“Whatever” has become an all-too-common slang word to convey indifference. But Connecticut author Allia Zobel Nolan has cleverly filtered it through a teaching from St. Paul to write a book that offers spiritual advice for girls in the hard- to-reach ’tween (age 7-12) market.
Whatever: Livin’ the True, Noble, Totally Excellent Life! is an upbeat 90-day devotional that offers spiritually based advice for girls about everything from friends, gossip and the Internet, to service, fashion,and bullying.
“It’s so awful what kids get bombarded with today…sex, violence, events in the world,” said Mrs. Zobel Nolan. “So I wanted to write a book telling girls that they can change their thoughts and change their lives with ideas that are beautiful and uplifting. They have a choice.”
The daily devotional (published by Zonderkidz, a division of HarperCollins) draws upon Philippians 4:8-13 “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
The author uses each of St. Paul’s scriptural “whatevers” to head 10 sections of 60 devotionals. Each reflection draws readers in with relevant stories, examples, language and thoughts; and offers a new way of thinking about issues that are important to ’tweens.
It offers girls advice on how to stay true to God and avoid sin, while dealing with everyday decisions from dressing appropriately and avoiding gossip and white lies to curbing sarcasm and choosing friends.
“Kids use the word ‘whatever’ sarcastically,” said Mrs. Zobel Nolan. “So I wanted to change it to help them think about something that is lovely, pure, excellent.”
“I tell girls that they have a choice,” said Mrs. Zobel Nolan. “You can control your mind. You don’t have to dwell on the negative so that your mind becomes infected. If you change your thoughts, you will have peace.”
“God made you in an amazing way,” she continued, with her advice to ’tweens. “If God made you so wonderfully, maybe you will want to look at yourself that way, too.”
Designed to be read alone or in a group, each devotion starts with a verse from Scripture and concludes with subsections that include a two-sentence wrap-up, a piece of advice and a prayer or “divine thoughts.”
“Thoughts are powerful tools,” said Mrs. Zobel Nolan, who took two years to write the book with the help of a Scripture scholar. “There’s an answer for everything in the Bible, which is why it’s good to bring it to the level of children. They need to value thoughts as children of God, and not of this world.”
Mrs. Zobel Nolan is an internationally published, award-winning author of more than 170 children’s and adult trade titles with close to three million books in print. Her books reflect her humor and her passions – God, cats and writing for children – with titles that include Cat Confessions, The Worrywart’s Prayer Book, The Ten Commandments for Little Ones, The Lord’s Prayer for Little Ones and two upcoming books, one on angel Bible stories and the other on psalms and prayers for little ones.
A former senior editor at Reader’s Digest, she gained national prominence with her first book, The Joy of Being Single, which was published in 1992, six months before meeting her husband.
The New York Times covered the couple’s 1994 marriage; and reprised their union with a follow-up article in 2009 to see how the couple that espoused the single life was doing after 15 years of marriage.
“I’m blessed to be doing what I want to do, and get paid for it,” said the author, who has been receiving high praise for her latest book.
“Our mind is one of the Lord’s most awesome gifts,” she said, with thoughts that can be uplifting and lead to actions that praise and glorify God or drag people down. “Whatever can help ’tweens use it to the fullest, so they can enjoy the totally awesome life God intended them to have.”