Dr. Kathy is very patriotic and she loves our veterans and their families. So, naturally, Memorial Day is on her mind. That’s why the word “sacrifice” is this week’s power word. Let’s teach our children the meaning of the word. Are you concerned about people’s self-centered selfishness? What’s the opposite? To choose to sacrifice. You can use our military heroes, baseball examples, and maybe your own life to help kids understand the power of sacrificing.

Life-Giving Opportunity: End of Academic Year Conversations

ck mom daugter Conversation

Depending on where you live, the school year has already ended, it’s ending this week, or it soon will. What messages and goals do you want your children to be thinking about now?

Even if it wasn’t an excellent academic year, I hope you want to encourage them. With a negative tone of voice, you could proclaim, “Next year better be better!!” Will that make it be? No. It will just remind children they disappointed you again.

I’m not suggesting you lie and announce, “You had a terrific year!” if your children didn’t. This can communicate to them that you really don’t know them very well. This will sadden them and weaken your influence. Or, if they believe you, they won’t think about working smarter and doing better next year because you appear more than satisfied.

So, what can you do?

Asking your children how satisfied they are with how the year went may be a good first step. You’ll find out if their ability to self-evaluate is growing. And, you’ll discover if they’ll agree with any positives or negatives you’re thinking of bringing up.

For instance, if your son is relieved he earned a B in algebra and you were about to indicate your concern it’s not an A, you might want to wait. Or, you might want to ask a few questions before sharing your disappointment. You might determine it’s best to not say anything negative at all.

If your daughter is very excited with her A in science, it’s not necessary to talk about her C is history in the same conversation. Celebrate her A!

As a part of these conversations, you might want to talk about possible goals for next year. What do they want to accomplish? What do they want to be involved in? Therefore, what, if anything do they want to do this summer so they’re ready for the next academic year? What do you believe would be wise? (Some children will do well with this conversation immediately after the school year ends. With others, they’re so grateful their summer has started that you might want to wait a week or two to have this conversation.)

When you do share compliments and joy about what went well, be specific and accurate. In what ways did your children genuinely improve? Their perseverance for long-range projects? Their responsibility for their own learning? Their creativity? Their accuracy in math? Their completeness on essays? Their acceptance of children who are different? Their attitudes toward music?

If you believe it’s necessary, do the same for what didn’t go well – be specific and accurate. When pointing out the negatives, do so in such a way that you communicate realistic expectations for the future. But, think about whether it’s necessary to even talk much about your concerns now. Children know where they’ve struggled. It’s rare that they’re not aware how they’ve disappointed you. So, if you want to talk about these things, think first about your goals. Can you encourage them while talking about your concerns? If not, wait.

Make sure to talk about strengths and concerns, as appropriate, in all areas. Spiritual growth. Academics. Fitness/Health/Athletics. Artistic endeavors. Clubs and activities. Behavior. Friendship. Character. Emotional health.

If you share personal strengths and concerns for some of these areas and any goals you have for the summer, the conversation can go better. Try it. How do you want to grow? Could you grow together? That would be great!

“Our Daily Bread” Is Dynamic Engagement, Not Static Storage

ck silos

I am not a silo. Neither are you. Obviously! Maybe I should write instead that we shouldn’t act as if we are silos.

What do I mean?

When driving through Minnesota and Wisconsin in late April, I greatly appreciated the beautiful farm country. There were many large farms and more that were smaller. Close up and from a distance, I enjoyed the different colors and designs of the fields, barns, and homes.

Silos were plentiful. They’re valuable to farmers as they store grain or silage (fermented feed) for their animals to eat during the winter season.

We would be foolish to behave as if we’re silos – able to store up what we need for the next season of our lives. I know people behaving like that. They think they know enough Bible verses. They’ve prayed enough. Worshipped enough. Been to enough church services. Served enough. Given enough. I disagree.

It’s also impossible to store up our love. Devotion. Peace. Joy. Gratitude. Friends. Or anything else you can think of. Yes, it’s wonderful to be filled up with these qualities. But this doesn’t mean we should rest and be satisfied.

Leaves, stalks, and grain stored in a farmer’s silo benefit from being stored together to become silage for animals to feed on later. We’re designed for regular, ongoing … everything. We benefit from fresh food and water. New insights. Refreshment that’s ongoing. Worship today. Bible reading today. Praying today. Giving today. Serving today. Church this week.

The situation we find ourselves in causes insights to stick and Truth from Scripture to be extra relevant. We seek answers to current questions. That’s why we can read Bible verses we’ve read before and see something new. The Holy Spirit guides us to His Truth for today.

In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we are taught to seek “daily bread.” Let’s do it. We are not silos!

“Smart” is today’s power word. Your children will benefit from knowing they’re smart now so they enter the summer hopeful about next year. Dr. Kathy shares why some children might think they’re not smart and what to look for so you can tell them they are smart. Kids who know how they are smart will engage with more of life. It’s important! You’re important as you’re the one who can show them how they’re smart!

What are you full of faith for?

ck woman faith

In the Celebrate Kids email newsletter, Tina Hollenbeck and I have been writing about the fruit of the Spirit. When writing recently about faithfulness, I asked readers that question. What are you full of faith for?

Everyone has faith in something or someone. The object of our faith is key.

A friend from years ago had faith that she would have a bad day. She was a negative pessimist who didn’t have many positive things, if any, to say about anyone or anything, including herself. She believed she would have a bad day. It won’t surprise you to know she usually did – according to her.

Do you know people who have their faith in themselves? I do. I used to be this person. It’s okay to know your strengths and abilities, but it’s unwise and prideful to place your faith there. We put ourselves under too much pressure, tend to isolate ourselves, and beat ourselves up when we disappoint ourselves – which we will.

Parents who place their faith in their children being able to be obedient, smart, pretty, or something else they value aren’t being fair to their children. Parents should have appropriately high expectations for their children. They should believe in them. But, putting their faith in them and their choices isn’t right. These children can experience real pressure. They’ll often be fearful they’ll disappoint their parents – and they will.

Have you thought of other unwise things or people that we might place our faith in? I pray we each guard ourselves against the temptation.

Friends and I enjoyed a vibrant discussion at church yesterday about faith. We talked about why faith in God matters. Then I asked what faith in God can do.

Answers to this question helped to reveal how this faith is different from the other sources. Here’s our list. Maybe you’ll think of other things faith in God can do. Perhaps talking with your children about faith in general and faith in God would be a great way to begin your week.

Faith believes, heals, provides, comforts, restores, hopes, asks, gives, seeks, carries, hears, sees, loves, maintains, moves, works, knows, encourages, refreshes, sustains, …

If you’d like to subscribe to our every-other-Tuesday free email newsletter, you can do that here.

In this first 2-minute video in a series about “power words” Dr. Kathy addresses our use of the word “love.” Do we use it well and back it up with action so our children believe it when they hear it? Her thought-provoking example of a restaurant’s statement will get you thinking about whether your use of the word “love” has power. Dare to watch!

Let Encouragement Shine Brightly Through You To Others

ck sun clouds

Join me and think for a few minutes about your relationships with family and friends. What are some of your most important roles or responsibilities within these relationships?

If you would ask me that question, I would answer that encouraging others matters greatly. What matters to you?

Encouraging at all times is purposeful and powerful. It’s even more important when people are discouraged, despairing, depressed, pessimistic, confused, questioning, anxious, doubting, fatigued, and under any kind of stress.

If you took time right now, could you name family and/or friends who could be described with one or more of those words? What if I suggested that you’re in their lives at this particular time partly to be their bright light? To be their energy when they don’t have any. To be their hope in the midst of despair. To have answers for the questions. To smile sincerely when everyone else in the world seems to be frowning. To simply be present. To give them a hug when they haven’t experienced any healthy physical contact lately.

We are in the relationships we’re in by God’s design. He was intentional and He wants us to be intentional as well.

When I was driving in Wisconsin two weeks ago, the clouds and the sun played hide-and-seek. The sun would be brightly shining only to have clouds arrive to cover it. Then, the sun peeked out a few minutes later. After a while, clouds returned. This pattern continued for hours. It was one of those drives when I had to constantly put on and take off my sunglasses.

Just like the blue sky and sun are always behind the clouds, we can remind people clouds in their lives are temporary. We can remind them that the sun is shining behind the clouds. The sky is still blue. Neither have permanently disappeared. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that because the clouds are dark and big. But we can know for them and tell them and keep telling them.

Today, let’s look for someone who needs to be reminded that the sun is behind the clouds. And, let’s reconnect with someone who has done that for us when we’ve needed it and say “thank you.”

Celebrate Mom Every Day!

celebrate kids son and mom

Mother’s Day was challenging for me. I actually began to feel a bit off late last week. Although I had posted a video encouraging all of us to be sensitive around women who may not have a “happy” Mother’s Day, I didn’t sense my uneasiness was for any of the reasons I mentioned.

It wasn’t until Saturday night, when more Mother’s Day related posts appeared on Facebook, that I could identify my feelings and their source.

Sadness. That’s what I was feeling, but it wasn’t for me. It was for moms who should hear regularly that they’re appreciated, valued, and important, but may only hear it once a year. When “Thanks, you’re great!” is heard only on a holiday, it doesn’t always come across as genuine.

When speaking to students a few weeks ago, I encouraged them to thank their teachers. I challenged them to recognize how hard many of them work and how important they are. I then laughed and told them to wait a few days. If they thanked them that afternoon, it might not have come across as genuine since I just told them to do it.

Many years ago, when I taught second graders, some parents thanked me regularly. They went out of their way to drop off little gifts or just to acknowledge something we had done in class that their children enjoyed. This ongoing encouragement inspired me.

Some parents gave me a Christmas gift and maybe an end-of-year gift, but never anything in between. Although I appreciated the gifts and any words of thanks, and I didn’t do what I did to get thanked, I’ll admit thinking these parents gave those gifts and said nice things because they felt they had to. Therefore, they didn’t have the same kind of encouragement power that the ongoing gifts and words did. Does that make sense?

I’m glad for every expression of gratitude expressed yesterday to moms, grandmothers, aunts, mothers-in-laws, and daughters. I sincerely hope words and gifts were encouraging. I just can’t help but wonder what might happen to these precious women and their families if “Thanks, you’re great!” was expressed regularly? I know from the work I do that many moms don’t hear it nearly enough. Dads don’t either, of course. I’ll save comments about that for another day.

Will you join me in a crusade to express gratitude and appreciation to moms (and others) regularly? What a difference we could make!

Dr. Kathy shares three important challenges to remember related to Mother’s Day. This might be very important for you and worth sharing with others. Unfortunately, Mother’s Day isn’t always a day women look forward to. Dr. Kathy addresses this with sensitivity.

Engaging Weaker Smarts On Purpose

5-4-16 ColoringPicturesPencilsBook

The way we and our children are smart is relevant to so much. Learning. Studying. Teaching. Relationships. Friendships. Marriage. Parenting. Spiritual growth. Hobbies. Careers.

There are other areas of relevance that have been on my mind lately. Emotional health. Stress relief. Energy vs. fatigue. The way we grieve. If you’re familiar with the 8 great smarts, have you found that they’re relevant to these issues, too?

Fascinated. That’s how I am when I think about how my weaker smarts help me relieve stress and increase energy in the midst of fatigue. I would have thought using them would add to my stress and make me tired because of the effort I’d have to use.

For example, picture smart isn’t one of my strengths because I don’t naturally think in pictures. Rather, I especially think with questions, words, and people. I’ve never been interested in or good at art. I had my colors analyzed to help with planning my wardrobe. You get the idea.

Yet, I’ll admit to being one of those adults who has recently purchased coloring books. I first did this when I was sick waiting for my February surgery. I found it so relaxing that I’ve told my friends and staff that I will continue coloring.

Because coloring uses my brain differently I’m able to rest the parts that are tried from possibly being overworked. When I’m coloring, I don’t have to think with words or questions. There’s no right or wrong way of coloring. Although I thought I might be stressed by trying to choose colors, that’s not the case. I’m able to relax and just decide, not worrying about what color someone else might have chosen.

Reading fiction on my recent flights was also refreshing. I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy it as much as my sister-in-law and some friends do, because the action doesn’t come alive in my mind, but I did enjoy it. When I do read fiction, I choose mysteries so I can use some logic-smart abilities. This helps to compensate for the fact that I don’t have as many pictures in my mind to think with while reading.

Is this relevant to you or your children? Are there weaker smarts you don’t use often that you could use to rest your others? Might you find it relaxing like I have? I’d love to know your thoughts.