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For Truth with a Texas Twang, join Fireside Talk Radio, the show where women ponder the things we store in our hearts. Host Cathy Krafve invites experts to share their personal stories and talk openly about all the things women care about. You name it, we talk about it.

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Innovation and Impact with James Kemp, Legacy Building for Creatives

He likes to joke that when they were dating, he told his future wife that he helped his dad paint some portraits. But, she didn’t believe him at first. Instead, she assumed he was trying to impress her. However, now there’s an art gallery named for him at the Dallas Convention Centerand she’s still his biggest fan.  Like his dad, James Kemp pioneered innovation and impact.

Yep, we have the answer to the Galilee Mural mystery! So, which artist painted this beautiful mural I admire every Sunday? Tommy Kemp, a prolific mural painter, successful small business owner, film maker, minister, and father to artist James Kemp.

Innovation and Community Impact

James, an artist and civic leader in his own right, recently joined me on Fireside Talk Radio along with my co-host, artist Anna Krafve Pierce to talk about innovation and impact. You can imagine the questions and ideas flying between those two creative souls! What a conversation! Whether you are a young parent or a community leader or both, please listen in for the insight James gained through his innovative work, which impacted Dallas’s schools and county jails!

Artists: Like Father, Like Son

When I contacted him, James wasn’t sure if he helped his dad on the Galilee Mural. But, I suspect he did. Even before we connected with James, we believed there were multiple artists involved because of the unique style differences in our Galilee Mural. To find Galilee Baptist Church, click here.

“My father had a dislike for doing portraits,” James Kemp explained. “Oftentimes, I would be the one doing the portraits of Christ on some of the works.”

I couldn’t wait to ask James about his father’s faith, since at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Tommy expressed his faith in innovation and impact, painting murals in African American churches all over east Texas and reaching out in other ways. Father and son worked side by side on a number of his projects.

James recalled how his dad was an “inter-disciplinarian,” that is, he excelled at several interests. For example, his preaching innovations highlighted Tommy’s multi-talented approach to all of life.

Silent Movies, Vocal Faith

“In the early fifties, my father had purchased a movie. The movie was about the life of Christ,” said James, “He would take this movie to various churches in east Texas and show it. Back then, these were silent movies. He would plan his sermons around these movies.” 

Eventually, Tommy decided he needed to expand his inventory of visual aids, so he built a movie camera from scratch. And it worked! Soon, innovation and impact combined as he filmed movies to enact Bible truths, recruiting fellow African American church members as actors.

The Mechanics of Tommy’s Movie Camera

“All of these things he was doing as I grew up. And he built one of the largest stores in east Texas,” says James. Tommy built one of the largest African American owned grocery stores in east Texas.

Innovation and Impact

We often think changing a community takes a lot of funding, as we search and pray for big time philanthropists to help us. 

However, for the cost of a few chess boards, James started the Young Artist Institute. They offered a chess program to schools that affected over 10,000 students in the Dallas Independent School District, including landing college scholarships for some of the kids. Thus, James followed in his father’s footsteps as he created a generational legacy through innovation, serving and impacting others.

Innovation Starts in the Home

“As a young mom, I’m really encouraged that chess was just something to do while your student’s paintings were drying,” laughs Anna, “With small children, there are all these moments when plans have fallen through and I’m creatively filling the moment.” There’s comfort  to think you might discover your child’s passion in one of those unscripted, spontaneous moments, adds Anna.

“The beauty about chess is winning is important but playing the game is even more important,” explains James, “there is a winning process in losing. I tell my kids all time, the one that loses learns more than the one who wins.”

History-Making Moments

James started an art therapy program in the Dallas County jail. Oh, the stories James can tell! For instance, the judge who invited him to teach the inmates about art was the same federal judge, Judge Sarah Tilghman Hughes, who swore in Lyndon B. Johnson when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in1963.

“She was very adamant about inmates becoming more educated, rather than just housed in a facility,” James says. “As a result, the program we offered through the city at that time was extremely welcomed.”

As busy as he was with teaching at the college level, James knew the judge’s invitation was one he had to accept. He describes the change in countenance for inmates who participated in his art therapy program.

“Once they were introduced to painting, it became very obvious to me that all that heavy load they walked into the room with seemingly disappeared. Painting is very therapeutic and so is chess,” James says.

“Your brain and your heart are so engaged when you’re painting that you don’t have time to have a bad attitude,” Anna says. “When you disengage, you look up and you’re lighter because you had to let go of all that stuff to engage with the artwork. Plus, you have something to show for your efforts, a physical object, that didn’t exist before.”

“Exactly!” James agrees, laughing, “I don’t think I’ve ever completed a painting. I just stop. I guess it’s a part of that hunger to perfect your creation.”

James’s Current Impact

We asked James which painting is his favorite: “Five Sides of Texas,” he answered, adding, “It’s five of Texas’s largest cities all in one sky-line. I did several works for Sanger Harris, a major department store, which afforded me a greater audience.” Still a prolific creator and civic leader, in the last couple of years, he’s exhibited his work at the George W. Bush library twice. Currently, his impact is measured in private devotion as he and his wife care for a beloved person who has Alzheimers.

East Texas Roots

James grew up in east Texas, attending Emmet Scott High School, then served in the military in the early 60s. After his honorable discharge, he went to Texas College, followed by Southern Methodist University. He taught at several colleges in the early years of his career, sometimes simultaneously.

James promised to visit Galilee Baptist Church soon and reacquaint himself with his dad’s mural. I can hardly wait! My next personal project is to find someone to tell me more about the Greater Hopewell Mural. If you know anyone there, please pass along this blog and have them contact me. Also, if you think your church might have a Kemp mural, please contact me. We hope to find a bunch of Tommy’s murals still gracing churches across east Texas!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, we are so grateful for those who have gone ahead of us to create peace where there is strife. Thank You for the talent You gave Tommy Kemp and for the way his art work still honors You. His faith passed down through his family to his son and beyond to bless us and we are grateful. You often use one man to impact a whole region. Thank You for showing us the impact a good man can have on his family, his children, his community, future generations, and even people he never met. Give us courage and strength to honor You, even when the times we live in make it hard. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How has art impacted your life? When have you had an “accidental” success? What community projects are working for the good of everyone in your hometown?

We have Winners!

Winners were contacted via email this week and will be receiving one Dana Goodrum‘s book, Open With Your Broken!!! (Special shout out to Dana: Thank you, thank you on behalf of my friends for your generous gift!!) If you missed the contest, it’s not too late to get in on the action because we’ve created free printable templates! 

Yep, just in time for Easter! These darling templets are perfect for a Sunday school craft or entertaining kids over spring break. Heck, adults will love this coloring fun! (I tested them on a group of my granny friends and we had so much fun coloring, cutting, pasting and sharing chocolate!) Each one has inspiring messages and can be cut out to wrap up a candy bar. They are the perfect little treat to let friends know they are loved. Sign up and get your free templets here!

Or, find lots more easy ideas about spending time with creative kids from Anna Krafve Pierce, here.

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts

If you, too, are committed to building healthy communities, we want to encourage you! Joyfully, we’ve interviewed experts. Don’t miss their stories and wisdom, shared just for you on Fireside Talk Radio: Sarah Cummings, Neita Fran Ward, Benjamin A. Simpson, Ben Sciacca, Doug McSwane, Marcie McSwane, and Tony Johnson.

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Bullying in School with Tina Meier, How to Help Your Child


Bullying in School with Tina Meier,

Tina Meier did not start out to be a nationally known expert on bullying, cyber-bullying, and suicide. Instead, she was a normal mom with the kind of normal life we all experience; busy days, followed by evenings filled with family, kids’s appointments, homework, supper, sleep, start over. Then, one night, Tina discovered her beautiful daughter, Megan, sobbing in bed.

“I could not get her to sleep. She said she wanted to kill herself.”

Bullying in School

“I panicked and took off running,” Tina says, “I ran into my bedroom, grabbed a pillow, went into the bathroom, locked the door and sobbed and screamed into this pillow, thinking, What am I supposed to do? Do I call 911? Do I call her doctor? What do I do?” 

Only in third grade, Megan was already three years into a process that had started with kindergarten: bullying in school.

“I know, looking back, I handled it in the wrong ways. But, I didn’t know. I wasn’t planning on how to deal with this. So, I left my child crying.”

At last, calming herself, Tina returned to comfort Megan. Together, they began a process that no one would want to endure. Now, Tina shares what she’s learned, hoping no other parents ever experience the trauma her family faced. She begins with a good definition of bullying. 

The Definition of Bullying

The definition of bullying includes three essential components. 1) Bullying is an aggressive behavior involving unwanted, negative actions. 2) Bullying involves a pattern of repeated behaviors over time. 3) Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength. Recently, on an episode of Fireside Talk Radio, Tina offered a few ideas about how to proceed, if your child faces bullying in school.

Listen to Your Child.

“Listening and validating are one of the biggest things we as parents can do. We always try to fix it, but we can’t always fix these situations,” she says. Instead we can ask good questions that let our kids know we heard them. She suggests questions like these, Listen, I know this is tough. What can I do; Can I do anything to help you? Do you have any ideas on what way to handle this?

Get Help.

If you think your child may be experiencing bullying in school, please seek help. Tina wants you to know excellent resources are out there.


“We try to connect them with supports in their communities,” she says, “We try to provide them with any support or guidance we can so that child ultimately can go to school feeling safe, physically and emotionally.”

Document Everything.

“Documentation is key. When you are talking about physical assault or threats, those things are very scary. Contact the school and let them know.” She explains that the schools are bound by privacy laws. If there’s no documentation of past problems, then the school staff can only deal with the most current issue, without the context of ongoing bullying. Parents can feel the school or district is not doing enough, quickly enough. However, without proper reporting, there is no documentation of previous offenses.

Speak Up

“This is the problem with the issues of bullying. It’s our culture,” she says, “When you have adults around seeing this happen. When they think this is just the way it is; it’s not a big deal. Adults should step in and say, Knock it offStop it. This is not okay.”

Talk to the Other Parents?

Does she recommend talking to the parents of the other child? No. “It turns into this big explosion, even if you’re best friends.” she says, “Ultimately, at the end of the day, you’re going to protect your child.” To confront the other parents puts folks on the defensive. According to Tina, “They tend to go online and get mad, blasting everybody.” 

Report what You See

“Do something as an adult,” she says, “Don’t stand by and stay quiet because you’re not helping our kids or our community.” She adds, there’s a big advantage if an objective adult reports any incidents we witness. 

“Then it’s being reported by someone else, it’s not the kid that’s having to try to report it.” 

Megan’s Story

As she went into middle school, Megan’s parents decided to move her to a whole new school and she was doing well, making friends and having typical, wholesome fun. Unfortunately, even with strict controls governing Megan’s MySpace account, a new subtle problem arose. A seemingly kind boy, Josh Evans, took an interest in becoming friends with Megan on MySpace. After a few months of harmless chatter, the friendship took a dramatic turn, which included harsh cyberbullying. Within a few hours, the situation escalated, ending in Megan’s suicide. (For more of Megan’s story, click here.)

Most astonishing of all, it turned out Josh Evans was a bogus account created by a neighborhood parent, as a prank. 

Using the energy created by her intense grief, Tina saw a need to help others. A year later, in December of 2007, she founded the Megan Meier Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, in memory of her beautiful daughter, only 13-years old when she died. The mission of the foundation is “To Support and Inspire Actions to End Bullying, Cyberbullying, and Suicide.”

I asked Tina about bullying with older kids and she shared great insight, based on over ten years of fighting on the forefront of this issue.

Bullying for High School Kids

“The problem we have is, the older the kids get, they don’t want to report. Their concern is parents go in, overreact, and they (the parents) make the situation worse,” Tina says, “That’s what they’re (the teens are) fearful of; that’s why they don’t come home and tell us.”

Parents of teenagers can watch for these signs: “grades are dropping, their behaviors are changing, not wanting to go to school, under or over eating, not hanging out with friends, or isolating.” (Find many more resources, including legal options, at On our podcasts, Tina included ideas about when and how to go to law enforcement.)

If parents notice changes in their child’s behavior, they should listen to their child and  validate the child’s feelings. Together, they can discuss ways of responding to bullies. They can seek help from professionals or contact the Megan Meier Foundation for more resources. But, Tina suggests that since documentation is critical, go ahead and report incidents. Even if your child is “begging you not to go to school,” you have options to report issues seriously and factually without being melodramatic. Most of all, get help for your child. 

“It’s absolutely essential that you take them to a pediatrician or primary care doctor.” she says, “Talk to them. Tell them you are concerned because they don’t seem to be themselves. You want to make sure they’re okay.” 

A Mom’s Heart Grieves

Certainly, every mom’s heart must surely grieve about bullying. I guess some folks may think I’m some kind of crazy Christian lady to get so worked up over bullying, but I’ll just say it straight: I consider it evil. Bullying reminds me of a principle from scripture where we choose to either bless or curse other people with our words. You may think I sound harsh, but please understand my heart grieves for the bully, too. Who could spread such foolish misconceptions, except someone tortured by their own lack of self-worth?

Standing Up

After all, God views us all as His children whom He finds delightful. When a person is bullied—being told they are somehow unworthy of respect and admiration—the bully is lying. How do we know it’s a lie? Because the bully speaks what is exactly the opposite of God’s perspective. 

Of course, speaking what is opposite of God’s perspective is a kind of subtle evil that wounds a child’s heart. Bullying as some kind of sick joke is unacceptable. Certainly, bullying can have tragic consequences in the heart of a child. So, it’s crucial to remember that God loves our kiddos even more than we love them as their earthly parents. Surely, we can honor Him by respecting each other.

“We have to be Up-Standers in our communities and step up and help other people when we see injustices happening,” Tina says.

I am so grateful for Tina’s insight. We can all express our love and commitment to all our kids’ best welfare by staying engaged, sensible, and standing up with conviction and compassion.

May I pray for you?

Father in heaven, how we long to be like You! If only we could see each other the way You see us, as Your delightful children. Help us stand up for justice, by standing against bullying. Teach us to see the bully as a person in need of Your love, too. Please fill our hearts with mercy. The mercy we desire to receive, let us pour it out on others. Make us people who understand Your perspective and speak it lovingly to honor You. Strengthen our friend Tina to pass along the understanding she gained through such an excruciating loss. Bless her now, O Lord. We pray it in Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How has your family been affected by bullying? What counsel have you passed along to your children to strengthen them in the face of injustice? What truth has God shown you about His love for you?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts

If you’re a mom, we want to encourage you! Your mom job is important to us, too. Joyfully, we’ve interviewed experts; they’ve shared their stories and wisdom just for you on Fireside Talk Radio: Neita Fran Ward, Sarah Cummings, Benjamin A. Simpson, Whitney Patterson, Chris Legg, Katie Butts, and anything with my lovely and creative daughter, Anna Pierce. 

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Care Giver Stress: Laugh to Keep from Crying with Charlotte Canion



Care Giver with Charlotte Canion on CathyKrafve.comAlzheimers? Parkinson’s? Dementia? Oh, how these words that strike fear in our hearts! With many people caring for aging parents or a spouse, how do we handle the guilt, anxiety, or even depression that goes with being the care giver?

Care Givers Need Help, Too

In fact, as care givers, we can set such high expectations for ourselves that we may feel like a walking failure, even as we do our very best. Of course, we expect Mom or Dad to experience negative emotions because transitions are hard, especially as their autonomy recedes. Yet, there are plenty of unpleasant surprises for the care giver, too.

“I have a friend whose father got arrested because they didn’t know he had Alzheimers,” says Charlotte Canion, expert on care giving and author of You have to Laugh to Keep from Crying: Parenting Your Parents. A popular speaker and trainer, Charlotte offers four main principles for keeping your heart healthy as you care for the aging people you love. 

Charlotte’s Four Principles

“My book is written around love, respect, patience, and forgiveness,” says Charlotte, “What I want to point out is we need to love them unconditionally, but we also need to respect them as the parent they were.” Even so, she says that respecting their current capabilities may mean some creative thinking on your part. For instance, since her mother sometimes brought up inappropriate topics, Charlotte learned to carry chocolate kisses in her purse.

“Mom, you want some chocolate?” Problem solved!

Forgiveness is Costly, But Unforgiveness Cheats Everyone

Since Charlotte is such a joyful, enthusiastic proponent of caring for the aged, you might suspect it was easy for a gal like her. Unfortunately, she knows more about forgiveness than she ever wanted to know. Tenderly, she shares of a crisis that developed in their family because her dad molested her daughter as a small child. 

“Never in my wildest dreams, I never dreamed that leaving my kids he would do something. It never crossed my mind that you couldn’t trust your parents,” she says, “Of course, (after the incident) I kept my daughter away from him.” With self-compassion, she shares how angry and hurt she was. Even knowing better, as feelings of false guilt attacked her, she wondered if there was anything she could have done differently. Sadly, years went by as he recused himself from the family.

Later, when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she struggled to reconnect with and care for him. Yet, with deliberate fortitude, she made a decision to help him as much as she could in spite of her lingering hurt and anger.

“I hadn’t quite forgiven everything. About 3 weeks before he died, he asked to see her daughter and they agreed. “We came to the nursing home and he apologized to my daughter and I for any harm he’d ever done.” With his tears and apology, the conversation freed both Charlotte and her daughter. 

No matter what else happens in a family, she emphasizes the importance of extending love, respect, patience, and forgiveness to ourselves, too, as we take on the complicated job of being the caring giver. Charlotte’s workbooks are used by churches and Alzheimers groups across Texas and beyond, so I couldn’t wait to ask her my questions on Fireside Talk Radio recently.

Charlotte’s Tips for Coping with Care Giver Stress

  • Fortunately for us, she offered an excellent list of care giver list tips when mom or dad or your spouse is faltering:

    #1 Understand your stress (anxiety, depression) is real. 

    #2 Do what you can do in that moment to the best of your ability.

    #3 Develop your own personal techniques for coping.

    For Charlotte, learning to cope with the stress was unavoidable in her fourteen year journey, which included taking care of her father-in-law, her mom, and her dad. Simultaneously. In those years, she patched together a personal system for taking care of her own mental health, including:

    • Check out the tremendous resources available out there.
    • Find a trusted person to debrief you. 
    • Join a Care group.
    • Offer to lead a group in your church or community.
    • Listen to and collect other people’s stories.

Learning to Laugh

She says it’s important to realize that you need your own personal system, too. Additionally, learning to laugh will take the sting out of some of the tricky situations that can develop. Naturally, exercising your sense of humor will reduce your parent’s stress, but it also reduces yours as well. In addition, Charlotte emphasizes that, as a care giver, it’s important to play with your loved ones.

“I used to bring a box of dirt and plants,” she laughs. In fact, Charlotte and her own parents had so much fun and success with gardening that she still teaches facilities how create raised gardens.

“The herbs can be used in their kitchen to make the elders feel useful,” she says. For example, gardening, reviving favorite hobbies, or playing games gets their mind off their worries. Of course, remember to play something easy and relaxing. 

As care giver, you can even include your kids and grandkids in the process, perhaps as story gatherers.

“Simple flash cards, like with colors and pictures, can spark memories and stories,” she says. Adding that grandchildren often treasure their elders’ family stories.

“I’d give anything in the world if I could the story again,” she adds about a special story her mother told repeatedly.

“Reconnect or stay close to your parents in their last days. Whether it’s six months or six years, create those new memories. Those new memories are what sustain us, on beyond after they’re gone,” she concludes.

To find out where Charlotte will be speaking next or to order her book, which includes a wonderful guide for knowing if you’re making the right decisions for your parent, click here. For more from Charlotte, please click here to find the two podcasts we did together.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, please notice Your beloved child today. Give us the love and respect we need to build wholesome families. Help us practice patience with our elders and those who are infirm. Strengthen our care giver hearts for this crucial job today and give us energy. Most of all, O Lord, we need You to show us how to forgive. We look to You, the One who forgives every sins, if we but ask. We rejoice in Your love and goodness, dear Lord. Bless us now because it is Your pleasure to do so. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What stories can you share to encourage others? How has forgiving someone come back to bless you? Which tips do you recommend when people ask for your advice about caring for the care giver?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts

If you’re a care giver and searching for ideas, we can help. Joyfully, we’ve interviewed experts; they’ve shared their stories and wisdom just for you on Fireside Talk Radio: Robyn Boyd, Susan Elsworth, Sasha Vukelja, Colleen Long, Frankie Picasso, Marina Schroeder, Katie Butts, and many more. 

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Open with Your Broken with Dana Goodrum



Dana Goodrum, smiling and relaxed in front of the cameras


Is the younger generation avoiding church? If you’re wondering why, you’re going to love the insight Dana Goodrum shared recently on Fireside Talk Radio. How is brokenness related to the millennial generation’s apparent aversion to organized religion? I am so proud to share Dana’s ideas here!

Dana’s First Chapter

Dana says everyone has a first chapter. My own life got off to a dramatic start, so I get it. Maybe like Dana and me, your first chapter is not the end of your story. Dana’s first chapter included drama; an unplanned pregnancy, the birth of her beautiful first child, a divorce, another wonderful kiddo, an abortion, homelessness, multiple sclerosis, and more. Like all of us, some of Dana’s troubles were self-induced; some were not.

Shame, Judgement and Brokenness

“There was a lot of shame, insecurity, guilt, fear, embarrassment” tied to some of her experiences, she says, particularly about her abortion.

“As I walked in (to the clinic), I was met with protestors. People screamed at me that I was a murderer, told me that I was going to hell,” she says. In her heart, she agreed with them, self-condemning and feeling unworthy of forgiveness. “I was crying before I even walked through the doors. I accepted that judgement; accepted, as in, ‘I totally get it.’ I went into a very dark place after that.” Her own judgment about her decisions led to a sense of unworthiness, with more negative consequences.

Broken People Attract More Brokenness

“Because I was in a broken place, I was attracting broken people. When you put broken people into a relationship together you have unfortunate results from that.”

Camped on her friend’s couch, a single mom with two children to provide for, Dana wondered if she could show her face in church ever again. 

Every First Chapter has a Purpose

But, even with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis thrown in the mix, Dana says that with God’s guidance, it all can become part of a greater purpose. (By the way, watch for another interview with Dana this coming year. I’ll definitely invite her back to share on living with M.S. What she said briefly about M.S. was very inspiring.)

“There’s purpose in the pain; purpose in the struggles, beauty in every bodies’ broken,” she says, “God didn’t cause it, but He allowed everyone’s Chapter One for a purpose. The best thing we can realize as Christians is that we all have a “Chapter One.”

Where’s the Church When You’re Broken?

“In fact, Pew Research Center shows that over half of today’s millennial generation view Christianity as strongly judgmental. I strongly believe that stereotype would be challenged if the holier-than-now view of Christianity was challenged by transparent, honest believers, who talked about who they were before God got ahold of their hearts,” she writes in her book.

Obviously, Dana was not alone in assuming that Christians would be too judgmental to receive her back into church. To the contrary, though, many Christians are scratching our heads trying to figure out how to win back the hearts of younger generations to a life of faith, sometimes in our own families. In Open with Your Broken, Dana claims that Christians can do a better job of letting folks know they’re welcome. Especially for millennials, she says, being open is essential.

Broken Before Thirty

“There was a point months later where I thought I was too far gone, I was past the point of grace, I had messed up, I was too broken.” She was convinced God was done with her. “I refused to even fathom of faith or praying; I knew if I even said God’s name, He would strike me down.”

Dana says, like many millennials, many of her most painful decisions were made long before she was thirty. In order to reach their generation, the church has to do a better job of admitting Christians are experts on sin and forgiveness, by sharing our own painful experiences openly. Fortunately for Dana, she had the courage to take a step in a new direction.

The First Chapter is NOT the End of the Story

“I reached and cried out to God when I tell you He rescued me and changed my life every day after that.” He’s not done with her, yet, she adds. “Everything that has happened since I have come to Christ, it’s not just about salvation, but there’s also this present day, every day walk with Christ that we get to experience.”

Now Dana is on a mission to tell others that Christ’s forgiveness and ongoing grace are enough. Plus, she’s helping churches welcome her generation back into Christian community, where they can find help and comfort for whatever choices they’ve made. 

“If you’re at that place of darkness or you have yet to understand God or don’t get all this (spirituality) is cracked up to be, there is such an amazing more. But it does take a small leap of faith. Not a big one,” she says, “All I did was, raise my hands from the floor of my little one room apartment, and told God I couldn’t do it anymore.” To find Dana, click here.

May I pray for you?

Father in heaven, we all feel broken sometimes. Maybe we hurt because of our own decisions. Or, maybe someone else injured or abandoned us. You offer comfort to those who will admit they hurt. Often, You use kind and trustworthy friends to provide help and comfort, even a spot on their couch. We thank You for the way You designed the Christian community to be Your way of comforting and helping. Teach us to put aside our judgmental attitude. In our weakness, give us strength to be open. Help us, O Lord, to know the full impact of Your mercy and grace in our lives. May we be more like You! In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

Are you wanting to make changes in your parenting? How will you find a church where your baggage is welcome, too, while you figure it out? What is the best thing you’ve experienced when it comes to forgiveness?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts

If, like us, fellowship and community makes you happy, you may want to check out the podcasts we’ve done with Benjamin A. Simpson, Suzy Shepherd, James Van Dyke, Colleen Long. 

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Musically-Challenged Mommy? Inspiration for Music Loving Kids with Anna Krafve Pierce

If, like me, you’re a musically-challenged mommy, there’s no need to give up in hopeless disharmony. Even the most musically-challenged mommy can inspire music loving kids. There’s no happier time for music loving kids than the holidays.

Anna Krafve Pierce co-hosted special holiday podcasts of Fireside Talk Radio, so we could brainstorm ideas for inspiring music loving kids. Then, we bounced to freedom from stress. Freedom is a big theme with our family. We want mommies everywhere to get the gift of freedom from stress from Santa this year. 

Inspired by Good Music

During the holidays, when so many people struggle to join in the festive merry-making, it’s especially important to remember each one of us is dear to God’s heart. Even with carols praising God all around us, it’s easy to feel like failures as we work through very long Christmas checklists! Anna is a great example of a music-loving kid who grew into a sweet, silly-song kind of mommy.

The Soul Felt its Worth

Quoting from “O Holy Night, Anna emphasizes that “Christ’s very existence enables us to know that we’re valuable.”

“Think about this line ‘Long lay the world in sin and error pining,’” says Anna. Then with true artist perspective, she describes the visual scene inspired by the lyric, “I can just see dull gray clouds, the longing, the hopelessness, and the looking forward to future things.” Concluding her thought, she quotes the next lines from French composer Adam Adolphe, “til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

“The very next line,” says Anna, “is a short one, ‘A thrill of hope!’”

Yes, hope is inspired by Jesus’s arrival, signaling God’s seal of approval on us. We are valuable enough to Him that He sent His own Son to claim us. Oh, that we would but claim His gift!

Hope is the feeling we want to grab ahold of during this time of year, no matter what else may be weighing on our hearts. With that in mind, here are just a few of the other ideas Anna offered in these holiday extravaganza interviews!

Inspiring Your Own Music-loving Kids to Sing for Joy
Go Caroling.

“Forgive the mumblers one more year,” says Anna, about the push back moms get whenever we try to talk the rest of the family into caroling. “I’m so thankful for the people who forgave me one more time and pushed me out the door.” Every teenager has a year or two when they exert their independence from family traditions, she laughs. Instead of caving, she says to insist on singing together anyway.

“Now I have those consistent sweet memories of all of us together. Whoever did that for me, I’m thankful for them.”

Sneak in Your Favorites.

Be Thou My Vision is not a Christmas hymn, but somehow it consistently makes it into our photocopied Christmas Carol booklet each year. At Camp Krafve, we believe that whoever is organized enough to pull together caroling, gets to pick the hymns. Also, we lavish praise on the person who has the skill set to herd cats. (Confession: it’s not me; I’m a cat.)

Hymnals as a Gift.

Young people might not even remember when churches sang out of hymnals, a thick book of fabulous songs! A gift of a hymnal could be the beginning of a whole new appreciation for the old poetry set to music. I might even go so far as to spontaneously put carols to beatbox rhythms, so my grands get the fact that good poetry is timeless! (In case you want to be a hip grandmom, “beat box” is that funny, rhythmic sound hip-hop artists make.)

You can find a bunch more of Anna’s ideas on Raising Musical Children for Musically-Challenged Mommies with Anna Krafve Pierce. She also shared stuff that happens at her house (and some old family stories) that will make you feel a lot better about trying out some new, relaxed traditions. Especially if your favorite tradition is giving yourself a break, you’ll love Christmas with Small Children? The Gift of Freedom from Holiday Stress.

The Gift of Freedom from Holiday Stress

With small children in the home, the holidays can be overwhelming. How do we inspire a meaningful holiday without burdening mommies with expectations of perfection? We all want the gift of freedom from holiday stress under our Christmas tree this year.

Anna offered a few relaxed suggestions for creating a meaningful, family-friendly holiday at your house without burdening mommy.

Advent In the Bath Tub

For instance, Anna and her husband take a relaxed approach to advent. She had to explain the advent ritual to me because I only vaguely remember it from church formalities of my youth. Their approach is very effective and tons of fun for all. In fact, on nights when the kiddos are tired, you can even move the wreath, candles, story, and song time to the kids’ bath time. We highly recommend multitasking bathtub magic by advent candlelight!

Only Giving Good Gifts

In another example, Anna explained how her new perspective on gift giving brought down her stress level. She shared how, she prayed a new prayer this past Thanksgiving. Little did she know the epiphany that prayer would inspire!

Epiphany is a word sometimes used in church tradition to celebrate the three wise men arriving with gifts for Jesus. In Anna’s case, her revelation was a new way of understanding God’s nature of only giving us good things.

Thinking of the stuff she would be picking out for Christmas, she felt her stress level rising. However, inspired by the thoughtfulness of her grandmother and another beloved friend, she decided to pray.

“Please make me a person who only gives good gifts,” she prayed. 

“Then, I realized I’m asking to be more like Him. He’s the great good gift Giver. He only gives good gifts. If you ask Him for good food He’s not going to give you an icky reptile.” (I love the way Anna paraphrases Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:13, especially knowing my grandson finds reptiles fascinating!)

“Here’s the side effect in my life: I’m not worried. Asking God to be the person who only gives good gifts has given me the freedom to relax and just wait on people to tell me what they need. Then, give them the thing they need, which is the good gift.”

Give of Yourself First

Of course, in this culture we live in, everyone feels excitement about giving a few well-chosen gifts. But, remember to give the gift of yourself first. There are so many ways we can give our heart to others. A homemade gift from our kitchen, a visit to see a friend’s aging parent, time spent over a cup of coffee listening, the gift of forgiveness, making a long-overdue phone call, a kind word to a stranger, taking a day off to spend time with someone special, the list is endless.

Surprise Packages

Anna calls her new perspective the great big mommy gift God gave her when she thought she was asking for a small thing. I hope this Christmas you ask our loving heavenly Father for some small things and He surprises you with great big blessings in surprise packages!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, this is such a beautiful time of year. In the sacred stories, we understand that a fulfillment of Your promise and love has arrived on earth in the birth of Your Son. But, the tinsel and the shopping can often distract us from appreciating the truth, He came to establish a relationship with us by buying our freedom. He paid for our sins, with His own life, the greatest gift ever offered to mankind. When we receive Him, we become Your children forever, destined to spend eternity in Your company. Thank You for the good gift of Your mercy and loving forgiveness. We ask You to bless us now, so that we can gift mercy and loving forgiveness to all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Shout Out to Our Listening Friends in Houston

On the show I mentioned Douglas Loomis and my beloved niece (who help write jingles for my grandchildren), but, I couldn’t think of the name of the school where he teaches music. For any Houston or Woodland listeners who want to get in touch with Douglas, it’s Ethos School of Music. (By the way, having Douglas teach your children music is a double gift; music and the presence of another dear family in your child’s life.)

We love to hear from you!

What Christmas traditions make your holidays easier and more fun? How does your family find ways to give themselves? When it comes to hymns, which ones are your family favorites and why?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts!

If you are spending holiday time with little ones, don’t miss these episodes on inspiring creativity: Sandra Merville Hart, Sarah Cumming, Neita Fran Ward, and Anna’s Thanksgiving episodes. Coming soon: Parenting Your Parents with Charlotte Canion and Open with Your Broken with Dana Goodrum. Plus, we have some fun give-aways planned starting in the new year. I can hardly wait!! You can sign up for our blog by clicking here (and we sure hope you do!!!)

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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