A Different Kind of Beauty


treesteeplesWhat’s some of the most valuable advice you’ve ever been given? What have you been told and never forgotten?

Many years ago, I was traveling with a good friend who is much more nature smart that I am. One day the sky was clear and the sun was bright. Everywhere we looked we saw something made more beautiful by the sunshine or the other plants and colors surrounding it.

The next day it was cloudy and fog hung low in the air. I expressed my disappointment. That’s when I heard my friend proclaim something I have never forgotten. Without skipping a beat, she said, “This is just a different kind of beauty.”

Her words often come back to me and I have learned to appreciate that beauty is always available to us.

How do you define “beautiful” today? Is your definition too narrow and does it cause you to miss out?

Last week I was privileged to travel through parts of New York and Massachusetts. The leaves on many trees were as beautiful as I had hoped they’d be – on all three days. On the sunny day, the cloudy day, and in the rain. I looked for changes and discovered them.

We see what we want to see. Try it with people, buildings, spaces, and nature. Purpose to find something beautiful today that you might’ve missed yesterday. Of course, encourage your children to look at the world this way, too.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder partly because we define what beautiful is.


In the comments, feel free to post about what you find beautiful. If you have photos to post, please share them on our Facebook thread!

It’s important that children take responsibility for their performances – the good ones and the less than great ones. Therefore, teach them to use the word “earned” when discussing their schoolwork. Don’t let them tell you they “got a 92%.” Have them reword it to communicate that they “earned a 92%.”

Building “Smarts” Bridges In School


As most of us can attest from first-hand experience, middle school has never been all that easy to navigate. The academic expectations of different teachers and the increased stress that high school is right around the corner can negatively affect middle schoolers. Also, relationships can be confusing and exhausting.

I was recently reminded that when students know how they are smart, they can also identify how their peers are smart. If they’re confident and raised to be other-centered, they can share their insights  and have a positive impact on their peers.

I was encouraged by my friend’s story and I think you will be, too. I need to start by sharing that last spring, her son willingly on his own, read How Am I Smart? (I’ve refreshed this as 8 Great Smarts.)

My friend’s son is now a 14-year-old 8th grader. He recently came home from school and told his mom, “Mom, my friend J said he was stupid today. So I had to tell him about all the ways to be smart.”

My friend:  “What did J think?”

Her son: “He never thought about any way to be smart except word and logic smart. I talked to him about how body smart he is. I think he felt better after we talked. J isn’t stupid, he is smart in his own way.”

This mom shared these additional thoughts with me: The really cool thing is my boy is a kid who tries to do things athletically but is really wired for academics and music. And his friend J is a boy who struggles academically but is VERY gifted athletically. The info that you gave him through your book builds bridges between kids who are gifted really differently. So thank you for that!

Are you encouraged? If you are, what can you do now to create a similar experience for your kids?

Community Can Build Security

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Security is essential. It’s a firm foundation that can allow adults and children of all ages to move forward. To risk. To grow. To cry. To laugh.

Recently an alert woman observed many groups of three and four women each in the conference registration line. They were chatting and clearly enjoying themselves. Off to the side, she noticed two women standing alone and observing. They appeared unsure of themselves.

This woman approached one, introduced herself, and found out she was alone. She then introduced herself to the other woman and also discovered she was there at the conference alone. She then introduced the two women to each other and watched them get in line and continue to talk for quite a while.

Their security strengthened when she noticed them. Then she let them know she noticed them. She talked, listened, and engaged them with each other. She offered them community.

Community can build security. It provides belonging. It’s rich. It’s essential.

Who can we notice this week who needs the security that can be found in community? What will we then do?

Start by observing more carefully in your family. There are times that living together doesn’t mean we feel we’re together. Then look outside your family. Don’t just look, though. Act on what you see. I’ll be doing the same. Let me know what you notice and what you do. I’d love to be encouraged.

What we say about ourselves to ourselves and others matters. Our words influence our identity so they’re important. They must be true. Today’s power phrase is “That’s a lie!” Say it to your children when you hear them lie to themselves about themselves. If they earn a less than great grade on a paper, they’re not stupid. Don’t let them say or believe that. Maybe they were careless. Maybe they didn’t proofread. Maybe they forgot to study. Help them own truth and reject the lie.

The “8 Great Smarts Teen Assessment”

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Great news! Keep reading….

When children discover they’re smart, it changes them.

  • They believe they can learn more so they want to.
  • They believe they can study more to learn more so they want to.
  • They believe they can make a positive difference so they want to.

When children discover how they’re smart, it changes them more.

  • They know how they can learn more so they do.
  • They know how they can study more to learn more so they do.
  • They know how they can make a greater difference so they do.

When parents and teachers know how children are smart, they’re empowered to help them well. When kids know how they are smart, they can help themselves.

These are among the reasons we include complimentary access to an online survey for teens with the purchase of my book, 8 Great Smarts. It’s up and working now after unfortunate delays. The survey parents and teachers can use when thinking about children has been working since day one. Now, the one teens can complete is working, too. If you have the book, you have the code that will give you access to the survey.

Comparing your opinions about your teen’s smarts to your teen’s opinions should make for a rich discussion. What evidence do you see that caused you to rate one of the smarts as a strength? What evidence does your teen have that caused the rating to be different? Listen. Listen longer. Share specifics. Look for more evidence to talk about later.

I truly hope the survey is helpful.

If you don’t have the book, you can buy it here. Then you’ll be able to use the online assessment.

The “Pastor’s Pal” Lesson – Incorporating Children In Corporate Worship

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The two girls, their brother, and their parents were about 10 rows in front of me. During the first worship song, the dad realized his young son was seated, distracted, and not singing.

What happened next is one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. The dad got his wife’s attention and, by pointing, communicated his concern. She gently helped their son to his feet. Then she guided him to switch places with one of his sisters. His dad gently put his large hand of security and love on his shoulder when he arrived next to him. I believe he communicated, “You’re my son. I want you here by me.”

All of this took place in just a few seconds and I bet most people didn’t even notice. Everyone in the family was calm. The boy wasn’t shamed. Rather than the dad communicating, “you are bad” he communicated “God is worthy to be praised.”

That dad impressed me.

When this church service began, the pastor explained that children are welcome in the service. In fact there’s no other place for them to be. They discontinued their children’s church program a while ago. The leadership want children to worship and learn alongside their parents.

To help him make the point that it is possible for children to handle a church service well and benefit from it, he asked us to raise our hand if that was our experience. Of course, many of us raised our hands.

As the pastor acknowledged that church might be challenging for some children, he held up a bright lime green “Pastor’s Pal” bag that doubles as a backpack. Children who had one stood and waved and we clapped because they were in church. I wanted a bag!

The church is self-publishing quarterly books for their children to use during church. There are fun things to do, a place to write notes about the sermon, and questions parents can ask children after church.

Everything in me wanted to applaud what this church was doing:

  • The church leadership wondered if something they had been doing a long time was the best thing to do.
  • They asked God for guidance.
  • They decided, planned, and bravely made the change, losing some families in the process. These parents didn’t agree that “adult church” was in their children’s best interest. They were unwilling to guide their children and risk being occasionally distracted. They were sad to lose some families, but I’m impressed that these pastors knew this might happen, and didn’t get discouraged. They kept the big picture in mind.
  • They created the Pastor’s Pal program to help children be successful.
  • They’ve checked with parents to see how it’s going and have collected great testimonies.

During the pastor’s “Pastor’s Pal” announcement and then throughout the service, I thought about these fortunate children. Might they be less apt to leave the church and their faith later because they’re experiencing more of church now? Might worshipping as a family help everyone in the family? Might parents’ modeling help children see their parents as their authority?

I am still smiling as I think about this. I’d love to know what you think.

Dr. Kathy shares another power phrase in this video. It’s a phrase children tell her they want to hear. We think they need to hear it. By sharing these three simple words, you’ll communicate the powerful truth that they’re accepted. This is a need children (and adults) have. Please look for the opportunity to say “I like you” often.

It’s Not A Mess, It’s A Kid Friendly “Lived In” Home!

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Affirming moms is one of my favorite things to do. It’s easy.

Recently, when speaking to a group of moms, I told them if I stopped by their homes, I’d want to see toys in the living room and kitchen. I’d like to see blocks on the floors, books open upside down on the couch, and dolls half-dressed in a chair.

I’d want to see little cars lined up ready for a race on the floor somewhere. Crayons might be out of their box surrounding paper on the coffee table in the process of becoming beautiful art.

Dress-up clothes might be falling out of their storage box. A board game could be displaying last night’s victory for one of the kids. Maybe a jigsaw puzzle would be half completed on another table.

A mess? Absolutely not! A lived-in house? Yes!

I watched women relax. They wanted to agree, and I think most were able to. I want moms empowered to ignore the pictures on social media that suggest clean houses are essential and the sign of a good mom.

It’s not that I want their houses messy. I want their houses designed so children are encouraged to play and to engage with siblings.

Moms and dads tell me they’re concerned about children’s use of technology. They tell me kids complain when they take away their technology and they’re bored quickly, complaining there’s nothing to do.

Let’s leave toys out for kids to see so they’ll remember they like them. Leave puzzles out. Start one. Don’t put board games in the closet. Leave one or two on the table. Ask them to play with you. All of this can make it easier for kids when we ask them to turn off their technology.

What do you think? I’d love to know your thoughts. How about posting a picture of the toys and games out and about in your house?

Authentic Life: “Where Are You?” (Authentic Life Series, Part 3)

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Have you been following our short series of blogs about our Authentic Life Initiative? If so, thanks! Today I’m posting the third and final one. You can read the first one, by Mary Margaret Gibson, here and the second one, by me, here.

We are grateful to God for His equipping and we’re looking forward to using what He has taught us to benefit others. Especially if you know people working in pregnancy resource centers, would you let them know about our work? They’re our first target audience. After we complete Authentic Life for them, we’ll work on versions for others.

Read on….

Authentic Life: And God said, “Where are you?”

September 30, 2016 By Mary Margaret Gibson

ck100-1Note: Today’s post is the third and final post in a short series on “Authentic Life.” Read Mary Margaret Gibson’s first post here and Dr. Kathy Koch’s second post here.

“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:8–9)

Of course, God knew where they were.

They were hiding. Since that day, our fear and shame indicate a broken relationship with God caused by a person’s decision to ignore God’s commands. Our Creator made Adam with five deep needs and before that point had satisfied them all:

Security – God was Adam’s security. He made Adam in the “image of God” making it possible for him to have independent thought, emotion, reasoning, and the gift of naming creatures. God gave Adam everything he needed. God saw that Adam would be lonely, so God gave him a companion and helper, Eve (Gen. 2: 18–25).

Identity – Adam was God’s friend. Adam walked in the garden God made for him.

Belonging – Adam was a child of God, a member of God’s earthly family.

Purpose – Adam had a grand purpose. He saw every animal God had made and gave a name to each one. He must have done a good job. “Whatever name Adam gave became the creature’s name (Gen. 2:19–20). God approved. It was good!

Competence – God gave Adam the competence to fulfill his purpose to the glory of God.

But, after Adam and Eve defied God’s explicit command, Adam hid.

It was the first time on earth that any person was afraid of God. Until then, Adam knew in his heart and mind that God was “on his side.”

Adam had to leave the garden because separation from God is the penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23). He and Eve had to take up residence in the world, and they took their five core needs with them. Every child born since then inherits the same five core needs and the same inclination to sin (Rom. 3:23). God had us in mind, though. He knew how we would be restored to that wonderful relationship with Himself.

God IS On Your Side!

Recently, EvanTell (all about the gospel) and Dr. Kathy Koch (the core needs expert) launched a unique initiative called Authentic Life: Our Needs – God’s Answers. God is still able and willing to satisfy the five core needs we all struggle to fulfill in our life without Him. He built into us a longing for Himself.

In December, we will launch a seven topic video training module for Authentic Life. (You can read more about it HERE.) We have created “God’s Gift to You!”—featuring a gospel presentation and discipleship materials equipping people to share Authentic Life with the upcoming generation.

In this initiative we teach people their need to trust Jesus as Savior in a fresh way using core needs.

The first missionaries using Authentic Life will be the staff and volunteers of EvanTell’s Save the Mother, Save her Child ministry — Pregnancy Resource Centers helping people with many challenges in life, including unexpected pregnancy. The women and men needing the wide-ranging help of pregnancy centers will hear the hopeful news, “God is on your side! Right now! And so are we.” Many will hear the gospel and trust in Christ as Savior — the hopeless will have hope restored, forever. They will know Authentic Life.

Pray. Pray for God’s Gift to be received.