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(Below is a book review I wrote for our state's homeschool magazine some time ago. I found it today and thought that some of you might be looking for a fun devotional book to use with your children, so I decided to post it. Enjoy!)

365 Days of Celebration & Praise -
Daily Devotions & Activities for Homeschooling Families
By Julie Lavender

Leave it to a homeschool mom to find a way to highlight the beauty of each day in such a unique way that it provides her family with a daily devotional that incorporates fun educational activities, prayers, scripture memory, discussion questions, crafts, games, cooking and singing - all together in one book.

While tapping into the well-traveled tributary of family devotional books, Julie Lavender has carved out an unparalleled niche with her latest book, 365 Days Of Celebration & Praise – Daily Devotions & Activities for Homeschooling Families. Her fresh approach creatively combines the celebration of each day’s holiday to a Biblical example. For instance, how many of you knew that February 15 was Ferris Wheel Day? George Washington Ferris invented the Ferris wheel and we honor him by celebrating his birthday as a holiday. Now see if you can guess what Biblical example is associated with this holiday. Well, if you guessed the story of Joshua and the children of Israel circling around and around the walls of Jericho you’d be correct. This is just one example. There are 364 more for you to read about in this enlightening resource.

Devotionals are designed to give you something to meditate on throughout the day. This book does that by first, piquing the reader’s interest with a holiday to celebrate. Did you ever stop to think about the fact that every single day, somewhere on this planet, some people group is celebrating something? In fact, there are more official holidays than there are calendar dates to fit them into. Because of this, many holidays must share their date with another. Every day that God blesses us with is worth celebrating, and this book highlights that by singling out 365 official holidays and framing each one to fit around your homeschooling day.

Of course, I must admit, upon receiving this book I didn’t immediately turn to today’s date, nor did I turn to the first entry in the book. That’s too predictable, and this homeschool mom has gotten rather attached to thinking “outside the box” with everything I read now. So naturally, the first day I turned to was my birthday. Unlike G. W. Ferris with his invention of the Ferris wheel, I didn’t find my name at the top of the page in bold. (If only I could invent & patent a secret breakfast shake; one that makes children wake up every school day morning, motivated to learn with the enthusiasm of going to a theme park. I could have a holiday named after me!) I was however, delighted to discover that my birthday is part of National Picnic Month; and relieved that it didn’t read National Save The Camel Cricket Day! I do love a good picnic – minus the bugs of course – and will have my picnic basket packed and ready for next year’s celebration. Ms. Lavender very creatively connects National Picnic Month with the story of Jesus feeding the multitude, as she questions if you’ve ever attended a picnic with 4,000 people. Included are tantalizing ideas for you to incorporate this holiday into your day.

Throughout the book Biblical examples are accompanied by ideas listed under the following five categories: Questions to Discuss, Related Activity, Curriculum Connection, Verse to Memorize, and Prayer Suggestion. You have the option of skimming the surface or digging deeper with this well-organized, simple approach to devotions.

I whole-heartedly recommend this resource to parents of young children. The simple format accommodates everything from a short attention span to the child who loves to research and dig up all the facts that surround the celebration. I have to admit though; the child in me has certainly enjoyed pulling this book off the shelf in search of discovering what special celebration each day holds. “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!”
365 Days of Celebration & Praise, by Julie Lavender, is available at your local Christian and secular bookstores, and online. H