We are hosting two authors at 7 PM this Friday night, February 6th, for a talk about their books. We hope you saw the facebook events page we created for it as it gives the time and address and such. If you live nearby we’d love for you to come to this Hearts & Minds event. (Or, even if know anyone who lives near us here in Central Pennsylvania, we’d love to have share this info with them.) We are excited about this evening with writers and parenting experts Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of many parenting books and we are looking forward to celebrating the brand new release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told (Nelson; $16.99) which just came out a few days ago.
Please join us at 7:00 over at the nearby Living Word Community Church on Route 24 in Red Lion at their lovely coffee bar, where we’ll hear the authors, learn a bit about their philosophy of parenting, engage in some Q & A, and explore the subtitle of this new book, “A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told.” We’ll have refreshments and a reception during which you can meet the authors and chat a bit, and, of course, get autographed books.
Thanks again to LWCC for partnering with us on this, and opening their very nice facility. It’s going to be an inspiring, helpful program. Do help us spread the word, if you can.
From the very beginning, our store has offered a wide selection of marriage, parenting, and family books, not to mention resources for pregnant moms and dads, books on childbirth, books on breast feeding, child health and so forth, representing not only our interest in these things — we used to host a home birthing class here at the shop — but also out of a very real conviction that books can help us be better spouses and parents. Most of us need a bit of help, don’t we? We have spiritually-oriented devotionals for new moms, books for dads, blended families, single parenting, lots of books about raising teens, and more. Our shelves here hold a a real variety of perspectives. Besides some standard secular guides, we love Gary Thomas’s charming and brilliant Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls (Zondervan; $13.99), the gorgeously written The Mystery of Children: What Our Kids Teach Us about Childlike Faith by Mike Mason (Regent College Publishing; $19.95) and Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People by Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses (Alban Institute; $17.00) which is written by two women who are mainline denominational pastors. We often suggest Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by the great writer Leslie Leyland Fields (Waterbrook; $14.99.) Although it is a bit more theological, with serious cultural analysis, and mostly about the role of the local church, we adore Marva Dawn’s must-read Is It a Lost Cause?: Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children (Eerdmans; $18.00.) If you ever need help learning more of what is available, let us know. If you want to bless moms and dads that you know with a book or two, I am confident they would appreciate it. Anyway, books matter, and books about family life matter a lot.
Among those that we have routinely sold here have been the books by our friends Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, which is why we are so glad they are able to be with us this Friday night. We got to know of them through Joanne’s husband, Ed Miller, who for years worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Ed has picked up van loads of books from Hearts & Minds to sell to college students, has been a true encouragement to us and in our work, and he has invited me to speak to campus ministry leaders on more than one occasion. Ed loves books (as you can see in this delightful blog post called “Books Are Wonderful and Fun!” where he kindly mentions Hearts & Minds.) Yay.
Dr. Turansky and Miller are nearly unique among faith-based parenting authors, or so it seems to us. We appreciate a lot about their clear-headed books. Some are sooooo religious sounding and Biblically-based that they can hardly be appreciated by anyone other then the most conservative Christian. Others seem to just adopt this or that worldly theory or notion, glossing it over with a bit of God-talk. Some are a bit dense or dry, others nearly condescending. Some books in this field are heavy handed and too strict, and some seem so whimsical that they hardly offer any lasting change. Turansky and Miller avoid nearly all of these missteps, and write clearly, faithfully, practically, with deep and radically Christian insight, without being overly simplistic or dripping with saccharine piety.
This dynamic duo have other earnestly written guides, workbooks, and a very thorough website with videos and all kinds of ideas and options to apply their insights. We carry their workbooks and family devotional idea books and more, but here are their key titles:
Their most core book, I think, is quintessentially Turansky/Miller, and is at the heart of their ministry, The National Center for Biblical Parenting. It is called — get this! — Parenting is Heart Work (Cook; $14.99). As you might gather, it shows how the best parents are able not just to get kids to behave, or even succeed in exhibiting life skills, but to be people’s whose hearts are transformed. In a way, this raising the bar, deepening the task of parenting, by worrying less about outward appearances and compliance, and more about the inner dispositions (that’s sanctification for you theology geeks) of the child.
And, of course (of course, I say with a sober roll of the eyes) this means that part of the task of parenting, if we are to hope for and work for heart change in the child, is to attend to the state of our own interior lives as adults. If we want our children to honor us (think of that big ten commandment) we must honor them. If we want our children to respect us, we must respect them. This means we have to allow God’s Spirit to challenge and change us. Parenting is, indeed, heart work — for us and our children.
They have two other fantastic books that we love to recommend that works out their basic perspective in two very specific areas, dealing with bad behavior, and dealing with anger. What parent among us hasn’t shed tears and lost sleep about these family blow ups that happen to all of us, fallen people that we are? Who hasn’t wounded others, and who hasn’t been wounded by others, even those we love the most? What do we do about this hard stuff? Turansky and Miller can help.
Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller (Waterbrook) $14.99 We love this book, and it is such a refreshing approach. Again, this is trying to help us cope with bad attitudes in the lives of our kids, but it does so in part by helping parents learn to honor their children. I know that my own bad attitudes have made thing worse, and the first time I read this I not only learned a bunch, but wished I had had it when my children were younger. It’s a great book that walks a nice balance between deep spiritual stuff and very practical ideas.
One reviewer called it a “breakthrough” book in this field of family studies. Almost everyone is glad for how very down to earth it is. Very, very good.
Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids! Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (Waterbrook) $14.99 This book recognizes the very real emotions that parents feel and, as they say, it “taps into the constructive side of anger and teaches new strategies for addressing the things children do to drive parents crazy. It outlines seven routines to help children improve in these areas and, in the process, build both the parent’s and child’s relationship with God.”
This stuff is theologically sound, spiritually alive, full of grace, and very, very practical. No one book can solve every problem with anger and hostilities in the home, but I do think this is one of the very best resources that every parent should have at their fingertips.
The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller (Thomas Nelson Publishers) $16.99 We promoted this book last year and reviewed it at BookNotes. We said that we loved how it offers strategies and ideas for getting “to the heart of the matter.” We find that parents are hungry for good ideas, for guidance and techniques, even as they realize that techniques must be deep and wise, and not mere tricks or gimmicks. A nice thing about this handbook is that it does offer ideas for use with kids of all ages. It really is a thorough resource that can be helpful for many kinds of parents, and many kinds of children.
Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told (Nelson) $16.99 As we said above, we are thrilled to carry this new book, which just released a few days ago. it is a solid, warm, helpful book, and is written with a calm and reassuring tone. All of their books are encouraging and clear — you can do this! — and they tell lots of stories from the many families they’ve helped, case studies, so to speak, which give the books are “real world” feel. This one, especially, includes lovely stories (some moving ones drawn especially from Scott’s counseling practice.) This is not a lost cause! Kids really can change “from the inside out.” We parents can learn a more gospel-centered approach, offering Biblical insight, opening doors for spiritual formation, and basic, old-fashioned common sense and maturity — in parents and kids. Although this book title suggests it is about getting kids to do things without being told — and what parent doesn’t need some help with that? — it is, I believe, a book about more than just that. In fact, they make important connections between a child who has internalized a desire to do the right thing (share a toy, be gracious in dealing with a sibling, doing her homework, helping with chores) and that child’s ability to have moral imagination, to be able to take stands on issues. What kind of a kid stands up to bullies? What kind of a kid learns to pray for others? What kind of a kid begins to think about his or her future career in terms of vocation and calling? What does integrity come from? This practical book about seemingly mundane things really does lay important groundwork for bigger, heavier matters, matters that last a lifetime. It has to do with courage and character and virtue and wisdom and such.
One of the features of Motivate Your Child is its emphasis on a structured a consistently experienced family time. They offer several models or approaches, but the primary thing here is for families to take up their responsibility to teach their kids to walk in the ways of the Lord. It is not firstly the church’s job to raise your children, it is not mostly the Sunday School teacher’s job to educate your kids in the truths of the Bible. Parents have to step up, make a commitment, and do the work to help their children grow in knowledge and faith. They help motivate you to do this with their great ideas about the benefits of a weekly family fun time of spiritual growth.
There are very concrete things suggested here, but the bigger picture is about informing the child’s desires which they get at by way of talking about the conscience. They name four “promptings of the conscience” and teach how to coordinate your parenting to take advantage of them. They help children respond to mistakes instead of blaming, defending or justifying. (As I read those portions, again, I felt like I, myself, continually need to work on this stuff.) I’ve got some interior work to do. Don’t we all?
Not to switch gears too quickly — okay, that’s what I’m going to do, quickly — I am also reading the brand new Donald Miller memoir, a story of a year in his life as he was thinking about getting engaged, and his realization (with the help of a stint at a counseling center, sort of a rehab for wounded people) about how he uses all kinds of outer skills and strategies to keep himself from being deeply known. Many of us do this, I think — put on an act for our public demeanor, but then forget to “drop the act” and end up with layers of false selves, performing, rather than “being.” True intimacy, Miller says in the brilliant Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (Nelson; $19.99) can come as we shed some of these acts, these false selves, our masks, the armor we use to protect ourselves from the vulnerability of being close and real with others. It’s a fun and funny book, with tons of great insight about knowing oneself and being in relationships. The touching forward by Bob Goff is almost worth the price of the whole book!
Here is a link to a youtube interview with Donald Miller about the new book. Check it out, and come on back here to place an order.
I am liking Scary Close quite a lot, and it has me thinking about how this full grown and very successful man had to relearn some hard stuff about relationships, and how this took some pretty intentional efforts at self-awareness, changing some habits, working (with God’s help, and some trusted friends) on some interior matters. I will tell you more about it later, but it is a refreshing, clear, and moving tale about one man’s journey into being a better person.
Which is, I suppose, what most self-help books are about: helping you become better.
But that is always related to your story, your issues, your perceptions of the world and what God is like and what God most wants.
Turansky and Miller know this: good parenting skills aren’t enough. We must work to shape and nurture and develop our children into the mature and wise and virtuous people God wants them to be. Which is to say it is “heart work.” And, as they make clear in Motivate Your Child, to be motivated to do the right thing isn’t natural or simple, but takes the extraordinary work of God, which comes best as we are engaged in faith development in response to God’s Word. If our life stories are to be fruitful and faithful, we have to find ourselves in God’s story, Christ’s redemption of the world. So we have to find ways to offer spiritual training to our children that is creative, winsome, healthy and fun. This book will help motivate you to help change the way you parent, which could help change the way your family relates. It can help change the way your children live.
If you would like us to get autographed copies of any of their books for you, we can have them sign them on Friday night, and ship them to you next week. Just let us know to whom you want them inscribed. They can just autograph them, or offer them to a particular person. Just let us know what you prefer.
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