Loose Teeth Didn’t Stand a Chance

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Most kids get excited when they start to lose their teeth because it’s a sign they’re growing up. But at our house, the kids would all agree with me that their DAD was the most excited person when one of their teeth showed signs of becoming “ready”. They usually approached me first, but I don’t do teeth.

Grant, with Frankensteinesque eagerness, employed many tactics to remove baby teeth, including tweezers, slippery fingers, locking surgical forceps, and strings wrapped around the tooth and then tied to a slamming doorknob. Forceps worked the best, but it always took several jarring attempts to get them locked onto the tooth…most unsettling to anyone (like me) with a queasy stomach! Did I mention, I don’t do teeth!?

Seldom was a tooth the winner with Dr. Grant in the house. Following each victorious extraction, after a warm gargle with salt water, the young patient would be all smiles, posing for pictures and anticipating a visit from the “pretend” tooth fairy. To this day, I still have a small glass bottle filled with dozens of tiny enamel nuggets. I’m probably the only one (except my mother) nostalgic enough to wish I’d kept them separated by child.

Baby teeth are just place-holders. They become useless and are meant to fall out so new, permanent teeth can grow and take their place. When we accept Jesus into our heart, our old sin nature is like a child’s baby tooth — it falls away and makes room for our new life in Christ to grow and blossom.

Pulling baby teeth makes a great object lesson for teaching children about letting go of old things (selfishness, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.) and allowing Jesus to create new desires, motives and attitudes that glorify Him. Remind them it’s only when the old is gone that the new can come in.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Your world is filled with object lessons! Open my eyes to see them all around me. Help me take advantage of each teachable moment so I can bring Your truths to life for my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

More Effective Than Grounding

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”

Matthew 6:13 NIV

When our oldest daughter Gwen started taking driver’s education classes, my mother gave us an extra car she didn’t need anymore. It was a little Chevy Citation hatchback – nothing fancy, but the price was right and it was in great shape. Unfortunately, Gwen hated the car. She was embarrassed to even be SEEN in it, and horrified to think of driving it. Grant took pity on her, and as soon as she got her driver’s license, she got his sporty red Nissan and he drove the Citation. Life was good – for Gwen and for me. As the mother of four, I was thrilled to have a new driver in the house who could run errands and drive herself to and from school. The time savings was huge – except when she did something wrong and Grant took her car keys away. It easily added an extra hour of driving to my schedule every day. After a few “groundings”, I had a heart-to-heart with Grant explaining that when he grounded Gwen by taking her driving privileges away, he was in effect grounding me too. Because then I had to drive her everywhere. We were in agreement she needed to be punished. We just needed a different plan – something that would motivate her to make good choices without making my life more difficult. The answer was simple. We wouldn’t keep her from driving. We would make her drive…the Citation.

This was the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) punishment EVER. And it worked! Just a hint Gwen might have to drive the Citation was enough to keep her moving in the right direction.

Staying on the right path is never easy. Temptation is constantly pulling at our kids …trying to seduce them into making harmful choices that can affect their lives forever. As parents, it’s our job to steer them in the way they should go without breaking their tender spirits. What works for one child won’t necessarily work for another. As “painful” as it was for Gwen to drive that Citation, she was better off in the long run, and likely saved from situations that could have caused her real pain. We must stay on our knees and seek God’s direction for the right kind of discipline needed in each circumstance, so our kids stay healthy and safe as they grow into the young adults God wants them to be.

PRAYERHeavenly Father, I pray You will continually guide each of my children towards the path You have set out for them. When they stray, help me know how to discipline them in a way that brings repentance and not rebellion, in a way that molds but doesn’t tear down and in a way that plants in them a desire to follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


You’ve Gotta Dig In

IMG_2625“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8 NIV

When Drew turned one, we set him on the floor in front of his birthday cake. Wearing only a diaper, he put first one hand and then the other into the big fat middle of the icing, squishing it in his fingers until both hands sunk to the bottom of the cake. Grabbing fists full of gooey delight, he proudly displayed his find. The more we laughed, the bigger the mess. By the time he’d finished, he was wearing more cake than he had eaten and it took a hose to clean him off. Years later, Drew still enjoys digging into his birthday cake…if you look closely, you’ll see sometimes he doesn’t even bother to blow out the candles first.

It isn’t hard to get kids to eat cake, but what about spinach or Brussels Sprouts or cottage cheese? I discovered my kids almost always ate what Grant and I ate…we put it on their plates and it never occurred to them to turn their noses up and say, “I don’t ike that” – because we didn’t. Eating a variety of vegetables and meats was “normal” for all of us.

Parents define normalcy for their children. If mom and dad pray, read their Bible and have a personal relationship with Christ, their children grow up understanding a faith that is real. Conversely, if mom and dad only serve up a “sliver” of God in their life and home, that’s typically all their children feed off of and the entire family may end up spiritually malnourished.

God wants us to be comfortable digging into Him with the same zeal we eagerly jump into other things with. He has so much to offer and waits patiently for us to come to His table…the table of Life. Remember…your kids will develop a taste for what YOU are eating. Is it time to upgrade your menu?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I pray for a renewed craving of presence in my life, so that spending time with You is as important to me as eating a meal or watching my favorite television show. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



You’re Never Alone

IMG_0495“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

In 2007, my oldest daughter Gwen called in hysterics, needing directions to Children’s Hospital in downtown Dallas. Her son Saber was by himself en route to the medical center via ambulance. Gwen was 30 miles away, frantic, and didn’t know how to get there.

Saber had fallen 15 feet from a tree in his Memaw’s backyard. On the way to the ground, God miraculously saved him from a tragic outcome. His thin “I Love New York” t-shirt caught on one of the lowest tree branches, halting his fall mid-air, just inches from the bricks on the ground below. But blood was everywhere. A sharp limb had severely sliced his leg open from upper thigh to knee. EMS responders determined they needed to bypass a closer regional hospital and go straight to Children’s. Memaw was home alone with the other grandchildren, so she couldn’t go with him.

Gwen was imagining how afraid Saber must be feeling…hurt and alone, being taken by strangers to a place he’d never been before. As a mother, she desperately wanted to give him comfort and be by his side.

But Saber didn’t feel alone. The trained medical staff riding with him in the ambulance was wonderful. They brought comfort to this little 7-year-old boy as if he was their own. Their calm assurance helped transform a scary time into an exciting adventure, complete with one very big scar! A quick phone call alerted one of our precious church friends (a pediatric physician at Children’s) who met the ambulance at the door of the ER. Saber was well cared for. Mom arrived moments later and yes, she too survived.

The Bible reminds us time and time again our God is never absent. When the young boys Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, God was with them every step of the way. Instead of being fearful, they stood on their faith and trusted God. When they were thrown into a blazing furnace, He saved them from a fiery death. In the end, they were elevated to positions of great importance.

You can’t be everywhere all the time when your children need you. Only God can. But you can take great comfort in knowing the God who created the universe is the same God who watches over your children when they are beyond your grasp and out of your sight. Teach them to trust in Him and call upon Him when they are afraid or feel alone. He will never leave them!

PRAYER: God, I am so grateful You watch over all of us even when we don’t realize it. Thank You for all the times Your angels have saved my children from harm. Continue to watch over them, protect them, and draw them unto You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Passing the Hat


“Be careful…that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9 NIV

There is something about a daddy’s hat and a little boy…need I say more? It it’s Drew’s, Liam wants it. At the ripe old age of one, Liam was already copying his dad. He would even swing his arm when he walked…just like daddy did (who by the way picked that trait up from his dad). Kids are in many ways, their recycled parents. Scary thought, isn’t it!

Over thirty-five years ago, God allowed me to see how influential my actions were. I remember it like it was yesterday. My personal wake-up call came when I walked in on Gwen and Shannon toasting one another with water-filled wine glasses. Grant and I weren’t big drinkers, but even an occasional glass of wine was already being emulated by our two toddlers. That “reality snap shot” changed my life forever. How could I expect them not to drink alcohol if they saw me do it? What if they couldn’t stop after one or two drinks? What if my actions influenced them to do something that would later destroy their lives or marriages? I never took another drink of alcohol.

Today’s blog is not about drinking…it’s about influence. As parents, we will ALL be copied. When we “pass the hat” to our kids, it comes with our habits (good and bad), our traits and our character. We must take a long, hard look at ourselves and make the necessary changes, so the person we are is the kind of person we want our kids to become.

PRAYER: God, it’s not just about me anymore. My influence is shaping my children and grandchildren. There are areas of my life that need to be cleaned up and gotten rid of. I submit myself to You. You be the potter and I’ll be the clay. Mold me into the person and parent I need to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Eat Your Cake“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 NIV

Child development specialists say children start out selfish and must be taught to share with others. Stand in a room with a group of playing toddlers and you will almost always hear the word “mine” emphasized with a push or a shove. Each child wants what the other one has, not necessarily to play with it, but just to have it. Too often, parents fall into the trap of buying duplicate “stuff” for their kids so nobody has to share…it’s just easier and more peaceful that way. Unfortunately, those children grow up thinking, “it’s all about ME”. They want their cake and eat it too. Somehow, the world doesn’t always work that way and sooner or later, that attitude leads to disappointments and failures.

It’s easy for me to say my kids learned to share. The truth of the matter is they had to because there were four of them and we didn’t have a lot of money. At some point in their lives, they all shared a bedroom with one or more siblings before getting rooms of their own. I was grateful for the invention of bunk beds and trundles! One day Drew asked me if he’d have to sleep on a bunk bed in heaven!

Despite forced sharing, we definitely had moments when selfishness precipitated knock-down-drag-out fights. The most memorable one was when Gwen and Shannon got into it during their adolescent years and Gwen had to go to junior high with a split lip after her younger sister Shannon punched her.

Beyond their tiffs and complaints, I’m convinced being in close proximity all those years, sharing spaces, toys and clothes, taught each of our children the values of compromise and selflessness.

God’s Word teaches us to put others first. For the selfish, that seems like naive folly. But in the eyes of our heavenly Father, He isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done first. He put us first when He allowed His Son to suffer and die on a cross, all for the forgiveness of our sins.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, remove from me any selfishness that might keep me from seeing and doing Your will. May You be glorified as I serve You by serving others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Love That Refrigerator Artwork!

Maddy K“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

We all like to have someone admire what we’ve made…and children are no exception. When they cut, paste, draw, paint, color or write, it is an expression of who they are. When we stop to read, comment and look for genuine reasons to compliment their work, it is a huge esteem-builder for them. When we post their artwork on our refrigerator, put it in a special album or frame it for the wall, we go the extra mile by encouraging the creative talents God has placed inside them.

One Sunday after church, I watched a little boy waving the craft he’d made in Sunday School in front of his mother. His eyes were bright with excitement and pride as he eagerly awaited her praise. You can imagine my shock when I saw her grab it from his hands and without as much as a glance to see what it was, toss it in a trash can and keep walking. This mother of four never noticed the disheartened look on her child’s face as he followed her out the door. A teacher overheard her comment, “I’m not going to trash the house up with more junk.” It broke my heart.

The best teachers my children ever had were ones who didn’t put big red circles around their misspelled words…they wrote “nice job” at the top and worked on the spelling another day. Red marks and criticism can stifle a child’s imagination…because of a fear they might make a mistake.

Artwork, school papers and little hand-written notes may not be perfect, but they are special to your child. Take a real interest in what they make. Let them see you value their creations — even if it’s nothing more than putting their papers in your “special box” in the closet. Your approval will generate a desire in them to do more, to try harder, to grow better…you hold the keys to their confidence in your hands. Don’t lock the door!

Prayer: God, give me a sense of wonder and amazement when my children bring me their artwork and creations. Help me to be an encourager so the creative gifts You’ve placed in them will continue to develop. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Twirl Test

Becky In Tutu“And because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.” Psalm 19:128 NIV

For every little boy who’s dreamed of becoming a policeman or fireman, there’s a little girl who wants to be a ballerina. My theory is, in many instances, they just like the clothes. Fortunately for my three girls, Grandma had a closet filled with recital costumes, prom dresses, hats, high heels and gloves. What a time they had (my mother included) pulling everything out, listening to stories of who wore this or that, and parading up and back as they modeled for an ever-present audience…the camera.

Becky was the smallest of the granddaughters, and the only cousin who could fit into my sister’s old ballerina costume – the daisy-studded one with a yellow tutu skirt. Somehow the sandals didn’t do the outfit justice, but all the same…when the straps slipped over Becky’s shoulders, she WAS a ballerina. I wonder what visions danced in her head as she dizzily twisted and twirled in circles so her tutu could fly with the wind! When she worked in the kids’ department at Nordstrom, she told little girls that every dress needs to pass the “twirl test” to make sure it’s just right.

It’s too bad the “twirl test” doesn’t apply to everything in life. If there was an easy way to tell when other things were right (or not), think how many mistakes we could teach our children to avoid. There’s another test that became an iconic phrase in the 90’s…”what would Jesus do?” The profound simplicity of this question is possibly the best test for decision-making you can give your child. Ground them in the Word of God, enlighten them on the heart and character of Christ, and simply remind them He is with them wherever they go and whatever they do. Would He approve? What would He say? Hmmm. That might just work for us grownups, too…

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me arm my children with the knowledge of the character of Christ so they test and make their decisions based upon what they believe He would do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Getting Through Tough Times

IMG_7593“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Romans 5:13a NIV

In the “olden days” music was recorded onto a round disk like it is today — but instead of CD’s (they weren’t invented yet) these disks were about 12″ in diameter, black, and we called them record albums.

I remember music playing all the time when I was young. We sang a lot in our home, and the words of the little “ditties” my mom played penetrated my spirit and helped shape my developing personality. One of my favorites was “The Donut Hole Song” where Burl Ives sang repeatedly, “watch the donut, not the hole”. The lesson of the song was to be happy for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have.

Another favorite was Frank Sinatra’s “Rubber Tree Plant” where an ant, faced with the impossible task of moving a rubber tree plant, perseveres and succeeds. “Any time you’re getting’ low, ‘stead of lettin’ go, just remember that ant…” The musical fable is an admonition to never give up.

Anybody can have a bad attitude. It takes more effort to put a smile on your face, be grateful for what you have, and never give up — despite your circumstances. The only way to do that well is with God’s help. He will give peace that passes all understanding, and help us face anything without feeling despair or defeat.

Children learn how to trust (or fear) by seeing how we respond to adversity. Their little eyes are always watching. Prayer should be our first course of action, not the last resort. Set aside a special time each week to share prayer requests with family — encourage and pray for one another. Look up passages on “trust” in the Bible. Give your problems to God and see your entire family’s faith…and peace…grow!

Prayer: God, I want my life to be a reflection of my faith in You. I need Your peace in my life. When I get caught up in my problems, help me remember to give them to You to untangle. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Life Is a Contact Sport


“He (God) will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4 NIV

Football… it is the sport that caused butterflies to fill this mother’s stomach every time Drew stepped onto the field. The sound of bodies colliding made me cringe and I had to cover my eyes whenever my son was at the bottom of a pile of boys twice his size. I was relieved when he turned in his shoulder pads for a set of golf clubs!

Shoulder and knee pads do protect football players from most blows…but not all of them. Every year dozens of injuries, some tragically debilitating, occur and young men’s lives can be changed forever.

Raising four children taught me insensitive people can inflict as much harm on someone as any aggressive contact sport…although it’s more unexpected and harder to identify. Mean words, whether intended to or not, cut like a knife into the psyche of a child and cause immense damage.

Drew had a teacher in elementary school who should have been a drill sergeant instead of an educator. At least then she would have been picking on people her own size. She yelled all the time and belittled students in front of their classmates for asking “stupid questions”. By the time we learned about it, the school year was over and the damage was done. It took years for Drew to unlearn his feelings of “being stupid”.

I wish I’d understood more back then about praying for God to shield my children’s minds…and about speaking specific blessings over them daily. It could have made such a difference. As Christian parents, we have the right to boldly approach the throne of God and ask for His mighty protection against any plan the devil has to kill, steal or destroy our children. It is up to us to learn the promises of His word and to get down on our knees and claim them for our sons and daughters.

Prayer: God, I ask You to cover my children with Your shield of protection. Strengthen them and keep the enemy from knocking on their door. By Your power, I bind and cancel any plan the devil has to steal them from Your will and destiny. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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