A Christmas Gift That Lasts

Hey friends! Whether you started planning and prepping for Christmas before Thanksgiving, or you’ve waited until now to begin, I’ve got a gift suggestion AND a gift for you.

Gifts that last are often the best, right? And I believe one of the most lasting gifts is encouraging someone to become a lifelong reader of God’s Word.

That’s why I wrote Encountering God’s Heart for You: 365 Devotions from Genesis Through Revelation.

And this Christmas season, when you purchase the book as a gift for someone (or for yourself), I want to thank you with a free Christmas devotional to download!

If you haven’t seen Encountering God’s Heart for You yet, it’s a beautiful hardcover gift book with short daily devotions through the Bible’s big story from beginning to end—a perfect gift for someone who wants to know God better and discover more about His power and His love.

Here’s what readers have been saying about the book:
“The readings are short but the thoughts are powerful, deep, and resonate in your heart.”
“Simple in approach, but not shallow. The 365 devos walk you through the entire Bible (even the sticky parts!) systematically—with sound theology, readability, and humor.”
“I savor this devotion and the beautiful reflections that inspire and challenge me! If you want to learn how the pieces of the books of the Bible fit together, this is a great guide.”
Sounds good, right?

And now through Christmas Eve, when you purchase Encountering God’s Heart for You from any retailer, I have a gift for you.

Bethany House Publishers has helped me prepare a specially designed Christmas devotional featuring eight devotions through the Christmas story. I’d love for you to have a copy to help you find some peaceful, reflective moments during this busy holiday season.

To receive your Christmas devotional, just email me a copy of your receipt for your purchase of Encountering God’s Heart for You OR the name of the retailer where you purchased the book, and I’ll send you a link to download the PDF.
This offer is good until December 24. But I hope you won’t wait. I want you to have your Christmas devotional download soon to help you encounter God’s heart as you celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Christmas blessings!
– Diane

Reading the Whole Bible—You Can!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. –Colossians 3:16

When you hear “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” what comes to mind first? Memorizing Bible verses? Doing a Bible study? Going to a conference, or reading a popular book by a Bible teacher or a pastor?

How about simply reading the Bible? Just reading it.

In January 2000, I responded to an invitation to join a group of women forming to read through the Bible in a year to get to know God and to meet weekly to discuss what we read.

The experienced changed my life, and I’ve been part of many other similar groups since then. All of my children’s books and my two books for women got their start when I experienced reading through the whole Bible with others with the sole purposed of getting to know God better.

Along with so many other women who have participated along with me, I discovered five wonderful reasons to read it.

Reasons to Read It

1. We discovered that God reveals himself through his Word. It’s been said that the Bible is the only book whose Author is right there with you when you read it. Although I have always believed in God, it wasn’t until I began to read the whole Bible that I started to truly get to know Him. And every time we read through, God speaks to our lives at that time, and there is always more to learn.

2. We discovered a sense of sisterhood, a “one-anotherness” as we interacted with the Word and with each other each week.

3. We discovered that we were developing discernment, the ability to evaluate what we hear others say and write about the Bible, about life, about faith.

4. We discovered that we could indeed teach and admonish one another with wisdom—God’s wisdom. As years went on, we could bring in Scripture from other places in the Bible that all had some bearing on the question being discussed–or on the crisis or decision one of us faced. The rustle of Bible pages as women talk about the Word is a very satisfying sound!

5. I’m convinced that one of the most loving things we can do for someone else is invite and encourage her to become a lifelong reader of the Word, and to read it together.

When you start to see connections between the Old and New Testaments, as you discover that the Bible actually tells one big story, and when you find yourself getting to know God more and more through his Word—that’s when it really gets exciting!

Need a Place to Start?

My new devotional, Encountering God’s Heart for You: 365 Devotions from Genesis Through Revelation, can guide you through the Bible from start to finish.

You won’t read every single chapter, but you’ll get the big picture of the Bible’s whole story, a clearer sense of biblical history, and lots of encouragement. The daily devos are short and, as one reviewer said, “simple in approach but not shallow.”

I can’t wait for you to read it and share it with your friends! My publisher, Bethany House, designed this hardcover book with a beautiful pearlized cover. (It would make a lovely gift!)

You can see a sample from the book here.

My prayer is that as you read through the Word and encounter God’s heart for you, you’ll also discover and deepen your heart of love for Him.

– Diane

Children’s Book Scavenger Hunt: Stop #10

Welcome to the Christian Children’s Book Scavenger Hunt! If you are just joining us, please begin at LisaTawnBergren.com to collect the clues in order, so you’ll be in the running to win one of three sets of books and a children’s Kindle Fire! The hunt runs from September 13 at noon Mountain Time until September 15 at midnight MT. This contest is open to international entrants.

Children can be fascinating conversationalists, but sometimes adults need a little help asking questions that will get kids talking. That’s one reason why I included “Think and Talk” prompts in my newest children’s book, Stop-and-Go Devotional: 52 Devotions for Busy Families.

How to Ask Questions So Kids Want to Talk

Conversations with your child create heart-to-heart connection. You get to learn what your child feels and thinks and what she experiences away from you. Your child gains confidence and develops a deep sense of value when mom and dad want to hear what he has to say.

But we’ve all experienced the “How-was-your-day?” “Fine” syndrome, right?

Why doesn’t our child—or grandchild—want to tell us more? Here are three possible reasons and their potential solutions.

1. We might be asking the wrong kind of questions.

Questions that can be answered with just one word—yes and no, finenothing, or OK—usually end a conversation before it starts.

Instead, ask open-ended questions that invite children to share, to think, or to problem solve. Open-ended questions usually start with HowTell meWhatWhereWhen, or Why.

When you ask a child an open-ended question, he feels important to you and feels that his response is important to you. He thinks about the question to express his ideas.

In addition, young children need questions that are more specific than general. And give your child your full attention as you speak to him. Put down your phone, get close, look her in the eyes.

“Tell me about the game you played at recess today.”
“What was hard for you today?”
“What are some ways you could be a friend to someone who looks different from you?” (This is a question from the devotion “Inside Out” in Stop-and-Go Devotional.)

2. We might be asking questions at the wrong times.

Some children are super talkative after school or sports practice. Others need their space and a little quiet time before they’re ready to engage. Know your child, respect how he’s wired, and time your questions accordingly.

3. We might be asking questions about our interests, not our child’s.

It’s right to care about your child’s day at school or the sitter’s and how practices and lessons are going. But asking questions about other areas of life may help you know your child better as you discover new aspects of the remarkable person he is.

Reading books and watching TV shows or movies together offer many opportunities for open-ended questions:
“What do you think is about to happen?”
“Do you think there is another way to ______ ?”
“If you were _____ , what would you do?”

Pay attention to your child’s interests and problems and encourage her with questions:
“Tell me about your drawing.”
“What do you especially like about soccer this year?”
“What do you think might happen if you _____ ?”

Good conversations are like windows; they help us see and be seen.

It might take some time to learn to use open-ended questions, to time your questions, and to ask about what interests your child.

It might take some time for your child to get used to your new question-asking style and begin to engage with you.

Be patient. As you build respect for their thoughts and answers, children want to respond!

 Scavenger Hunt Clue to Write Down: —AA MILNE

Learn more about Stop-and-Go Devotional and how to order here.

LINK TO NEXT STOP IN THE HUNT: Head over to Lisa Tawn Bergren’s site to enter your clue stream on the grand prize Rafflecopter form!

– Diane

Moon Walking, Disneyland, and Jesus

A longer-than-usual post and not my usual subject matter either . . . but important.

On July 20, 1969, the day of the historic US walk on the moon, I was 18 and working at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. On my dinner break I watched the event on a large screen set up somewhere in Tomorrowland.

Actually, I grew up in Anaheim with Disneyland almost in our backyard, just a 10-minute drive away, close enough to see the highest of the fireworks as they exploded over Cinderella’s castle every night at 9 o’clock sharp.

Walt Disney opened his Disneyland theme park in 1955, and my parents and I visited soon after. Here I am in January 1956, with my mom on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride.

As I grew up, the park did too. A trip to Disneyland always meant magical fun.

Costumes and cast members

Because of the moon walk’s fiftieth anniversary last weekend, I’ve been reminiscing.

Back then I didn’t recognize or appreciate the perfect execution the lunar mission required to be a success. But I did know a little something about the standards and execution required to create the magic of the Magic Kingdom.

College students coveted working at Disney. I longed to be a tour guide or ride operator, but I gladly accepted cashiering positions, first at the Plaza Pavilion restaurant and later at the Emporium gift shop, both on Main Street.

Disneyland employees (always called cast members) received freshly washed and pressed costumes (never called uniforms) every day. At the Emporium we wore pastel Victorian-style blouses tucked into floor-length fit-and-flare skirts.

After changing out of street clothes and putting on my costume in the cast members’ building off the parking lot, I walked across a large open area called the berm toward a door in the high fence that bordered the back of Main Street attractions. Disneyland’s Main Street (unlike Disney World’s) is built to three-quarter scale, creating the sensation of entering another world as well as another time. Walking through that door always emphasized the magic for me.

From Main Street to Tomorrowland, from It’s a Small World to Pirates of the Caribbean, every land and attraction featured carefully crafted details. A legion of roaming custodians unobtrusively swept up any trash anywhere in the park as fast as it hit the ground. And at night, painters searched for scratches and nicks and touched up every surface.

Walt Disney called Disneyland the happiest place on earth, and like Mary Poppins, it was practically perfect in every way.

So what does all this have to do with Jesus?

In the US—and in any other country whose citizens are blessed with voice and vote in how their government will run—the challenge for followers of Jesus is taller than Disneyland’s iconic Matterhorn. We can’t help evaluating, even judging, the opinions of other believers—and it’s a sure bet we don’t agree with them all. But agreement isn’t the challenge. The attitude of our hearts is the challenge, because the bent of our hearts determines our words and our actions.

Jesus tells us that if His followers love one another, the world will know we’re His disciples. Letters in the New Testament from Paul and others repeat this theme again and again. How we treat one another matters. Unity and love among believers show Christ to the world, whether we’re worshiping together, assisting those in need, or discussing the President online.

It’s not wrong to be concerned about the behavior of other believers. Jesus called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and the crowds for their spiritual apathy. Paul chastised Peter publicly when Peter had second thoughts about associating with Gentile Christians. Paul told Timothy his first response toward others’ sin should be to encourage rather than to rebuke: “an older man . . .  as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). James commended bringing wandering believers back onto the way of truth.

But we also have this from Jesus:  “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3).

So we each have to decide if, when, and how to speak up, and most important, the attitude of our heart—the why.

Believe me, I am preaching to myself here. It’s easy to simply avoid the people I disagree with and think I’ve got having a right attitude covered.

As forgiven and beloved children of God, we’re told to put off sin and put on the attitudes and actions of righteousness. It’s a process. Following the Spirit and obeying the Word, we progress toward the goal of becoming mature children of our Father, longing for the day when we will be completely made into the image of His Son.

Until then, unlike stepping into the practically perfect Magic Kingdom for a day, taking the road marked discipleship means a long ride, and we’re all only on our way.

– Diane

Quotable: On making changes to your home—and your life

Thoughts for your Monday and this week

“Living spaces need to evolve; when we don’t make changes to suit new circumstances, life can feel harder. Allowing your home to be ‘deliberately unfinished’ is a step toward a happier, better life at home. It allows you to design for how you really live right now—as well as for the life you can imagine.”

from the IKEA 2019 catalog, referring to the IKEA Life at Home report

– Diane

Quotable: On getting to know others well

Thoughts for your Monday and this week

“When I was at Seattle Pacific College, we had a student body of about 500. As student-body president, I determined to learn the name of every person on that campus. And I did. I didn’t like the pastors who didn’t know my name. ‘Hey, you,’ they would say and never bother to get acquainted.

“I remember one of my teachers in the English department. I was writing a column for the student newspaper, and I began with a careless reference to the poet Chaucer. My professor called me in and said, ‘Eugene, have you ever read Chaucer?’ I said, ‘No.’ And she pulled a book off the shelf, put it in my hand, and said, ‘You start reading this and don’t come back until you’ve finished it.’ Well, I had no idea that Chaucer was such an interesting person!

“That stuck with me. Don’t think you understand someone just because you know about them.”

Eugene Peterson in an interview in Christianity Today, November 27, 2018
Eugene Peterson Wanted to Know Your Name

– Diane

My Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Valentine’s Day will be here soon, and that special day plus the debut of a new book seems like the perfect pairing for a giveaway, right?

I am ever grateful to everyone who buys and gifts and shares about my books! Every purchase and every personal note, email, social media comment, and review encourages me and reminds me who I write for—you, your children, and your grandchildren.

Thank you for loving God’s Word and appreciating my efforts to help you know and love Him more.

And thank you for making it possible for me to keep doing what I love—creating books to make God’s wonders known to the next generation.

So to celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14 and the release of Stop-and-Go Devotional: 52 Devotions for Busy Families on February 12, I think it’s definitely time for a giveaway!

Stop-and-Go Devotions: 52 Devotions for Busy Families. Each devotion features a short, active Bible story, questions to think and talk about, a simple, fun activity, a Bible verse, and a prayer. If you use the elements of one devotion at different times throughout one week, you’ll have enough devotional material to last all year!

Everything you see in the photo at the top of this post will arrive at the home of one lucky winner in time for your own Valentine’s Day activities.

The giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59 EST on Sunday, February 3. Just comment “I’d love to win” below this post and you’ll be entered. (Entries limited to US and Canada.) I’ll announce the winner on Monday, February 4.

– Diane

Quotable: On the “Goldilocks Effect” of reading picture books to children

Thoughts for your Monday and this week

“As with the first bowl of porridge that Goldilocks finds in the house of the Three Bears, the sound of the storytelling voice on its own seemed to be ‘too cold’ to get the children’s brain networks to fully engage.

“Like the second bowl that Goldilocks samples, animation of the sort that children might see on a TV screen or tablet was ‘too hot.’ There is just too much going on, too quickly, for the children to be able to participate in what they were seeing. Small children’s brains have no difficulty registering bright, fast-moving images, as experience teaches and MRI scanning confirms, but the giddy shock and awe of animation doesn’t give them time to exercise their deeper cognitive faculties.

“Just as Goldilocks sighs with relief when she takes a spoonful from the third bowl of porridge
and finds that it is ‘just right,’ so a small child can relax into the experience of being read a
picture book.”

Meghan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2019
“The Secret Power of the Children’s Picture Book”

– Diane

Quotable: On the habit of Bible reading

Thoughts for your Monday and this week

“Every day, in the ordinary routine of reading your Bible, you’re still eating. You’re coming to the table, asking the Lord to sustain you and nourish you through His Word. You’re coming to the Gospels, looking to see the Savior again and again. This is an ordinary routine, yes, but ordinary routines can change your life.”

Trevin Wax at LifewayVoices.com, December 3, 2018
“Routine Bible Reading Can Change Your Life”

– Diane

Quotable: On loving God with our minds

Thoughts for your Monday and this week

Women have an intellect that is intended to love God. That means we should be thinkers. 

“The way that I try to explain this is to say, ‘The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.’ So we must first know what is true about God before we can truly say that we love Him. . . . 

“And the more that we see His nature and character expand and bloom through the study of the Scriptures, the more we come to love Him for who He proclaims Himself to be.” 

Jen Wilkin at Lifeway Voices, October 11, 2018
from her Bible study 1 Peter: A Living Hope in Christ

– Diane


You CAN Read the Bible in a Year … Here’s How!