Books for Building Faithful Families
Faith-based publishers are seeing a demand for guidance, encouragement and celebration at every stage of family life, from dating to marriage, from baby cooing to struggling with a teenager that gives a whole new meaning to fiery. As sweet as family life can be, the writers of many upcoming titles don’t sugarcoat the challenges.
If couples want to thrive together, they shouldn’t wait until marriage to learn the necessary skills and faith, say forever changed podcasters Nick and Chelsea Hurst. They had 2.4 million YouTube viewers following their romance online, from their dating days to “I do”. Now, Nick, an evangelist, and Chelsea, a social media influencer, are offering advice (and warnings) to duos considering getting involved in Concerned about marriage: 10 ways to know if you’ve found the one you need (Zondervan, Jan. 2023). “They become vulnerable and honest with their own journey and add specific information about the most important questions to ask when making the marriage decision,” says Carolyn McCready, Zondervan’s editor. “This book will be fresh reading for today’s loving, committed audience who want to build a God-centered relationship.”
For those already married, Convergent offers a realistic marriage guide. Marriage is hard: 12 conversations to make you laugh, love and learn with your partner (out now) telegraphs its tone from the authors’ cover photo. It shows comedian and commentator Kevin Fredericks and social media influencer Melissa Fredericks, co-hosts of the The hour of love podcast, as disheveled and dusty newlyweds. Their book tackles hot topics like jealousy, divorce, and how to be a Christian and HIV-positive when “your hormones don’t care about your religious beliefs,” as the authors put it. “True marriage is not automatic,” they write. “It’s not a Tesla on the road. Sometimes it’s a shifter on a hill in the rain with no wipers.
Fusion for Marriage: Transforming Frustration and Disunity into Closeness and Commitment, (Focus on the Family, August 2023) recognizes that newlyweds need skills to communicate well and to create and maintain a secure relationship. Author Kari Trent Stageberg, co-host of strong families podcast, draws on current research and biblical principles to show couples how to work through mistakes and conflicts and thrive together, according to the publisher.
Standing on the scripture
Dannah Gresh, a speaker at Christian women’s events and the author of numerous books for Christian preteens, speaks to wives whose husbands have fallen into sexual sin, as hers once did. In Happy Even After: Let God Redeem Your Marriage (Moody, February 2023), Gresh does not minimize the “pain of betrayal”, but offers her the certainty that a shared belief in Jesus can carry other couples into trouble, as it did with her marriage. “Relax,” she wrote. “I am here to share my heart with you and deliver a new download of faith for you. your story.”
Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage: Trusting God with Your Most Important Relationship (Zondervan, Apr. 2023) is the latest book from Bible teacher Jodie Berndt in her Praying the Scriptures for the Editor series. Armed with prayer, readers can cope with “a health crisis, parenting issues, job loss, moving, or just day-to-day love and communication” while keeping “God’s promises and perspective.” in mind, according to the publisher.
Not all books about future marriage are about avoiding or overcoming misery. Pastor and author Joshua Ryan Butler focuses on the benefits of sacred marriage in his book beautiful union (Multnomah, April 2023). The publisher says the book celebrates “the sacred beauty and dignity of the body” in sexuality between husband and wife, and offers a view “of marriage as faithful love, and of procreation as life-giving presence”.
Trust God and take a nap
Carly Kellerman, associate editor of Zondervan Books, cites a statistic suggesting that “95% of moms say they need to improve in one or more areas of their life.” Staying You While Raising Them: The Secret Art of Confident Motherhood (Zondervan, Aug 2023) by Alli Worthington—a mother, the author of fierce faithand podcast host The Alli Worthington Show—offers a fun, helpful and thought-provoking guide to help moms master themselves by trusting God and prioritizing their own emotional and spiritual well-being, according to the publisher.
Sarah Atkinson, vice president and publisher of Tyndale Books, sees more and more parents, especially mums, looking to avoid burnout, anxiety or feelings of being overwhelmed. Instead, they “lean into the idea that they love their families best by focusing on what God has called them to do based on their families’ unique needs and their own gifts and by being willing to pass up some of the non-essentials,” she says, citing Rachel Norman’s book If mom is not happy: Why sticking to healthy boundaries is good for your whole family (Tyndale Momentum, available now). Norman, a once-exhausted mother of five and cancer survivor, writes that recognizing her “God-given limitations” and choosing “to believe in the promises of God’s word” allowed her to find a path to a more family life. calm and healthier.
Hard is not the same as bad (Harvest, Sept. 2023) by Abbie Halberstadt, a writer with 10 children, puts parenting struggles into perspective with pragmatic advice, humor and quotes from scripture, as with a chapter consoling Christians facing a crying newborn: “Dying to Yourself Never Looked So Cute.”
“Creating space for God”
Grammy-winning Gospel star CeCe Winans shares her life story of finding and living with faith and sharing it with all ages in Believe It: Passing the Faith on to the Next Generation (Dexterity, Nov.). “Being physically and emotionally available to our children is essential to their spiritual development,” writes Winans. “We need to create spaces to discuss God, his ways and his plan in our
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Randall House’s editorial director, Danny Conn, denounces books on parenting which “can often include a mix of humanistic philosophy, politically correct ideas and popular notions”. Instead, says Conn, the press offers books emphasizing the “eternal principles” of God such as Learning Trust, Finding Treasure: Helping You Solve the Parenthood Puzzle (available now), by former children’s ministry director Becky Sparks, who writes, “God has given us our children to teach and train them in the way they should go.
waiting with hope
While many find love, encouragement and joy in their family life, childhood was a time of trauma and pain for Anglican priest and author Arthur Boers. In his memoirs Broken: a son picks up the pieces of his father’s rage (Eerdmans, May 2023), Boers reflects on growing up with an abusive father, finding faith healing, and discovering his calling in ministry.
Throughout family life, many want to grow old with wisdom, courage and faith to share with loved ones. ACTA Publications editor Greg Pierce commissioned octogenarian Frank J. Cunningham, former president and publisher of Ave Maria Press at Notre Dame, to compile 100 concise thoughts into a gift book. Engage the Gifts of Aging (out now) is for “people of all faiths and spiritual beliefs,” says Pierce.
Faith can steer the family boat
When their children are in trouble, scared or confused, parents need faith at the helm, Christian editors say. Relevant new and upcoming titles include the following:
● Behind Closed Doors: A Guide to Help Parents and Teens Navigate Life’s Toughest Problems (Thomas Nelson, now available) by Jessica Peck, mother and pediatric nurse practitioner. It offers suggested activities, devotional readings, relevant Bible verses, prayers, and reading lists to help parents tackle difficult conversations.
● Thriving Families: A Trauma-Informed Guide to the Fostering and Adoption Journey (Herald, Jan. 2023) addresses the unique stresses of caring for children who may be dealing with trauma, grief and questions about their identity. Its authors, former trauma therapist Jenn Ranter Hook and clinical psychologist Joshua N. Hook, apply Jesus’ “broader, more inclusive view of family,” says Laura Leonard, the Herald’s acquisitions editor.
● Reliable: preparing your children for a life of money management that honors God (Focus on the Family, April 2023) by Matt Bell, publisher of a website that advises Christians on investing in line with their values, seeks to equip parents to teach their children biblical financial priorities and “everything what they need to enter into life”. straight path to a life of efficient, joyful and God-glorifying money management,” according to the editor.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 10/24/2022 issue of Weekly editors under the title: Building Faithful Families