Book Recomendations, Memories, Parenting

Childhood Prepares

Today I know that memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.

Corrie ten Boom

Daily we prepare our children for their future. In my Father’s House narrates how Corrie ten Boom’s childhood prepared her for the Holocaust.  (See Here for more.)

When the family faced financial difficulties and Corrie’s mother was ill, her father taught Corrie The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33: 27 (ESV). Imprisoned at Ravensbruck thirty years later, Corrie recalled the conversation and it comforted her.

The Dutch family liked reading the same Bible verse in different languages. Corrie’s sister learned John 3:16 in German and Corrie learned it in English.  They recited the German translation many times at the German concentration camp.

After a schoolteacher slapped Corrie, she was comforted by her earthly father.  That memory drove Corrie to her Heavenly father after a Nazi slapped her.

Daily childhood events with enormous adult rewards.

Which childhood experiences have prepared you for adult struggles?

Book Recomendations, Money

A Favorite Money Story

Jesus used the power of a story to help his disciples understand and remember spiritual truths. We can follow his example as we teach.

In Famer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the town has gathered for a 4th of July Celebration. A cousin dares seven-year-old Almanzo Wilder to ask his father for a nickel to spend on lemonade. Almanzo knows he will be denied, but he asks to save his pride. Instead of a nickel, his father shows Almanzo a half dollar.

It’s work, son,” Father said. “That’s what money is; it’s hard work.

He asks Almanzo to describe the process of raising potatoes. Almanzo complies.

That’s what’s in this half-dollar, Almanzo. The work that raised half a bushel of potatoes is in it.

Mr. Wilder gives the half dollar to Almanzo so he can buy a suckling pig—and raise a litter of pigs worth $4-5 each—or buy lemonade to drink. Almanzo returns to his peers who are envious when they learn that he is buying a suckling pig.

For a couple of years, “Suckling pig or suck lemonade,” was a way to remind our boys of wise financial choices.

Has a story helped you illustrate a principle?

Book Recomendations, Parenting

Protect the Colts

While playing with peers, my sons were exposed to inappropriate, harmful behavior. My husband and I made the hardyet easy—decision that there must be adult supervision when our boys were with a certain child.

The day after we explained our unpopular stance, we providentially read aloud Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Young Almanzo wanted to train the two-year-old colts, but his father said,

A boy who didn’t know any better might scare a young horse, or tease it, or even strike it … It would learn to bite and kick and hate people.

When Almanzo persisted chapters later, he was told,

In five minutes you can teach them tricks it will take me months to gentle out of them.

Eventually, Almanzo went too near the colts. His father repeated his warnings.

That’s too good a colt to be spoiled. I won’t have you teaching tricks that I’ll have to train out of it.

We were accused of being overprotective, of taking mischief too seriously. We knew it was deeper.  Unexpectedly reading Wilder’s words—written over fifty years earlier—was encouraging. How much more valuable were boys than colts.

Have you received parenting encouragement from an unexpected source?

Book Recomendations, Parenting

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato (Reprise)

One of my favorite novels has characters who lie, sneak around, and steal. As their lives unfold, we learn their behavior is because they are angry, wounded teens who can’t communicate their pain.

Even though the writing is superb—actually I think it is brilliant at points—Guitar Notes by Amato would not be a favorite if the responsible adults were portrayed as the bad guys. Early in the book, the discerning reader knows that caring parents and teachers are doing what they think is best for the children—given their limited understanding.

Do not be deceived. Your children are carrying hidden pain because it is inescapable in this fallen world.  It helps all to read and discuss books with messy relationships. However, I believe that the story’s resolution should not condone or reward bad behavior, or ridicule or punish good behavior. That is one of my tests for what is acceptable—not the honest, raw conflict along the way.

How have you set standards for your family’s reading?

Book Recomendations, Parenting

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I have a hard time reading books about abuse. I actually stop reading any story that hints it is going in that direction. However, Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is not only an honest, hopeful look at surviving sexual abuse, it is refreshing and beautifully told.

Even better, Fighting Words empowers victims to stand up and gives them words to tell would-be abusers that their behavior is unacceptable.

Like Guitar Notes by Mary Amato (see here), this is not a novel to hand your teens. It is best previewed because of the richness of the story—not because of a problem—and what it can teach parents. Your tweens especially may not be ready for every page, but they are ready for the “Fighting Words” you can give them after you read Della and Suki’s story.

As our children re-enter the world after months of isolation due to the pandemic, we must again be vigilant to protect them.

Have any novels helped you start important, difficult conversations?