Blog Archive

Seeing the Potential

When we see the potential in another – when we believe that person can accomplish great things – a life is changed forever.

One HYCL Team Member’s Account:

The first week I taught kindergarten in our new community, I was stunned at how little the children knew. Many did not know their own names and answered only to nicknames like “Pookey, Flower, or Sister.” Most children had never been in a classroom setting and many did not have paper, pencils, or a book in their home. So I kept my expectations low and addressed only the basics of the curriculum.

In October, the school held a talent show and we attended the event. When a sixth grader began demonstrating his talent to the song Achey Breaky Heart, by Billy Ray Cyrus, my students came alive. To my shock, in concert with the rest of the assembly, my 27 five-year-olds stomped their feet on the bleachers and sang – all 211 memorized words.

Suddenly, I saw their potential and knew that they were capable of great things. They were full of ability and when we got back to our classroom, I told them so. From that moment on, I expected great things from them. I set lofty goals. They met them. I challenged their analytical skills. They problem-solved with proficiency. I raised the standards higher and they met me at the top. The rest of the year we celebrated their potential, their growth, and their remarkable achievements.

We share this story as a reminder to us all that what we see is not always accurate. Our perception of who a person is can often be skewed by our own vision, or lack thereof. We expect little, so we see little. But when we expect great things, when we truly believe in our children and in each other, we will see remarkable achievement. So let us set our sights high by believing in limitless potential and endless abilities. Let us see what God sees.

Teaching Children Honor

The other day we heard a preschool child mock her parent. It was not the first time. The parents and nearby adults laughed, thinking the child’s feisty attitude showed spunk. In truth, the disrespect revealed the beginnings of a path filled with trouble.

‘if you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.'”

We can conclude from this that the opposite is also true: if a child does not learn to honor his/her parents, things will not go well for them. This is a hard truth to consider, but you can see the practical application of this.

In school, a disrespectful student gets detention or suspension. In the community, a police officer who has to endure sarcasm will not favor the son or daughter who was speeding. And in the workplace, no employer is going to tolerate rebellion and dishonor. All this “attitude” may promote a certain peer popularity now, but it also makes for a hard life.

If we are to raise up a generation of strong, committed children of God, we must not succumb to the popular misconception that a child with “attitude” is a child who will succeed.

As parents, when we demonstrate honoring one another in our homes, let us take the time to explain to our young children why. Respecting one’s elders is not an old-fashioned idea. It is the means by which we obtain a rich and rewarding life.

Replacing Bad Memories

Accidents happen. It’s part of childhood. And most of the time the tears are dried and the child continues on his or her way. But once in a while the fearless little explorer requires more than a kiss and a cookie.

Below is a wonderful account of how the trauma of an accident was turned into a happy memory. With a little help, he revisited the event – on purpose.

Recently, a four-year-old boy named Conner was injured while exploring stored lumber in his yard. EMT’s took him to the hospital with a fractured skull. A week after surgery he came home. (He is just fine). When his mother called the fire department to thank them for their kindness, the fireman on duty asked if they could make a social call the following Thursday.

The next week, amid blaring sirens, an EMT truck and a fire engine pulled up in front of Conner’s house. He and his little sister were entertained by the crew and invited into the trucks. Pictures were taken and within twenty minutes, the children had new memories to replace the old ones. When the trucks pulled away – sirens blaring – the gathering neighbors waved goodbye.

Thanks to all those who serve our communities with dedication and excellence. You are appreciated!

For more information about how to replace a negative memory or about a child’s physiological memory, visit the article “Physiological Memory.”

Or, about replacing bad memories: blog post “New Parts.”

Parenting: The Short Version

Concerned parents and guardians often ask us how to handle certain situations, learning challenges, etc. With online opinions from “experts” and those claiming educational expertise so prevalent, there are many voices adding to the often conflicting dialog regarding Early Childhood Education. To help them sort through the noise, we have compiled a list of the three most foundational principles of parenting:

1. Trust God‘s Choice: Children are a gift. Given by God. And each child has an earthly assignment. A divine purpose. It is not a mistake that you have been given this child. Nor that he/she has been given you as the parent. Knowing this, no one is more qualified to make better parenting decisions for this child than you. And although you may read books on parenting to become more skillful in this area, when all is said and done, you know best what the child needs and what it will take to make him or her prosper.


2. Trust Your Heart: Above all else, above being on a sports team, self-defense classes, or music lessons, it is vital that your child know that you want to spend time with him. This may sound like a given, but we have had grown children tell us more than once that this is the one thing they missed as a child. On the outside, their parents did all the “right things.” But on the inside, the child always longed for that sincere heart connection where the parent honestly just wanted to spend time with the child.

3. Trust Your Intuition: A parent is equipped with a special anointing for knowing. It’s a gift. Part of the initial equipment. And this “knowing” can be cultivated through prayer and practice. Children cannot always articulate or explain what is going on. And lack of experience and immaturity prevent them from seeing clearly. So becoming sensitive to the leading of the Lord and trusting your spirit to inform you concerning what you need to do completes your parenting package.

Enjoy the journey!

The Skill of Classification

One morning I was reading to a group of mature 4 year olds. When I introduced the book title and was explaining its meaning, a hand in the back row shot up.

I called on the young girl and she asked with a worried look, “Is that a GOOD word or a BAD word?” After I explained the definition, gave examples and reassured her that the word was indeed a good one, she relaxed.
She had obviously been instructed in appropriate vocabulary and was developing an organizational system about the word’s proper use. This skill, known as Classification, is predominantly a math skill. We see it in toddlers as they sort blocks by shape or color. And we see it in children as they line up cars according to some common characteristic.

To read more about this skill, “Cultivating an Inclusive Mindset” and “Literacy and Homeschooling FAQ.”

When Life Gets Tough

When life is not going as planned, we need strategies to survive. What better principle to teach our children than how to make it through the tough times?

Here is a way to begin …

  • First, it helps to remember that whatever you are going through, you are not alone. God is with you.
  • Second, do not compare yourself, your life, or your current circumstances with anyone else.  We are all dealing with “issues,” even if they don’t show … even on social media.
  • Third, one constant truth is that “everything changes.” It’s the nature of life on earth. And until we pass on, life will remain in a constant state of flux. So as challenging as life may seem right now, remember that circumstances will change and your light will brighten.

In the meantime, to help bring you out into the sunshine, here are a few strategies to ponder …

1. Be thankful in all circumstances – not thankful FOR the trouble, but thankful that you are coming OUT of the trouble. Even if you can’t see how right now. By finding one thing to be thankful for, you shift the focus – even if you have to be thankful for something as mundane as the grass. It is a way to begin.

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2. Forgive. Carrying around unforgiveness contaminates our peace and eats away at our bodies. Even if it is ourselves that we must forgive.

We have all done foolish things. Made inappropriate comments. And asked ourselves “What were you thinking?” We have all been cheated on, lied to, stolen from, hurt, and betrayed. Living in this world – a world dominated by selfishness and deceit – is part of our earthly experience. We should not be surprised when man lets us down. But we must not carry around the wrong and burden ourselves with such a heavy load. Let it go! Let … it … GO!

3. Be kind. The other day I received the nicest email from Roger, a website visitor. It was a short “Thank you for keeping this website up-to-date … I continue to learn …” That was it. A thoughtful gentleman just letting me know that I had touched a life. His gratitude moved me deeply.

Isn’t that why we are here? To encourage and serve one another? Just ask Roger. His kind words made my day!

“And be ye kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another …”

It will help us – and our children – through the tough times.

A Soft Place to Land

Holidays are times intended for celebration. And as we prepare, we hope that the gathering goes well – even though in some families, some version of the dreaded Uncle “Smart Mouth” will be there.

We all want to avoid family division and strife. We all want to nurture and retain lasting relationships. And whatever their ages, we all want to stay connected to our children’s hearts.

But for some families, strife is a reality. And it is the time before and after the meal that contain the most volatile interactions.  One key word can strike the heart of its target and open wounds not visited for 12 months. Like sharp arrows, the words of well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) relatives can pierce a soul.

As hosts, parents, or watchful guests, what can we do to minimize the damage that cryptic and subtle jabs can bring?

I once heard a man in his forties talk about when he was a teen. He would come home drunk and as he stumbled through the dimly lit living room, his waiting mother would quietly engage him in conversation. She would say, “Sit with me here a moment while I tell you the most amazing thing I just read.” There was no lecture. No reprimand about his slurred speech or unkempt appearance. No condemnation. Just whispered gentleness.

The man said that it was this example set by his mother that made him the man he is today. He said, “I knew I had done wrong. And I knew she was disappointed in me. But she made sure that she was a soft place to land. She wanted my heart and protected it at all cost.”

As we walk through the holidays, let us remember that our focus is to capture hearts by being a soft place to land. It’s a predetermined choice. A mindset surrounded by kindness and gentleness. To listen, encourage, and yield to compassion. Let us be a soft place to land. Our children, and their friends, are watching.

Making Memories

The holiday season fills us with warm memories. Grandma’s butter cake. The smell of cinnamon. But not every home experiences the joy of the season. Not every family gathered around the dining room table on Thanksgiving experiences unity. Not every house knows peace. And although you and I cannot fix every family, we CAN make a difference in what a child remembers about this season. How? By helping to make a memory. Because holiday memories are made by design.

As you know, holiday celebrations differ, depending upon a family’s heritage and faith. Inside our homes we all have the right and the privilege of expressing our faith or lack of faith, with conviction. But outside of our homes, the space is reserved for the children. For every child’s eye should delight in the joy and happiness that the holiday season brings.

Inside our home in 1957 – the year the Soviet Union launched the first orbiting satellite, Sputnik – my Aunt attached a small gold covered gift to every box she wrapped. She said it was our “Sputnik.”

But outside of our home – the space which was dedicated to neighboring children – my father built a life-sized manger and nativity scene. Whole families would make the trek through the snow up to the grove of hemlock pine to view the holy scene. Under the low-hung branches stood a concerned Joseph, while Mary knelt at the baby’s side. Animals were scattered in strategic spots peeking out from behind the hay.

Across the street, a sleigh waited for gifts while next door, blue stars were suspended to light up the landscape. Up and down the street, candles glowed in windows, flags flew, and snowmen proudly stood at attention. And in this rich and diverse heritage of celebration, our neighborhood thrived.

If you have not yet added the holiday spirit to your front door, consider sharing the joy of the season with those in your midst. Add a little bit of who you are to the scene. And in the process, you may just be making a memory.

Editor’s Note: If you need a little help explaining Santa to young children, here’s a letter from the man himself that will do it for you.

Halloween’s Open Door

Halloween is day that people either love or hate. There is not much middle ground here. Either folks go all out dressing as witches and vampires, or they avoid it at all cost, preaching the origin as pagan and demonic.

No matter what side of the issue you stand on, it’s a holiday we all have to deal with. Your children may be dressing as biblical characters and going to church, or they may be plotting their course through the neighborhood. No matter which direction they scatter, it is important we remember that this is an opportunity to minister love.

On the other side of your door will be innocent young children, or the worldly souls who may be lost and forgotten. They may be scared or greedy. Too young or too old. Too timid or too aggressive. Whatever the case, they are ALL God’s children and in need of love. Kindness. And generosity.

This is our opportunity to plant seeds of kindness in children we may never see again. It is a once-in-a-lifetime open door to add value to a little life and a not-so-little life. So plan a strategy in which they will never forget your house and the love that lives there.

The world will come to our doors. They will be looking for candy. The question is, what will they find? Will it be a smile and gentle conversation, or will it be a dark door with curtains drawn. From that night on, our houses will be labeled. Will they be known as the houses where love dwells? The choice we make will last a lifetime.

New Parts

Recently we went camping, setting up our temporary digs in an RV park near a large city. Our next door neighbor was an elderly man, staying for six weeks so that he could take advantage of the excellent medical facilities nearby. Several weeks into his stay, I asked him how he was recovering from cataract surgery.

“I can see as if I were twenty years old again!” He replied. “With my new eyes, new teeth, and new hearing aids, I feel like Mr. Potato Head.”

mr potato head2

Being made new on the outside is certainly cause for rejoicing. But being made new on the inside is even more freeing.

You know that fleeting feeling of newness that comes when you have done something well? The confidence that comes from seeing that you are becoming the best version of yourself ? You 2.0?

The question is, are we teaching our children to feel like Mr. Potato Head, too? Are we allowing them, on the inside, to replace malfunctioning parts with new ones? Replace mistakes with new opportunities for success? Replace bad memories with good ones?

When a child does something wrong, it is important that we let him know that he can be made new again. That he can receive new eyes, seeing himself successful and well-loved. New ears where he can hear good words about how he is valued and capable. New joy that comes from doing something well.

Let us remember today to give ourselves – and our children – new inward parts, new confidence, and new opportunities for success.

What Do YOU Think?

Feeding fear – inadvertently – can mark our children’s perception of life.

We periodically check the statistics on this website to see how many times each page was viewed. From this we can determine which articles are of greatest interest. The other morning I powered up my computer only to find that no stats had been calculated during the night. The lack of information frustrated me and finally, about midday, I emailed the hosting company and they quickly fixed the problem.

The incident caused me to wonder, though, what would happen if I monitored other areas of my life – like television viewing – as closely as I did my website stats?

  • What if I monitored, for example, how many times during an hour of prime time, I received the notion that sickness and disease were imminent?
  • How many times I received the idea that indigestion was looming and sleepless nights would require a sleep aid?
  • How many times the side effects of chemotherapy would pass through my consciousness?

Exactly what was I feeding my mind, anyway? I decided to find out.

The results: The next evening I tallied the commercials during an hour of prime time viewing. To my surprise, in addition to the heartburn, skin rash, medicate-your-child, flu-is-coming-and-you-are-going-to-get-it dialogue, there was a barrage of coming attractions filled with terror, violence, and sexual promiscuity. I was filling my mind with 60-second snippets of mayhem and perversion, of fear and death! All things contrary to God’s Word.

Each evening the life of God was being siphoned out of me and replaced by all things negative! Even more shocking is when I did the math. If I watched just one hour of prime time television each evening – containing at least 6 “you-could-have-this-disease” or “look at this terror” ad – and multiplied it by 365 days, that would mean that in the next twelve months, I would be told 2,190 times that sickness and disease were coming or that I should be afraid. And if I watched 2 hours … well, you get the idea.

When I realized what was happening, I decided to make a change. I decided it was time to cherish the mute button. It was time to preserve my peace by allowing my thoughts to meditate on good things.

Now every time a negative commercial appears, I have my own 60 second commercial. I thank God for his protection, or that we are all well and whole, or I just close my eyes and rest.

Conduct your own survey. Tally up what you are receiving – what your children are receiving. What do you think?

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

You Are Valued

We want you to know that we pray for you – our website visitors – every day.

We value your visit, your time, and your life.

More importantly, God values you too. He has brought you here today to remind you that He has both a purpose and a plan for your life. Never again will you be alone, unappreciated, or uncovered by prayer.


Encouraging Compassion

We have already stated that parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior. Here’s a demonstration of this principle …

Question: “What are you doing?”
Answer: “Keeping the ant warm.”

His father works in security, protecting folks from harm. His mother nurtures the young. These consistent examples of compassion are already imprinted in his “code of conduct blueprint.”

Through our example children already have the foundations of integrity and excellence within them. They already have developed a value system simply by watching.

Therefore during special occasions, when children get caught up in the excitement of an event, when they get over tired, and when visiting children model inappropriate behavior, let’s remember that these are only occasional indiscretions. Any errors in judgement they may commit are all part of learning how to develop self-control, how to endure physical stress, and how to resist peer pressure.

For more information go to our article entitled Transferring Values to Young Children

Telemarketing – A View from the Other Side

The other evening at 8:39 a telemarketer called. From the Caller ID, I could tell that we were about to receive a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity. When I picked up the phone, I could hear an already ongoing conversation. Our caller was a telemarketer-in-training and she was receiving instructions from her supervisor. So I listened for a while to the protocol – how to convince an unsuspecting home dweller that they should take advantage of this offer.

First, the young woman was to assure us that she was not a telemarketer. We were selected, of course, because we were special. We were chosen from a long list of qualified recipients. We were among “the best” to receive a trip. The conversation faded until the supervisor’s voice became adamant …“Never – ever – mention PARKING! And if the customer asks, change the subject!” On and on she went about the forbidden topic of parking. Exactly what that was about I never did find out. But I did learn one thing: this young woman was being taught how to mislead and deceive. She was being given specific instructions on how to avoid the truth.

After we were suddenly disconnected, I planned my strategy for her return call. The first thing I was going to ask was …“What about the parking?” But after a while I began to see the more human side of the call. Here was a young lady – someone else’s daughter – obviously needing an income, being escorted into a career of compromise. No, she was not on the street. But, in a way, she was selling herself – she was selling her integrity.

What this young woman needed was not an agreeable customer, but prayer. She needed God to lead her into a profession in which she could speak the truth and prosper. A profession that met her financial needs while strengthening her spirit. A profession in which she would never again have to compromise her integrity. Because, in the end, that is all we have.

The Rocking Chair

When our daughter was accumulating furniture for her first apartment, we bought an old oak rocking chair at a yard sale for eight dollars. When moving day arrived, she decided that the rocker would not fit her décor so we placed it in a spare bedroom. For years it sat there.

A few weeks ago at our own yard sale, we decided to let it go. I sold it to a shocked gentleman for three dollars. After it was gone, I missed it terribly and wondered, “Why had I sold it … and for only three dollars?” The revelation came quickly.

Because I had paid so little for it, I never appreciated it’s real worth. I never considered the craftsman’s hands that had turned the spindles, the skilled furniture maker who had fastened the joints in place, or the babies who were rocked to sleep in it. I always saw it as just a yard sale bargain.

Our lives – and the lives of our children – are filled with blessings that cost us little:

  • a starlit evening
  • silly giggles in the night
  • a snow day
  • birds chirping at dawn
  • a peach tree laden with ripe fruit
  • a yard sale rocking chair

Let us teach our children to never measure the true worth of a blessing by the yardstick of its cash value.  Instead, let us give them wisdom, demonstrating how to appreciate each blessing as a gift, like an old friend who has come by to visit, and rock for a while.

The Fourth Gift

The True Story of a Modern-day Wise Man

During one Christmas season, I met a modern-day wise man. The old man walked into my classroom to thank me for what we would later call “the fourth gift.” On his behalf, I share his message with you now …

The school halls were empty and the janitor was making his final rounds. I was just stacking the last supplies for holiday storage when the classroom door opened. A thin, elderly gentleman stood in the doorway, his white hair and ragged clothes dimmed by the late afternoon shadows. For a moment I thought he belonged down the hall, in the now empty manger scene. When he inched closer I could see his eyes glistening, tears staining his weathered cheeks.

As he extended his hand, he whispered, “Thank you … for teaching my little girl … how to read.” Then he turned and walked away.

I stood and watched his bent frame shuffle down the dimly lit corridor, his foster daughter clinging to his outstretched hand. To this man who could not even pen his own name, the child held a treasure as precious as gold. She could read.

To teachers everywhere … Thank You.

Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 although his family and friends called him “Ted.” Educated in literature, his love for drawing led him to an early career creating cartoons and then writing successful advertising campaigns, which became his main source of income.

Twenty years after publishing his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), he published The Cat in the Hat. That book changed his career and the lives of children forever more.

Known for creating over 44 children’s books, Dr. Seuss focused first on teaching children to think. And then to read. Green Eggs and Ham, which uses fewer than 50 different words, is his best-selling title, followed by The Cat in the Hat.

As you enjoy a few of the gifts below that Dr. Seuss left behind, encourage your children to create words and characters of their own. Then read our article entitled The Imagination Station for more information on the value of illustrating.

(Slides Courtesy of Random House 2013)

Reading with Young Children

… “I want my 16 month old daughter to enjoy books but when I try to read to her, she isn’t interested. Is it too early to introduce books?” – Elizabeth

Great question, Elizabeth. We receive a lot of emails about this very issue. As you know, board books with simple pictures are available for children your daughter’s age. They serve well for when she is alone and wants to hold it without tearing the pages. She is learning many pre-reading skills already such as left-to-right progression, where the book title is placed, and that words and illustrations correspond.

When you read with her, however, she may find it more interesting if you choose a book with more detailed illustrations – something with characters she is familiar with or a more intricate plot. You won’t read the story per se, – not word for word – but you will be talking with her about the illustrations and perhaps later on, the story line. Many books labeled for 3 or 4 year-olds will fit this category. When you go to the library, let her pick out the books that interest her. She may be attracted to the picture of an animal, a cartoon character she can identify, or a child in a funny dilemma. Remembering that one of the reading skills an older child learns is how to interpret picture cues (or clues) in order to anticipate what will happen next, learning to pay attention to visual detail now builds an excellent foundation for literacy later.  

Modern Day Disciples

Parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior. One of the values we strive to transfer to our young people is our belief in God. However, sometimes we perceive our faith as weak and wonder what kind of example we are actually setting.

Here is PROOF that we are capable of great faith!

I used to think that folks who anchored their lives on God’s promises were somehow supernatural in themselves. That walking by faith – believing that God’s Word will come to pass – required great strength. When we read about how God moved a mountain in someone’s life, how they were healed, how a negative situation was transformed into a great victory, we sometimes think, “Wow, I will never have THAT kind of faith.”

But the other day I realized that although these events are wonderful, nothing takes more faith than driving in rush hour traffic. Think about it. Here you are, strapped to the interior of a machine filled with explosive fuel, with spark plugs firing under the hood, driving amid all the crazies of the world.

Careening by you at the speed of light, on the right, is a car filled with 16 year-old boys who are mesmerized by the beat from their CD and by the woman in the car to your left. As for the single beauty on your left, she is busy multitasking with her lipstick in the mirror, her pink cell phone, a mocha java latte, and the car of teenage boys. Forget about Grandpa talking to his dog, the windowless van weaving in and out of traffic, or the harried mother trying to stop the fighting in the back seat. Anyone in their right mind will admit that this exercise alone proves that the angels of the Lord are encamped round about us.

We read about how the disciples rowed out into the deep and met with high waves, and we think that their faith is unattainable. Yet, I believe that each day we more than measure up. Each time we slip behind the wheel and turn on the ignition, we exercise remarkable faith. We honestly believe that we will arrive safely at our destination even though, statistically speaking, it is not a logical conclusion.

Each day we believe as the disciples did, that we will get to the other side. We have faith – supernatural faith – faith that moves mountains, and we take it out for a spin every day. Knowing this, let us now go forth and do great things.

“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed … nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

The Ideal Family

Do you remember the Biblical analogy that we are like sheep needing a Shepherd? It turns out that a community of sheep and their integral social interaction actually mirrors a healthy family unit!

The sheep …

  • form home groups and home ranges and willingly remain there.
  • teach the lambs the invisible boundary lines.
  • are easily corrected.
  • recognize human faces and those of fellow sheep.
  • can differentiate the emotional states of other sheep and humans through reading their faces.
  • recognize and respond to their names.
  • have problem-solving abilities.
  • remain in constant visual and verbal communication with others.
  • have 360° panoramic color vision, which is also binocular.
  • maintain visual contact and communication when grazing.
  • constantly monitor their position in relation to others.

So the Biblical analogy that we are God’s sheep and Jesus is our Shepherd is significant.

  • We are to recognize our home range and willingly remain there.
  • We are to teach our children the boundary lines.
  • We are to maintain close verbal and visual communication with each other.
  • We are to recognize, interpret, and address the emotional states of others in our midst.
  • We are to continually maintain an awareness of and communication with others as we graze.
  • We are to keep looking up to see where our Shepherd is so that we can continually position and orient ourselves to Him.

We know His voice. We recognize His face. We see clearly.

Our Seemers

The other day a friend of mine was involved in a fender-bender. No one was injured but the remarkable revelation was that before the collision, each person involved had an inward sensitivity of the impending doom. Each had been led to take another route. Unfortunately, no one considered the inward-knowing to be valid.

We are led by God’s Spirit through an inward knowing, through our spirits – our “seemers.” It is not a head decision – not an intellectual thought process. It is a heart issue, a knowing or impression of what to do. We conclude, “This seems like the right thing to do.”  For my friend, it seemed best to take the other road, but he didn’t. It seemed right for the other driver to just go home, but she didn’t.

Our children are going to be making thousands of decisions in their lifetime. What better gift can we give them than an awareness of how to develop a sensitivity to God’s leading? To His guidance. His protection. Children already possess a trust and closeness with God. It’s part of their initial equipment. We were once this equipped too. But as we grew we allowed intellectual reasonings to override inward leadings. Now, as adults, we base our decisions on gathered facts, studies, research, statistics, demographics, experience, opportunity, and a host of other variables.

And as important as these components are in making a mature and well-informed decision, before we take a step, the final decision should always come from that inward place where God’s Spirit resides.

  • “Do I have a peace about doing it?”
  • “Does it seem right – deep inside – that I should go in this direction?”
  • “I know what my head is saying, but what is my heart saying?”

In any relationship, the more time we spend with a person, the more we can perceive their thoughts and the intents of their heart. Why wouldn’t it be the same with God? He wants a relationship with us, too. And as we pray and spend time with Him, the strength of our “seem-er” increases. We can more easily recognize His leading.

Let us train ourselves – and our children – to always be checking on the inside for God’s leading, direction, and peace. Let us be watchful – rightly dividing our own intellectually based thoughts from our spirit-led impressions.

Looking for His wisdom.

Launching Out In Faith

Have you ever noticed that during times when you are about to bravely launch out in faith, circumstances become difficult? Obstacles appear out of nowhere? Or someone says something that takes the air right out of your balloon?

These are “living distractions,” and it is important that we recognize these hindrances for what they are: opportunities to put down our swords of faith and walk away from the power of God’s promises.

I am sure you can point to times in your life when you stood on a precipice, ready to leap, and came face to face with opposition. Maybe it was a career change. Maybe it was the prospect of opening your own business. Or maybe you wanted to move far away and begin again.

The Children: Now let’s think about our children. How many hopes and dreams will they see come to fruition? As we hold their hands and guide them through childhood, let us teach them this same truththat distractions will come. Knowing this, they can march forth with conviction and purpose. Stalwart. Confident. And immovable.

  • For none of these things move me …
  • For with God, all things are possible …
  • For He who has begun a good work in us will continue …
  • For we are fully persuaded that what He has promised He is also able to perform.

A Magnetic Personality

The other day I was at the grocery store, talking with a woman about her day. She shared that her 90-year-old mother-in-law had passed away and that they were busy making funeral plans. During the conversation she paused and stated adamantly that “Bad things come in threes! I just hope that this is the last of it!” Then she listed the two previous deaths in the last few weeks involving grandparents of people she worked with. When I tried to ease her away from this conviction, she just dug her heels in deeper. “No,” she said, “they come in threes!

People believe all sorts of things. Sometimes the belief is based on experience. Sometimes it is based on a wives’ tale. And sometimes it is based … on nothing. So let’s take a minute to examine the above belief.

First of all, the three deaths mentioned were of people who had run their race and finished their course. All were elderly and had come to the time when they slip out of their bodies and enter eternal life. It’s a natural course of events. Some day, when we are finished with our earthly assignments, we too will leave.

Secondly, if this “come in threes” principle is true, why is it not applied to good things as well as bad? Why don’t people believe that an unexpected financial windfall, a job promotion, and healing come in threes, too?

The truth is that setting one’s faith to believe for bad things to happen only attracts the negativity. And the stalwart conviction that something bad is coming can pull that negative event in like a forceful magnet.

But the opposite is also true. With faith in God’s promises, we can draw blessing toward us, as well. We can pull in God’s own life-giving power to make a difference or change a circumstance. This makes us ambassadors of blessing. Of mercy and peace.

What we believe about each of these forces – a belief system we inherited – is what we are transferring to our children. Do we want their minds to be dominated by fear or do we want to impart into them the confidence that comes from faith in God?

(For more information about transferring values to young children, visit our Character Education section here.)

The Indelible Life

Personal goals, career goals, community goals. We all make them. But what about longer lasting and more far-reaching goals? Goals that touch the next generation? And the one after that?

Recently we remembered my late grandmother’s birthday. Born in 1900 as the youngest of nine children, she often told us stories about her adventurous childhood. How her father would put real candles on the Christmas tree and how she had heard that America had streets of gold.

When she turned 18, a worldwide plague took her mother, sister, niece, and other family members. This one event shaped her into a singularly focused pillar of strength. From that moment on, life for her was only about family, which is why we were at the center of her universe.

Today I look around and still see glimpses of her pass by. In my family’s loving texts, when my brother makes me laugh, and in my daughter’s gentleness, Grandma is still here.

When we share a kindness, love moves forward to the next generation. If we show compassion today, the ripple effect of that one gesture can still be seen fifty years from now in the eyes of another soul.

This truth makes life eternal both in heaven and on the earth.

Our influence never leaves. It is never erased.

As we pass through, the world is changed forever.

The ripple is lasting. Our impact, indelible.

Let us make our mark thoughtfully each day, remembering that kindness and compassion live forever.

To Our Teens: Your Voice Matters

Parents: If you have a teen in your life, please share this …

In a world where we are made to feel insignificant and small, know this one thing: your voice matters. What you have to say can have a great impact on the world around you. The thoughts, words, and insights stirring within you have power – the power to change a life forever.

When I was sixteen, I was like many other teens in my world, searching for wisdom and truth. There was a war going on that we did not believe in. Our parents belonged to a completely different time and culture. And the stirrings within us were powerful forces we could not bridle. We sought justice for all men. A world filled with peace. And protection for all those less able. It was the sixties.

Before cell phones, before the internet, and before cable TV, we connected through the printed word.  Newspapers, books, and magazines were our lifeline to the outside world. We gleaned wisdom from Greek philosophers and poets. I nurtured the deep passions within me and expressed them through rants on social justice. But nothing seemed to quiet the painful compassion that simmered within.

Then, one day, I read words that changed my life forever.

My favorite teen magazine had just arrived. This quality monthly publication offered a wide variety of articles. It covered fashion, makeup and hair, fiction and non-fiction, dating humor, and opportunities for teens to submit original poetry and art. Unlike today’s issues, there was little advertisement. Instead, it was a vital source of information for the searching soul.

As I read through this newest issue, I noticed a short quote from a fellow sixteen year old. Her submission had been accepted and was used as filler at the bottom of one page. As I read, her words pierced my soul. From that moment on, I was never the same. In fact, her words went so deep that now, fifty years later, they still burn in my heart.  Her words guided my every move, laid the foundation, and set the course on which I based my life.

“And turning back upon the sterile desert,
I saw a sprouted seed, crushed in my footstep.”

From that moment on, my hard radical exterior softened. I worked at being careful to never extinguish another person’s idea or inspiration. I tried to nurture each life brought before me. I tried to be a safe place for all life to thrive. And after all these years, from time to time I still look back, making sure that I have not crushed a sprouted seed.

If you are wondering if your voice matters, remember that one word spoken from your heart can change the course of human history. One blog entry, written from words deep within your soul, can change a life forever. Your words have a lasting legacy.

Remember … your voice matters.

How to Make a Marriage Last

Remembering that parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior, we asked a group of long-timers to share their tips for marriage longevity. The consensus is posted below. In short, we found some basic principles upon which solid marriages are based. These guidelines provide a firm and immovable foundation, one that remains steady through “richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” … through the storms of life.

The Official Long-Timers’
Top Tips for Marriage Longevity

  1. Begin your union with God’s blessing:  A marriage is a living entity and subject to all of the temptations of the world. Asking for God’s support early in the life of the marriage helps to maintain respect for the union and supernatural assistance along the way.
  2. Selfless love: The marriage that lasts is the one that is firmly planted in unconditional love, mutual respect, and a sincere belief in the other person. Inherent in this mindset is a willing heart – a willingness to do whatever it takes.
  3. Trust: The heart must know that it can safely trust in the other. Shared hopes, dreams, and confidences must be protected. By never violating this trust, your spouse will have no need to seek support elsewhere. In our tell-all society, the standard is to seek the comments and advice of the multitudes. But an intimate relationship blessed by God requires safety – a safety that only comes through private and confidential trust.
  4. Prayer: A marriage is like a child, in need of protection, nurturing, and support. It requires prayer and divine counsel. Through prayer, understanding and insight are born.
  5. Courtesy: A marriage maintains strength and mutual appreciation through daily deposits of courtesy. Much like depositing money in a saving account expecting it to bear interest over time, invested kindness has its rewards, too. A lasting marriage requires a consistent and sincere expression of kindness, generosity, and appreciation.
  6. Affection: Through closeness, chemicals are released in the brain that encourage bonding. In fact, these are the same chemicals that are produced in the bonding process between a mother and her child.
  7. Keep your expectations realistic: Your spouse will never be able to meet all of your needs. Only God can do that. So when your spouse falls short of your expectations, remember that he or she is made of clay, just like you. Forgiveness and mercy are basic foundations upon which a marriage thrives.
  8. Change is inevitable: People change. That is a truth of life. One person moves ahead in a career, the other grows in knowledge of a specific skill, one changes priorities as maturity evolves, the other launches out to accomplish a dream. Through it all, when the best interest of the spouse is a priority, the marriage grows, too.
  9. A sense of humor: Nothing can dispel a glitch in a relationship better than a sense of humor. Repair misunderstandings quickly. And never – EVER – go to bed angry.

No matter how long a person lives, at the end, the realization that life is fleeting always takes center stage. So do not spend your energies on pursuing social status or on the accumulation of goods. Spend your energies on someone with whom you can share your life. The diversions that compete for your time are of little consequence when the final tally is complete. Give your heart totally to one person and, hand-in-hand, walk wholly under the blessings of a loving God.

A Potty Training Solution

Potty training can be trying for both parent and child. One young mother we know read the parenting books and tried the interventions. But her son was just not interested.

Finally, after his third birthday, she came up with a plan. Since everyone in the home had a job (Daddy’s was at a certain business, Mommy’s was in the home office, etc.), it was time for the little boy to have a job too. His job – for which HE was paid – was to use the potty.

Every time he remembered, he was given a nickel for the “potty bank.” On the following Saturday, he could fill his pockets with all the money he had earned and go to a dollar store. Within a week, he was potty trained!