Encouraging an Active Family Lifestyle

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I’m excited to be over at the Tommy Nelson blog today sharing our journey to a more active lifestyle as a family! Tommy Nelson is getting ready to release a young reader’s version of Finding Gobi, as well a picture book version, featuring the adventure of an ultramarathoner and a dog. My son really enjoyed the young reader’s version and it reminded me that inspiration for active living can even come from reading a book!

Here’s a little bit of our story…

There was a time in our life as a family where our children didn’t want to play outside. They didn’t want to go for a run or walk or play backyard baseball. The boys preferred to stay inside to build with Legos, watch TV, and read. Building with Legos and reading are excellent activities, but kids have a lot of energy, and especially my boys. When they aren’t active, that energy can (and will) be spent in unproductive and destructive ways, such playing recklessly in the house and fighting with siblings.

I know, at the time, my husband and I weren’t great active examples for our kids. Exercise was low on our priority list for a long time, but five years ago, we both started to run and take better care of ourselves. Soon, we were running several days a week and training for races. Running improved our fitness level and gave us more energy to play with the kids. Instead of sitting around watching TV with the kids, we were inviting them to go for a walk or to go play tennis…

Head on over to Tommy Nelson to read more about how the kids responded to these changes and a few of my favorite tips for getting your family moving and healthy!

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Teaching Kids About the Character of a Jesus-Follower

I received this book to review. I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

So here’s the deal…

I’m not a big fan of what the world thinks a “Christian” looks like these days. If you were to ask a person on the street about the character traits of a Jesus-follower, I’m afraid you would hear words like self-righteous, judgmental, and close-minded. These are ugly words and the furthest thing from the character of Jesus.

This is the world in which we are raising our children. It is more important than ever to teach our kids to be Jesus-followers not just in name, but in everything we do. My character has to speak louder than any label I may claim. And I want the character of my boys to do the same.  

When we look at the life of Jesus, there are so many character traits for us to emulate and teach to our kids. I like to narrow down our focus when the kids are little and build upon it as they grow and mature in their faith.

Jesus Follower Pin (1)

I Will Follow Jesus, a bible storybook by Judah and Chelsea Smith, is a great starting point for sharing these character traits of a Jesus-follower with our young kiddos. Every family should choose their own focus, but here are a few we emphasize from an early age:


Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. -1 John 4:18

Jesus loved people. All people. He loved like no one ever has because He is God and God is love. When we look at the two most important commandments given to us by God, they come down to love. Love God. Love people. A Jesus follower is loving.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:36-38


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

We’ve already talked about the negative view much of the world has of Christians. Living and loving boldly in the name of Jesus takes courage. One day it might look like standing up for a classmate who is getting picked on at recess. Another day it may mean stepping out of your comfort zone to share a bible verse with someone who needs encouragement. We’re not scaling physical mountains, but sharing the love of Jesus in a hostile world most definitely requires bravery. And Jesus is the one who makes us brave!

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… -1 Peter 3:15


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk this earth, yet He was humble, even to the point of death. We live in a world where pride matters and we don’t want our pride hurt. Being a Jesus-follower means leaving our pride at the foot of the cross and walking in humility.

What does humility look like for our kids? Sometimes it means putting others’ needs before our own, which goes hand in hand with loving well. It also means not always having to be “right” all the time. We have some stubborn boys in this house (they might get that from their mama), and they like to be right about things. They also like to correct someone when they are wrong. A humble person knows how to take constructive criticism, as well when to keep their “right” thoughts to themselves. If we as Christians are always pointing out what others are doing wrong, we are exhibiting pride and opening ourselves up to a big fall when someone catches us in sin.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18

When we look to Jesus and see His grace and mercy to us even when we were still sinners, we can’t help but be humble.

We can talk about all these characteristics to help our children in their walk of faith, but being a Jesus-follower comes down to one thing. We must be willing to follow what Jesus asks of us – no matter the cost, no matter what we look like.

We look at the life of Jesus, as told so well for kids in I Will Follow Jesus, for how to live, but we must also pray and listen for His voice, calling us to do the work He has just for us here on earth. Invite your kids to live out these characteristics, open their heart to the call of Jesus in their life, and follow Him!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

I Will Follow Jesus

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away three copies of I Will Follow Jesus to you lovely people! Just use the widget below to enter!

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Books for Kids: Jack Staples

I was given this book to review, but was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are 100% my own or my son’s! This post contains affiliate links.

My kids are voracious readers. They devour chapter books, asking for more reading time, carrying books they’re engrossed in with them wherever we go. I absolutely love it.

I’m always on the lookout for quality chapter books to throw their way next, so I was thrilled to learn of a new young adult series from author Mark Batterson, best known for writing The Circle Maker. When I read the plot summary, I knew our nine-year-old, Big J, would be all about the Jack Staples series and I was right!

Jack Staples Book 1

I interviewed Big J after he finished the first book in the series, Jack Staples and the Ring of Time, and here were a few of his answers:

What is the story about?
“It’s about Jack and his adventures as one of the Awakened who sees life with different eyes than the rest of the world.”

What did you like about this book?
“I really liked the sword-fighting! It was like our world, but there were no guns, only swords and other primary weapons. The story was exciting, scary, and intense!”

Who were your favorite characters?
“Jack Staples and Alexia Dreager are the main characters and I liked them best. Alexia was really cool because she has the gift of climbing. I also like that God is called the Author and Satan is called the Assassin.”

What were your favorite parts of the story?
“I like when Jack defeated the enemy and the lion helped save him!”

What lessons did you learn from this book?
“Mrs. Dumphry (a character in the book) said something I really liked: ‘A true leader does not need to be asked to do the right thing; he does it.’ I think that’s the most important lesson I learned.”

I loved his answers, but more than that, I loved his enthusiasm about this book and the series as a whole. Immediately after finishing the first Jack Staples book, he asked when we could order the second and third!

Jack Staples Reading

The first piece of good news is the second book in the series, Jack Staples and the City of Shadows, as well as the third, Jack Staples and the Poet’s Storm, are both available now. My bookworm is thrilled he doesn’t have to wait for them to be released. I totally know how he feels!

The second piece of good news is that I’m giving away a copy of Jack Staples and the Ring of Time for your child today, along with a copy of Mark Batterson’s book, Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children, just for you!

To enter, just leave a comment telling me who in your life would love to read the Jack Staples series! I will pick one random winner Wednesday night, July 15th at 9PM CST!

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Great Gift Books for Your Guys!

I received some of these books to review. I was not compensated in any way for writing about them, and all opinions are 100% my own. I have also included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

As you know, I’m surrounded by guys. Add in grandpas and uncles and nephews…the number just keeps growing! I’m always looking for unique gifts to fit the interests and personalities of these guys and every year, books are a great option that don’t disappoint!

Gift Books

There are plenty of new great gift books for your guys this year and I wanted to share a few of my favorite with you! If you have Amazon Prime, you can order them today and still get them in time for Christmas with free two-day shipping! If you don’t have Amazon Prime, grab the free 30-day trial now and use it for your last-minute holiday shopping!  {Have I mentioned how much I adore Amazon Prime? So many reasons…}

And now for the books…

For the little guys


Diggit Saves the Day and Tipper Tells a Lie are part of the brand new Building God’s Kingdom board book series by Andy Holmes. The stories center around a crew of construction vehicles who learn lessons about character and godliness. My little guy loves the trucks and I love what he is learning! I can’t wait for more book sin this series to share with him.

For the school-age boys

Action Bible

The Action Bible is a favorite in our home because it tells the stories of the Bible in comic-book style and my boys are totally enthralled by it. I’ve seen it capture their attention and, after reading it, they want to look up more about each story in their own Bibles. This is a definite winner with visual learners and comic book lovers alike!

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide is a brand new book about this new series on Disney XD. Our boys love the show, but they love reading about the characters and settings just as much as they do watching the show! They checked this book out at the library and were so sad when they had to return it, so I think they’ll be thrilled to find it under the tree this year!

Star Wars 100 Scenes

Star Wars in 100 Scenes is one of my favorite finds because it covers the whole Star Wars saga in one book. I’m a big fan of the original three movies and my guys like the new ones, so this is a book we can all enjoy!

For the comic book fan


Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art could be enjoyed by Marvel fans of any age thanks to the movies introducing a new generation to characters such as Captain America and Thor. I love that my guys can see the characters as they were originally imagined in this fabulous collection of cover art!

DC Comics

DC Comics: A Visual History is another great find along the same lines as the Marvel Comics book. Whether it’s a dad or uncle who has always loved Superman or your kids who are currently obsessed, this visual history is fascinating and a great gift!

For the athlete

Running & Being

Running & Being is known as the book that really got people running again. George Sheehan’s thoughts on running are applicable to newbies and veterans alike. The Hubby was so excited to receive this from his parents this year for Christmas!

For the traveler

Great Maps

Great Maps will captivate those who love to travel and those who have always dreamed of it. This book from the Smithsonian is not along informative, but also a fine work of art and a great conversation piece. The well-traveled man in your life would appreciate this handsome book.

What books do the guys in your life love? Are you gifting any books to the guys in your life this Christmas?


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Our Favorite Bible Apps for Kids!

I love that even the iWorld – apps and iPhones and iPads and the like – can be used to further the Kingdom of God!

We’ve recently discovered two Bible apps for kids that are amazing and I had to share them with you! I’m even learning things as the kids play the games on them!

Bible Apps for Kids

Adventure Bible Games

We just received an email about this free app {for iPad only} late last week and, being lovers of the Adventure Bible {affiliate link}, I downloaded it immediately and started playing around before I handed it to the kids. This app has SO much great Bible knowledge for our kids to learn and review!

  • Leapin’ Lemur is like Wheel of Fortune with Bible verses! A few words are filled in and the verse book, chapter, and verse are given, but then the kids have to pick letters to figure out what the verse says!
  • Books of the Bible reviews the order of books in the Bible. I was shakier on this in the Old Testament than I care to admit, but we were all singing through the Books of the Bible songs from Slugs and Bugs trying to remember the order and it was great fun!
  • Leopardy = Jeopardy for Bible trivia! Pick your category and point value and answer the question!
  • X Marks the Spot deals with biblical geography! We loved this one because just playing it is a learning experience
  • Truth Quest gives you a question, a time limit, and three clues to figure out answers to various questions about the Bible. It felt very much like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and there are several levels and categories to go through!

The boys love the jungle theme that all Adventure Bible products bear, the games have them hooked, and we’re all learning more about the Bible each time they play! That is a successful Bible-related app for kids to me!

The Bible App for Kids

The other Bible app for kids we love is the Bible App for Kids from YouVersion. This app is amazing – great animation, several different Bible stories with more being added all the time, AND review questions at the end to check for understanding!

Each story has the choice to be read by the app, but the words are also on the screen, making it great for children of any age and reading level. And within each story, kids can collect points by clicking on different people, places, or things. Earning points and stars makes everything more fun and interesting for kids, doesn’t it?!

With Lent starting Wednesday and Easter to follow, both The Cross and The Resurrection stories are in the app ready to read and share with your children. And The Bible App for Kids is available for many different formats!

Are there other Bible apps for kids your family loves? Please share!

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Books and Bibles for Kids: August Edition

Welcome to our monthly feature, “Books and Bibles for Kids!” I get so many great books and Bibles for kids to review and I want you to know about some of our favorites each month! I hope you enjoy these new finds!

Books & Bibles for Kids August 2013

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!



The Circle Maker for Kids: One Prayer Can Change Everything by Mark Batterson

This is one of my favorite children’s picture books I’ve ever received to review. I am reading The Circle Maker right now and am so inspired in my prayer life. I just love the fact that there is a book to inspire my children in the same way.


The illustrations are GORGEOUS. The story is captivating. The message is something every child, every person needs to hear: “One prayer can change everything.” Bravo to Mark and the Zonderkidz team on this beautiful treasure of a book for children.

Pirates on the Farm by Denette Fretz

My boys are automatically attracted to anything with the word “pirates” on it and I’m so glad they were excited about this one! This hilarious tale of pirates in unfamiliar surroundings is a great lesson in loving our neighbors, especially the ones we don’t totally understand! My favorite line from the whole book: “When you plant love, it grows.”

Everything You Need to Know About… Series
Everything You Need to Know About Snakes
Everything You Need to Know About Sharks
Everything You Need to Know About Frogs and Other Slippery Creatures

Since the day these books arrived in the mail, not a day has gone by that I haven’t found the boys snuggled up on the couch, their beds, a bean bag chair reading one or more of these books. They are FASCINATED. If you have curious children, these books are the way to go. And they have lots and lots of topics to interest the mind of any child! Go figure that boys would like these ones so much!


Nature Bible

Nature Bible

Check out more on this fun new Bible from Tommy Nelson in my review from earlier this month!

Most of our kids are back in school by now. Do your kids do more reading in the summer or during the school year?


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Books and Bibles for Kids: July Edition!

Welcome to our monthly feature, “Books and Bibles for Kids!” I get so many great kids’ books and Bibles to review and I want you to know about some of our favorites each month! I hope you enjoy these new finds!

Books & Bibles for Kids July 2013

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

For Little Ones

The Blessings Jar by Colleen Coble

Both grandmas have visited our house this past week and I’m reminded of how fortunate we are to have such loving grandparents for our boys. The Blessings Jar not only teaches children how to be more thankful, but also celebrates the special bond between grandparent and grandchild. This sweet board book is intended for children ages 2-5.

My ABC of God Loves Me

There is just something SO adorable about our littlest, Double J, carrying around these cute little padded board books that have handles now! And this one has a fabulous dual purpose – sharing God’s love with your little one AND teaching them the ABCs! I think the illustrations are so cute and so will your kiddos!

For Elementary Age

The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West

We discovered this series of chapter books through one of our language arts books this past year and it has totally captivated Big J since then! Written starting in 1953, the books follow the children of the Hollister family as they go on adventures and solve mysteries. We’ve found many of them at the library, but I’m considering buying the whole set because he loves them so much!

Christian Heroes: Then & Now by Janet and Geoff Benge

Big J was introduced to the world of biographies this summer with these inspiring stories of real Christian heroes and how they impacted the world for Jesus. He is just finishing up the one about George Washington and we’re going to read about Gladys Aylward next! This series would be ideal for children 8 years old and up, and even exciting enough to be of interest to early teens. There are many, many books in this series, so you can find a biography just about any child would enjoy!

Who’s Who and Where’s Where In the Bible for Kids by Stephen M. Miller

My husband has this book called How to Get Into the Bible that he’s had since before I knew him. It’s a great reference book for lots of biblical background, so I was excited to see the author had released a similar book geared to kids! The book features information on 100 important people and places from Scripture and is intended for 8 to 12 year olds.

Summer is winding down, so I would love to know the best book you and your kids {or just your kids} read this summer! Share your favorites!


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Books & Bibles for Kids: June Edition

Welcome to our monthly feature, “Books and Bibles for Kids!” I get so many great kids’ books and Bibles to review and I want you to know about some of our favorites each month! I hope you enjoy these new finds!

Books & Bibles for Kids June 2013

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!


The Great Outdoors Bible for Kids – This is a great compact Bible for a child to throw in their backpack for camp or an outdoor family adventure weekend! Along with some great devotions connecting nature and the Word, there are lots of fun and useful outdoor tips, such as knot-tying, fire-making, and geocaching!

Fruit of the Spirit Bible – I’m a sucker for cute kids’ Bibles like this one, but I also REALLY love the focus on the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians. I kind of want to carry around this adorable little watermelon one in my purse because I need the fruits of the Spirit reminders as much as them!

Waterproof Bible – This isn’t new for the month, but it is THE ultimate Bible for kids + summer + camp + anything outdoors. The Waterproof Bible can stand up to just about anything, including being dropped in the bathtub or chewed on by a toddler. Trust me.


Precious Princess Bible Doodle Book – Well, it’s pretty obvious that this won’t be used at our house, but if your girls love to draw as much as my boys do, then they will adore this book! This would be great for those long summer car trips!

I Can Read books:

The Case of the Couch Potato CaperDo Not Fear, God Is Near, & Piggy Bank Blessings – Zonderkidz is publishing lots of great I Can Read! books these days, including many Veggie Tales and Berenstain Bears stories! Little J LOVES reading these during afternoon reading time!

You Were Always in My Heart: A Shaoey and Dot Adoption Story – Just last month, we met our sweet niece adopted from China for the first time and we all fell in love fast! We know lots of people who have adopted or are in the process of adopting, and this book from Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman is just a beautiful celebration of the heart of adoption!

Children’s Altas of God’s World – MasterBooks puts out amazing God-centered educational books that kids are instantly attracted to, and this is the latest release! It is bright, colorful, informative, and all points back to our Creator! My kids also love how big it is!

Do your kids read much in the summer? What books are they loving?

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Books & Bibles for Kids: May Edition

Welcome to our new monthly feature, “Books & Bibles for Kids!” I get so many great kids’ books and Bibles to review and I want you to know about some of our favorites each month! I hope you enjoy these new finds!

Books & Bibles for Kids May 2013

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site!


The Whale Tells His Side of the Story: Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up! – The boys and I are in love with this hilarious, comic-book style book telling the Jonah story from the whale’s perspective! There are more of this type of book in the works from B & H Kids and we can’t wait to check those out as well!

The Growly Books: Begin by Philip and Erin Ulrich – The very first night I started this brand new chapter book with the boys, it received the highest compliment it can get from them: “Keep reading, Mommy!” And that went on chapter after chapter until we had read for much longer than any of us had planned! The characters, the setting, the adventure – we are all enthralled and can’t wait for more!

Sammy Experiences God: An Experiencing God at Home Storybook – The Experiencing God series has been a powerful series for adults longing to have a deeper relationship with God and now there is a wonderful storybook for kids to help do the same! As you read about Sammy, the book has activities and discussion questions to help you as a family experience God together!


My Learn to Read Bible: Stories in Words and Pictures – We have stacks of Bibles for the kids to choose from to read during Bible time. This is the on Little J {4 1/2} has been stuck on for a while. He is a reader already, but this Bible combines pictures with words to help kids explore and expand their reading vocabulary!

Brave Knight Bible {KJV} – We’re not a big King James family, but this is a COOL Bible for boys! I love any book or Bible for boys that highlights godly strength and courage! And I am a big fan of having several different translations in the house for reference and study!

Which of these books and Bibles for kids would your family love?


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