Honoring Our Children Will Manifest Beauty in Exhilarating Ways

Sometimes I audibly gasp when reading Facebook posts. That happened last night as I read a post by my friend, Valerie, about her parenting journey and her 15-year-old daughter’s choice.

Learning about the 8 great ways kids are smart and other principles of honoring children has encouraged Valerie. I love teaching her – as I do so many of you – because she is open. I hope her words here speak to you. Yes, you!

From Valerie…

To my young mom friends: God has blessed me with three very different young women. We all get each other at times but we all think very differently. We argue differently, we praise differently, we study differently, we have different hobbies, different likes, different dislikes.

It has taken me a long time to realize that my kids don’t have to do it my way. In fact, their ways teach them faster, teach them more deeply, grow them better.

A few months ago Kaleigh came to us and asked if she could turn her linen closet into a prayer closet. To be honest, I didn’t know how much she would be in there –  but she spends hours each week in there – journaling, drawing, worshiping.

Last week, she asked if she could paint on the walls in her prayer closet. This goes against everything I am. “We don’t want to make a mess.” “You might spill paint on the floor.” “Do people really just paint on the walls, like with total freedom and without fear of failure?!?!” (My own issues.)

Well, after 3 hours, here is the result. She intends to paint over it one day, when she feels she needs a new picture – and start over.

Mom friends – I’m almost at the end of my “raising” times – and I am just finding the freedom to let them be who God made them to be. It’s exhilarating, inspiring and freeing.

Favorite Bible Verses About God, My Father

On this day after Father’s Day, I’ve just read many of my favorite Bible verses about God, my Father. I thought you might be encouraged if you read them, too. (They’re all the English Standard Version.)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” ~Psalm 68:5

“You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.” ~Psalm 89:6

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:15-17

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” ~Matthew 6:7-9

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” ~Matthew 6:14

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” ~Matthew 6:25-27

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” ~Matthew 7:11

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 10:31-33

“So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” ~Matthew 18:14

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” ~Luke 6:36

“I and the Father are one.” ~Jesus, in John 10:30

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~John 14:6

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” ~John 15:8-10

I am very, very grateful God is my Father. I hope you know Him, too.

Are your kids proclaiming they’re bored already? Or do you know they are because they’re clingy and complaining? It might be because of a major difference between their school days and summer days. As always, Dr. Kathy will give you something to think about as you listen.

Celebrating Flag Day, In A Whole New Light

I joke with people that I bleed red, white, and blue because I love America so much. I was raised in a flag waving, politically active family. My grandfather (my mom’s dad) was an alderman in my city for over 25 years and then elected the first full-time mayor.

I have fabulous childhood memories of not only waving flags, but pushing tiny ones into our front yard to decorate on different holidays, including the oft-ignored Flag Day. That’s today – June 14th.

When we use all 8 of our smarts when thinking and learning, we draw conclusions we wouldn’t have when thinking with just our 1-3 natural strengths. Let me try to prove it.

Think about the flag using all eight smarts. Will you draw conclusions you haven’t in the past? Discover a new curiosity? See a new picture? Remember a long-forgotten memory? Let me know.

  • Body: think with movement and touch
  • Logic: think with questions
  • Music: think with rhythms and melodies
  • Nature: think with patterns
  • People: think with other people
  • Picture: think with your eyes
  • Self: think with personal reflection
  • Word: think with words

“The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history.” ~Woodrow Wilson

Honoring Dave Koch, My Brother

My brother, Dave, turns 65 today. That’s hard to believe! When speaking to children and teens, I love telling them that their siblings can be their best friends. Dave and I were. We still are.

I’m blessed with many great memories of growing up with Dave. I’ll share just one. Our Great Aunt Tressie sometimes babysat for us. We enjoyed her. A main reason for liking her as our babysitter was that our bedrooms were on the second floor and she couldn’t climb the stairs. We were on our own.

Dave invited me into his bedroom, pulled the sheets loose on his bed, chose a book to read, grabbed his flashlight, and we went into “the tent” head first so he could read to me. Yes, this is a beautiful way my brother loved me years ago.

Although there’s much more I could say about the love he’s demonstrated toward me in our adult years and how proud of him I am, I’d rather have his three adult children honor him on his birthday. They have recommendations for you, too. I pray you’re blessed as we encourage my brother.

From Betsy:

Our dad is so consistent. He was always there for us every night, we always ate dinner as a family and discussed our day, he helped us with homework, and taught us skills like our instruments, sports, and fishing. He is also a very hard worker. He worked all week at his job and all weekend at home. I cannot remember him ever not working hard all the time, and it seemed the only time he ever relaxed was on our summer vacations.

To other dads: consistency and hard work are things that my dad showed us that left a lasting impact on me.

To kids: Know that even if your dad doesn’t say “I love you” all the time, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t. Sometimes they choose to show love through their actions which are much more powerful than just words.

From Katie:

Our dad was a great leader in every way. He led spiritually by studying his Bible, praying for us, and teaching us by example. He led financially by working so hard at every job he had to provide for us. He taught us to love sports-Go Pack Go! He taught us the value of hard work by giving us chores – thanks, dad. 🙂

One of the more impressive things he did was quit his job because it was taking too much time away from the family. It was such a huge sacrifice and leap of faith, but it really taught us what is most important in life.

His favorite phrase is “I suppose.” That usually meant I don’t want to say no, but I’m not totally excited about what’s about to happen. This cracked me up every time. He loved it when we repeated him as kids. You’ll never hear him laugh harder than when you’ve been doing that for 10 minutes.

To other dads: Be the leader your children need you to be. They will become like you regardless so do what you can to transfer positive traits.

To other kids: Appreciate the effort and the sacrifices your dad makes for you. Find something you like to do together and build in regular time to do it. Those end up being such special memories.

From Andy:

Dad taught me what it meant to be a man. He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. Not only was he committed to his job, but he also constantly kept himself busy around the house – to the point where it is a bit of a family joke that he can’t sit still and watch an entire movie. 🙂

Even though he worked hard, he was still able to balance that with being incredibly present in our lives. We always ate dinner together as a family. He rarely missed sporting events or concerts, of which there were far too many.

He loved mom so well through the years. It might be a small example, but it stood out to me: mom would usually cook dinner, and he would always serve her by doing the dishes.

He led our family spiritually. He had a vision for his life and for our lives, and he made hard choices for the good of the family when needed. He taught me so much, and I am so grateful. I am the man I am today because of my dad.

To other dads: By God’s grace be the man you want your sons to grow up to be and the man you want your daughters to marry.

To kids: Cherish the short time you get to learn from your dad. Take time to appreciate all that he does for you.

Well said, kids. Well said. Happy birthday, Dave!

If you and your children want their next school year to go better than the one that just ended, Dr. Kathy recommends not waiting until the night before school starts to talk about it. That would be ridiculous, right? Rather, Dr. Kathy shares about talking now and using the summer well. You’ll benefit.

Relax! Be An Encouragement To Your Teen

God generously created each of us with 8 Great Smarts. Helping children and teens understand they’re all smart in different ways has been invigorating for all of us at Celebrate Kids, Inc.

During the past few years, encouraging parents with this truth has been rich. I want them to know in the knowing of their knowing with a deep, unshakable confidence that children who struggle sometimes in school often have very successful lives. This is partly because all 8 smarts matter for life even if they don’t all matter in some school structures.

I wish more parents would relax. I wish they’d take the pressure off of kids to always earn straight A’s. I wish they’d let them play more and learn by doing. I wish teens would believe they can accomplish much good in the world even if they don’t graduate in the top 10% of their class. Absolutely!

So during this season of graduations, report cards, GPAs, and dreams of the future, I share this video with you. It will get you thinking. You may want to share it with discouraged teens. Bookmark it and watch it twice a year.

I want you to know in the knowing of your knowing with a deep, unshakable confidence that children who struggle can absolutely, positively leave the world a better place with their contributions. I want your children to know that, too!

Source: Time

The Blessing of Flexibility

Today I’m posting a devotional from the book Steve Baker wrote. As a dad, grandfather, and Christian school administrator, he wrote the devotionals in O Taste and See to encourage parents and children to learn from God’s Word together. Each is related to one or more of the core needs I teach about often and that are taught in my book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness. He has seen their importance and wanted devotionals as another way of helping children meet the needs in healthy ways.

I chose to post a devotional about flexibility because those of us who are willing to be flexible will have a better summer than others. Would you agree that parents and children need to be willing to go with the flow? Sharing Steve’s thoughts with your children will provide an excellent avenue to talk about their attitudes this summer. Could it sometimes be the Holy Spirit redirecting us? Also, I love – love! – his “taste test” idea at the end. I think doing that would be a very rich experience.

FLEXIBILITY – the state of being able to easily change or adjust; ability to do different things, adapt to new and different or challenging requirements.

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.

1 Peter 2:19-21

Scripture Text: Acts 16:6-12

When situations in life are a source of irritation, it may be because God is trying to move us in a different direction. God uses our circumstances to guide and direct us. It may be through suffering which He allows us to endure or through trials we face from others that God moves us to a place of constant service and worship in our journey with Him. Being flexible means being attentive and available to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

This was true in Paul’s life as he went on his missionary journey through Asia Minor. Paul desired to go one way toward Turkey, yet the Holy Spirit wanted Paul to go west and cross over into southern Europe. God gave Paul a vision of a man standing on the shore of Macedonia praying and calling out, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” This took great flexibility from the mission team to change their plans; and even a greater need for flexibility as they faced opposition.

In light of the vision, Paul made plans to sail to Macedonia. He and his team eventually arrived at Philippi. They had quick success in reaching a well-known and affluent woman named Lydia. She listened intently to their teachings and trusted the Lord Jesus as her Savior.

Their obedience was also met with suffering because they were followed about by a young demon possessed girl who was used by businessmen to tell the fortunes of people for a profit. Paul cast the demon out of the damsel and this ended the business practice of these local men. Outraged, they caught Paul and Silas, took them before the rulers, had them beaten, and thrown into prison.

Where was the blessing of being flexible to follow the Holy Spirit in all of this, one might ask? God always knows what He is doing. That night as Paul and Silas sang in prison, probably to the amazement of the other prisoners and the jailor, God shook the prison with an earthquake. The events that followed led to the jailor and his whole family’s salvation and the church at Philippi was born. None of this would have happened if Paul and Silas had not been flexible to listen to the leading of God’s Spirit, flexible to endure unjust suffering knowing that God was with them, and flexible to praise God in light of the irritations they endured.

Taste Test:

Take an elderly saint in your church out to lunch one day and visit with them about the character of flexibility.

  • Ask them to tell you stories of when God moved them or changed the direction of their life.
  • Was it hard?
  • How did they respond?
  • Was it worth it if they obeyed?
  • Ask them to tell you the blessing of listening to the Spirit of God.

Scraping the Plate:

Discuss the scripture text in Acts 16:6-40.

Read the whole story.

What might have been different in history if Paul and Silas had gone the other way into Bithynia? Would we have ever heard the gospel or would we have ever heard of Paul? Would God have had to raise someone else up to spread the gospel to Europe? We can be extremely grateful for Paul’s obedient flexibility.

Nanny’s Chocolate Pie:

Our identity as God’s children requires that we are growing in character and changing by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. This requires our flexibility in allowing God to lead us.

Steve Baker has served in ministry for over thirty-five years and is currently finishing his masters in divinity. With his heart for discipleship, he has worked as a senior pastor, associate pastor, teacher, coach, and hospice chaplain. In 2010, God called him and his wife, Joyce, to help launch a University-Model school. He is currently the Principal of Summit Christian Academy in Boerne, Texas. Steve has a passion for families and mentoring believers to walk in this world humbly and boldly as warriors sharing the powerful message of the gospel to all people.

Of Excellence, Passion, And Character: The Cliburn Piano Competition

Every four years, the Cliburn Piano Competition is held in Fort Worth, TX, where I live. It’s been described by The Boston Globe as a cross between the Miss America Pageant, the Olympic games, the Academy awards, and the Pulitzer prize. It attracts the best pianists ages 18-30 from around the world. This year, 290 people applied and 146 were selected for screening auditions in London, Hannover, Budapest, Moscow, Seoul, New York, and Fort Worth. The jurists chose 30 for the competition. It began May 25th and concludes on June 10th when three awards are presented.

With friends, I enjoyed one of the preliminary concerts last Saturday. We heard three of the competitors each play a 45-minute concert. They were stunning. I marveled at their ability to memorize such complex music. They played beautifully. My friends and I struggled to find adequate adjectives to express our opinions. (For someone who is word smart, this is frustrating.)

The top 20 were selected to play another 45-minute concert, including two of those we heard. The top 12 were chosen from this group last night, again including the two men we heard. They’ll play a 60-minute solo recital and a concerto with our symphony Thursday through the 5th. From this group, six competitors will be chosen to play a piano quintet and a concerto from June 7-10th. On the last night, the three winners will be announced. Their prize packages are impressive!

If you and/or your children play or just enjoy talent, you can watch live and on-demand here. The finals will be broadcast in theaters around the country.

Is there more to this post than just a commercial for a fabulous opportunity to enjoy classical piano music? Yes.

These music-smart pianists are still learning. They’re still being trained. They all have teachers and 24 of the 30 are working on undergraduate or graduate degrees. Most practice many hours each day. It’s humbling.

Let’s share this reality with our children. Excellence is birthed in talent. Passion is developed in the heart and mind with character.

If athletes make better examples for your kids, use them. The best athletes and sports teams practice. They warm up. They spend time in the gym.

At the same time Fort Worth hosted the beginning of the Van Cliburn, we hosted the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at the Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour stop. These body-smart golfers – the best in the world – have coaches and play many practice rounds of golf for every competitive 18 holes.

Sharing role models with children is wise. For logic-smart kids, we can use scientists who spent years developing their work. Word-smart kids may be shocked to discover how many rejection letters their favorite authors received. The possibilities are endless, both when thinking about who to use and the benefits of doing so.

Remind children that excellence is earned. Passion is developed. Skill grows. This summer, if they say they want to get good at something or you know they do, sit down and talk about what they think it will take. Then watch some amazing piano performances or a sporting event together. Read some biographies or autobiographies about people who are positively affecting the world. Talk about the elements observed and what your children need.

Excellence is birthed in talent. Passion is developed in the heart and mind with character. Which part or parts of these statements do you want to talk with your children about? Plan to do that soon.

Memorial Day 2017

All of us here at Celebrate Kids, Inc., are grateful for our past and present veterans, those currently serving our country in military service, and their families.

On this Memorial Day, we especially remember with thankfulness and humility, the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and safety. We will not forget!

“On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!”  ~Thomas William Parsons

“I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.”  ~Benjamin Harrison