Tag Archives: Children

Book Review: Start With the Heart

Book Review:  Start With the Heart by Kathy Koch

The Good:

What’s a Parent?  Excellent introduction to the book and the first chapter is worth the price of admission.  The beginning to the book provides a parenting summary that is very well done and worth the read.

Off The Charts.  The diagrams and charts were very well done.  These charts and diagrams are valuable tools in parenting and provide tangible ways to improve your parenting.

Well Organized.  Something I appreciate is a well-organized anything.  Well, Dr. Koch does a superb job of organizing her data, information, and instruction.  The chapter headings, book flow, and organization were all top notch to allow for a smooth read.

The Bad:

Discipline Light?  There were times when I thought the discipline was a bit light.  This could have been on purpose to allow parents to apply their own discipline based on their parenting style.  However, there were times when it seemed to care about the feelings of the child more than a disciplined way of parenting.

More practical than spiritual.  As a pastor, obviously I lean more toward spiritual-heavy, but to be fair, this was not the point of the book.  This was a motivational book, not as much a spiritual tool.  However, when the Scriptural support was evident and appreciated.

The Grade: B.  Highly practical and useful tool for any parent.  Loved the explanations and defined attributes of parenting.  Not at the top of my list, but valuable enough to recommend for parents of young children.


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What Does Your Teen Need?

A parent shared this podcast between two Christian moms who have raised teenagers. They give some tremendous lessons, and ones you will want to hear as you either help parents teenagers, or raise teenagers on your own! Give a listen, it is worth your time.


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Can I Pray For You?

A Poem by Jeff Beckley to the church…

Can I Pray for Youcan-i-pray-for-you-part-1

Can I pray for you church? Can I pray for you?

The trials you face, the struggles you are going through

Can I pray for my teens, who battle pressures from every direction

That Satan wouldn’t add you to his church dropout collection

Can I pray for you Moms, who feel the weight of the world

That child’s crying, that child’s angry, that child just hurled

This last week seemed like a hill impossible to climb, 100 miles high

Can I pray for you moms, so God can hear an extra listen of your cry

Can I pray for you Dads, who may feel like you’re losing your grip

If there was a game between struggle and frustration, you’d win the championship

Work is piling up, you just spilled ketchup on your new shirt, and the house is falling apart

You want to just go for a drive, but your car won’t start

Can I pray for you husbands and wives, who feel like something is missing

Having trouble remembering the days of love notes, fancy dates, and kissing

The sparks are flying alright, but not like from your early days

These are more like sparks from a grinder cutting a fender off an old Chevrolet

Can I pray for you children, whose hold on your innocence seems to be fading

With all that’s on the news, movies, and songs…praying you won’t be imitating

Can I pray for those that are hurting and can’t see the light at the end

Today’s prayer will give you a reason to be on the mend

Can I pray for you church?  Can I pray for you all today?

Because we all need strength, so let’s see what God’s Word has to say.

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Never Underestimate the Youth of Today…Here’s Why

stop_underestimating_yourself_tyrone_smith1Skepticism is not abnormal.  In fact, it puts you in some pretty hefty company in the Old Testament.  Among the doubters – Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, King Saul, Isaiah, Ezekiel…and the one that used his age as an excuse, Jeremiah.

Now, I will give it to Jeremiah – he was young.  In Jeremiah, the Hebrew usage of this word child in Jeremiah chapter one referred to boys or youths.  I read several commentaries – and since there is no age given – the estimations range from a young boy to age 21.

There could very well be skepticism in your families, in our schools, and in our churches.  It could be in the mind of children or teenagers.  These ideas could have been put there by other adults that couldn’t see their potential.  Or they may simply have little confidence or are underestimating the special ways God can use them.

Adults often underestimate children and teens as well.  They may excuse their skepticism by saying they are looking out for their feelings or safety.  Underestimating is sometimes a lack of faith or a failure to see the special gifts of the youth of today.  Don’t underestimate what children and teens can do for the kingdom of God.

Parents – we cannot doubt what God can do in our children’s lives and what can be accomplished through them.  Kids & Teens – listening here and online – God can do amazing things in your life…NOW!

Let me give you some examples of what kids can do:

Picture1Alexandra “Alex” Scott was only 4 years old when she opened her front yard lemonade stand to help raise money for children with cancer. A cancer patient herself, Alex has seen her small stand grow from a curbside staple to a national fundraising revolution, boasting supporters, benefits, and events all across the country.  Sadly, she passed away at the age of 8, but her foundation (Alex’s Lemonade Stand) lives on and has raised more than $120 million and funded over 550 research projects towards the goal of putting an end to childhood cancer.

Picture2Shortly after basketball enthusiast Austin Gutwein turned 9, he saw a video that changed his life: a movie about children who had lost their parents to AIDS. Moved to make a change, Gutwein began Hoops of Hope, the world’s largest free-throw marathon, dedicated to raising money for orphaned children from across the globe and providing them with food, shelter, education, and health care. By doing something as simple as shooting free throws, Hoops of Hope participants have raised over $2.5 million.

Picture3It all started when a 9-year-old saw another student on the playground without a coat.  Since then, Maddy Beckmann made it her mission to keep kids warm in her native St. Louis, and her charity, Coat-A-Kid has coated over 10,000 children since its inception.

Why can’t our children and teens do that in our church, our community, and our country…they can and they are!  In our church, this is what has been happening because we have learned to not underestimate our youth:

Over 200 kids came to the Easter Egg Hunt to hear the Gospel & eat loads of candy…and the entire event was planned by teenagers.  Over 40 meals were delivered last October…by teens.  Two Bible studies were formed in the public schools…and were started by a 13-year-old and 15-year-old.  A community garden was planted in the local middle school…by teenagers.  2 years ago 3 teens were serving impoverished kids in Nicaragua  This summer, a team of teenagers are going to witness on the streets of New York.

Sorry Jeremiah, age is NOT an excuse.  God does not want to hear the excuses…He wants obedience.

(If you want to hear the entire message on “The Time is Now” click here)


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Book Review: Show Them Jesus

show_them_jesus_thumbnail__26699.1404693685.451.416Book Review: Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower

The Good:

This Book Can Preach. As the title suggests, the goal of this book is to teach the Gospel to kids. Well, in reading the book, the Gospel is preached to the reader over and over. Each time you open the book, there is the Gospel with incredible insight and creativity.

This Book Can Teach. Wow! The specific teaching lessons that are given in this book are incredible. Here’s a little teaser: The author takes the story of Balaam and the donkey and links it to the Gospel. It is amazing.

Honest & Humble. The author takes an honest approach to teaching children. Often, he humbly reveals his past mistakes and presents an honest view of what teaching children is like. You feel like you are in the classroom with him as he takes you on a journey teaching children the Gospel. It is a journey worth taking.

Break it Down. At the end of each chapter, the author provides a valuable breakdown for each reader. The general reader, the parent, the teacher, and the youth worker all get specific focus and breakdown at the end of each chapter.   This practical application is invaluable to the reader and expands your audience to more than just children’s ministry teachers.

The Bad:

Flow River Flow. There were at times where the flow was not especially easy for the reader. It was almost like the author was so excited to share the material, he couldn’t contain the information.

Repetitive. The author repeats himself from time to time. The author repeats himself from time to time. I thought it was funny. I get it though, the author is making a point of reiterating the Gospel’s importance, but the repeating of material could have made the book more succinct.

The Grade: A-

Everyone in children’s ministry should purchase this book, especially the teachers. Buy it for your children’s director for Christmas (I just did, but shhhh, don’t tell him). This book does a fantastic job reiterating the importance of the Gospel, but it does not stop there. Klumpenhower gives the reader multiple resources, lessons, methods to teach the Gospel effectively to children on a consistent basis. Don’t know how to Show Them Jesus? Read this book, and you will know how to every time you have opportunity to teach kids. And if one kid comes to know Jesus from this book, it will be worth it.


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The 7 D’s of How to Survive Vacation with Young Kids

  1. Dependence.  Like anything in your life, it is important to start with prayer. So, as you leave your driveway, have a time of prayer – before the DVD player begins, headphones go in, and snoring happens. Along with prayer, it may be a good time to go over some ground rules and behavioral expectations.
  2. Dramamine.  Almost as important as prayer – Dramamine. Check with your doctor first, but if possible, give your kids Dramamine to help with car sickness, sleep, and also limits bathroom trips. I call this the vacation trifecta!
  3. Diapers.  You may say, “but my kids are out of diapers”. I don’t care. If someone has to go the bathroom and is not at an age where they can hold it for a reasonable amount of time…inform them diapers are available. Hey, if it gets us another 100 miles without a stop, I’d put on a diaper (No, this has not happened…yet).
  4. Drop New Beats. One of the best traditions of a long trip is Daddy’s Vacation Mix. On the mix are new praise songs, soundtrack songs from their favorite movies (the year of Frozen was especially painful), and fun songs as well. It always is a surprise and must not be started until we are officially driving on vacation.
  5. Drive. Drive. Drive.  As Dorie would say in Finding Nemo, “Just keep driving, just keep driving”. With every stop, you are adding at least a half an hour to your trip. And time your stops well, by doing gas and food in one stop. The more you drive, the less you will have to drive later. A mantra you will thank yourself later.
  6. Dad & Mom. If possible, bring the grandparents. No, it’s not just for an extra set of eyes at the pool and beach (although that is a wonderful thing). But the kids love the memories they will build with their grandparents too and will treasure those special times.
  7. Don’t Expect Rest. I used to bring several books on vacation. Not anymore. I bring magazines now. I might get a page or two at a time. Laying out…not gonna happen. I’m not complaining. I’m in the “Dad, come swim with us” phase of my life. And I absolutely love it.


Vacation Beach(Credit for photo:  http://karimephotography.com/)

What are some tips you have for a great vacation trip? Driving many hours in the car with young kids is not an easy adventure, but these are some tips for a sane trip, fun vacation, and a refreshing time away.  What are some ways you build memories and make it special?  Feel free to comment.



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Book Review: The Stick Faith Guide For Your Family

Book Review: The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara Powell5258580_orig

The Good:

Real. This book could not get any more real. We are talking about real advice from real families. This book is essentially a collection of advice from parents for the sole purpose of building a faith that sticks in their kids. This is not advice from a panel of psychologists or “parent experts”…no these are real parents that are in the trenches just like you grasping at ideas that will really work and help their child develop their faith.

Practical (Extremely). This may be the most practical parenting book I have ever picked up. From the very start, I was underlining ideas that I could implement right away. In fact, the author even warns the reader to take it slow and just take 5 ideas at a time. Otherwise, it could be overwhelming since there are so many good ideas. And since there are so many ideas, it is easy for any family to find something that fits their family situation (i.e. single parent homes, teenager-filled home, young children, etc.)

Ministry Treasures. From chapter 7 which talks about the elder generation’s impact on kids, to the chapter on mentoring…these can be very valuable in building a ministry that is inter-generational. Pastors, youth workers, children’s ministry volunteers…these are pages that need to be read and ideas that can be implemented tomorrow.

Gone too soon. Although I am a parent of young kids, everyone tells me the time goes so quickly. These pages are full of ideas to value the time and use it to have a real impact for your child’s relationship with God and others.

The Bad:

Occasional Bad Advice. Here are a few examples: #1: Allow your child to seek another church/skip youth group – sure this is a little out of context, but did not like reading it, nonetheless. #2: Apologize – Not found in the Bible. Encourage forgiveness over apologizing.

Wide Denomination Range. This is more of a warning for the reader. This is to a wide (Christian-based) denomination audience, so as long as you know that going in, it will prevent confusion.

Could use a little more grace. Many parents are suffering having a prodigal son or daughter. I think this book is missing a chapter on ministering to those that fade away or are rebelling. And also a reinforcement of the idea of there is no perfect plan, but it is of God’s grace. This is in there, but could use more of these types of encouragement and reminders throughout.

The Grade: B.

In the fall, I will be recommending this book to my parents as a valuable resource, and I recommend it to you as well. Powell provides incredible ideas for parents to have a deep impact on their children’s faith. I can almost guarantee any parent can find at least 5 ideas from this book that they can start doing immediately. And everyone is different, so this book provides an incredible variety of families and ideas for everyone to try. The realness, the variety, and the potential impact on children make this book a highly recommended parenting source.


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3 Ways to Be a Better Father

Following Father’s Day, it is important to reflect and re-energize ourselves into being better and more godly fathers.  Here are three ways we can do just that…Presentation1

Focus on the Unseen

Dads – we like simple instructions. Here is one, if you can see it then it is temporary, but eternal things are unseen. Each day we get older and closer to eternity…but don’t wait until then to focus on the eternal. When your kids look through what you leave them – they may find sports jerseys, tools, or a coin collection. But what your kids really need you to leave them – faith lessons, integrity & leadership example, path to purity, and the way to Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Remember What Matters

As you sit around the dinner table today – it is a blessing to have your kids sitting there, but it is a much more significant blessing to have your kids sitting at God’s table one day. Your kids will not remember the cost of going out for ice cream – but they may recall the lesson of forgiveness they learned while eating it. Your kids will probably never know the amount of your rent or mortgage payment – but they will recall the prayers by their bedside in their room. Your kids often have no idea how tired you are, but your faith and confidence in God’s plan will help them rest. You get the point? Remember what matters.

Point Them to Jesus

Dads – you can’t be there all the time. But you can point them towards something that can be – their relationship with their Lord & Savior. Your example can point them to Jesus. When they see your life as a picture of grace, forgiveness, trust, mercy, & unconditional love…that becomes a life that points to Jesus. You are showing your kids where the true treasures are. Financial stability, comfortable living conditions, good education are all good things…but those things will fade away…point your kids toward Jesus, an eternal inheritance, a life following God & His Word. Teach them a life given to Jesus a being a good steward of what God gave them…and it is the best life, the life that holds the most joy, and the life that will one day experience eternity as a child of God.

Finally, the best thing to do as a father: Introduce your kids to the Heavenly Father.

Taken from the Father’s Day Sermon called “Good Steward Parenting”


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My Honest Journey – Facing a Life With All Girls

1910602_10154328481390246_6139702880396853286_nMy wife and I have been blessed with three beautiful girls. I have several friends who have only girls, and we had a camaraderie of sorts. There was even a name given to us…DODO’s (Dad’s of Daughters Only). We have an understanding between us. We felt guilt when our desire for a boy crossed into the arena of discontentment. We would admit there were grass is greener moments in our minds, when thinking of the house with boys. They get to watch the Lego Movie (still haven’t seen it) and I’m stuck with the Barbie movies (I may or may not be hiding these in high places in the house, oh they are torture)…or they are out in the yard playing catch while I’m doing craft time. But, we also found refuge during the quiet moments with our daughters that seemed to be rare with the wrestling, high-energy, everything-turns-into-a-gun moments with sons.

And there were moments of shame. Whenever discontentment or jealousy reared its ugly head, we were reminded of friends that struggle to have children. We have beautiful girls, precious gifts, and how could these thoughts even cross our minds. We were ashamed as we prayed for our friends who desired to just have one child.

Now before you think me and my friends are barbaric chauvinist from the dark ages who only wanted sons to tend to our land and take over our throne, let me explain something. These thoughts of dissatisfaction were rare. In fact, it typically just lasted a short time after the ultrasound, and other times sprinkled in, which were oftentimes caused by others (see below). But for the other 99.9% of the time, we treasured our sweet little girls. We enjoy the snuggles, being their knight in shining armor, protecting them from the monsters under the bed, their sweet spirit, and having the special bond that daddy’s have with their little girls.

That being said, this week I faced another one of those moments. My wife and I are expecting our fourth child, and with three girls preceding this child, I was beginning to pick up on a pattern. Since the title of this article suggest I need to be honest, I will. There were many prayers for this little one to be a boy, including my daughters who wanted a little brother. On the way home to pick up my wife for the ultrasound, I had an honest conversation with God. I confessed my need to be content, and my greatest desire was for the health of the baby. I told God my desire for a son. I prayed a paraphrase of Hannah’s prayer “God if you will give me a son, I will give my son to you” (which is a prayer for all of my kids). But if God deemed me better fit for me to be a dad of all girls, I wanted His will and would embrace it, just like I have lovingly embraced all of my girls.

So we walked not the doctor appointment, with shaky knees and trembling hands. My wife laid down, and I held her hand. At first, I thought I saw on the monitor what I had seen three times before. And I began to prepare myself for a life of all girls…four girls. But, to our shock, the ultrasound tech said “Daddy, looks like you got your wish”. I said “What? What does that mean”. She revealed (no details needed) to us on the screen, it is a boy.1688627_10154720898175246_854536271837639991_n

Am I excited? Absolutely. I was overwhelmed with tears of joy that day. But I can’t help but think of the club I once was a part of, and I owe them something. As I turn in my resignation from the DODO club, I would like to speak on their behalf to save them from future harm.

So on behalf of my fellow DODO’s, let me just give you, especially those that have never been at our tea parties, some advice…

  1. Please do not say “I’m sorry” after we say we have all girls. Unless it is your fault, there is no need to apologize.
  2. Please do not say “just wait until they are a teenager”. Believe me, dads with daughters will gladly wait for teenage-dom. In fact, most of us would welcome Jesus coming back before that happens, so reminders are not necessary.
  3. Please do not say “I’m so glad I don’t have girls”. That is equivalent of saying “I’m so glad I don’t have your face, it must be awful to have that face”. Now you know how that makes a DODO feel.
  4. Never insinuate that having boys is a “man thing”, that somehow those that have boys are more macho, manly, or have greater bravado. It takes just as much “man” to raise a daughter as it does to raise a son.
  5. Please do not ever say “having boys is the best” to someone. It stings a little.
  6. We appreciate you telling us our daughters are cute/beautiful , but please stop short of the “hope you own a shotgun” comments, reminders of boys/dating makes us weak at the knees. (Yes, I’ve had people actually say to me, “Your girls are beautiful, I hope you own a shotgun”. Not kidding.)
  7. Encourage them. Daughters need their dads. In fact, from what I have read, the relationship between a daughter and her dad has profound significance and tremendous influence on their future decisions, relationships, well-being, confidence, and self-worth.  Give them a shot in the arm, your prayers, your godly advice, and your encouragement.


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2 Great Articles for Parents & Grandparents

As a young parent, I eat this stuff up.  Anything to help me build faith into my kids, I’m willing to listen.  Encourage you to enjoy these reads…

Helping Kids Keep the Faith


20 Ideas for Grandparentsgrandma_teen_750_367_s_c1






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