At All Times by Jessie Weaver



My three-year-old, Libbie, really never ceases to amaze me.

She can turn a conversation so quickly it gives me whiplash. One minute we’re talking about trees and the next minute she’s giving her teddy bear shots.

One Sunday morning on the way to church, she suddenly declared, “God made Daddy, and Mommy, and even David and me! And God died on the cross!” We gently reminded her that Jesus rose again from the grave. Then she chimed in with, “And Jesus walked on cars!”

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

As we tried to turn the conversation to the fact that maybe she meant water, not cars, Libbie was already on to a different story, one about Cinderella being captured by a scary witch. Worlds colliding.

She doesn’t know to separate the religious and the secular, and I love that.

The psalmists loved to remind the reader that being with God is an all the time event.

“I will extol the LORD at all times” (34:1).
“Trust in him at all times” (62:8).
“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (119:20).

Consumed with longing for His laws? Really? How much time do I spend longing to live in obedience to God as opposed to determining how I might skirt around them or at least not stumble too much?

Libbie is learning what it means to be with God at all times, in her own simple way. If that means a land where God and Cinderella can coincide, I think that’s OK. For me, I think it means I can read novels, write blog posts, and chase my kids on the playground while still “extolling” Him. It means I consider whether or not I am convicted not to read a novel or watch a certain TV show. It means I write what He places on my heart and fingers to type. It means I teach my kids His ways: kindness, mercy, grace, love.

There are not two worlds; there is just life. A life where our lens is God.

SNV32999 copy.jpgWhen Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after two little ones: Libbie (3) and David (1). Jessie is currently expecting their third child, due in March. 

Friday Links 9/21

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Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Jeremy Thiessen: Normal Rockstar by Whit Stiles

downhere_farewell_tour.jpgWhen it comes to musicians, “normal” might look a little different than it does for most people, but in Nashville, Tennesse, Jeremy Thiessen is something of an anomaly. As drummer for Christian rock band Downhere, Thiessen is one of the most down-to-earth performers you could meet. The band’s latest record, On the Altar of Love, garnered the Canadian natives their fourth Juno award, but to Jeremy and his bandmates, success has never been the point. Maybe that’s why Thiessen has adopted the nickname, “Normal Rockstar.”

Beyond the music, Thiessen is a devoted husband and father of two children, Liam (3) and Karis (2). The birth of their son changed everything for the couple as they discovered Liam had Down’s syndrome. For a time, Jeremy seriously considered quitting the band. Ultimately, the family decided to move forward, but with an understanding the entire band shares: if the day comes where a family member says, “I can’t do this anymore,” the band is done. For Thiessen and his bandmates, family truly comes first.
Which brings us to the nickname, “Normal Rockstar.” Thiessen doesn’t want to adopt a false humility, but instead be a good steward of the platform God has given him. He makes efforts to be accessible, noting with a laugh, “You don’t have to look very long to see pictures of my kids online.” Thiessen sees an opportunity to make connections and minister to other parents with special needs children, both at home and on the road. It’s something he and his wife are beginning to explore and something they’re excited to see develop. “The nickname is an oxymoron,” he notes, “but hopefully it isn’t just the same.”
Life as a musician is uncertain, and Thiessen holds loosely to the future. “We’re not in a safe place, and we’re okay with that.” As far as rockstars go, there’s nothing normal about Jeremy Thiessen, but that’s what makes him truly normal. And that’s just the way he wants it.
Read more about Jeremy Thiessen and his family in the October issue of ParentLife. Whit Stiles, a writer and musician in Nashville, also wrote the article in the magazine. 

New Releases for Children and Teens from B&H Publishing Group

Here are two new releases from B&H Publishing Group, the book publishing branch of LifeWay, that we thought you might be interested in.


Courageous Teens by Michael Catt and Amy Parker – Released September 15, 2012 – $9.99


Courageous Teens is a student-focused presentation of Courageous Living by Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer of the hit film Courageous.

Catt brings fresh insight to “stories of people in the Bible who displayed great courage when it would have been easier to play it safe . . . (who) challenge me to keep moving forward. They demand that I examine my priorities and deal with anything that brings fear to my heart.”

Teen readers will be inspired to resolve to live for God as they learn more about Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, Ruth, Daniel, and many more.

Best-selling youth market author Amy Parker arranges the heart-stirring material into four categories: Courageous Faith, Courageous Leadership, Courageous Priorities, and Courageous Influence. Discussion questions are also included at the end of each chapter.



Firebird book

Firebird by Brent McCorker and Amy Parker – Releases October 1, 2012 – $14.99

Firebird is a bright orange baby oriole who just loves the sunshine. But whenever a storm blows in, he frets and asks Mama why God allows the rain to take the sun away. When Firebird is finally old enough, his mother gently instructs him to fly up through the thunder and lightning to see what’s on the other side.

It’s a rough flight, and just when he’s about to give up, Firebird rises above the storm to discover the sun shining where it always had been.

God never lets the storm take the sun away. With that truth in his heart, Firebird continues to bask in the sunshine, but just as important, he learns to rejoice in the rain.

Firebird is a children’s book that parallels the life of Samantha Crawford, a storybook artist in the inspiring new film Unconditional (scheduled for a theatrical launch in this Friday) who has lost sight of God’s love.

Do you have any new favorite children’s books?

The Real New Year by Erica Pearson

Row of backpacks


When most people hear the term new year, they picture funny hats, noise makers, and a big shiny mirror ball that falls when the clock strikes midnight. For the educators and parents of the world, the term new year brings pictures of supply lists, new backpacks, and a big yellow bus dropping off excited kids. 

The beauty of the school calendar is that every year provides a fresh start full of brand-new opportunities. Each year brings different needs, but a few essentials stay the same: communication and prayer. These two tips can be applied to your child’s school year experience, no matter what grade she is entering. 
The main challenge of an academic new year is not in keeping resolutions, but rather in communicating with the ones who help to make each school year successful. When sending your child off to school, keeping in touch with your child’s teacher is the key to unlocking the potential each school year holds, both socially and academically for your child.  
There is a common misconception that the older the child, the less a parent should be involved; however, nothing could be farther from the truth. If you know your child has difficulty in a certain area, such as organization, let the teacher know ahead of time and, when possible, give a list of suggestions of things that have helped your child in the past.
Let your child’s teacher know the best way to communicate with you, whether via email or a personal phone call. In return, contact the teacher in the method she most prefers, as well. Most teachers do not have during the day to check voice mail or chat on the phone, and so they can better communicate through quick emails.   
The first step in achieving an open line of communication begins with prayer. Designate a day of the week that you will pray for your child’s teacher. First Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us to “encourage one another and build each other up.” Teaching is a challenging profession that often faces scrutiny and leaves teachers feeling under-appreciated. Encouraging and positive words help build a relationship where both parties feel respected and can communicate about the tough issues when the time comes.
Remember to start each year with a clean slate, being careful not to compare teachers, children, and experiences. Thank God for the growth that your child experiences each year and anticipate another wonderful school year!
Erica Pearson is a 2nd grade teacher in Wilson County, Tennessee.  She feels teaching is a true calling and is proud to be living out her lifelong dream of being an educator.   
Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Friday Links 9/14

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Is TV Nastiness Contagious? Trends and Truth Online with Mike Nappa




We’ve known for some time that watching violent scenes on TV can desensitize kids to real-world violence and sometimes lead to more aggressive behavior. But what about watching “relational aggression”―that is, social unkindness―on TV? A new study seems to indicate that watching nasty characters on television also impacts the way viewers think and behave.

Researchers from Iowa State University, Brigham Young University, and Linfield College discovered that when people watch TV shows featuring relational aggression (such as bullying, gossiping, and social exclusion) that can influence the way they behave afterward. 
“This matters,” says one of the study’s authors, “because relational aggression tends to be considered more socially acceptable―it’s often portrayed on television as funny and how friends treat each other. Yet, several studies are starting to show that relational aggression can cause long-term harm.”
So what’s a Christian parent to do? 
Some would suggest that parents kick television out of the house, or blanket-censor programs their kids want to watch. Others just shrug and say “Oh well, TV kids will be TV kids.” But both of those parenting approaches are extreme―and they often cause more harm than health. 
Why not talk to your kids about their TV programs instead? 
If your children are aware of the dynamics they’re seeing on TV, they can respond thoughtfully instead of instinctively―and grow to become young adults who are better able to discern the truth in both the media and real life.
Here are a few questions to get your family discussion started on this topic: 
  • When was the last time you saw someone acting in a mean way on a television show? What happened?
  • What goes through your mind when you see someone acting nasty toward others on TV? 
  • Some people say that watching bullies on TV makes kids more likely to act like bullies in real life. What do you think?
  • TV is fake, and TV characters often act mean just to be funny or just to make the story more interesting. Why might it be dangerous to act the same way in your real life as characters do on TV?
  • Ephesians 4:32 encourages us to, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Does that mean we should never watch a TV show where someone is mean? Defend your answer.
  • There’s a saying that goes: “Just because you see it, doesn’t mean you have to imitate it.” How might that help you follow Ephesians 4:32 next time you watch TV? 
Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to!
Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents,

The Gospel Project

I LOVE what The Gospel Project curriculum is doing. It’s teaching our kids (and youth, and adults!) that Jesus is the thread through the entirety of Scripture. The Bible is pretty much all about Jesus and a lot less about us than we like to think it is.

PLEASE watch this awesome video of Matt Chandler, the creator of the Gospel Project, as he talks about David and Goliath seen through two different lenses. You’ll see what I mean.


Matt Chandler – David, Goliath & The Gospel from The Gospel Project | LifeWay on Vimeo.

If you’re looking for more to do at home with your young children who are going through the Gospel Project, you should try reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s definitely along the same lines, pointing every Old Testament story to Jesus. 

Do you know of other resources that really hit home with this?

Dealing with Bullies by Felicia Thomas

Felicia Thomas wrote the article "Middle School Madness" in the September 2012 ParentLife. There she outlined how to avoid bullying; here, she talks about what to do if it happens anyway.




Teach your child to do the following if he experiences bullying

  • Avoid areas where bullies hang out. Navigate the hallways of the middle school with friends and avoid routes that pass through bully territory.
  • Ignore the bully. If a bully tries to bother your child, tell him to walk away to an area with more kids and adult supervision.
  • Stand up to the bully. Sometimes walking away fails to work. Teach your child to de-escalate the situation by turning the insult into a joke or being nice to the bully. If this does not work, your child should confront the bully by looking the bully in the eye, speaking up, and telling them to leave them alone. Practice this at home with your child.
  • Tell someone right away. If your child is bullied, encourage him to tell a teacher or administrator right away.

Has your child experienced bullying? What is your advice to parents about it?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source. 

Friday Links 9/7

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.