroom (paid) – ABCMouse is an “interactive classroom” for kids ages 2 through 7. Our kids started using it about age 4, when they could control the mouse. It teaches basic reading and math skills as well as offering simple lessons on animals, space, and more. The learning path has 6 levels, going from pre-reader to kindergarten levels. My daughter is 6 1/2 and can read well, but she still enjoys the lessons, earning tickets, and playing around with the different features. It’s about $8/month, but you can try it out on a 30-day trial.

reading-eggs-screenshots (paid) – Reading Eggs is a service we were gifted through my daughter’s school. Its curriculum is a little wider than ABC Mouse, spanning ages 3 to 14. Through Reading Eggs, kids can work on letter sounds, sight words, spelling, and a bunch more! Like ABC Mouse, there are levels that you move through and receive “golden eggs” as prizes, making it feel like a game. The cost is about $50 for 6 months or $59 for a year, with a 2-week free trial.

pbskids (free) – Since we don’t have cable, my kids are pretty familiar with the beloved PBS characters: Curious George, Cat in the Hat, Daniel Tiger, Sid the Science Kid, the Wild Kratts … need I go on? On the PBS Kids website, little ones can play games related to the series, as well as watch short videos or print out pictures to color or activities to do. My kids especially love the “pipe game” from Odd Squad, which helps with spacial reasoning.


Discovery Kids (free) – Is your child obsessed with dinosaurs? Space? Sharks? Discovery Kids might be a good site to visit, then. There are games that vary from building a roller coaster to exploring volcanoes to virtual jigsaw puzzles. The “Puterbugs” system jumped out at me – a game focusing on teaching typing alongside reading, writing, and math.


Superbook (free) – Looking for something to enhance spiritual learning? Based on the CBN series Superbook, this site has games, videos, a virtual Bible with daily “challenge” and character discovery, trivia, and more. Kids can even submit their prayer requests. For fun, I tried out the Bible Brain Busters game. Definitely suited for older kids (because you need to read and answer fast), some of the questions were funny and some tricky, but they will definitely learn something. Mom and Dad might enjoy quizzing each other, too.

Do you have any favorite websites for kids’ learning?

Scripture Chair

Surround your child with God’s Word in a unique way. Have her help you paint an old wooden chair with several colors of paint. Use a paint pen to write favorite verses on the chair. Offer a reward if your child memorizes all the verses on the chair.


Kristen White loves playing and praying with her husband and four kids in Shelbyville, Ky., where they attend First Baptist Church. Catch some encouragement on her blog at






KISS (Keep It Seriously Simple) by Lou Ann Davison

source: ademrudin

Do you ever feel like your life is more complicated than you wish it were? Are you used to having way too much “stuff”? Your children may feel the same way. They are often the targets of marketing campaigns that are aimed at convincing them that happiness comes by buying whatever product they’re pushing. Today’s kids need to learn to tell the difference between needs and wants. They need to be taught how to appreciate and express thankfulness for what they have, rather than always longing for what they don’t have.

As parents and teachers of preteens, you need to look for every opportunity to drive home the facts about the issues described. Sit down with your preteen sometime and leaf through a catalog from a store. Have him point out things he thinks he would like to own. Then talk about whether or not that item is a need or a want. Explain the difference simply by pointing out that needs are the essential things in life, while wants are not that important.

If your preteen insists that an item is “essential” to him, perhaps instead of agreeing to buy it for him, challenge him to save his money to buy it himself. If it takes him a long time to earn the money, chances are he will change his mind about the item being so important to him and decide against buying it.

Another activity is to look for opportunities for your preteen to be involved in a mission project. Perhaps your church offers ways to help people in your community who are less fortunate.

A group of fifth graders developed a new appreciation for the food their parents provide for them by helping out in a food pantry. They never really thought about that there were many people in their community who could barely scrape by and feed their families. Children’s hospitals, children’s homes, and other facilities that take care of children often have “wish lists” available for the asking. Your preteen would enjoy filling some of those needs. Allow him to actually purchase the items, box them up, and mail them himself. Point out to him that he can be assured that his generosity will bring a smile to some child who may not have a lot to smile about.

Helping your child see the world in this way opens up a whole new thought process for him. He will hopefully become less demanding of “stuff” for himself and realize that true happiness comes by giving of himself to others.

The Bible has a lot to say about living in this way. A few scriptures to share with your preteen are: Matthew 10:8; Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Acts 20:35.

Perhaps as you focus on teaching this all-important lesson about “simple living,” you will realize you need to make some changes in your way of life, too. What better way to drive home this lesson than to model it for your preteen!

Lou Ann Davison is a retired elementary teacher who enjoys substitute teaching, tutoring, and spending time with her five grandchildren. She is a member of the First Baptist Church in Marvell, AR.

Dumb Things Kids Do with Smart Phones by G.G. Mathis

The term smart phone refers to the gadget—not necessarily the user! We interviewed Detective Rich Wistocki, a veteran police investigator and parent educator, about problematic preteen phone habits.

Alachia Does Droid 2
source: alachia

PL: What should parents do before they give their preteens a smart phone?

Wistocki: Understand one thing: Apple handheld devices cannot be monitored. Only Android phones can be monitored. I would start off by not getting my [child] an iPhone, first and foremost.

Parents must speak often and honestly to their children about the usage expectations. Don’t forget, you are the parent! You own this phone. You have the right to monitor activity on it [and] ensure everyone is behaving as agreed to.

PL: What are some dumb mistakes make using their smart phones?

Wistocki: Sending photos and uploading them to Facebook and other sites. Cameras are so easy to use … there is no time to double-think the decision [to post]. Geotagging—a picture can contain an exact location, so when it is sent or posted online, kids are (sometimes unknowingly) posting exactly where they are through the geotags. [Parents should] turn geotags off in the phone’s settings.

PL: Free phone apps are tempting to download. Which ones are unwise for preteens to use?

Wistocki: Apps where kids connect freely with strangers are the most dangerous—apps like Taproom and Words With Friends. These are fantastic vehicles for predators to find, groom, and then prey upon unsuspecting victims. Kids know all about “not friending people you don’t know online,” but I am not sure this mindset has expanded to apps.

PL: How can parents monitor phone use?

Wistocki: Talk about it with the cell phone providers when [the phones are purchased] . They can illustrate safe settings and options. Check out outside monitoring companies like TrueCare. Kids are more tech savvy than their parents around all these new technologies. Parents need to rely on monitoring services, software, and controls to ensure everything is okay online.


ggmathis  G.G. Mathis is a mom, preteen Bible study teacher, and writer from Duenweg, Missouri. She still needs help setting the ringtone on her phone.


Taming a Preteen Coffee Fiend by G.G. Mathis

source: hundreds

Thick, velvety chocolate mocha agitated until it’s bubbly. A blob of fluffy whipped cream the size of a cupcake. Top it off with chocolate shavings, cinnamon, or party sprinkles … what’s not to like about a frothy latte, especially if you’re a preteen aching to look and sip like a grown-up?

If you’re a health-conscious parent, what’s not to like may be the caffeine content. One Starbucks® latte, at 150 mg of caffeine, is well past the expert-recommended daily maximum of 85 mg for kids ages 10-12. (It’s not just coffee-based drinks: a 64-ounce mini-mart Mountain Dew® maxes out the meter at 293 milligrams.) Caffeine, say pediatric medical experts, can be responsible for dehydration, anxiety, tension, headaches, and stomachaches.

Many preteens are choosing to check out coffee drinks for the caffeine rush, or the perceived coolness of striding into school sipping a frothy frappe. How can you balance your preteen’s caffeinated curiosity with parental prudence? Percolate on these points:

Monitor your own caffeine intake. Yep, your example matters! Keep an eye on what you ingest. (200-300 mg per day is considered moderate adult consumption.) If you need to dial it down, start small. Switch one caffeinated drink a day for milk, water, or juice.

Try some trade-offs. When you feel the occasion calls for a treat, provide your preteen with some lower-caffeine options, such as decaffeinated soda, flavored teas (significantly lower in caffeine than coffee counterparts), or homemade milkshakes flavored with a tiny bit of coffee or caramel syrup.

Encourage kitchen creativity. For the price of three or four expensive coffees, you can buy a blender and encourage your preteen to create sweet and healthy smoothies, shakes, and other caffeine-free drink treats. (Search on “drink recipes for kids” at for a gallon of great ideas.) The together time as you taste and create together is well worth the investment in ingredients!

G.G. Mathis admits to needing a cup of strong tea to get each morning started. She’s a mom and writer from Southwest Missouri.

Mathis also writes for FLYTE, LifeWay’s new curriculum for preteens.