Journey to Courage

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by Reggie Joiner

Good Advice

In a pivotal moment in a movie most dads would probably rather not admit we’ve seen, the Prince of fictional Genovia has this advice for his daughter, the Princess (yes, as in Princess Diaries).

On her sixteenth birthday, her father writes these words:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.”

Anne Hathaway’s journey to the Academy Awards notwithstanding, the Prince’s counsel is royally good.

Heroic Qualities

Almost every boy or girl dreams of becoming a hero: a prince or princess, or a superhero. We all want to be part of a bigger story, something that matters. To do that doesn’t mean we need to be royalty or part of the Justice League, but it might require that we find some heroic qualities in our everyday lives.

That’s why I like the advice above. As a parent, this attitude is something that we need to cultivate in the hearts of our kids. Everything in their future is somewhat unpredictable. There will be moments they are uncertain about their choices, friends, health, and finances. Living can just be scary sometimes. We’re not asking our kids to never be afraid. We need to hand them a belief that fear can be conquered, and that the key to living is pushing through the difficult moments with courage to do the right thing, or in some cases to simply keep moving.

Courage in Unlikely Places

Like I said, we don’t have to be royalty to understand this. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt either! Consider King David, who wrote this about courage in the face of fear: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). He had plenty of reasons to be afraid. He wrote those words on the run, during the in-between time of strumming in Saul’s court and running from Saul’s spear. He wasn’t running to safety. He was running to trouble. To Gath. The Gath of Goliath. Whatever the opposite of a welcoming party is, that’s what awaited David.

In the midst of giants, he prayed this prayer to God: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

David found courage in some unlikely places. In a few small stones. In a few loyal followers. In a faith in God that was stronger than any spear, stone or sword.

Like Batman

That’s why I think David was kind of like Batman. (Stay with me here . . . ) Have you ever noticed that Batman doesn’t have any real superpowers? He’s got creativity, a fancy batsuit and that really cool car. He also has a courageous compassion for others.

David didn’t have the Batmobile, or any superpowers, but he had what mattered. He was just an ordinary person, who had the courage to trust his extraordinary God on the road between who he was and who he knew God wanted him to be.

What experiences have your kids faced where you have been able to clearly communicate the idea of courage in the face of fear?

The Power of Daily Affirmations for Your Kid

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by Leah Jennings

Sometimes, my inner dialogue can be pretty negative, and this is coming from someone who believes wholeheartedly in the power of positive thinking. I can’t seem to help it—it’s so easy to slip into negative thought patterns once they start.

Recently, I got so fed up with my thoughts, I started reading a book called Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. The book is all about using positive self talk to decrease fear, increase empathy, and reduce stress. Each day, the author gives readers positive affirmations to say in a mirror or whenever you see your reflection.

“All of your self-talk, the dialogue in your head, is a stream of affirmations,” Hay says. “These affirmations are messages to your subconscious that establish habitual ways of thinking and behaving.”

That quote convicted me right away: My current thoughts were starting to negatively shape my behavior. I started my day with a negative outlook and ended the day with an even worse one. Everything I said and did started to have a dismal tint to it. I could sense it and my family could sense it, too.

A few months ago, my husband, Kevin, and I started reciting affirmations with our three-year-old daughter, Arden, every night. Some of Arden’s daily affirmations are:

I am a child of God.
I am smart, funny, and beautiful on the inside and outside.
I am brave.
I am safe.
I am loved by my family and friends.
I can do hard things.

At first, this practice of reciting daily affirmations was a way for me to get a jumpstart on sight words (that generational teacher blood runs deep within my veins). But now, we use them as a daily reminder for Arden about who she is and what she can do. I’ll never forget the time when I heard Arden repeatedly muttering to herself, “I can do hard things. I can do hard things,” as she struggled to open something on her own.

I could use those reminders myself.

Arden demonstrated in that moment the power of affirmations in our daily lives—they become embedded nuggets of wisdom that can be applied whenever necessary. We become what we think about, for better or for worse. I think it’s pretty important for us as parents to start the healing work on our thought lives so we can pass along a true, positive self talk practice to our kids.

How has your thought life been lately? Do you recite daily affirmations? If so, what are they? Share them in the comments section below!

The Secret to Helping Your Kid Find Great Friends

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by Holly Crawshaw

Nothing has the potential to affect the course of your kid’s life quite the same way that their friendships do.

Self-help guru Jim Rohn puts it this way: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

And you may be thinking . . .

Who, Timmy? My Timmy is a leader. Timmy would never let a friend negatively influence his choices!

Or,

Crap. I’m pretty sure Julia’s best friend chopped off her little sister’s ponytail last week.

Or even,

Miles’ best friends are Elmo and the grocery store check-out lady who gives him free stickers.

But, it’s true. It’s true for us, and it’s true for our kids. The people we choose to lean into during good and bad times shape us in big and small ways, whether we are aware of it or not.

So, how do we help our kids pick and keep friends who will raise the average of their circle? In other words, how do we help our kids choose friends who are forgiving, kind, humble, gentle, and patient?

It’s actually not as challenging as it sounds. It’s simple, really. Here’s the secret to helping your kids find good friends . . . ready? . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .

Teach your kid to be the friend they want to find.

That’s it!

See, typically, when we think about friendship, we start off by thinking of all the things we want to find in a great friend. And we spend a lot less time thinking about what we offer to friendships.

Check out what the Bible says:

“You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient,” Colossians 3:12, NIRV.

If we want to be the friend we want to find, we need to put on “tender mercy and kindness” as if they were our clothes.

HUH?
WHAT?
LIKE A HAT … A KIND HAT?

Actually, sort of.

We should treat others so well that it’s almost as if we were wearing our kindness, patience, and love. And that doesn’t just mean we’re nice to the people we want to be nice to. God wants us to treat everyone this way.

And when we do, our relationships – especially our friendships – are just better.

So. You want your kid to be surrounded by above-average friend? Then teach them the importance of . . .

Forgiving others (tender mercy).
Thinking about others’ feelings (kindness).
Putting others before ourselves (do not be proud).
Keeping our tempers under control (gentle).
Waiting without complaining (patience).

If you want your kid to be a good friend, teach them to be the friend they want to find.

Three Ways to Connect with Your Kids at Any Phase

by Kristin Ivy

by Kristin Ivy

Parenting humans can be unpredictable. Every kid is different and there are no formulas. It’s hard to anticipate everything.

So in a sense, you should anticipate not anticipating a few things.

With my oldest child, I didn’t anticipate that . . .
he would learn to remove his diaper like a baby Houdini.
he would try to pee into the toilet while his sister was sitting on it.
he would cut his sister’s hair while I thought they were both napping.

It was in that last moment when I realized I wasn’t going to be the best representation of God’s love to my child—God’s love is unconditional—my love has limits, and apparently it was his sister’s hair.

While we can’t anticipate some things, there is a list of things we can anticipate.

Think about this. Anticipating is looking ahead at what will probably happen and getting ready for it.

And when it comes to parenting, “getting them ready” for what will probably happen means having lots of conversations.

  1. Having conversations about what is happening while it’s happening so they know how to interpret what’s going on now.

    1. And having conversations about what you know might happen before it happens—so they know how to respond later.

The challenge is that kids are keen observers, but poor interpreters. In other words, they may notice everything that happens, but fail to grasp the meaning.

Even up through high school, preteens and teens have a hard time deciphering a person’s motive for their behavior.

That’s why in the growing-up years, kids and teenagers need us to talk about critical issues.

For example, if . . .

  • a two-year-old will find the iPad / or TV remote—you should talk about how to use it.

  • a kindergartner will likely try to eat school lunch pizza every day—you should talk about healthy food choices.

  • an elementary schooler will probably have a conflict with a friend—you should talk about friendship, and forgiveness, and how to navigate conflict.

  • a preteen will hit puberty—so you will need to have a few conversations about their changing body.

  • A high schooler will become increasingly independent—so you’ll want to talk about boundaries early and often.

You may be thinking, “Isn’t that obvious?” Well, yes. But here’s one of the main challenges with these critical conversations—we fail to anticipate what we should be talking about because life is busy.

You show me a parent, and I’ll show you someone who is overwhelmed, stretched, and scrambling to get it all done.

That’s one reason why Parent Cue exists to cue you to do what matters most, when it matters most.

Here are three ways we’re partnering with you to ease (at least a little) of the stress and demands you’re juggling every day:

1. The Parent Cue App

The free Parent Cue App is available for download on Apple and Android devices. The Parent Cue App helps every parent do something each week to help move their child toward a deeper faith and a better future.

It features a countdown to remind you how many weeks you have left before your child moves from this phase to the next. And to help you be intentional with your weeks and the rhythm of your day, the app gives you weekly cues with phase -pecific ideas and conversation prompts.

Download today by searching Parent Cue in your device’s App Store.

You show me a parent, and I’ll show you someone who is overwhelmed, stretched, and scrambling to get it all done.

CLICK TO TWEET

2. The Phase Guides

The Phase Guides are an 18-part series of concise and interactive journal-style books that simplify what parents need to know about each phase of a kid’s life and give parents the opportunity to discover more about their children so they can make the most of every phase.

Phase Guides are available for purchase at the Parent Cue Store.

3. Parent Cue Live

Parent Cue Live is a two-hour experience to help parents become more connected to a community of faith and more intentional with their kids’ home. Here, you’ll hear from leading innovators in child development to help you recognize and nurture your child’s emotional, physical, mental, and social needs at every phase of their lives.

Parent Cue Live aims to help parents . . .
REDISCOVER what your kids need most in every phase.
REPRIORITIZE how to engage with your kids every week.
REIMAGINE how to dialogue with your kids about critical issues.
RETHINK ways to partner with a church to impact your kid’s future.

Find a Parent Cue Live event near you.



What Easter is About

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by Sarah Anderson

Easter is about a lot of things. First of all, it’s about Jesus keeping His promises. He told the disciples He would leave and then come back, and when Peter and John and Mary went to the tomb and saw it was empty, and then saw Jesus alive, they knew Jesus could be trusted. He did what He said He was going to do. So anything Jesus says, we can trust. That He will be with us, that good always wins, that we have nothing to fear. Trust, trust, trust. True, true, true.

Easter also shows how patient Jesus is. He had told everyone what would happen, and when it did, He wasn’t mad they didn’t believe. He didn’t say, “Ugh! Why don’t you listen to me?!” No, He met his friends in a garden and then again in a crowded room, and then again on a beach. And while they just tried to make sense of what happened, He smiled and stayed close and cooked them breakfast. He was so patient with them. He is so patient with us.

Finally, Easter reminds us that something good can always come out of something bad. See, Jesus told us life would be hard. That bad things would happen. That things that don’t make any sense would confuse us and make us wonder about God and if He is really as good as we want Him to be. We can count on life being difficult. But Easter is all about something being more true than life just being hard. Easter is about something new and something good happening in something old and something bad.

As parents it can be really easy to get discouraged in a tough season with our kids. It can feel like it can never end and things will never get better. But Easter is the reminder that no season lasts forever and to hang on. The story will get better.

It’s like a new flower poking through the dirt after a long and cold winter.

It’s like a new baby smiling at his mama and daddy, after a long night of crying and no sleep.

It’s like the first day of summer vacation after a long year of getting up early for school.

That’s Easter. (Except about a million times better!) The moment something really good arrives after something really hard. When life conquers death!