In the final video about friendship skills, Dr. Kathy shares about the reality that some relationships just need to end. How do we do it well? What are the non-negotiables? What about reconciliation? Should we hope for that? There’s much to think about here.

Be More Like Joseph This Christmas

Be More Like Joseph This Christmas

Be More Like Joseph This Christmas

 

When Joseph chose Mary as his wife, he had no idea what he was getting in for. That’s an understatement! He certainly didn’t expect God to choose her to give birth to His Son, the long-awaited Savior. This changed everything.

Their beginnings as a couple were different in many ways. Of course, the most significant was that Joseph would raise a boy not his son by birth. He would raise Jesus! God didn’t only choose Mary; He also chose Joseph.

Joseph and Mary started their marriage with an infant and wouldn’t have much time alone. They also relocated often in their early years because Joseph was obedient to the messages received in dreams. Joseph saved Jesus’ life by fleeing to Egypt and then to Nazareth.

Let’s Be Like Joseph

There’s much about Joseph I appreciate and admire. When finding out Mary was pregnant, he could have left without shame or blame because of cultural expectations. But, he stayed. He put Mary and Jesus first. He believed Mary was pregnant with Jesus. Joseph had integrity, taking his vow seriously.

During this Christmas season, Joseph’s ability to be flexible inspires me. He was also able to act quickly when he needed to. He most likely had plans and expectations for the way their lives would start together and continue. Little or nothing went according to his plan.

I need to be more like Joseph especially this Christmas season. I wish this for you, too. We need to be flexible, not holding onto our plans too tightly. It’s fine to have expectations, but we don’t need to get upset when things change. And, rather than analyzing everything even if this is our preference, we need to act quickly when we clearly know what’s best.

A Reason to be Like Joseph

I arrived at my brother and sister-in-law’s home outside of Atlanta on November 30th because of a series of speaking events in the area that began on December 1st. Deb and Dave’s washing machine malfunctioned before Thanksgiving. Their kitchen wood floor and some cabinets were damaged. Repairing the floor would mean it wouldn’t match the rest of the wood floors in their home so the insurance company approved the plan that all their flooring would be sanded, stained, and varnished to match.

Therefore, we moved out of their home to a hotel for four days. We’re back in the house surrounded by boxes that we need to unpack. Including the two basement rooms that needed new carpets and ceiling tiles, eight rooms in their home were packed up. In fact, from the room in which I’m writing this blog post, I’m staring at two huge storage units taking up space on their driveway that were full of their furniture and boxes.

Other than one small pre-lit Christmas tree, no decorations are up. We didn’t have our big (huge!) cookie-baking day on the 2nd like we had planned to do way back in early November. Other traditions won’t be enjoyed this year because there won’t be time.

We have to prioritize dusting everything and putting things back where they belong. We want to have energy left when their children and first grandchild arrive for Christmas.

Taking Responsibility

It’s all okay. It has to be. That has to be our attitude. Otherwise, we’ll ruin what is left of the month. We will be responsible. No washing machine, floors, the timing, or anything else. We will be responsible.

Attitudes are our responsibility. I’m responsible for mine, Deb for hers, Dave for his, and their kids and others affected for theirs.

For awhile on Monday, I didn’t handle things well. I chose to focus on what I wasn’t able to accomplish. I chose to experience stress and stay in that valley for awhile. Rather than focusing on one thing and feeling good when accomplishing it, I thought more about all I had left to do. I focused on my plans and expectations. And I was not pleasant to be around.

I want to be more like Joseph. Need to be more like Joseph. Do you?

(By the way, the floors are beautiful and we are very grateful excellent craftsmen accomplished everything before Christmas. We realize we have a lot to be grateful for. This perspective will help us be well and do well the rest of the month.)

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

The Time I Was “That Girl” and How It Freed Me Forever

 

As great as getting together with family can be, these gatherings can also be stressful. Based on stories I hear from especially women I minister to, there are many reasons. Often it’s because we think we need to change for others. We sometimes strive to be who we think others wish we were. We feel unacceptable and unaccepted.

To try to win approval, we can find ourselves talking about our successes more than we wish we were. We may hear ourselves make excuses for deficiencies we think are obvious and a blight on our identity. Then, or later when our head is on the pillow at the end of a long day, we may be angry with ourselves for playing this game.

My friend, Jerusha Clark, wrote an important book because she cares deeply for women. She reminds us that God does not define Himself with reference to any quality or person. “He is, and that is enough.” In contrast, we tend to describe ourselves in terms of how we relate to people (friend, coworker, wife) or in terms of our accomplishments (title, accolades). Perhaps you can relate to her conclusion: “When our identity is wrapped up in these external things, we inevitably (and exhaustingly!) strive to prove ourselves worthy of love, attention, or affirmation.”

Jerusha shares insights here for us today. Her book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You, is full of many more. Especially if you’ve tried to hide because you’re not sure the real you is enough, I highly recommend it. If you’re raising preteen and teen daughters, consider reading it with them. Jerusha’s illustrations and insights will generate valuable discussions.

Will I Be Good Enough?

Few things make me feel “less than” quicker than walking into a wedding or event that’s clearly “out of my league.” I mean, I’m not quite riff-raff, but I’m no society queen either, so when the invitation to my girlfriend Tammy’s Malibu wedding arrived, oozing swank with every hand-embossed letter, I was faced—once again—with the haunting question: Will I be good enough?

Of course, I didn’t really ask this out loud. Like a lot of women, I just carried around the nagging sense that I wasn’t quite cutting it (and never would) as a mom, as a wife, in my work…even in my faith. I wanted to teach my own daughters how to settle the “good enough?” question. But, perhaps like many of you, I found that wasn’t so easy. Kids seem to fight the “less than feelings” earlier and earlier. I wanted my kids to be different; I wanted to be different.

Here’s how a posh wedding and a bit of red napkin changed me forever:

Tammy’s wedding started in forty-five minutes. I was speeding down Pacific Coast Highway on my way to her ritzy affair, pink sponge curlers bouncing in my hair (yes, I still use these hairstyling relics). It was 90-plus degrees this particular July afternoon, and I had opted not to unroll my hair or put my dress on until I neared the Malibu Cliffs.

I scanned the road for a nice-ish gas station where I could change. Spotting one, I pulled in, gathered my things, and stuck my foot out the door. I instantly realized (with horror) that I had forgotten my wedding shoes. I was wearing—go figure—the tackiest flip flops I owned, the kind you sport around the house long after the flap peels away and the straps thin ominously.

Eek! There was no chance these were going to fly at a Malibu wedding. I hurriedly grabbed my cell phone and tracked down a Payless not too far away.

Alright; it would have to do. Hopefully I could find something halfway decent. I ran into Shell’s bathroom, yanked the curlers out, calmed my ringlets into a respectable wave and put on my dress.

Miles out of my way, I dashed inside the shoe store, found some strappy white dress sandals, and paid (somewhat grudgingly, but also gratefully).

I Arrived

The wedding was every bit as classy as I had imagined. Still, no amount of glitz can alter the temperature, and the eager July sun beats down on the glamorous and unglamorous alike. I sat, patiently awaiting the bridal march, well aware that I do not “glisten” or “perspire” like some females. I flat-out sweat. Really I should all-caps that. Armed with a cocktail napkin, I dabbed furiously at the beads forming on my face.

After the vows and the kiss and the triumphant recessional, I chatted with some family members and friends of the couple. I didn’t know many people, so I basically talked to people around the hors d’oeuvre and beverage tables.

Before dinner began, I ducked into the ladies’ room to wash my hands. When I looked into the mirror, however, I gasped with alarm. Perhaps you recall that I had been using a cocktail napkin to hold back the tide of my sweat. Well, said napkin was red. Said napkin was also strewn around my face in splotches of damp, ruddy cotton. Apparently no one I’d been conversing with felt they knew me well enough to tell me I had patches of red napkin stuck to my face. Seriously, people?!

The ordeal was embarrassing, but not tragic. I peeled the napkin off and decided laughing would be better than adding post-crying mascara stains to my humiliation. That said, I emerged from the bathroom determined to avoid anyone I had talked to previously.

It may sound odd, but I’ve thought about that napkin a lot over the years. The whole experience helped me realize how often and how desperately I’ve tried to avoid being “that girl,” (you know, the one with sweaty napkin on her face). I don’t mean that literally, of course. What I really mean is that I don’t want to be exposed; I don’t want to feel foolish or incompetent. I want to be the perfectly-put-together guest at the Malibu wedding, not the one in half-a-size-too-small Payless shoes with red napkin splotching her features.

We’ve All Been “That Girl”

At some time and in some way or another, though, every one of us has been “that girl.” We try our best to hide our weaknesses or mistakes (my propensity to sweat, for instance), but covering up actually leaves us with figurative patches on our face and heart. The more we hide—the more our kids learn to hide—the louder the question becomes: am I good enough?

I spent years (Ugh! Let’s change that to decades) working to shut off the “not good enough” reel in my mind. Like many of you, I tried to make my kids the most well-rounded beings on the planet, tried to carefully curate the “happy Christian woman” image, tried to do something meaningful for the Kingdom. The one thing it took me far too long to do is accept the truth that it’s okay to be the girl with napkin on her face. It took me a long time to look at myself and believe, “Yep.  Good enough, just as I am.”

In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We are created in His image; if He is the Truth, we are to be truthful and live out truth as well. This involves risk and vulnerability (and, in my case, sometimes allowing people to see me a sweaty mess).

Embracing truth is the pathway to peace and to secure identity. If we want to silence the “good enough” questions that plague us or plague our kids, if we want to experience the abundant life Christ died to give us, we have to ditch the red napkins of life, the things we’ve tried using to cover up.

I invite you to join me in discovering and learning to love what’s real, including the real you. Remember, you can’t teach your kids something you haven’t learned yourself. Turns out, “finding yourself” concerns more than just you; when your identity is secure, you are free to love and serve the people around you with no “please make me feel better about myself” strings attached.

Jesus proclaimed, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Doesn’t that sound good? Freedom!  Freedom from the tyranny of “less than” fears, freedom from shame, freedom from hiding (or filtering or posturing), freedom to be not just to seem. Start leaning into truth and savoring freedom today.

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You can learn more about living in authentic freedom, being rather than seeming, and embracing life to the limit in Jerusha’s book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017).

 

  Jerusha Clark co-authored four books with her husband, Jeramy, including three bestsellers, prior to launching her own writing and speaking ministry, focused on helping others glorify and enjoy God, one thought at a time.  On quiet days, you can find Jerusha body-boarding, reading, or singing around a bonfire at the beach, her absolute favorite place. Jeramy and Jerusha have two amazing teenage daughters and love ministering together at churches, retreats, schools, and conferences. You can learn more at www.jandjclark.com.

After a short break, Dr. Kathy continues her video series about friendship with her seventh video. It’s about the art of resolving conflicts. This isn’t easy, is it? We think you’ll appreciate what she says about disagreements and conflicts and the value of talking about more than the negative action you might not have liked. What else could be relevant? She shares other ideas, too, that may help adults and not just children.

8 Great Smarts Christmas Shopping

8 Great Smarts Christmas Shopping

8 Great Smarts Christmas Shopping

 

Christmas and children – they just go together, don’t they? Perhaps you’re looking forward to spending time with children and teens later this month. Maybe you’re still shopping for their gifts. You’re not alone. Stores are still full. Website traffic is high.

Games and toys are some of the best ways to awaken and even strengthen their eight great smarts. Here’s a short list of suggestions taken from the end of each chapter of 8 Great Smarts.

Shop strategically. If you don’t know how the children are smart just pick one or two that sound interesting. If you do know, think about whether they’d enjoy a game for a smart they’re already developing or whether to buy one to better awaken one they haven’t used as much. Or, buy both!

Word Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Scattergories: If you can quickly come up with a list of, say, things at the park, in a drawer, and that you wear that start with the letter t that no one else thinks of, you can win this game.

Play Apples to Apples: One player draws a card. Each player selects a word card from their hand that they think is most relevant to the word on that card. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. Unlikely connections among words make for lots of laughter!

Logic Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Blokus: Players take turns placing pieces of their chosen color on the board. It’s tricky because each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. You win if you place more pieces than anyone else.

Play Clue: Crack the murder that took place in the mansion by asking the right questions to win this classic game. Junior version available.

Picture Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Telestrations: Picture the “Telephone Game” using drawings instead of whispering something into your neighbor’s ear. Lots of laughter.

Play Pictionary: Make quick sketches that others will hopefully guess correctly. Junior version available

Music Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Cranium: Answer trivia questions, create art, hum, act out clues, and use your vocabulary skills to win. Relevant to many smarts.

Play Encore: Draw a card with a word on it and sing at least six words of a song with that word in it. Judges memory, not musical ability.

Body Smart – Let’s Play!

Play tag (or any outdoor game).

Play Twister: Give the spinner a whirl and follow the directions. Just try to keep from falling over!

Nature Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Qwirkle: Match colors and shapes and use wise maneuvers and a strategy to win.

Play Rock On Geology Game: Rock and mineral collection includes fifteen specimens and fifty-plus polished rocks and minerals; five levels of play.

People Smart – Let’s Play!

Play Headbanz: Everyone but you knows what role you’ve been assigned. Ask questions to try to figure it out before you run out of time. You could be a mouse, dirty sock, or cash register.

Play Guesstures: You only have a few seconds to use classic charades techniques to get your team to guess the word on your assigned card.

Self Smart – Let’s Play!

Do quiet things together that your child chooses, such as completing a puzzle, coloring, building with Legos, playing with dolls, or playing a car game like “Who Am I?”

Shop, shop, shop! Play, play, play!

The Gift That Says “I Believe In You”

The Gift That Says “I Believe In You”

The Gift That Says “I Believe In You”

 

My memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas with both my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s are only positive. I’m very grateful.

Presents are certainly among my memories. I will always remember the year I was 12. At some point, as we were opening gifts, I realized my brother, Dave, had more presents left to open than I did. I said something about this and noticed my mom immediately look at my dad. They nodded, indicating they agreed about something. Then my dad suggested I look under my bed. Even though I was surprised, he didn’t need to tell me twice!

I’m sure I ran up the stairs. In contrast, a few minutes later, I walked carefully down those same stairs holding my very own viola. If I remember correctly, I was crying by the time I got back to our family room.

I carefully removed the Christmas ribbon, opened the case, and stared at the shiniest viola I had ever seen. I lifted it from the velvet-lined case and caressed it. I gingerly placed it under my chin and imagined playing great symphonies.

The gift wasn’t special just because it was expensive. It meant a lot to me because having my own viola, rather than renting one which we had been doing, meant my parents believed in me. They believed in my growing talent. They believed I was mature enough to take good care of my own viola. Their trust inspired me.

What can you give your children this Christmas that communicates, “I believe in you”?

Making Memories This Christmas

Making Memories This Christmas

Making Memories This Christmas

 

Making memories might be the most important thing to do next month. It’s more important than making cookies, making purchases, or making money.

When we concentrate on making memories, rather than just going through our Christmas routines, our experiences will be richer. We’ll intentionally pay more attention to the people we’re with than to the tasks at hand. Therefore, we’ll establish stronger emotional ties with the people and make memories that last.

Think about the activities you have scheduled next month and the tasks you want to accomplish. What if you think about them in the context of memory making? You might’ve already done some of the things I list at the end of this post, but maybe you can now have rich conversations to still broaden the potential for positive memories that last.

What would it take for you to create memories that are thought of fondly next year as you participate in activities and tasks next month? If you think back to past Christmases, what do you remember? Why do you remember those things and those people? Your answer to these questions may help you do things differently to create richer memories for your family this season.

Did humor make your list? I suspect it did because bonds are often deepened during times of joy and laughter. Look for opportunities to enjoy each other.

Did you think of something that involved a surprise? That’s often the case for me as I reflect on strong memories of my childhood and even adult years. For your family, add something surprising that you’ve never done before. Or you could add a twist to something you have typically done. This will make it more memorable.

Small and Insignificant Things Are Significant

Some of my best memories are those of small and seemingly insignificant things. … Seeing my sister-in-law putting newly-baked Christmas cookies into a tin that belonged to her mom and has been used for maybe 40 years or more. Hearing a song on the radio and remembering who I was with when I heard it performed at a concert. Using wrapping paper that my mom would’ve loved. A recipe that was hers that her grandchildren still love. Dessert plates hand-painted by my grandma when she was about 18 that we still use at my brother’s home.

It’s the conversation surrounding these things that make the memories – and, therefore, the people involved – come alive. Let’s purpose to talk a lot about meaningful things as we’re out-and-about and in our own homes. Let’s get pods out of ears and eyes off of devices and talk. It can be done! Expect it. Have high expectations. Listen and talk. Talk and listen.

No one in our family would know about the Christmas cookie tins if Debbie wouldn’t tell us. My nieces and nephew wouldn’t know their great-grandmother painted the dishes their cake is on if we didn’t tell them. They wouldn’t know that the food they enjoy was first served by their grandmother to her father on Christmas Eve many, many years ago if my brother and I didn’t tell them.

Make memories, not just cookies. Make memories, not just a clean house. Make memories, not just purchases. You get the idea.

How might concentrating on making memories influence the way you do tasks like these?

Choosing a tree. Decorating a tree. Shopping for a present for your child’s teacher. Choosing presents for friends and loved ones. Wrapping presents. Planning menus for times when family and friends will come over for dinner. Choosing outfits to wear here and there. Watching favorite Christmas movies together. Choosing recipes to make for different events. Making them together in the kitchen. Practicing the piano for an upcoming recital or to play for a visiting relative. Making cookies together. Eating cookies with hot chocolate in candlelight. Driving to see Christmas lights and decorations. Visiting shut-ins. Surprising neighbors with flowers, Christmas cookies, or something you know they would appreciate. Singing Christmas carols. Cleaning the house so it’s more ready for relatives to arrive. Attending church. Having meaningful conversations in the car on the way home. Practicing for and then attending church or school Christmas programs.

Build Lives – Multiply Purpose

Build Lives - Multiply Purpose

 

Build Lives – Multiply Purpose

 

 

More than ever before, if we are not careful, Thanksgiving will be swallowed up and quickly forgotten because of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving matters. Giving thanks matters. It should be who we are and not just what we do on one day.

What would it look like if we kept thankfulness, THINKfulness, and thanksLIVING, in mind throughout December? What would it sound like to live a life of gratitude?

Instead of, I have to buy more gifts, we would think, I’m grateful for my family that I can encourage with the gifts I choose just for them.

Instead of, I have to clean again, we would think, I am blessed with friends and I’m grateful I can host them.

Instead of, We are spending too much on groceries!, we would think, Isn’t it fabulous that our kids and our parents can come home for Christmas and that we have space for everyone together here?

And one more example. Instead of, I can’t believe how many requests for money we get this time of year!, we would think, I am privileged to know many people doing important work. I’m glad God gave me a generous heart.

Okay, maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch. I get tons of these letters, too. Is it a burden or a blessing? Our attitude and perspective matters.

I don’t just get letters like this. I occasionally send them, too. Celebrate Kids is a not-for-profit ministry relying on contributions from people who believe in the value of our work. Many families are in crisis and parents and educators are overwhelmed. We are privileged to help them build stronger and healthier lives by empowering them to discover meaningful purpose.

We feel so strongly about this that we’ve chosen that as our fundraising theme:

BUILD LIVES – MULTIPLY PURPOSE

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 28, has been designated as Giving Tuesday. If you give, you will join with others who support causes and organizations they believe in. Your gift of any size will allow us to influence more parents, educators, and children directly. We’ll be very grateful for your support!

Being a part of Giving Tuesday can be fun. Wouldn’t it be great if more is given tomorrow than is spent today on Cyber Monday purchases? Of course, tomorrow is not the only day to give. This is the start of the traditional giving season and contributing to Celebrate Kids at any time is always a blessing. Contributing with a check or credit card is easy here.

Each gift is tax-deductible. Thank you for helping us BUILD LIVES – MULTIPLY PURPOSE!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving

 

For your consideration …

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

“To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might.” ~Daniel 2:23

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” ~Psalm 7:17

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” ~Psalm 9:1

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” ~Psalm 28:7

“O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!” ~Psalm 30:12

“In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.” ~Psalm 44:8

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.” ~Psalm 57:9

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” ~Psalm 69:30

“We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.” ~Psalm 75:1

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” ~Psalm 79:13

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” ~Psalm 86:12

“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!” ~Psalm 97:12

“Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has done wonderful deeds.” ~Psalm 98:1

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” ~Psalm 100:4

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” ~Psalm 106:1

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” ~Psalm 118:1

“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.” ~Psalm 118:28

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” ~Psalm 126:3

“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.” ~Psalm 136:3

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 15:57

“Thank God for His gift that is too wonderful for words!” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:15

“Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” ~Ephesians 5:20

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” ~Colossians 3:17

“Let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him.” ~Hebrews 12:28

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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Are you thankful for the Word of God and all the reminders of how much we have to be grateful for?