Are you grateful Jesus Christ is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)? Dr. Kathy sure is. As she points out in this video, we’ll never find peace in the things of the world – it’s rough and tough. Believers have been graciously given the quality of peace as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians5:22). Let’s remember to rely on Him in us for security and peace and help our kids do the same.

Intentional Parenting Can Guide A Child’s Life Story

celebrate kids mom daughter

Everybody tells a story with their life. What’s yours?

Your story started before you were born when God as Creator chose to uniquely and perfectly design you in His image. He continues to write the stories we are each privileged to act out.

If you look back on your life, can you see times in your younger years that are very relevant to the plot God currently has you acting out? I sure can.

So let me ask you again. What is your story? And if you’re parenting children, what story do you see them acting out and what future subplots do you hope God allows them to star in?

2-3-16 LittleMenCoverWhen I was a child I won several library summer reading awards. I still own Little Men, my prize for having read more books than others in my age division one summer.

I remember taking honors English in high school and enjoying the advanced literature and challenging writing assignments. Of course, I never dreamt I would be an author one day. I sure am glad I paid attention! I know that not every one of my peers enjoyed what we were doing. I look back on that experience and recognize that God gave more than my ability. He also equipped me with interest and joy.

My parents played a big part of that as they had high expectations and asked wise questions after school and helped both my brother and me prepare for assignments and tests. They didn’t just ask us how we did on completed assignments and tests. They helped us prepare and study for them. I will be forever grateful.

So let me ask again. What plot do you hope your children get to act out? Are you doing what you can as instruments of God’s grace to prepare them for what you believe He may have for them in their future?

I also see the relevance of children’s theater that I participated in as a child. If you’ve heard my story, you know I joke that my parents sent me there so I would talk somewhere else. There’s some truth to that. I was a Chatty Kathy and they wanted to give me a positive outlet so that I wouldn’t become someone who used my words in negative and hurtful ways.

Children’s theater is also where I learned to project and enunciate clearly. I learned that emphasizing one word in a sentence and a sentence in a paragraph influences the meaning and increased people’s attention. I look back on that subplot of my life and see it is very relevant to my career as a public speaker.

My drama coach and my English teachers taught me the power of words. So did my grandfather. He was mayor of my city when I was young. I observed him give speeches. I read newspaper articles about him and the decisions he made. He modeled for me that words should be used for good and not evil, to help and not hurt. Another important subplot.

Who do you see your children becoming? What are their sources of joy? What experiences do they enthusiastically talk with you about? When they lose total track of time, what were they doing? What are their strengths?

What school topics and courses interest them the most? For what do they need very little external motivation? What problems in the world concern them? What people groups are they burdened for?

What experiences can you provide for them? What expectations should you set? Who can you introduce them to so they’re further inspired? What conversations can you have?

This is how God designed your children. Pay attention. WE have significant power as we yield to God’s direction to parent and teach children to live out the story He has written for them. It is not about us! It’s about our children and God’s design and God’s glory.

My parents were very intentional. You can be, too.

Are you familiar with the eight great smarts I often blog about and speak about? If you are, can you go back and read this and put the smarts in where you see them? If you’re not, come back on Monday and I’ll show you what I mean and why this additional understanding is so impactful.

Jesus Fulfills Us

2-1-16 NotesFromSermon“Jesus is our fulfillment, not our gifts or our use of them.”

Amen!

I couldn’t stop smiling during my pastor’s sermon yesterday. He was talking my language. I nodded in agreement and smiled throughout. Toward the end, he said it:

“Jesus is our fulfillment, not our gifts or our use of them.”

I might have audibly gasped. I then quickly wrote it down. I knew I wouldn’t forget because it was so impactful, but I wanted it among my other notes.

As you may know, I’ve been teaching and writing that knowing our purpose – why we are alive – is one of our five core needs met by God. Our needs can’t be met in ourselves, others, or things. These may support the way God meets our needs, but they can also get in the way.

That’s why this hit me hard. As my pastor taught, when we prioritize our walk with God and press in toward Him, paying attention to the heart He gave us, He will show us more of Himself. Our relationship will be strengthened. We’ll tend to be more authentic in our prayers. It’s our heart’s involvement that’s a key. We must feel as we relate to God, not just think.

As we choose to prioritize knowing more about God vs. knowing what our gifts are from God, we will learn He can and will answer the core question, “Why am I alive?”

The A+ answer is to have a life-saving, fulfilling relationship with Him. It’s not to use our gifts so we’re fulfilled. He chose our gifts for us and He wants us to use them. He gifted each of us to make a difference. Yes! But, …

As much as I know it’s valuable to figure out what activities energize us and what burdens He created us to feel, we can’t use our gifts and meet someone’s burdens so we’re fulfilled. Then it’s about us. Then, when we think we’re ineffective or we no longer feel good about what we’re doing, we may question whether we’re using the right gifts right. And, we may desire a gift we see someone else using because it seems more important or popular. Or fulfilling.

No.

I will certainly still teach that children (and adults) must believe they were created on purpose with purpose to leave the world a better place. I will also make sure to talk more about the value of seeking God to determine exactly how He has designed us to do that. I hope you’ll talk with your children about this.

“Jesus is our fulfillment, not our gifts or our use of them.”

My pastor’s sermon is available online if you’d like to listen. I highly recommend it. I’m grateful for Dr. Stephen Lowrie’s love for God’s Word, study of Scripture, and his love for all of us.

We live in a culture that celebrates happiness, but believers are promised joy. Are we walking in that reality? Are we helping our kids want more joy rather than the fleeting happiness Hollywood suggests matters most? We hope this video is thought-provoking and helpful.

Put Down The Platitudes – Offer Genuine Love & Support

hands comfort

“Just read a few more verses.”

“I bet if you prayed more you’d worry less.”

“If you had more faith, you wouldn’t be so worried.”

When people who are anxious and prone to worry tell friends or church acquaintances that this is their struggle, these are among the statements they hear in response. No wonder friends of mine tell me they’ve learned to tell only a few trusted people. Statements like these do not help. In fact, they can make them feel worse.

Could worry be due to a lack of faith? Sure. Does it help to meditate on Scripture? It can. Does praying decrease worry? If we’re praying to the God of the Bible, in faith, it can.

But, even though those statements might be true, let’s think before we speak.

Have I earned the right to say what I’m thinking?

If I say it, do I have the time now to follow through and actually pray, suggest some relevant verses, and talk about how this person could respond in faith to what’s going on?

The Power Of Identity

woman thinking

I haven’t been myself lately. Maybe you can relate.

For me, my health is the issue. I’m used to being very active, working out at One-on-One Fitness two or three times a week, visiting with friends over dinner, working and writing in my office, and traveling a lot to meet needs through speaking. Other than some time spent in my office, I’ve done none of these for the past six weeks.

I don’t like not feeling like myself. I’m not used to sitting around and not being able to just get up and go. I’ve had to work at being still and obedient to my doctors’ orders. I have to work to keep an underlying stress at bay all because I don’t feel like me.

I’ve been teaching something relevant to my current reality for years. Maybe you’ve heard me, or you’ve read it in one of my books. Identity controls behavior. I’m experiencing this truth in significant ways. Our identity – who we think we are – is a key to our behavior.

The only way I can behave differently is if I get in touch with who I really am now. I’m sick. After surgery in about two weeks and my recovery, I will again be well. But, the reality is that I’m not well now. I have to own that. Respect that. Not live in denial. Otherwise, I’d be getting worse as I ignored the order to rest.

Is any of this relevant to you in anyway? I think so.

We need to have an accurate understanding of who we are because identity is so powerful. If you know you’re creative, you’ll look for ways of serving with that talent. If you know you need lots of sleep to function well and tomorrow is an especially big day, you’ll leave a party earlier than others might. If you know what’s challenging for you, you’ll avoid certain circumstances and possibly ask for help during others.

When you or your children seem stressed and unsure of yourselves, ask whether there’s been a change in identity that needs to be realized. It may be temporary, like my situation, but you still need to recognize it and make adjustments. This may be especially true when children move from “I can’t do this” to “I can do this.” For example, you don’t want them behaving like math facts are still hard for them when they’ve actually memorized them and are quite quick. Right? This is among the reasons I teach parents and teachers to be very specific when affirming children.

In a related issue, if your children go through a time where attitudes and actions are inconsistent, and you don’t know what to expect from them, it almost always indicates an identity change is taking place. They’re trying to decide where to land – do they want to stay the way they’ve been or are the new attitudes and actions comfortable? Watch them and talk with them. Work to direct them toward the identity you believe is truest to who they currently are and will be healthiest for them.

Guard against the new identity seemingly making all others irrelevant. In my case, I must remember that I am more than sick. I’m still a writer. I’m still creative. I’m still a friend who can reach out in different ways. The only way this happens is if I don’t think about and talk only about my health.

Related to that idea, we also must not exaggerate any of our identities. I am sick, but I’m not dying. I can still go to my office. I just have to stay for shorter amounts of time and have lowered expectations for what I’ll accomplish. If I only sit around and become acutely aware of every pain, I’ll think I’m sicker than I am.

One more important idea. Because what people say to us and how they react to us influences our identity, key people in our lives should know about these types of changes we’re going through. This is true whether we’re going through them willingly or not.

For example, many people in my church know about my health. Some have more details than others, but many have seen my Facebook prayer requests. Others don’t know anything. That’s fine. It’s “key people” who benefit from knowing – for their good and ours. Yesterday, I was most comfortable interacting with those who know I’m not well. They didn’t expect me to be my normal chipper self. Their expressions of care and concern lifted my spirits.

If you or your children are experiencing growth and change, make sure to let key people know so they can support what’s happening. Grandparents, for instance, can ask different questions and choose different reactions to behavior. This can help the growth continue and feel natural.

Identity controls behavior. Who we think we are is who we will be.

God’s quality of love is the first mentioned in the list of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). It may be first, and most important, because without it we would have a hard time exhibiting the other qualities. Dr. Kathy shares four things kids have told her related to their ability to trust a parent’s love. We hope you’re encouraged.

Replace False Helplessness With Clear Problem Solving Skills

escalator

Kids giving up. Kids not asking for help. Kids asking for help when they should know what to do on their own. Sound familiar? These are common frustrations.

As I write about in Screens and Teens, helplessness can be an effect of digital devices. Kids of all ages believe things should be easy, learning shouldn’t take any effort, and winning should be guaranteed. Of course, none of this is true!

Many parents and teachers tell me that kids are hurrying through their work, not concerned with excellence. They skip things they can’t easily do on their own. This is true of academic pursuits, musical practices, and handling chores around the house.

When children aren’t sure what to do, many aren’t asking for help. Perhaps they can’t admit they need it because “everything should be easy.” They might not even know what kind of help they need. When that’s the case, asking for help is nearly impossible.

Some children get easily scared of something that looks new and hard and ask for help before making honest attempts on their own.

I feel for these children and for you because this isn’t healthy, but it is stressful. The next time you see kids behaving in one of these ways, maybe you can use the example of an escalator to open up communication.

Remind your kids of escalators they’ve seen in movie theaters, shopping malls, and museums. Ask them to picture two people on an escalator when it unexpectantly stops. They realize it’s broken and they feel stuck. They wait quite a while, just looking around. Then they begin to shout,

“Somebody help us!!”

“Help us! The escalator isn’t moving!”

“We’re not moving! Somebody get help!”

Hopefully your kids will see how silly that is. Perhaps you’ll all have a good laugh. Then talk about what they could they have done instead. “Walk up the stairs created by the escalator, of course.”

Exactly. Take a step. Get moving. Do for yourself what you can do.

Dream. Dream BIG. Dream Large. Dream Gigantic!

Martin Luther King Jr.

Change. It’s a word and a concept that results in many strong reactions.

There’s not a person alive who doesn’t have something they could change in order to have a better life.

More productivity. More peace. More joy. More friendships. More hope.

Less fear. Less trouble. Less trauma. Less loneliness. Less despair.

Change will more likely work out well when all five core needs are met in healthy ways. This gives us a lot to count on during the sometimes shaky transitional times surrounding change.

How do we get started? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and legacy we celebrate in America today, believed a dream was essential. He was right.

Dr. Kathy likes to tell kids that being created in the image of God doesn’t mean we’ll look like Him, but that we can become like Him. She shares powerful evidence of that in this video. We know from the Truths of Galatians 5: 22-23 that we have been given the fruit of the Spirit. She introduces this today and will follow up with in-depth descriptions of the 9 qualities in the upcoming videos. Be blessed!