The Sisterhood of Warrior Women: Praying Friends with Angie Ruark

This week, Dr. Angie Ruark and I focused on how to build a life around women praying powerfully. Want your own sisterhood of warrior women who pray? Dr. Angie Ruark shares about discovering spiritual warrior women in our lives.
Keep reading now for Dr. Angie’s wisdom! Or click on the podcast to hear her thoughts in her own voice.

 

Last week, I plied Angie Ruark with tons of questions about her personal life. (If you missed her story last week, click here.) She shared about praying great women into your family. 

Vouching for Spiritual Women

I included Angie’s book in our series on inspiring devotional books because I find Angie’s life and family inspiring. But just as important, I can personally vouch for many of the women who contributed chapters to her book. They are women I know and respect. 

Once you get your kids raised and out the door, a marvelous thing happens. You suddenly have so much more energy to do the things you always dreamed of doing. Many of the women in Angie’s book have been doing great things all along. Only now they have time to write about what they’ve learned in the process. 

(Listen to the interview and don’t be surprised if we chat like close friends. I know three generations of Angie’s extended family and every one of them is an amazing person. So, it was a big treat to catch up and talk about praying wonderful women into our lives. For this one and more podcasts, click here.)

Resourcefulness and Supporting Each Other

First, Angie took lessons out of one woman’s life to inspire us to be resourceful women like Lydia, beautifully described in the Bible. 

“So, here was a successful businesswoman in a major city in Macedonia, who was serving God—yet she had not heard the Gospel,” writes Angie in her book Spiritual Warrior Women: Pray. “I imagine as a successful businesswoman, especially in the trade of costly goods, Lydia knew how to bargain. She would know when to speak and when to listen. She would know when to throw in something to seal a deal.”

Don’t all women relate to being resourceful? Think of how many times in life we don’t have what we need. We have to look around the house and grab something and make it do.

“It speaks to her resourcefulness, but also how she recognized the value of the Gospel these men preached. She knew it was priceless,” Angie adds in her book speaking to the way Lydia persuaded Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke to stay in her home. Not long after, we read of a church established in her home.  

As talented, professional women who manage home, work, and community commitments we can relate to Lydia’s approach to life. She’s a great example of accomplishing great things and trusting Jesus in the process, according to Angie. 

Women Trusting and Helping Each Other

Nowhere is resourcefulness more important than in appreciating the human resources God sends our way. We simply must support others in the things God calls them to accomplish, particularly other women since we best understand their challenges.

Angie devoted half her book to the stories and wisdom she gathered from her friends. I’ve prayed with many of these women myself and I can tell you, they know what they are talking about. To me, they are examples of the way God uses modern people to accomplish His plans. 

Sisters Are Already There

If you’re wondering where to find women like that, they may already be in your life. Angie knows first hand what it’s like to suddenly realize you already know the women you need. 

“That’s kind of how this whole book, the whole Sisterhood of Prayer Warriors kinda came about. Because I knew all these women,” she reports. She pondered the qualities and stories she needed for her book and listed women she knew. A surprising thing happened. “It would hit me that they had that gift or that powerful testimony. And they were already in my life and I just hadn’t realized it.” 

I’ve noticed the same thing. When I had moments when I couldn’t see God moving, I would notice there were women in my life to speak the words I needed. Most of the time it’s about noticing who God has already brought into your life.

Generational Effects of Prayer

For a gal who raised boys only, the mother-daughter dynamic permeates Angie’s life—and her book

For instance, because her son married such a good woman, Angie is related to three contributing writers in her book, Linda Dill, Susan Ellsworth, and Autumn Ruark. 

They are grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter. (If you missed our interview with Susan Ellsworth, click here. For more about the ministry, Linda Dill and her husband Pastor James now spearhead, click here.)

Another mother daughter duo contributed their stories and wisdom, Pat Self and Heather Stoner. 

Angie dedicated the book to her mom, who “gained eternal victory just before this book was completed.” 

Angie shares more about dear friends who encourage her. I talk about creating a social media catapult, rather than a platform. And we share a really special story about our mutual friend Dr. Grace English and her beloved daughter. To read the full article, click here.  (To find my interview with Dr. Grace English, click here.)

May we pray together?

Dear good Father in heaven, we all need strong sisters. Thank You for the good women, the spiritual warrior women, You put in our lives. Bless us now, Father, so we love each other and unite around Your purpose. Help us catapult Your truth to others. Give us hearts to encourage each other. Bless our culture now dear Father as Your children turn to You for guidance. We love You. Thank You for giving us each other. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

When has God answered a prayer using a spiritual warrior woman? What is your favorite answer to prayer? Who do you turn to when you don’t know how to pray for yourself or your family?

New Adventures in Devotion

I am really excited about our recent interviews with two very spiritual ladies, Brooke Frick and Lindsey Bell.

If you missed the amazing Brooke Frick, here’s the link to her devotional book Hand’s Full. If you’re already diving into her book, congratulations! Isn’t it fun and inspiring?! If you want to subscribe to her blog, click here. I’m a fan!

If you or anyone you know needs to draw closer to God by emulating courageous Bible heroes, check out Lindsey Bell’s fabulous book, Unbeaten. I follow Lindsey here and I hope you will, too.

Also, Abba’s Answers, a devotional book of stories compiled by Deb Butterfield is available here. It includes the Compassion Story, the story of how David responded when I told him about my abortion. 

Prayer requests: 

Please continue to pray about our upcoming interview with the beautiful Sarah Van Hook. Sarah is so dear to my heart. I really admire her. I can’t wait to pass onto you what she will share about experiencing sexual abuse as a child. She is a pediatric child therapist now as an adult. We are in for invaluable information from this champion warrior woman. (Find her mom’s story and her wisdom on how to be Carried By Grace when you find out your child has been abused.)

PLEASE keep praying for Sarah now in advance of her interview. (We bind the enemy in Jesus’s name and we ask You, Good Father, to bless Sarah in every way.) Thank you for taking a minute to agree with me in prayer to unleash all God wants to do with Sarah’s powerful message. 

As I always say, praying with you, my warrior-hearted sisters, makes me happy! What would I do WITHOUT YOU in a world that needs prayer so much!!! Keep praying!

Don’t Miss the Fun and Fabulous Sandra Beck!

The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations CathyKrafve.com

In this very personal interview, Social Media Guru Sandra Beck asks me about my upcoming book, The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations. She adds hilarious stuff to all conversations. To find more from Sandra, go to Motherhood Talk Radio. For our interview, click below.

Building Better Communication Between Partners Sandra Beck of Motherhood Talk Radio speaks with Cathy Krafve about her new book which highlights how couples can better communicate their needs- especially in these trying times that strain even the best of relationships.

If you would like to JOIN MY BOOK LAUNCH TEAM, just click here. And THANK YOU!!! 

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

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Spiritual Warrior Women: Devoted to Prayer with Angie Ruark, Her Story

Dr. Angie Ruark has a knack for attracting spiritual warrior women into her life. Whether it’s her friends, her fellow-writers, or her daughters-in-law.

Angie went to college for her doctorate at the same time her sons hit college. Along with all her other accomplishments, lately, she wrote a book. From my point of view, though, her best talent turns out to be her ability to pray for awesome daughters-in-law.

There’s got to be an irony in here somewhere. How does the mother of three boys become an expert at attracting spiritual warrior women to pray? (To find out more about our mutual friend, Susan Ellsworthwith whom Angie will share grandkids someday, click here.)

Angie is the whole brilliant package. She has a creative right brain, a meticulous left brain, and a whole heart.

I’m truly grateful to count her among my close friends. Lately, she brought together a whole team of Spiritual Warrior Women to share their insights on prayer. Many of these women are my friends and I can tell you for sure they are stalwart.

(In this episode, we chat about some of the truly great women we know. Yes, we even name names. Angie shares her secrets for recognizing the good women God sends your way. Click here for more.)

Her Love Story

But, when it came to sharing her story with you, you know which one I wanted to hear first.

Her love story!

“He was there the day I got my braces put on,” she laughs. “We had the same orthodontist.” She and her husband Bill met in middle school. 

He picked the moment her mouth was full of dental apparatus to make his first move. He said a quick hello and kept moving before she could respond properly. 

“He’s so fun. That’s what made me fall, I say, head over heals for him long before we got married. We just celebrated our twenty-ninth anniversary,” she reports.

Bill’s career reads like something out of an action novel, but his personal life is all about Angie and their family. Actually, come to think of it, the way Bill talks about Angie confirms his genius status in my opinion. Angie agrees. 

Refusing to Limit God

“Honestly, getting a doctorate, all those things I’ve done, would not have been possible without Bill,” she says. “Only behind my salvation and Jesus, Bill is my greatest gift from God.” She gives her husband credit for unleashing God’s potential in their lives. 

“One thing he’s done in our family is he would never let any of us—not me, not our sons—say, ‘Well, I could never do that. I can’t do that,’” says Angie. “We weren’t allowed to say that because you know with God all things are possible. He (Bill) never let us put limits on what God could do in our lives.” 

Unleashing Potential

Their life-long romance seems too good to be true. What about women who have bad experiences with men. What then? Are the kids doomed to marry poorly? Are good marriage reserved for people who have great dads? Absolutely not! (To get more free podcasts, blogs, and interviews with experts, click here!)

Angie shares how being a Spiritual Warrior Woman can change everything in your home, in your life, in your community. She just wrote twenty chapters herself on unleashing the potential of prayer. Angie focused on how the character qualities of women in the Bible. She ties each quality to the way our prayers are enhanced by our character. Angie’s book, Spiritual Warrior Woman: Pray is available now and chock-full of wisdom!

Stretching for God’s Potential

Twenty or so of Angie’s friends, whom she dubbed Spiritual Warrior Women, wrote chapters, too. In each case, Angie asked them to write about a particular quality she recognized in their life. 

Of the women who wrote, two others have been one Fireside Talk Radio. Susan Ellsworth came on the show to talk about “Breast Cancer, What We Wish Our Families Understood.” Dr. Grace English talked about “Compassion, Please! After Abortion Healing.”

Additionally, Linda Dill contributed a chapter to Angie’s book. Her husband James Dill came on our show to say, “Don’t Give Up! Encouragement for Leaders.” But, of course, most of his stories highlighted how much he loves his sweet wife. Together they founded a ministry called Shepherd’s Heart

Are you noticing a pattern? It seems all around us God is blessing people as they stretch for their potential. And many of them are friends with Angie, contributing a chapter to her book about how Spiritual Warrior Woman: Pray. Hmmm. These dear ladies make me want to slow down and spend a little more time in prayer. You?

Spiritual Warrior Women: Pray

“I knew it was going to be a spiritual warrior woman book,” reports Angie, “God made it very clear to me there were lots of spiritual warrior women I already knew. When I see someone I know, their gifts just stand out.”

Strong, gifted women operating out of God’s Spirit—now, that’s a force to be reckoned with! The power is so beautiful when it’s used to God’s glory!

Angie began thinking of her many spiritual warrior women friends as the Sisterhood of Prayer Warriors. She calls it a sorority—like a special club of women who get how powerful prayer is. (Find Angie’s book here.)

Perfect Example of an Answer to Prayer

One of our favorite mutual friends in all the world, Susan Ellsworth, raised Angie’s first daughter-in-law. (To find Susan’s story about being an Oncology nurse who went through three breast cancer surgeries herself, including a bout with lymphedema, click here. She also talked about sex after breast cancer. Yep. I told you Susan is amazing.) 

So, I asked Angie about how to pray more great women into a family. Here’s how she and Bill prayed for their future daughters-in-law before they ever knew them:

  • They’ve been praying for them since their sons were little. 
  • They prayed God would guard their hearts, and their minds. 
  • That He would protect them, watch over them, bless them in all of their endeavors. 
  • That God would lead them and direct their steps. 

“The number one thing that we’ve prayed is that each one would just love Jesus first in her life,” says Angie, “Because that’s the number one thing.”

Angie shares much more about attracting good women into your family via daughters-in-law and lots about prayer. to read the full article, click here. 

May we pray together?

Dear good Father in heaven, we turn to You now because You are dear to our hearts. When we need comfort and companionship, You are there. When we need a sister to speak gentle, healing truth into our lives You send someone You trust. Teach us to notice the good spiritual warrior women You’ve chosen for our benefit. Help us welcome those sisters into our lives with joy and loyalty. In Jesus’s name. Amen. 

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a friend been a true sister in your life? When as a woman blessed you by praying specifically? What answers to prayer mean the most to you?

New Adventures in Devotion

If you missed the amazing Brooke Frick, here’s the link to her devotional book Hand’s Full. Already diving into her book? Congratulations! Isn’t it fun and inspiring?! If you want to subscribe to her blog, click here. I’m a fan!

Want to be a superhero like courageous Bible heroes? Do you or anyone you know want to draw closer to God? Check out Lindsey Bell’s fabulous book, Unbeaten. I follow Lindsey here and I hope you will, too.

Also, Abba’s Answers, a devotional book of stories compiled by Deb Butterfield is available here. It includes The Compassion Story, the story of how David responded when I told him about my abortion. 

Authentic Conversation about Communicating!

In case you missed this recent interview, Sandra Beck asks the BEST questions! And she always adds insightful, often hilarious stuff to any conversation. To find more from Sandra, go to Motherhood Talk Radio. For our interview, click below.

Building Better Communication Between Partners Sandra Beck of Motherhood Talk Radio speaks with Cathy Krafve about her new book which highlights how couples can better communicate their needs- especially in these trying times that strain even the best of relationships.

Prayer requests: 

Next, our interview with the beautiful Sarah Van Hook is around the corner. Sarah will share about experiencing sexual abuse as a child. She grew up to be a pediatric child therapist, so we are going to learn much from this dear lady. (Find her mom’s story and her wisdom on how to be Carried By Grace when you find out your child has been abused.

The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations CathyKrafve.com

Since we’ve noticed the enemy does not like this kind of truth getting out there, PLEASE pray for Sarah now in advance of her interview. (We bind the enemy in Jesus’s name and we ask You, Good Father, to bless Sarah in every way.) Thank you for taking a minute to agree with me in prayer to unleash all God wants to do with Sarah’s powerful message. 

Most of all, thank you to all who have been praying since I posted about feeling like an overwhelmed dork. I’m still dorky and quirky, but it is good to know I have friends who don’t care about that and will pray for me anyway. Your prayers mean more than I can say!! I think my heart is a little more peaceful about the whole thing. Maybe. Keep praying. Please.

And...drum roll please...The first book comes out really, really soon! Yay!!

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

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Unbeaten by Pain: A Beautiful Life in the Midst of Miscarriage

If Lindsey Bell seems relaxed, it’s because she’s learned to focus on the important things in life in her quest to be Unbeaten by pain.

When you date your high school sweetheart, you don’t picture a future that includes miscarriage. Today’s blog is dedicated to four beautiful kids in heaven, Eden, Jesse, Ella, and Jadon.

As bride and groom swear to love each other in sickness and health. On your honeymoon. As you create your first home. When you decorate the nursery. When the invitation arrives for your baby shower. Couples dream about the joy life can bring, not the pain.

Most people avoid pain. But what if you can’t?

For Lindsey Bell life took an unexpected turn. A turn that included a lot of pain. First though, she and her husband rejoiced with the birth of a healthy little boy. 

“We had some complications with his pregnancy,” Lindsey says, explaining how the doctor successfully headed off an early delivery and the pregnancy “ended up going full term.” 

Lindsey shares so much more in this tender interview, including how to know when it’s time to forgive God and how to deal with envy when others seem to have an easy life. If you have pain in your life for any reason, please find her comforting insight here. For more podcastsclick here.

Her Baby’s Heartbeat

All was going according to plan. Two years after their first child was born, they found out she was pregnant again. 

“I was thrilled. Couldn’t wait. Told our family. Told our friends. We saw the heartbeat. Everything looked perfect,” she reports. 

At twelve weeks, she went to her regular volunteer time at a local pregnancy center. Just a regular day. The center needed some training hours for their ultrasound technician and Lindsey stepped up. 

“I said, ‘Hey, I’m pregnant. Let’s do one for me.’” They did an ultrasound and couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat.

Not Exactly According to Plan

They rushed Lindsey to the hospital, where emergency room staff confirmed she was experiencing a miscarriage. (For her beautiful book, Unbeaten: How Biblical heroes rose above their pain…and you can, too, click here.) Lindsey learned pain can be harder to process than we might assume.

“With that first miscarriage, I think I just thought, ‘Yeah this is crazy painful, but I know God is going to use this. I’m going to be faithful through it.’” Determined to rely on her faith and what she knew to be true, Lindsey tried to be stoic. (For shortcuts to take care of yourself, click here. And for even more ways.)

“I don’t know that I fully let myself grieve like I should have that loss,” she explains, “I thought I did, but looking back there was still a lot. I was trying to put on the brave face.” (For how mindfulness can help the grieving process unfold more gently, click here.)

The Dream

Lindsey’s “love affair with Jesus began when she attended vacation Bible school with a friend in junior high,” as she shares in her devotional book, Unbeaten. She learned about a God who “adored her” and wanted to have a relationship with her. She gave her life to Christ as a teenager.

Her love story with her hubby began not long after as high school sweethearts.

“I love to point out to him that I drove us on our first date. He couldn’t drive yet,” she laughs.

They attended college together and married young.

“Of course, any marriage you have to work at, but by and large we had a good marriage,” she says. “We got pregnant within the first year of trying the first time.” (For solutions when marriage feels lonely, click here.)

It wasn’t long after the first miscarriage that she suspected she was pregnant again. Though joyful, this time there was a special kind of tenderness around her anticipation.

She put off taking a pregnancy test for a couple of weeks. 

The Reality

“I decided I was going to do it on January 1st,” she says, explaining how she felt about the coming year. Oh this will be a great way to start out the year. God’s going to redeem everything that happened in 2010. 

She was looking forward to a “rainbow baby”; that is, a child after loss.

“About three hours after I took that pregnancy test, I actually started miscarrying a second time,” she says. “And then six months later my husband and I found out we were pregnant again.”

Everything went well. They saw a heartbeat; a healthy heartbeat. Doctors reassured them, confident all was going as it should for a healthy delivery this time. 

But they suffered miscarriage again. The third time. 

God: The Miracle Specialist

“After our third miscarriage, looking back now I think I was probably in a deep pit of depression,” Lindsey says. With Lindsey’s pain clouding her perspective, she immediately assumed something terrible had happened when her mom asked for a Skype call.

“Someone’s died. There’s been an accident. Someone has cancer. All these worst case scenarios.” She can laugh about it now. 

But all was well with her parents. In fact, Lindsey’s mom wanted to know if they wanted to adopt. A birth mom contacted Lindsey’s parents, hoping to reach the grieving couple.

“Because of our miscarriages, when she decided she wanted to choose adoption, she wanted my mom to contact us and see if we would be willing to adopt her baby,” Lindsey says. The baby was due in two months from the phone call.

“God literally dropped a baby in our laps,” she continues. “We weren’t looking for adoption. We were still pretty much reeling from the third miscarriage and very, very discouraged. So, we hesitantly moved forward.” (For encouragement, sign up for my FREE weekly blog. Or, to sign up for Lindsey’s blog, click here.)

Lindsey and her hubby moved ahead one deliberate step at a time, looking for God’s leading. She describes God’s influence as “His fingerprints.” Yes, move forward with this. I’m in this. Keep going forward. This is Me. This is from Me. You just have to trust Me.

“Two months later I was in the delivery room with my son’s beautiful birth mom and I got to cut the umbilical cord,” she reports with joy. “Then, he got to come home with us. God just completely opened the door for that to happen because of our miscarriages.” Even thought God didn’t answer her prayers the way she expected, she loves His unexpected miracle! 

“He used that terrible awful situation that we were going through, the recurrent miscarriages, to bring us a baby,” she says, “He brought beautiful, beautiful gifts regardless. Just in a different way than I expected.”

The Medical Specialists

“At that point, we went and saw a specialist,” reports Lindsey. “I had a ton of blood work and all sorts of tests run. Everything looked fine. The doctors could never really figure out why I kept miscarrying.” (For more comfort when the sonogram is a diagnosis, click here. )

They put her on some preventative measures, fully expecting the process to unfold smoothly. 

Soon, they saw a heartbeat. She was going in every week to the specialist. Then, between ten and twelve weeks, they lost their sixth child.

Unbeaten by Pain

Besides the adoption of their son, another miracle resulted from the pain of their miscarriages. Her compassion for those who hurt deepened significantly. Her book, Unbeaten, came out of her own search for help as she struggled to understand the pain of her miscarriages. (For more about how God cares for you, click here.)

In her book, Lindsey collected the stories of over fifty Bible heroes who suffered and how God met them in their pain. This is no small project. Each day, she pulls principles from each hero for how we can cope with our own pain. 

Personally, my favorite thing about Lindsey’s book is the way she weaves her own personal stories throughout each day’s devotion. In particular, I like the way she highlighted people who comforted her. (For more about choosing friends wisely, click here.)

A Beautiful Life

“It is really neat to see God use the difficult things that we’ve gone through to help other people. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about the body of Christ.”

If you’ve just lost a child and don’t know if your heart will ever mend, Lindsey and I want you to know you are dear to our hearts. We hope her words will be a comfort to you as you grieve. 

Lindsey offers this encouragement; your life will be filled with beauty in spite of your sorrow.

“So my picture I had as a teenager of what my life was going to look like didn’t end up looking exactly like I thought it would,” she says, “but it still was a beautiful picture. It was just different if that makes sense.”

May we pray together?

Dear good Father in heaven, all around us people suffer and often we don’t know it. Open our eyes to see the pain others feel. Help us reach out and ask for comfort when we need it. We turn to You now, O Lord, because You comfort us Yourself. You meet us in our pain with Your own dear presence. When our hearts are broken due to loss, when we moan because words fail us, when we feel alone and afraid, You are there in the silence and the pain. We cling to You. In Jesus’s name Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a friend comforted you? When has God influenced you in an unmistakable, yet gentle way? What experts would you like to hear from on Fireside Talk Radio?

Next week

Next week, Lindsey comes back to share with us how we can comfort others when they go through painful experiences, especially the loss of a child. She’ll pass along some tender ways to comfort others no matter their pain. These are real life examples of the many ways her friends comforted her. You won’t want to miss this tender and useful ideas!

If a miscarriage is breaking your heart, I offer the following links to more comfort from Lindsey: her posts on miscarriage, practical things someone can do to love on a woman who recently miscarried, and some things that someone who has miscarried might want you to know. Please pass these on to other women, so we can comfort each other.

For many of us, our stories include pain of a different sort. If your story includes pain from abortion, trauma, or mental health issues, we’ve interviewed experts. For interviews with heroic friends who’ve dealt with sexual abusedate rapedomestic violencebullying, and much more, click here. For more on making a parent feel at home or elder care, click here.

One More Thing—Save Mount Hermon

Save Mt. HermonMount Hermon is where I met the amazing Janet McHenry, my agent Karen NuemairSusan Stewart of Elk Lake Publishing (publisher of my upcoming book, The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations) and so many other writing and publishing friends who are dear to my heart. For instance, I also met Tami Clymer of CrossRiver Media, the publisher of my marriage book there, too.

If you wish you could go to Mount Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference, there is still time to sign up for the conference. I signed up to go. If you sign up, we may save the conference. If the conference doesn’t fill up, there will be no charge. To find out more, click here.

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

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DIY Curriculum: How Do You Inspire Self-Learning in Kids

My mom was a genius at making learning fun. I seem to remember here she’s teaching my baby brother how to be a superhero.

With COVID knocking everyone off their back-to-school game, Anna and I decided to make things easier for parents. So, we picked one of our all-time favorite topics for you this week: DIY curriculum. How do you inspire self-learning in kids? You may be surprised at how easy it truly is!

If you can get your children to teach themselves everyone wins! Teachers, parents, and best of all the kids themselves!

Not only that, but you also equip your kids for success throughout life. Why? Because every truly successful leader is a self-learner. Most leaders read several books a month. Wow! 

So, how do you get your child to that place where they educate themselves?

Anna shared so much more in this episode than I can include in the blog. I hope you will tune in for her thoughts about how offering kids daily—sometimes hourly—choices helps them be better adults. Wow! Powerful stuff! Find this episode and more, here.

DIY Curriculum: A Happy Accident

Do-it-yourself curriculum started accidentally at our house. We were homeschooling and my two oldest kids were gifted in very different ways. On one hand, I share Anna’s visual way of learning and her love of books. She naturally loved all the books, art supplies, and curriculum I collected to inspire her each week.

On the other hand, Ellen and I have complementary gifts. Her audio and tactile learning style baffled me, the un-athletic mom who can’t carry a tune.

For more on how learning styles can create teamwork, rather than disharmony, I recommend Cynthia Tobias’s insight. (You can find our interview with Cynthia here.)

I was scrambling to find ways to engage Ellen’s brilliant mind in math and science where my mind simply felt ill-equipped. For example, the whole dissecting frog things freaked me out. (For courage and inspiration, check out devotionals by Brooke Fricke or Lindsey Bell or Angie Ruark.)

So, out of sheer desperation, I discovered DIY curriculum. You’re going to love how easily DIY curriculum comes together for parents.

To begin your own DIY curriculum adventure, start by embracing a terrific definition of analytical. To raise self-educating kids, your first goal consists of teaching your kids to embrace analysis. Here’s the definition Anna and I like.

Camp Krafve Definition of Analytical

Analytical—willing to forego personal glory, identifying the best ways to serve others.

Critiquing Your Way to Creativity

“Wanting personal glory is what makes us afraid of critique. Identifying the best way to serve others ties in so well to the idea of critique and how it stimulates creativity,” Anna says. “I just love this definition of analytical. It’s just so thrilling to me.”

Anna suggests critique as a proven technique all art teachers use to teach their kids to think. Honestly, I was surprised when Anna brought this up. I think of critique and criticism as similar enough to make me very uncomfortable.

“Whether it’s music or written word, like poetry, or in my case, visual arts, critique is what drives creativity in a classroom,” explains Anna. She notices it with her small children at home, too. 

When kids work on creating art, they naturally want to engage others in their creative process. Kids will just keep bumping into you with their project in hand until you focus on what they’re creating. Children seek confirmation and advice on improvements to their creative projects like puppies seek to play.

“They want feedback,” Anna reports. She says creative projects provide a natural chance to teach kids that feedback should be positive and productive. (For a creative way to educate without leaving your car, click here.)

For Examples of Real Life Analytical Thinkers and How DIY Curriculum looked at our House, click here.

To sign up for our FREE weekly blog jam-packed with encouragemnet on all the topics women ponder in their hearts, click here. 

With so many malicious, destructive falsehoods free-floating in our culture now, liberty demands that we think carefully. (For more on raising liberty-loving kids, click here.)

“Practicing analytical thinking can strengthen your truth filter,” says Anna. “Truth stands scrutiny.” That was our homeschooling motto, which we printed on each homemade student ID card.

“I’ve always loved that idea,” adds Anna, “It freed me up to ask good questions, analyze things, and be unafraid to ask the hard questions.”

Anna and I are so encouraged that you, too, want to raise analytical thinkers who won’t be swept away by every silly idea. Instead, may your children grow to be wise people who consider what is best for others. 

We know you’re behind the scenes forgoing your own personal glory for the sake of your children. We’re really proud of you!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father in heaven, we need Your help. We pray our children and grandchildren make serving others their life’s ambition. That means we need to have the same attitude in our own hearts. Help us, O Lord, to be like Your Son, serving others with unfailing, sacrificial love. Teach us to think analytically and to love Your truth. Thank you for our reading and listening friends who forego personal glory to raise fabulous kiddos. In Jesus/s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What’s your funniest education mishap? When has a frustrating situation morphed into a mini-miracle for you? How do you foster creativity and analytical thinking at your house?

Coming Up Next: How to Cope With Miscarriages

Coming soon, the amazing Lindsey Bell offers comfort to moms who’ve had miscarriages. Plus she’ll address the universal nature of pain. Perhaps your heart is broken by your own miscarriage or a friend’s. Lindsey’s devotional book, Unbeaten, tells the story of overcoming pain. Watch here for sweet Lindsey!

Additionally, if you love devotional books, you’re going to love the new one out by my friend and math genius, Angie Ruark. So watch for her interview coming soon! (For more Fireside Talk Radio episodes, click here.)

I’ll share my interview with the amazing Sandra Beck–Social Media Guru and my dear friend. Sandra asks all the questions and I’m the GUEST! Pray for me.

Also, I’m excited–and a little overwhelmed–to share what people are saying about my upcoming book, The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations.

Abba’s Answers and Hands Full

Don’t Forget: Abba’s Answers is out! I have a story in it along with dozens of other inspiring stories. If you are looking for encouragement or a different kind of devotional via story-telling, you’ll love this book. I highly recommend it as a gift. (For more, click here.) Order your copies of Abba’s Answers here.

Also, I’ve already pre-ordered my copies of Hands Full which is coming out any minute. Brooke Frick’s book makes a delightful gift, especially for any mom who feels overwhelmed (and don’t we all sometimes!!)

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve

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Motherhood: Encouraging Yourself in a Hands Full Life with Brooke Frick

Brooke and her hubby take a break with their five active kiddos. JessicaBowersPhotography.com

“I didn’t expect it would be so hard,” Brooke Frick says and we break into giddy laughter. You can see why I love this authentic friend so much. Motherhood is one thing. Motherhood times five? That’s a whole ‘nother thing! So, how do you encourage yourself when your hands are full? Brooke knows first hand.

Motherhood is Hard

“Growing up I always wanted to be a mom. I really couldn’t think—other than writing— of something that I really wanted to do other than be a mom,” explains Brooke. “I thought I’d just be good at it.” More laughter. “Oh yeah, it comes naturally.” 

Instead, motherhood turns out to be really, really hard sometimes. Okay, most of the time. (If you missed Brooke’s story last week, you can find it here.)

“I just didn’t think it was going to humble me so much as it has,” Brooke says. “It’s been the single most thing in my life that God has taught me about my inabilities to do things and His ability to do them. He’s just used it continually.” 

Brooke shares tender stories with Cathy and profound insight in this interview. Click here to find it, plus her story and many other podcasts with experts and friends.

Pregnancy and Toddlerhood

Take her life with her first two little ones, for instance. 

“I remember I had my first son and it was so great. I loved it,” Brooke recounts. But it wasn’t all easy-peasy. “It was hard though. I ended up with a c-section, not planned. Then, when he was about six months old, I got pregnant with my other son.”

She remembers being in their little house in Virginia with her mom who showed up to help. Her mom held her new-born baby while her older son crawled around on the floor. Suddenly, she had a moment of clarity. 

“God, how did you think I could do this? How can I possibly take care of these two babies? I cannot.”

She laughs and claims she sees a pattern.

God, I Can’t Do This!

“The theme of my life has just come up again and again of ‘God, I can’t do this,’” she laughs. “When we had twins, I said, ‘God, I can’t do this.’” But Brooke has learned a secret for success when we feel overwhelmed.

“God’s will and desire for us is never that we should need Him less. It’s that we should need Him more,” Brooke says. 

I was so glad Brooke brought this up. Knowing our need for God is the first step to encouraging ourselves. 

“Not that He’s always wanting to put us through hard circumstances,” she explains. “But we have to come to that point where we realize we can’t do anything apart from God. Motherhood has really taught me that.”

It seems I say the same thing to the Lord, “You’ve got to be kidding! That’s too hard for me!”

I Love Lucy Attitude

Brooke and I met through our writers’ group at CrossRiver Media. I fell in love with her authentic, down-to-earth style. Plus, there’s the whole I-love-Lucy quality to the stuff she shares about her day spent with five active kids.

“Today is different. Today, I’m by myself at a coffee shop working and writing. I have real clothes on. That’s a great day.” With humor, she embraces each day’s reality—the challenges and special blessings.

“Yesterday, I hadn’t showered. I’m doing laundry all day long. It’s not even folded because you’re just focused on getting it through the washer and dryer and put the pile aside and deal with it later.” 

The Wonder of Motherhood

Yet, the unexpected blessings of motherhood still fill her with wonder. 

“My arms are so tired. My arms were worn out for the next twenty years,” she laughs. “I definitely should not have wobbly arms!” Savoring the sweet spots is key to encouraging ourselves. 

“We’re entering a new stage, what people might call a sweet spot of parenting because your kids are not little infants anymore,” Brooke explains. “My oldest is eleven so he’s not quite too sassy. So we are in this sweet phase.”

Hilarious Clarity

Brooke writes with hilarious clarity. If I didn’t know how much she agonized over every word in her book, I’d be jealous. Her book and her blogs sneak up on the reader with her hilarity. (Check out this sample of her blog.She says trusting God is key. 

“I want to see the plan unfold and I want to know. Instead, I think He just wants me to know Him,” she shares. “When we can see less, then maybe we can shift our eyes to Him more. Because it’s not about the vision in front of us. We can’t see that. What we can know is that He’s there.”

To read the full article and enjoy Brooke's ideas about how to handle a Hand's Full life, click here.

“Lean into Jesus because we can’t do it on our own. He knows that and He wants to do it with us, alongside us, and through us,” she says, adding with a laugh, “We’re not supermoms.”

Maybe not, but I think Brooke is pretty dang super.

May we pray together?

Dear Father, You call us to be like You, especially when it comes to parenting. You are unfailing in Your love for us. Your sacrificial love culminated in the loving sacrifice of Jesus. His life, His teaching, and His sacrifice draw us to You today as they have for centuries. Help us walk with You, depending on You. Teach us to trust You amidst the daily delights and disasters of parenting! We love You, O good Father! In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

When have you felt like God wasn’t there for you? How has God surprised you with unexpected answers to prayer? When has His presence been your best comfort and encouragement?

Abba’s Answers

Don’t Forget: Abba’s Answers is out! I have a story in it along with dozens of other inspiring stories. If you are looking for encouragement or a different kind of devotional via story-telling, you’ll love this book. I highly recommend it as a gift. (For more, click here.)

Coming Up Next: How to Cope With Miscarriages

In the next few weeks, the amazing Lindsey Bell offers comfort to moms who’ve had miscarriages. Plus she’ll address the universal nature of pain. Perhaps your heart is broken by your own miscarriage or a friend’s. Lindsey’s devotional book, Unbeaten, tells the story of overcoming pain. Watch here for sweet Lindsey!

Additionally, if you love devotional books, you’re going to love the new one out by my friend and math genius, Angie Ruark. So watch for her interview coming soon! (For more Fireside Talk Radio episodes, click here.)

Order your copies of Abba’s Answers here.

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

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Hands Full: Humor and Inspiration for Devoted Mommies with Brooke Frick

Author and mother of five, Brooke Frick

How did Brooke Frick ever get to the place where she’s about to be a published author–while raising FIVE kiddos?! With humor, inspiration, and with her Hands Full

Her success could easily ruin my day to know somebody is that successful, especially if they pretend like they’re perfect and it’s all easy for them!

Not Brooke, though. Oh no. She tells the real story and it’s hilarious. 

She makes me want to hang in there and be a great woman, while somehow coping with the crazy stuff we all face daily. By crazy, I mean chaos of tiny ones and the weird attitudes of grown-ups. Oh, wait, is that my weird attitude showing?

Hands Full

Brooke and her husband had five kids in six and a half years. “That’s almost not humanly possible one after another like that,” laughs Brooke.

In our interview, Brooke shares the struggles of multiple kids. She also tells of an upcoming adventure: they plan to travel the U.S.A. in an R.V. Brave Mommy! Click here for our interview and more podcasts. Here’s more about Brooke’s publisher, CrossRiver Media.

Traveling with Tots

Right after they knew she was pregnant with the twins, the Fricks flew from California to Virginia to deliver their news in person to family. 

Brooke’s writing is so authentic, she gives me chills.

Imagine the trip home to California. Three little wiggly, worn-out boys flying cross country with exhausted parents, one of them newly pregnant with twins. My, what courage! (For ideas about terrific staycations, click here.)

Brooke and her hubby continually swapped seats and entertained the boys as best they could, trying hard not to impose on fellow passengers. The boys were four, five years old, and sixteen months.

The Man on the Airplane (Bless His Heart)

“I just remember as we’re walking off the plane—we had blankets, jackets, so much stuff that we’re grabbing and walking off the plane. I hear this voice from the background, definitely loud enough for me to hear, kinda directed at me, but not specifically talking to me, and he said, ‘I think you need one more kid.’” All around her people laughed. So funny. Ha ha ha. 

Personally, I think the guy was prophetic. Maybe God showed him Brooke and her hubby were raising kids to bless future generations. Maybe the guy was being kind? Okay, maybe not.

“Oh my gosh, I’m gonna cry,” Brooke thought, struggling to maintain her composure with everyone watching. “Because here I was already overwhelmed when I found out we were having twins. They were spontaneous, it wasn’t something we were trying for.”

For Brooke, her fear was painful.

“He said that comment not knowing that there are two little baby girls in my belly. I was eight or ten weeks pregnant,” she recalls. “A tear came down on my cheek. And I just walked out; I didn’t turn around. I didn’t say anything, no response.” (I preordered Brooke’s book here.)

For about what to do when you feel overwhelmed, read the full article, here

To follow the Frick Family adventures, sign up for her blog here. To keep you encouraged, here's an excerpt from her book, Hands Full:

“I was trying to fill five little cups of water with an empty pitcher. Sometimes our cups runneth over, but what I’ve found—as a busy mom of young children—is that more often than not, my cup runneth dry. And I need help. While it feels like failure to admit it, it isn’t. It is just reality. 

Friend, if you’re feeling overwhelmed like me, but a little defensive about it, I understand. And I would reach across the page and hug you if I could. And share my Kleenex. Not a used one, of course, that would be gross. But you could pull one from my box.”

May we pray together?

Dear Father in Heaven, You are so good to us. Even when we don’t understand the plans You have for us, we can trust You. Thank You for loving us with unfailing, patient love. Give us vision for inspiring fond memories through family adventures. Strengthen our character so we can pass along strong character to our children. Remind us to scoop them up today and love them with joyful abandon and good humor. Thank You for the way You inspired Brooke to pass on encouragement to other mommies. For any reading friends who need inspiration and encouragement today, O Lord, we ask You to bless us now. Fill us with hope. Show us the good things You have in store for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What adventures spark your imagination? What have people said that unintentionally hurt you? How has a stranger’s remarks encouraged you?

Coming Soon: More Devotions and Comfort

As Brooke talked about being the mom of many kids, I never forgot that some women crave motherhood, only to be disappointed. Ever since we began the show, I wanted to talk about miscarriage. I am truly thrilled to welcome Lindsey Bell to the show. She is an answer to prayer. Lindsey offers comfort to moms who’ve had miscarriages, plus she addresses the universal nature of pain. 

That’s James Michener in the background with my mom and some friends.

Like Brooke, Lindsey wrote a devotion book based on her experiences. Unbeaten tells the story of overcoming pain. (I also want to gather some info for those struggling with infertility, if you can suggest an expert.)

If you love devotional books, you’re also going to love the new one out by my friend and math genius, Angie Ruark. So watch for her interview coming soon on a FTR podcast near you! (For more Fireside Talk Radio episodes, click here.)

Finally, I am truly excited to announce that Abba’s Answers is out! I have one story in this beautiful anthology along with dozens of other inspiring stories. (For more about Deb Butterfield, click here.) If you are looking for encouragement or a special kind of devotional via story-telling, you’ll love this book. I highly recommend it as a gift.

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

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Architecture: Creating Cool Drive Through Education for Your Family

Anna and family enjoy ice cream in downtown Tyler.Enjoying ice cream in front of two of our favorite architectural history lessons, the People’s Petroleum Building and the Plaza Tower.

Architecture creates cool drive-through education moments for your family. (I was going to say “drive-by” but that sounded dangerous.)

Anna co-hosted with me recently so we could come up with some ideas to encourage parents who are tapping their fingernails in anxiety about how (or whether) schools open this fall. 

Do thoughts of homeschooling prompt a craving for a refreshing adult beverage? What if education could be as easy as picking up dinner in a drive-through window?

In fact, educating with architecture is easy-peasy and oh-so-fun! (For easy, spontaneous homeschooling ideas and lesson plans, click here.)

Summer is a great time to point out architecture while you tell the stories of family and faith in your region. Buildings tell the American story in visually dramatic ways. Take our hometown, downtown Tyler, Texas for instance.

In this episode, Anna shared so much more than I can fit into one blog. For more of her fun ideas about teaching history through architecture and personal stories about her hilarious kids, go to Fireside Talk Radio or CathyKrafve.com.

Mid-Century Modern Resurgence

Mid-century modern has become the thing everyone likes now. But when I was growing up, nobody wanted it. Our local courthouse is a prime example. In my childhood, people were grieving the destruction of the classic courthouse built in 1851 as Tyler’s first brick structure. 

By the 1970s, folks resented the clean lines of the new modern courthouse built in 1954 just over a hundred years after the first one. People talked of tearing down the new courthouse and building something beautiful in its place. 

But as Anna pointed out, “New is not always better.”

I don’t know if the current courthouse will survive our county government’s growing demand for updated space. But, as young leaders take their place in civic discussions I expect sentiment to grow for preserving our courthouse’s mid-century modern beauty.

For more about how Architecture Provides Down Home Drive Through Education, click here.

To read the full article, click here. 

Architecture, Kids and Driving Through Town

As you drive by, simply asking good questions can prompt a terrific conversation. What hints do you get about what was happening when that building was built? How did that era inspire the architect? What do you notice about the building’s design?

We also like frontier towns and living history villages for prompting our kids’ imagination. What did farmers use before the tractor? Why were there ceiling fans in every room? Where did the dogs sleep at night? What dangers existed for frontier families?

Architecture, Furniture, Family Stories and No Air-Conditioning

Walking through the living room can trigger stories tied to architecture and furniture. For example, the beautiful little cedar trunk in Anna’s entry hall once held all Mema’s worldly possessions. 

My mom grew up in a small Texas cottage built in the early 1900s. Their Fort Worth pier and beam house only had a bedroom for her parents. Until they added on, their first child slept in the family room with her clothes in the trunk at the end of her bed. 

“I’ve been told that story my whole life. Based on that one piece of furniture, I know what kind of house my grandmother grew up in,” says Anna. And lots more about her great-grandparents. I remember that cottage well from my early childhood.

My grandparents also told stories from prohibition about the police coming to their house and knocking on the door. When the door opened, the smell of hops gave away my grandparents’ home-brewed, bathtub beer. 

When Texas temperature began to rise, the beer bottles began blowing their corks. Beer ran down the fronts of all the kitchen cabinets where Meme and Grandaddy hid their stash.

Memories and Claw-foot Bathtubs

As a child, I bathed in that big claw-footed bathtub. I guess I was a pretty grimy kid because I never understood how you could drink a beverage made in that tub.

“You know the history I learned as a kid from that story. I learned when prohibition was and the fact that they didn’t have air-conditioning during that era,” Anna reports. “Because if they’d had air-conditioning the bottles wouldn’t have pressurized and exploded and the police wouldn’t have come.”

Called to a gunfight, the policemen were relieved when the crisis turned out to be exploding beer. Off-duty, the police came back later for a brew. Wild times in Texas.

Staying Cool

One thing our family always liked about that story was the way my grandparents stayed cool and invited the police in for a little hospitality. 

“In junior high or high school when I got that American history book and I learned about prohibition, I already knew that word,” Anna says. “When they started talking about the mobs and how some of the organized crime arose in the big cities during prohibition, I totally followed all of that because of that family history story, which was based on architecture and a piece of furniture in my house.”

My grandparents were hard-working people, not gangsters, just to clarify. Plus, they made most of the luxury items they ever had, including beer during prohibition apparently. My mother’s graduations from college marked a milestone for her family.

“If all you ever read is national history, it’s hard to connect to as a child,” says Anna. “But if you hear some of your family stories or the local stories about the local courthouse, then when you hear the national stories, there’s a segue, a connection.”

Well, apparently air-conditioning is a connecting theme for me today, especially since its a hundred degrees outside. Thank you for reading to the end and for chuckling with me about our family’s antics.

Please know how much we love and appreciate YOU! Anna and I hope you, too, stay cool and find ways to bless people with open hearts, hopefully without any exploding beer!

May we pray together?

Dear Father, open our eyes and hearts to see how blessed we truly are. Give us grateful hearts, blessed by sharing with each other. Teach us to honor You in all our words and actions. As we drive through our towns and cities, remind us to be grateful and pray for our leaders. We love You, O Lord, our true King. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What is your favorite building and why? When you look around your hometown, what do you see? What history lesson changed your life? Where are the buildings that house your family stories?

Coming Soon

Big announcement: a Series with People who Write Devotionals!! Some of my favorite young authors join me to talk truth with a capital T, including Brooke Frick and Lindsey Bell.  Author and mathematics genius, Dr. Angie Ruark graces the show soon, too!

You will love these rising stars in the publishing world. Their faith, wisdom, and devotion to God and family inspire me so much! 

Plus, Sarah Van Hook joins me soon. Talk about inspiring! So you won’t miss a thing, sign up for our stuff here. It’s all free and fun to pass on to your friends!

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

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Carried by Grace: When Sexual Abuse Happens in Your Home with Deb Butterfield

Today, Deb Butterfield and her daughter are living examples of the beautiful way God restores lives and blesses us all.

How in the world do you forgive when sexual abuse happens in your home? With tenderness, Debra L. Butterfield describes her experience as being carried by grace. This is the second in a two-part series. If you missed Deb’s story, please click here.

What will your life look like now? Will your daughter forgive you? Has God forgotten you? Will your brain ever un-fog? Who can you trust?

We’ve all experienced those kinds of questions, but it’s hard to imagine the kind of anguish that goes with sexual abuse of a daughter. Deb joined me to talk frankly about what it means to forgive someone when sexual abuse happens in your home to your daughter. And what forgiveness is NOT.

Forgiveness

Of course, it’s one thing to forgive and dismiss small potato stuff. But when sexual abuse happens in your home, well, this is the hard one. Who doesn’t get bitter waiting for justice that may never happen?

Certainly, sobbing with sorrow can become a daily ritual. Yet, when you’re carried by grace, forgiveness can also be part of the picture.

“Forgiveness is letting go of your right to see the perpetrator get justice,” Deb says. “In our legal system, when someone commits a crime, they’re charged and they go to court. You know, they receive a punishment. Forgiveness is letting go of that and allowing God to handle it all.” (You can reach out to Deb here.)

 Deb tenderly encourages us to know our families can heal. In fact, she and Cathy even laugh–yes, laugh–throughout this gentle conversation filled with comfort for the broken-hearted mom still reeling from the trauma. If you think life will never be the same, listen in now as Deb describes lives healed after sexual abuse. For this and many other podcasts, click here. Sign up for our free blog here.

A Choice of Our Free Will

“So often I hear about forgiveness as being a process, but forgiveness is a choice of your free will. It’s a decision you make,” Deb explains. “Now, it takes time for your emotions to catch up with that decision.”

She shares a personal example. “I mean I was constantly saying, ‘I’ve chosen to forgive my husband, I’ve chosen to forgive my husband.’” 

We may find ourselves coming back to powerful emotions over and over again, according to Deb. Yet, she is clear about forgiveness.

“The first time I chose to forgive him, he was forgiven. So, it’s not like it’s a process where the forgiveness grows because it just doesn’t. It’s a free will choice.”

Honestly, even though we know Jesus died on the cross to extend forgiveness, ouch, it can be so hard to forgive. Still, Deb makes me want to forgive, to be carried by grace, too. One thing I like about Deb—she’s real, precise, and practical. Plus, her relationship with God is obvious, especially to those of us who know her well. 

Beating the Inevitable Depression

“We want justice. It’s just part of who God created us to be,” Deb explains. “He’s a righteous God, a God of justice. We’re created in His image and that means we want those same things.”

In such situations, it’s easy to succumb to the inevitable depression. But for Deb, being carried by grace includes a practical strategy to escape the depression trap. (For more on how to forgive relentlesslyclick here.)

My experiences have taught me that praising God chases away my depression and soothes my broken heart. The most important time to praise God is when you’re feeling your worst — so, no, you won’t feel like praising. Praising God through your tears is a sacrifice, an exercise of your willpower. (See Hebrews 13:15) Your emotions scream at you to sit down and cry, but you must do your best to ignore your emotions and praise despite your tears. Don’t hesitate to let the tears flow as you praise God.”~Debra L. Butterfield from her book, Carried by Grace: A guide for mothers of victims of sexual abuse, (CrossRiver Media) pg 61

Deb’s Meaningful Rituals for Keeping It Together in Crisis

Meaningful rituals can provide a sense of normalcy in a crisis that affects the whole family, according to Deb. For other children who may be too young to understand why the family is unraveling, meaningful rituals can provide a sense of security.

  • Breakfast with the kids
  • Storytime at bedtime
  • A morning quiet time
  • Taking stock of your chore list—realizing that some stuff used to be handled but the perpetrator
  • Scheduling fun activities with the kids (Click here for cheap, easy fun with kids.)
  • Any others that comfort to your broken heart, especially if they focus your attention on God’s goodness (For more on God’s goodness, click here.)

How do meaningful rituals help with the forgiveness piece?

“My daughter was suffering number one, but I had two other children,” Deb says. “So, now they were also doing without a dad in the home and going through everything we were experiencing.” (For how to be your family’s champion, click here.)

She adds it’s “just very important to maintain some normalcy and realize that, yeah, life goes on. And we’re going to be okay.” Meaningful rituals can provide a way for forgiveness to take root.

Carried by Grace in Community

Another way to foster forgiveness is to seek wise friends. A mom can easily become isolated in her effort to protect the privacy of her children—its part of the sacrifice a mother will assume. (For how to care for yourself when you feel overwhelmed, click here.)

It’s okay to test a friend for trustworthiness by sharing a small piece of info. See if your information travels via gossip or if the other person responds in a gentle, wise way.

When sexual abuse happens in your home, being carried by grace may be the last thing you think of. For instance, if you looked at Deb’s situation from the outside, you might see a double dose of injustice. As a stay-at-home mom, not only did all this bad stuff happen but suddenly she had to support her family financially as well. (For how to create family wealth, click here.)

Fortunately, God’s plans are constantly adjusting to make room for sin. Daily, He redeems unexpected tragedy and surprises us with blessings in the midst of trials with mercy new each morning. One example is the community Deb found in her new job.

“I was working at a Christian organization,” Deb reports. “As I got to know my co-workers, I began to trust them. As my trust grew, I shared bits and pieces of my story,” Deb says. “They didn’t judge or condemn. They just loved me.”

For more about "What to Say?" when someone you know is in this kind of crisis, click here.

I love the victory in her daughter’s life, too. And the fact that they have such a sweet relationship. (Watch for our upcoming interview with Sarah here.) Deb believes trusting God to have some hard conversations brought about a world of healing. “I had to step out in faith.”

Oh, Deb, my warrior-hearted friend, how proud I am of you and your beautiful daughter! Thank you for making your story, your wisdom, and your beautiful book available to bless the rest of us. 

I treasure Deb’s story and the courage it took for her to share it. Sharing our stories means God can take the broken pieces and make something sacred out of them, like broken shards become a stained glass window. The pain becomes a confined part of a larger story. Our lives become the glorious sacred story of God’s intervention, redemption, and healing.

Whatever you are going through today, God is on your side. He will reach you in your pain if you stay alert for comfort from trustworthy friends. You are not alone, dear one!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father in heaven, sometimes You feel really far away. We wonder if You’ve forgotten about Your child. How could You let this happen? Don’t You love me or my daughter anymore, good Father? Where are our friends when we need them? Open our eyes to the way You reach into our pain and comfort us. Teach us to value the price paid for forgiveness by Your Son on the cross. Carry us in Your grace. Give us strength and clarity for today’s trials. Clear our minds to think wisely. Strengthen us as we comfort and lead our children, O Lord. We need Your powerful Spirit to saturate our hearts, dear Father because our hearts break. Mend us, we pray. Teach us to trust You and reach out to claim victory. In Jesus’s name, we pray.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has someone comforted you in the midst of pain? When you praise God in spite of your circumstances, what do you say? Which meaningful rituals help you and your family?

More of Deb’s Story

Last week, Deb shared many personal details from her story. If you happened to miss that blog or if your heart is broken over the sexual abuse of a beloved child, please click here for Deb’s storyPlease share this with your friends!

And don’t forget to sign up for our FREE blog, interviews, and podcasts here. All free and just once a week.

Other Important Topics

God has blessed us with many experts since we started Fireside Talk Radio. Please look for wisdom from trustworthy people on these topics: Domestic ViolenceBullying in School, Suicide of a Child, Suicide of a Sibling, Breast Cancer, Sex After Breast CancerLife After Divorce, Single Parenting, Chronic Pain, Burn Out, Perfectionism, and many others.

Panicking about homeschooling this year? We created several weeks of Easy Homeschooling Lesson Plans last spring. No need to worry, you got this! Easy-peasy!

Easy Homeschooling Lesson Plans.

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

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Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse: Carried by Grace with Deb L. Butterfield

Author of Carried by Grace, Deb Butterfield shares from her experience.

It could happen to anyone anywhere and often does. For mothers of victims of sexual abuse the pain is excruciating and often silent. Debra L. Butterfield understands because she’s been there.

What if you discover your daughter is the victim of sexual abuse? Do you feel all alone in this battle? Can life ever be the same again?

The Battle is Real

“I found out because my daughter was brave enough to come to me and tell me what was going on,” reports Deb. “But what I did was make the mistake of going to my husband on my own, rather than bringing my daughter with me or bringing a friend with me.”

It was easier for him to lie because he did not attempt to have sexual intercourse with her daughter. He explained away the uncomfortable, inappropriate things which her daughter reported. Deb accepted his lies at first because she wanted to believe the best. However, soon things became crystal clear.

“It came to a head when my daughter realized (within a few weeks) that nothing was changing. She put a knife to her chest and threatened to kill herself. At that point, I took her to the emergency room, and of course, one of the questions they asked had to deal with sexual abuse. Then, all of it basically blew up from there.”

In our interview, Deb tenderly shares many more things the mothers of victims of sexual abuse may experience. A warrior-hearted woman, Deb shares practical wisdom for creating normalcy in the crisis. For this podcast and many more, click here.

Now What?

How Christian friends respond to mothers of victims of sexual abuse is crucial. Yet we don’t always get any good training on what to say, even at church. If your worst nightmare comes true, how do you reach out for help?

“Basically, you do. You have to reach out for help. For me I know, I tried to keep it a secret for three long months” says Deb, “I just kept it all to myself. Finally I realized that I couldn’t do that anymore.” She found a trustworthy friend in her sister.

This Can’t Be Happening

“This can’t be happening. The day I drove to my husband’s arraignment the situation began to sink in. Seeing him in that felony orange jumpsuit mortified me. A waking nightmare had descended on our lives.” ~ Debra L. Butterfield, from her book, Carried by Grace, A guide for mothers of victims of sexual abuse, pg 21.

But, How Could This Happen?

Over twenty years ago, Deb thought life was finally going her way. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she married a Christian man. With two healthy kids and a new baby, all seemed well. A military veteran, she enjoyed being home with her kids. Her husband was a pillar in their church.  (For info on how domestic abuse can also sneak up in Christian families, click here.)

Mothers of sexual abuse are often strong, godly women who simply don’t suspect something this evil. 

“We just don’t expect it so we don’t see the warning signs at all,” Deb explains. 

Children and Christian Women are Especially Vulnerable

“Children are more easily controlled. As I look back on it I realize I saw things that he was doing all throughout our marriage as manipulation,” reports Deb. “But I see that in hindsight. As far as being blamed, that was one of the things the lawyers really hounded me on. It just seemed so impossible that the mother would not know. But you’re not around your child 24/7.”

For myself, one of my own prayers is that kids in Christian families will be wise, rather than naive. For instance, as Christian women, sexual abuse is the last thing we would even think of-the worst nightmare imaginable. Most of us would feel guilty for considering a spouse or relative might sexually abuse a child.

Protecting the Child

“A mother needs to protect her child for certain. Of course, my husband was immediately arrested,” Deb says. “But during that time frame I did everything to help my daughter heal. That’s what was important.”

Asking for help may feel like a further invasion of privacy for the child. The horror of finding out what has happened, plus the additional burden of keeping it private means mothers of victims of sexual abuse often do not get the help they need. 

For more about how to Help Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse, click here. 

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, our hearts can barely comprehend the full depravity of sexual abuse. We tremble in rage at the pain suffered by mothers of victims of sexual abuse. Our prayers find expression in groanings too deep for words. Have mercy, dear Lord! Teach what us we need to know for today. Clear our minds and emotions as we draw near to YOU. Refresh our broken hearts and mend us. Teach us the hard lessons of forgiveness, sacrifice, and justice. Give us boundaries and protect our tender children. Restore them, O Lord, because You love our kids even more than we do. So very much. Pour out Your love on them. Change our wounds to wisdom. We pray it in Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has God met you in a crisis? Which trustworthy friend did you turn to and why? What words comforted your heart?

Next Week

Next week, Deb is back ideas about how normal can look in a crisis. If your heart is broken over the sexual abuse of a beloved child, don’t miss what Deb has to say! Please share this with your friends!

Other Important Topics

God has blessed us with many experts since we started Fireside Talk Radio. Please look for wisdom from trustworthy people on these topics: Domestic ViolenceBullying in School, Suicide of a Child, Suicide of a Sibling, Breast Cancer, Sex After Breast CancerLife After Divorce, Single Parenting, Chronic Pain, Burn Out, Perfectionism, Easy Homeschooling Lesson Plans, and many others.

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

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Music: Celebrating American Faith with Anna Krafve Pierce

In Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Music, Anna and Cathy talk about how patriotic hymns pass down truth to new generations of Americans. In this picture, Sasha Vukelja poses in front of a bright American flag mural in East Texas.

We’re celebrating life and liberty this week. Plus, Anna and I are throwing in a little good ole patriotic music in honor of American faith. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of music—sounds like a great theme for the Fourth of July!

The Pursuit of Music

“I was trying to find the one that has the verse about ‘land of the noble free.’” She couldn’t remember which song so she ended up reading lots of hymns. “It was so fun,” she adds, laughing about her own life, liberty, and the pursuit of music.

We think faith, freedom, and music go together. 

Land of the Noble Free

Sweet Anna mentioned “God being kind to us as a country” and my heart took note. Immediately, I asked her about how she’s using hymns to teach her kids about life, liberty, and the pursuit of music. (For more thoughts, including how to celebrate state borders with kids, check out today’s podcast. Or click here for more on raising liberty-loving kids.)

Pictured above: One of our family’s favorite first-generation Americans, the amazing Sasha Vukelja, whom I call the patron saint of oncology, poses in front of a patriotic mural in East Texas. (For Sasha’s story, click here.)

We touch on some fun, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Music” stuff in this interview. Which phrase in a hymn was changed for political correctness? How does Clara Barton still inspire us today? For this conversation and all our interviews, click here.

Author of Liberty

Anna found the thought she was searching for in My Country Tis of Thee: “My native country, thee, land of the noble free, thy name I love.” (For more from Wikipedia, click here.) But check out the following thoughts in another verse.

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King!

God’s Kingship Taught in Public Schools

If you’re like me, you actually remember singing this verse in school—the public school—every morning right after the Pledge of Allegiance. (For First Liberty’s Lathan Watt’s Book List for liberty-loving kids, click here.)

We were taught America didn’t have a king because God is our king, unlike many other nations on earth. Long before I decided to become a Christian myself, life, liberty, and the pursuit of music already impacted my ideas about freedom.

I didn’t take offense when other people believed in God. I just took the time I needed, many years, to analyze what seemed logical to believe. (For more on raising history-loving kids, click here.) In the meantime, I respected other people’s beliefs and they respected mine.

Freedom’s Holy Light

“Freedom is holy, it says it right there,” Anna adds, “‘With freedom’s holy light.’ It’s holy because He authors (freedom), therefore it’s holy.” (For more about knowing God, click here.)

The 1960s represent a special era in America, with many tumultuous changes. The civil rights movement. Assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK. Vietnam. We watched the first step on the moon on television as it happened. It was an amazing era.

We were taught Americans were kinda special because we had God as our king. Times have changed. Music has changed. But faith still undergirds our nation, still providing freedom for those who choose not to believe in God.

Faith in God undergirds freedom for all. Our forefathers’ faith is one reason Anna and I cherish the old patriotic hymns. 

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Music

In a world that seems to be falling apart because people can’t agree, certain foundational ideas bind Americans together. True liberty represents solid Biblical thought. Fortunately for us all, our patriotic hymns capture those thoughts. 

“Great art preserves and interacts with truth.”~Anna Krafve Pierce

Certainly, Our beloved patriotic hymns help us pass freedom along to another generation of Americans. (For more on how freedom and faith extinguish anarchy, click here.)

“I was an artist long before I was a mom,” says Anna, explaining why she loves the art of music, “That’s what these really beautiful, good piece of music with lyrics are.” (For more about how art and music can inspire our kids, click here.)

She loves the way good music alone powerfully pulls us toward truth. But add in great lyrics and our culture gains a beautiful masterpiece. A powerful tool for truth.

“That’s probably why I love these songs about patriotism because they’re all about what is true about freedom,” adds Anna.

United We Stand

In 1956, Congress changed our national motto from E Pluribus Unum—Out of Many, One—to In God We Trust.

“They are very similar sentiments,” says Anna. “The idea of ‘In God We Trust’ is a very unifying idea.” Why? She explains further, “There is an Ultimate Being out there who loves us and is all-powerful and we’re going to trust Him together.”

The idea is so strong, it also allows us to respect others’ free will. We can make room for people who don’t believe in God because we trust in Him ourselves. (For more on how hospitable hearts bounce back in blessings, click here.)

As Christians, we commit to loving others from our whole hearts regardless of differing perspectives. This kind of trust in God allows us to pursue peace, while we present the values we hold dear with confidence and patience. 

Stewarding Freedom

Our cherished patriotic hymns instill a sense of stewardship for freedom. As Americans, we are blessed with freedom. While other countries might have kings, the United States is a country of self-governing people accountable to a mighty God. We are responsible for passing it to the next generation in better shape than we got it.

The powerful message of past generations still comes down to us forcefully through our patriotic hymns. May you enjoy a delightful holiday with those you love celebrating life, liberty, and the pursuit of music this year! Happy Independence Day, our beloved fellow-Americans!

May we pray together?

Dear Father in Heaven, You are the God of our Fathers and we worship You. Thank You for the life and liberty we enjoy. Give us courage to live truth out in our lives b loving others the way You love them. Bless and protect this wonderful land that we love. Stand beside us and guide us with the light from above. Teach us to cling to Your truth and justice, setting aside our disputing. Heal our Land, O Lord. Let us reason together as Your beloved children. Grant us Your grace. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What is your favorite hymn? How are you passing along truth to the younger generations? What’s your favorite thing about America?

Up Next!! Yay!! Finally!

Finally, yes, finally! Next week we get to share Deb Butterfield‘s interview. I can not wait!! With tender grace, Deb recounts her personal story about being slammed with pain when her beloved daughter was molested by a trusted family member. (To find Deb’s book in the meantime, click here.)

Plus, her beautiful daughter, the amazing Sarah Van Hook, has agreed to share all her wisdom in an upcoming interview. Please pray for sweet Sarah as she contemplates what to share to help the most

Wanna Give a Book a Title? I Need Your Help

Our marriage communication book is scheduled to come out this fall, but the working title feels too long. The Gentle Art of Companionship: Communicating Your Way to a Delightful Marriage. Anybody good at writing titles? Headlines are my weakness! (Well, one weakness of many.😉 )

I need some suggestions. Would you like to name a book? Please….

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

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True Grit: Teaching Kids Fearlessness in the Face of Failure

We’re dedicating today’s blog to William Krafve, the biggest John Wayne and Davy Crockett fan ever!

True Grit isn’t about being extra brave or stubborn. Okay, maybe it’s a little bit of raw stubbornness. But, true grit is really about being fearless in the face of failure. How do we teach our children to get back up when they fall down? 

Many of us are wondering about all that’s happening in our culture. Is there hope things will settle down so we can have a decent conversation?

With so much confusion on the nightly news, how do we teach our kids to be the calm in the chaos? You’re going to love what Anna shares about inspiring true grit in our kids every day.

For this conversation, Anna and I focus on inspiring our kids with the confidence to overcome fear. But for more thoughts on facing down racism and rioting in our culture, keep reading below. Or click here for Stanley Cofer’s thoughts on “Living the Dream”—a desegregated life—today. To find more podcasts, including interviews with amazing friends who happen to bring an African American perspective to life, click here.

Fear and Pretend Perfection

As a kindergarten girl, Anna erased holes in her paper because she couldn’t write the alphabet to her satisfaction. She doesn’t even remember. But as her mommy, I was worried.

“Mistakes are an opportunity to be creative,” I told my sweet little creative daughter. (For more on defeating perfectionism, click here.

“That was so freeing. I think it’s one of the reasons I wanted to be an artist,” Anna says now. “Art was one of the places I didn’t have to be afraid. I could be inspired instead.”

I suspect it’s our insecurities—our fears—that keep us tied to old prejudices. With a little creativity, we can become people of true grit. Inspiration instead of insecurity–that’s what we want.

Trying Counts

Way back then, as a young mommy, I started feeling bad about my own bondage to my insecurities. We adopted another family motto, “Trying counts.” We wanted freedom from fear.

“Sometimes, you just have to give yourself credit for being brave and trying,” laughs Anna, adding that “trying counts” is a great motto for potty training. 

Whether it’s potty training toddlers or standing up for what is right, life demands true grit out of all of us along the way.

True Grit

“I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but the reason I tend to fail is because I’m afraid. I get undermined by my fear,” says Anna. (For more on the art of messing up, click here.)

“True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows he should have done.” ~John Wayne, American Film Actor, Director, and Producer

Often we fail to try before we really give ourselves a chance to succeed. Anna asks for faith in the face of her fear. She says grit is about perspective. I learned a valuable lesson about perspective when I was taking Spanish at Tyler Junior College, about fifteen years ago.

Racism in America

In class, I enjoyed a diverse mix of folks, mostly younger than me. One evening, a young African American man spoke up about systemic racism. Naturally, since I remember the civil rights movement clearly, I gently pointed out the progress all Americans experience. 

Hyphenated Americans? Caucasian? Black? Really? Remember, I’m the gal who writes “Texan” on all government forms whenever they give me the “other” option.

Respectfully, the young man responded by asking me a simple question. During that semester, how many times had I been stopped by law enforcement on the way to class? Answer: 0. How many times had he been stopped? Answer: 6. 

My perspective was valid, it just needed a little expanding. Thinking back, I wonder about that young man’s family. Where did he get that kind of true grit? (For multiple perspectives presented in a fast-paced fiction story, I recommend Ben Sciacca’s book, Meals from Mars.)

Sometimes we all need a little education. Not a brick through our window. Certainly, not labels. No self-righteous lectures. Just a little compassionate education. We need to cross self-segregating lines that frighten us and risk being authentic. It’s okay to ask honest questions from trustworthy, respectable people. Good questions hold us all accountable.

Outlasting Failure

Success is not the opposite of failure. Success is outlasting failure–refusing to give up and quit–through perseverance and true grit to accomplish blessings for others. Like the young man in my class.

“When I ask God for faith, it allows me to identify what is true success,” says Anna. Surprisingly, sometimes true success is not even what we originally sought. “Then, if I do miss the mark I still have the faith that God has given me,” she adds. 

As an educator, Anna has learned to break success down into steps for kids.

The Steps to Success

Anna gives the example of teaching kids to write the alphabet. Even a short phrase can feel overwhelming to a child. For example, Anna gave her son a sentence that was too long.

“His face fell. The opportunity was lost.” But a few days later he was ready to try again.

“The next time, I took his hand in mine.” Gently, she asked him what he wanted to write. Next, she helped him shorten his thoughts to fewer words. 

“On a scrap piece of paper, I helped him form one letter. Then he wrote it on his note.” 

After each new letter, his face beamed. With growing confidence, he even practiced some of the letters a couple of extra times on the scrap paper. 

Mistakes Open Up Opportunities

Clearly, steps are an important part of learning to succeed. As adults, it’s easy to forget how much we practiced and failed our alphabet way back when. We often think failure is permanent. Instead, we need to look for solutions and own our mistakes.

“Get this, we get almost to the end and I look at his note. ‘Something’s off,’ says Anna. “Some of his letters are a little wonky still.” Suddenly, she recognized the problem.

“I’m so sorry, mommy misspelled one of the words!”

Immediately, Anna’s mistake gave her a natural opportunity to model how to apologize and shake off a minor mistake. Plus, her son got to practice graciousness.

From A to Z, Give Yourself Credit

As adults, we still want to jump from A to Z, without taking the time to learn all that’s in between. In our impatience, we can get so frustrated we want to give up.

“Some days as a toddler mom, I feel like I haven’t done anything. I know I’m doing good work, but I get to the end of the day and feel like there’s nothing to show for it,” adds Anna.

It’s easy to feel like we’re in a rut. Like things will never change, only get worse. Given a little bit of fear, soon depression can sneak up on all of us. (For many ways to succeed as Mommy, find more podcasts here or sign up for our weekly FREE blog here.)

True Grit Expressed in Conversation

It takes true grit to welcome the people God brings into our lives and trust Him with any discomfort. To seek wisdom. Like the young man in my class, to give a positive direction.

 “I like the word ponder for describing the process of considering different perspectives and thus growing in our mutual understanding and respect.”~from The Well, The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversation, coming out soon. (Yay!!)

Sure, we can just stay shallow. We can judge and label and box other people in. Or, we can embrace real friendships, adding depth to our lives and hearts.

Mommy Of Toddlers: Changing a Culture

“Sitting in my den, holding my son’s little fist in mine while we make letters. For him, that’s really hard work. It involves practicing and he feels like he may or may not succeed,” says Anna. She knows those moments are precious.

“As his mom, I could be doing something else, something that feels more important or more successful. But that moment spent with him—that’s the most successful thing I could do with my time.”

Our hats are off to all mommies! Is there any better way to learn true grit than to spend a day with adorable toddlers? Take it from this “Super-Gram,” little ones are exhausting!

Your perseverance will inspire true grit and faith in your children. Fellowship in your family will feed faith. Faith dispels fear. True grit claims hope and perseveres. Grit makes for stronger, more authentic families and friendships.

Education, like friendship, begins with a fresh perspective and a respectful conversation. Dialogue, not shouting. Good questions, not gotcha.

When we hurt what we need is a friend. A real friend—one who understands that gentle truth is life-giving for everyone.

May we pray together?

Dear good Father in heaven, we want to raise amazing sons and daughters who stand free of old bondages. Allow us to teach our kids to embrace true grit, fearlessly stepping out in faith. Unite us in the things You love. Teach us to love each other and to love Your truth more than life itself. Give us perseverance and wisdom for today’s trials and joy in the victories. We praise You, O Lord. Thank You for being our unfailing companion in this life and the next. You open heaven to us, inviting us in, by way of Your Son. In His name, we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What’s your favorite thing about your friends from different backgrounds? How do religious, ethnic, and political differences make for a richer life? When other people reject your firmly held beliefs, what do you say? How does your family celebrate different perspectives and backgrounds with friends? 

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

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When Burn-out Strikes: How to Refuel Our Hearts with Dr. Stan Ward

Dr. Stan Ward coaches other leaders with compassion born out of his own experience. When Burn-out Strikes: How to Refuel Our Hearts  with Dr. Stan Ward, CathyKrafve.comDr. Stan Ward coaches other leaders with compassion born out of his own experience.

 

Refuel our hearts when burn-out strikes? I might be too tired for that! Seriously.

Many people think burn-out is a work thing, but, um, there’s more to the story. Dr. Stan Ward expands the discussion he began last week with his personal story about how to refuel our hearts when burn-out strikes.

When burn-out strikes, most of the time the stuff that really gets us is happening at home. Issues at work or church further complicate our lives. But home is where our hearts are.

Dr. Stan Ward offers some practical advice from his own experience with managing home, work, and caregiving, all simultaneously. (For Stan’s personal experience with burn-out, click here.)

In our interview, Stan included some great thoughts about refueling our hearts when spiritual burn-out strikes. (Please click above to hear more or find more Fireside Talk Radio podcasts here.)

Out of Gas

If you’re sputtering for air, Stan tenderly points out there’s no shame when burn-out strikes. (For an article about burn out from Stan, click here.) He offers an analogy of a car.

“Think about what happens to a car engine when it runs out of gasoline versus what happens when it keeps running without oil,” he explains.

On one hand, a car engine just stops when it’s out of fuel. When it gets more fuel, it starts back up. On the other hand, when an engine runs without oil for a while, it will destroy itself.

“As human beings, we’re made to go through cycles of exertion and rest, excretion, and rest. To be worn out is to have gone all the way through the exertion cycle where you can go no further and then you stop,” explains Stan. “Burn out is you keep making yourself go even though you don’t have the resources you need just to keep going. Eventually, that catches up.” 

When burn-out strikes, the consequences can be brutal. So, what signs tell us we may be way beyond needing a nap? Watch for the following three things.

Emotional Exhaustion—

Stan says to recognize if you feel like you have “brain fog.” Burn-out is a spectrum, according to Stan. In my life, when burn-out strikes, my feelings can range from a little overwhelmed to truly feeling unable to cope, as when my mom passed away.

If your burn-out feels like an uncomplicated case, a weekend of rest may be all it takes to refuel. But what if it’s more complicated? It may mean reprioritizing, setting boundaries, and enlisting help.

“It’s important to address emotional exhaustion because it’s often where burn out starts,” Stan says. Emotional exhaustion can cause us to pull back out of sheer survival instincts. That’s when depersonalization surfaces. 

Depersonalization—

Depersonalization is a fancy word for disconnecting from people and our sense of purpose.

“You can see if you’re emotionally exhausted you’re gonna want to withdraw to protect yourself,” Stan reports, “It’s this idea of disconnecting, becoming cynical, withdrawing from relationships, even withdrawing possibly from your sense of purpose; a lack of meaning.”

Stan goes into much more depth about depersonalization in his book, How To Beat Burnout: For Yourself, Your Family, and Your Team. I really enjoyed his explanations. Stan’s book is the kind of info I keep on my shelf as a resource. 

For instance, his ideas made me wonder if people who seem difficult person in my life are just burnt-out. The fact is, we all experience burn-out sometimes. It seems unfair to label people “difficult” when really they may be suffering.

“This is why in the earlier episode I mentioned the idea of comedy vs. tragedy.,” Stan adds, “Depersonalization is when you put yourself on that tragic path toward isolation. For me, that’s one of the most concerning pieces of this thing.”

Okay, if you read my stuff often, you knew I was gonna quote my friend Sandy Bristow here, “Isolation is where the devil takes you to go in for the kill.” (To find more about trusting our gut from Sandy, click here.)

Ineffectiveness—

“Ineffectiveness is that sense I’m in a hamster wheel, running all the time and getting nowhere.” says Stan. One of his friends, a police officer, describes it this way, “I feel like I’m throwing pebbles at a freight train.”

“When all three of those come together, boom, that’s when you’re really in burn-out.

There’s no shame in burn out. The real question is how do we refuel our hearts?

Refueling Our Hearts

It’s okay to feel like you’re experiencing some of this stuff,” San explains, adding that we should ask ourselves a very important question, “Does it get in the way of the life I want to live?”

“The realization that I have these daughters that I wanted to raise in such a way that they did not marry a total jerk,” he says, tenderly referring to a story he shared in the first episode when God woke him up to changes he wanted to make at home. “That’s the point where I realized Okay, I’m on the spectrum in a place where I’ve got to take action now.”

If emotional exhaustion is a zero and joy on the other, where would you put yourself today?  Take a quick self-care moment and give yourself a number, dear one. Stan knows now what recharges his batteries.

“What I’m working on helping people proactively move the needle in the right direction so they don’t hit zero. They don’t hit total emotional exhaustion, total depersonalization, total ineffectiveness,” Stan is in his happy place. “Because really once you’re in that (burn-out) space, there’s a lot of other negative stuff. That’s where we start seeing the self-medication behaviors that go on, the addictive behaviors.”

He warns depression follows closely on the heels of burn-out. Getting help can make all the difference for regaining joy.

“So then they can be fully present for themselves, fully present for their family, and fully present for their work groups,” adds Stan.

Spiritual Burn-Out—

“There was a point where people would come up and say, ‘I’m praying for you’ and I just wanted to smack ‘em,” laughed Stan when I asked him about spiritual burn-out. 

We really ran out of time, so look for me to invite Stan again for this important topic. In the meantime, he had this encouraging thought when we notice burn-out in our Christian brothers and sisters.

“As you’re reading scripture, remember the main characters are not Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and these other folks that we often try to get four bullet points from on how to live our lives,” Stan says. “The main character of scripture is God. When you frame it that way it takes a lot of the pressure off us. Hopefully, you can feel (more effective) and embrace grace more.”

In Other News–

With the current protesting, I want to remind you about a terrific book by Ben Sciacca: Meals from Mars. Ben tells the story of how lives get off-track suddenly in an accidental car-jacking. Accidental car-jacking you ask? Yep, it’s a crazy ride, but tons of fun to read. In a world ready to talk about race (finally!), this book is an eye-opening parable.

Plus, Ben chose the adventure of crossing the self-segregating cultural divide for his own family. You’ll love Ben’s fast-paced fictional account, as he tackles the racism conversation from many perspectives. Truly a worthy read! (Plus, you can hear how he learned a thing or two in the interview we did together. For all Fireside Talk Radio podcasts, click here.) A shout out here to my friend Frankie Picasso who introduced me to Ben on her show. (Love ya, Franke!)

Coming Soon–

My interviews with Deb Butterfield are up next in early July. I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation! With tender grace, Deb recounts her personal story about being slammed with a devastating discovery. Maybe you, too, know the pain when a beloved daughter has been molested by a trusted family member. (To find Deb’s book in the meantime, click here.)

Deb has quickly become a beloved friend in my life. I know you will love her courage and integrity, not to mention her warrior spirit, as much as I do. This one is dear to my heart, both the woman and her wisdom! I can’t wait to share it with you! Plus, her beautiful daughter has agreed to come on the show just as soon as we can schedule an interview. Please pray for us as we pull together this wonderful tool for God’s glory.

Plus, in honor of all our friends who attended CrossRiver Media’s Audacious Faith conference, I created a wonderful freebie just for you: 25 Power Questions for Turning Arguments into Conversations. Click here and it’s yours free by signing up for our website. You’ll also get our weekly blog loaded with ideas about creating GREAT conversations, GREAT companionship, and GREAT community. Plus, Deb’s interview will come right to your email inbox. All FREE! Yep, free. I LOVE free stuff!!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, with so much happening in our families and crazy world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We get burnt-out and don’t even have the energy to know what’s happening to us. We disconnect for survival ad before we know it, depression has slipped in. Give us wisdom, O Lord, because we sure need it! Where but in Your presence can we find the hope, comfort, and energy we need for this day? Give us the courage to change what we need to change and to rethink our priorities. Fill us with joy in the living water of Your Spirit, we pray. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

When have you struggled with burn-out? How did a friend offer you help? How could we pray for you today?

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

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Beating Burn Out: Conquering In Community with Dr. Stan Ward

Caregiver? Parent? Spouse? Leader? Boss? Student? Yes, all of the above!
 
Dr. Stan Ward shares his own experience and offers some practical tips on beating burn out.
 
You could say Stan is an accidental expert on burn-out.
 
I love this shot of Stan and Mindy Ward, shown above. What a devoted couple! Just in time for Father’s Day, Stan opens up about beating burn out.

Accidental Expert

 

“When our school receptionist met me with a worried look as I came to work, I knew something was wrong,” he writes in an article for Crosswalk, “‘Stan, Mindy’s been in an accident. She says she is okay, though.’” (For Stan’s full article about keeping your marriage vows for better or worse, click here.)

His beloved wife Mindy suffered a head injury. Instantly, Stan’s life as he knew it came to a crashing halt with her wreck. 

Suddenly, he found himself attending therapy sessions of all varieties with his wife. Plus he cared for their two young daughters, cooked meals, did laundry, kept family schedules, in addition to his regular workload and his doctoral program. Oh my!

When burn out slams us, what can we do to take care of ourselves? In our interview, Stan shares practical tips he learned by experience. (Find more Fireside Talk Radio podcasts here.)

A Community of Good Friends

For instance, something as simple as insisting on taking a walk once a week together can make all the difference when a friend is going through a difficult time. 

With Father’s Day around the corner, Stan’s story reminds us all how important good men are when we need help. Specifically, he names two dear friends, Les Ellsworth and Chris Legg. 

Both Les and Chris provided practical support when Stan’s life collided with harsh reality. (Find Chris Legg’s 2 Best Life Hacks for Fathers here. Les’s wife, Oncology Nurse Susan Ellsworth also came on the show to tell her story of beating breast cancer.)

Burn Out Isn’t For Wimps

“Not only am I a leadership coach who helps people deal with burn-out, but I am also a guy who’s experienced it,” explains Stan with deep empathy. (Find his book, How To Beat Burnout: For Yourself, Your Family, and Your Team.)

Even while he’s celebrating Father’s Day later this month, he’s thinking about single moms. Stan’s parents divorced when he was a boy. While he enjoys great relationships with all his family members, single moms hold a special place in his heart.

“Let me just say, on behalf of your children, thirty maybe forty years from now—they’re probably not expressing it very well now—so on behalf of them in the future, just thank you! Thank you for the work you do,” he shouts out to all single moms.

The sacrificial love of mother can work miracles in the life of a child. Stan knows how hard it can be to manage everything else and also learn to be the caretaker when someone we love needs us. 

Beating Burn Out

The way Stan talks about his wife has always endeared him to me long before her accident. Now, because of their experience together, Stan has a perspective rare for men. Seriously, caregiving falls on women a lot. We all expect that. However, Stan understands first-hand how it feels to be sandwiched between raising kids and caring for a beloved family member. 

Often folks think of burn-out as something that happens at work. But he thinks we need to look again.

“Extreme stress, whether it’s home-related or work-related, has a very similar impact on people.” It can have severe physical consequences if we don’t take care of ourselves. “Stress has very real implications, burn out is one of them.”

Conquering in Community

“The first thing is to ask who is your community,” he says. Self-care is not selfish, according to Stan. But self-care may require accepting help from others, a hard thing for many of us.

Immediately after Mindy’s accident, Stan’s friend Les Ellsworth reached out and suggested they take a walk together, just once a week.”

“He’s such a fun guy, he’s hard to say no to,” laughs Stan, “With Les, thankfully he was able—just with his personality—to tap into my desire just to want to hang out with him.” Stan’s best advice—let people help you.

“First thing I would say is when people offer help, allow yourself to receive it,” he adds.

Anger in Adversity

It’s common to feel angry when life doesn’t unfold as we expect.

“I was still in school and working and stuff and realized I was just angry all the time,” he reports, “by the way, that can be a sign of burn out.”

He believes the Holy Spirit whispered his next thought in his heart.

“’Stan, your daughters will probably marry someone like you.  Who do you want them to marry?’ I kid you not, I pulled over the car right then!” He turned to his dear friend, Chris Legg. 

“He’s a counselor. I respect him.” (I frequently recommend Alethia as a place to start when you need a friend who counsels. And don’t forget Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas for wisdom and help.)

Comedy or Tragedy?

Amazingly, God used the full range of experiences in Stan’s life to turn him into the compassionate husband, father, friend, and leader he is today. With joy, I thank him for sharing his story just in time for Father’s Day. Next week, we’re in for a treat because I asked Stan to share his wisdom, too. 

A good man is a blessing to multitudes of people.

“The basic difference between a comic story and a tragic story is comic stories end with community. Tragic stories end in isolation,” he says. I liked the way Stan explained the choices we make in life.

“If you’re struggling with burn out and you’re trying to figure out what you should do, choose the path you want to take,” he says. “Do you want the comic path or the tragic path? If you want the comic ending, you’ve got to choose community.

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day soon to all the GREAT dads we know and love. And to some mommies we know who are filling both roles. Also, I want to send a special shout out to two of the most fabulous daddies I know, Travis and Drew.

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, we are grateful for Your unfailing love. You are the one we turn to when we feel overwhelmed. For any reading or listening friends who today feel burned out, thank You for being their friend. Comfort them now with Your dear presence. Surround them with a community of people who will care enough to take a walk or pick up the phone for a conversation. Bless them with the strength, energy, perseverance, and quiet joy they need today. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a good man been a true friend to you? When you need help, how does your community stepped up? What topics would you like for us to talk about next?

Prayer Request for us at Camp Krafve—

What’s up with this–our hosting site will again increase our costs. I love sharing other people’s fabulous messages, but the business side is ouch-y sometimes. Has anyone used Patreon? What did you think of them?

Please pray for us. First, I have to call the hosting site and figure out what’s happening on their end. Then, I’ll decide if I should use Patreon, recruit sponsors, or turn to google ads to help our website pay for itself. If you have any experience and can offer ideas, PLEASE contact me. 

Finally, thank you for your prayers. What would I do without YOU, my praying friends?! I am grateful.

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

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Audacious Faith, Living Out Faith in the Real World

Maybe like me, you wonder if your big dream is simply too huge.

“One day you’re up. The next day down. Sunday morning you’re great, but by Monday it’s gone. For a lot of women, their relationship with God seems tedious, disconnected, one-sided, empty…the joy of salvation is gone, faded by the hardships of everyday life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.” (For more about audacious faith from CrossRiver, click here.)

On June 6th, CrossRiver Media hosted an event--Audacious Faith--honoring CrossRiver’s tenth anniversary of publishing books and other materials. CrossRiver is dedicated helping Christians in their daily walk with the Lord, including by publishing non-fiction, fiction, children, Bible study, and Christian living books. 

Join Me with Audacious Faith

“God is calling you to a vibrant relationship… an active affair with Him… something entirely audacious.” ~according to CrossRiver.

My talk is called Goodby Gotcha, Hello Authentic: Changing Arguments to Conversations(To sign up for Camp Krafve’s free weekly blog, click here.)

Arguing with your hubby? Wonder what that sullen teen is thinking? Feel shut down by your boss? Haven’t we all!

I’ll share the secret of my favorite Power Questions. You can also recieve my power question freebie by signing up for my weekly blog, here. Did I mention FREE stuff will come to you? All kinds of interviews, podcasts, and ideas for creating authentic conversations in your world!

This is powerful, life-changing stuff! With Audacious Faith great conversations are possible!

Amazing Speakers and Friends

Here are some of the amazing women who showed up to share their wisdom:

I love these gals. For instance, one of Nancy Kay Grace’s quotes wiggled into my upcoming book. Later this summer, Brooke Frick is scheduled for a Fireside Talk Radio interview. All of them meet together regularly to encourage new authors like me. Nice!

Recent Interviews of Yours Truly!

Stephen Tilmon, a new and very fun friend, just interviewed me for his podcast, Faith and Failures. Yep, I know quite a bit about faith because of my failures! I told my story of choosing abortion and how God’s grace changed me forever. (Find more tender stories and podcasts on Fireside Talk Radio, here.)

It sounds like a serious conversation and it is, but Stephen has a way of getting folks to say more than we meant to, so some of it is really tender. Plus, he is very funny. Watch for Stephen’s interview with me in two places: Faith and Failures on Apple Podcast. Or, Faith and Failures on Spotify.

If you like that episode, you may like the podcast, Bearded Cactus, Stephen does with one of his childhood chums. They talk about guy stuff like fatherhood with kids coming in and interrupting the show. It’s pretty hilarious!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, You call us to be audacious in our trust of You and Your goodness. We see Your faithful, unfailing love all around us. You take our breath away! Teach us to boldly move ahead into the design and plans You have for us and our families. Thank You for this unexpected COVID-enforced retreat. Help us use the time wisely to bring glory to You today and forever. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has your faith been stretched this spring? What dreams will you pursue with audacious faith? Have you learned new things about your children and grandchildren that you want to cover in audacious prayer?

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

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Podcast Invites: Top 3 Tips for Nailing Your Next Podcast

Fireside Talk RadioTo listen in on our conversations with our amazing, heroic, creative guests, click here!

Today, I’m pulling back the curtain and inviting you backstage for a behind-the-scenes look at podcasting. With so much happening online now, what makes a dynamic podcast guest? Faith, not fear!

I want you to nail your next podcast.

CrossRiver Media has a group of authors who get together regularly to pray for each other. We laugh about how hard it can be to be the guest on a podcast. They encouraged me to jot down a few tips about how to be a terrific guest.

For my own latest adventure on being a guest, go to https://cathykrafve.com/media/ and enjoy The Art Connection with amazing radio host, Neida Fran Ward and co-host Sandy Newton. Or click here to find more of our Camp Krafve media adventures with others.

Top 3 Tips for Nailing Podcast Invites

#1 Good Questions

Ahead of time, ask about the show’s demographics. Our guests always ask lots of good questions before they come on Fireside Talk Radio.

Who is listening? What can you say to encourage the show’s listening friends? What will people be searching for online when they discover your episode? Next, pinpoint how your story and experience is unique. How can you help others?

Find out if the host has a book or message they would like for you to share, too. The host will really appreciate your help. Lastly, don’t fill up the host’s inbox with too many questions. Be specific and succinct. 

#2 A Good Message

Prepare by narrowing your message. I struggle with this one every time I go on someone else’s show. Here’s what helps me. First, I review my elevator speech. (Confession: I hate elevator speeches. Probably because I tend to be verbose. Bummer! For an example of my short bio, click here.)

Second, I create a mission statement for that show. Here’s an example, “For this upcoming show, I want to help listening friends (smart women ages 35-65) with some life-changing communication tips.”

Before each show, I encourage our guests to focus on one idea they’d like to emphasize for each fifteen-minute segment. If they send their list to me ahead of time, I try to ask questions to help them stay on track with their message. But, the host may forget something, so stay flexible.

#3 Good Manners

Respect the host. I know, I know. What guest would ever be disrespectful? No one. But people get so anxious about doing a good job, they forget to focus on the other person. Both guest or host can be distracted by life’s crazy moments. So use your best manners. Good manners always focus on others.

Because we raised a bunch of talkers at our house, we use The 3-Sentence Rule. What’s the Camp Krafve 3-Sentence Rule? After three sentences, we’re supposed to take a breath to see if anyone else wants to jump in. Anna and I love the 3-Sentence Rule when we co-host episodes. We both. Talk. A lot. 

Believe me, guests who rattle on require the host to interrupt. How much better to take a breath! One way I relax enough on-air to breathe is by making a few notes pre-show. 

For myself, I always pick a couple of stories to tell. Then, I reduce each story to three sentences— a trick I learned from the amazing Sandra Beck. Keeping my stories focused, keeps me concise. Feeling confident allows me to breathe as we converse on-air.

Acknowledge the Host’s Good Work

As far as good manners goes, nothing beats setting up the host to talk about their priorities. A quick question or acknowledgement of their message, skills, or product goes a long way. Try asking the host a few good questions on air, like these, “I just read you book and loved it. What was your favorite chapter?” or “How did you get interested in our mutually favorite subject?” or “I signed up for you website, but remind me what’s the address, in case folks want to get your wonderful blog?”

Whenever I’m invited to be on someone else’s show, I always try to sign up for their blog. Following their messaging helps me check in to see what else is out in the universe. Plus, it makes me happy to know other people are offering positive messages, too. Phew! We really are not alone!

We’re Thankful

Podcasts represent a lot of work. The process of passing along messages is an amazing and rewarding collaboration between guest and host. 

Before we invite guests, we screen ahead of time with research. Plus, we make a personal phone call just to be sure the guest enunciates. If I can’t understand you, neither will our listening friends.

With joy, we encourage other hosts to check our list for their next podcast invite! If you see a name on our guest list, their message deserves to be used by God to bless others. We feel privileged to pass on their good messages.

After we record each show, I write a blog to introduce the show. I take the time to write to the best of my ability. I always include lots of our guest’s points for friends who prefer to read. We embed podcasts and hyperlinks in our blog for the convenience of listening friends. 

Sandra Beck, our social media consultant, buys advertising for us and specializes in some kind of algorithm, which I don’t totally understand. Our whole team is encouraged when the numbers are high—proof that our guests’ positive messages are reaching and encouraging folks.

We partner with Toginet for podcasts because they make life easy. Great tech guys, like Roy Bryan and Ben Horlander, take care of stuff for me, often before I know I need help!

Sound Equipment?

I learned the hard way that soundproofing is a must. Using my laptop in a new location, I recorded two episodes that turned out too tinny to post. My guest that day was awesome, so I was bummed! Fortunately, soundproofing is not hard at all. Simply furnishing your “studio” with blankets, rugs, and soft furniture should do the trick. 

Sometimes people ask me what equipment is necessary. Nothing really except a laptop with a camera. A camera for podcasts? Yes, because one thing leads to another. You will inevitably be asked to do some video shows, too.

For podcasts, if you want to upgrade your sound quality, I use a Yeti mic and headphones. Certainly, I’m happy with them. This may be more info than you want. Thank you for being such a good listener!

How Do We Choose Fireside Talk Radio Guests?

We pick people we think will bless YOU! Seriously. it’s that simple.

We choose heroic, champion types because that’s who you are. Since we know our reading and listening friends are smart, influential, creative women, we like to throw in podcasts about fostering creativity, too. The biggest surprise for us is how many men tune in.

You, our reading and listening friends, are dear to our hearts. 

We Welcome Prayer

On a personal note, we find there’s spiritual attack associated with some of our guests’ messages. Satan really hates truth and any victory associated with Jesus. 

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the line of fire simply because we invited some heroic guest. We double down on prayer then. Sure, it’s one thing to take a quick hit because of one week’s show. But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to be that champion out in the world presenting a powerful message daily. Therefore, we keep praying for our guests long after they do a show with us.

I bet you know EXACTLY what I mean. Please pray before our guests. Believe me I pray for you. Our dedicated prayer warrior women pray for you, too.

Faith and Failures

stephen Tilmon, Host of Faith and FailuresStephen Tilmon of Faith and Failures

Speaking of needing prayer, I recently joined the wonderful Stephen Tilmon on his show, Faith and Failures. We talked about the internal struggle that goes with an abortion. The pain lasted long after my decision. Yet, I know from experience, there is life after abortion.

Stephen asks serious questions. But he also sprinkles on his trademark humor and kindness for a lively, compassionate conversation. If abortion is tugging at your heart, don’t miss this one! Or, for more about the vision behind Faith and Failures, click here.

Be Real

Most importantly, for your next podcast invite, remember this. Be real. Life is not a perfection contest. Hosts are people, too. Stuff happens at my house all the time, but I still have an interview to record. Whatever else happens in the background of your life, why not share it? 

Honestly, your authenticity will make a better show—and friendship. At first, I only asked people I knew to be on the show. Now, I pray and take a chance. Many guests were strangers when we began but we connected personally while planning their show. Listening friends write me with suggestions and prayers. Now my guests and listening/reading friends are my real friends. Old friends and new ones.

We hope your next podcast results in many new friendships. Best wishes for many happy broadcasts! And lots of life-changing conversations!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, You are calling us to influence our world for good. We thank You for being the great Communicator. Your message is good news for those willing to hear it. We praise You for sending Your Son to bring us forgiveness and the message of Your initiating, unfailing love for each one of us. Help us use technology, media, and all the tools You provide to Your glory. Give hope to those who need it. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked? What big dream is pressing its way out of your heart? Who would you like for us to interview next?

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

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Domestic Violence: Anchoring Sisters in Christ

Paula and two of her kids in the days when she needed to make changes. Now she helps other women recognize domestic violence.

“To admit that you’re in a marriage that’s abusive is horrifying within the church,” explains Paula, “You have to realize there’s a lot of shame around this, especially in the church. Oftentimes we’ll put on a mask just so people don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with.” (For twelve principles about helping those suffering from domestic violence, click here.

Educating the Church for Powerful Help

Since the 1990s, Paula made educating about domestic violence her life mission. (For tools for pastors and churches, click here.She speaks frequently across the nation in churches and conferences of all variety. The Focus Ministries website is loaded with resources, too—I do mean loaded. 

Sadly, Paula tells me domestic violence affects every “make and model,” crossing over ethnic, socio-economic, educational, family background, denominational, or any other factors. (For the commonly held  myths Paula shared with us, click here.)

What NOT to Say

Too often, when women finally do share a bit about their situation, the response increases their suffering.

  • Oh, it must be your fault.
  • You have this problem because you’re not reading scripture enough.
  • You’re not abiding by being submissive.
  • You’re not praying hard enough. 
  • Don’t you trust God that He’s going to fix this?”

There’s nothing like a little condemnation to make us wonder why we brought our pain to church! That’s not what women need at church. The Church is where we want to feel the safest. (For more about spiritual abuse, I suggest Athena Dean Holtz’s book, Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God.)

“Women really want to go to the Church and get support,” Paula states.

You’ll love Paula’s gentle, thoughtful way of answering all the questions I asked her. Find our interview by listening in on our podcast or click here for it and more. 

Domestic Violence: Anchoring Sisters in Christ

Especially in the Church, domestic violence is a topic we wish we could avoid. However, “a woman in the United States is battered by a partner every 12 to 15 seconds. Up to 6 million women are believed to be beaten in their homes each year. At least 30 percent of all murders of women in America are committed by intimate partners. And in the Christian community, one in every four women experiences family violence,” according to Focus Ministries.

Wise friends who stick through a life crisis involving domestic violence are like an anchor on a ship, according to Paula. (For local, trustworthy help, find the East Texas Crisis Center here.)

Like anchors, wise friends withstand corrosive elements. They hang in there. A wise friend will help ground a sister in Christ. 

Like an anchor, wise friends provide a stable influence, while giving their sister room to flow freely. Paula recommends stabilizing your sister without trying to control or direct her decisions. She must recognize her situation for herself and find the safe harbor she needs. 

The Lightbulb Moment

In our interview, Paula offered many questions and responses to help a sister—more than I can include here. (For our free weekly on tender topics, click here.)

“You don’t want to tell somebody, but you want them to discover so it becomes a part of them,” explains Paula. “A lightbulb goes on in them and that makes a difference.”

Watching for Signs of Domestic Violence

Sadly, many women suffer alone until danger forces us all to recognize the situation. (For more on how to be your family’s champion, click here.) Instead, we can be alert to the signs of domestic violence. 

Paula describes her own situation this way: “I became a non-person. No right to feelings, no right to opinions, no right to anything. And it was awful. It became even part of my physical well-being, part of my posture. I would stoop down and I couldn’t look at people in the eye because I was afraid they’d find out.” Additionally, a woman may leave a marriage like this six or seven times on average, reports Paula. 

“After a while, people who are trying to support and help give up on the person,” Paula says. “They walk away. Please don’t do that. Persevere.” (May I recommend two of my favorite places to start? Click for Alethia Counseling or Good Samaritan.)

We can encourage them to choose safety for their children as well. (For Paula’s story and more about how her kids suffered, too, click here.)

Could this be abuse?

What if a sister in Christ privately shares something surprising that’s going on in her home? Could this be abuse, you wonder. Now what? Since we’re not trained as counselors, we might feel afraid to speak. Listening is a great place to start to anchor a sister because so often their feelings are really shut down.

“Listen carefully. Then, ask them, well, how did you feel about that?” Beginning by listening well, we can help friends find comfort, strength, and resources.

The Questions Paula Asks

When a woman contacts Paula for help, she finds assessment questions helpful. Assessment questions allow the woman to pinpoint her own situation. Paula begins by helping women identify if they are victims of verbal or emotional abuse, something many women do not realize is included in domestic violence. 

  • When the two of you argue or have a fight, what happens?
  • How do you feel after an argument?
  • Are there times when you do not feel safe in your relationship?

Next, she takes the conversation a step further, identifying the physical aspects of danger. 

  • Have you ever been hit? Strangled? Pushed? Shoved? 
  • Has he ever punched holes in the walls?
  • Are any weapons in the home?

As chilling as those questions are, Paula said one more thing that stopped my in my tracks.

The Idol of Marriage

“Marriage almost becomes an idol,” says Paula. “What happens in the church is they become more concerned about the marriage than they do about the individual.” Yet, God always begins by focusing on individuals. 

“God deals with us individually. We KNOW God cares about the individual,” Paul emphasizes. “If you’re reading and this topic resonates with you because you’re wondering about your own marriage, please, let us assure you that you are valuable and worthy because God made you and He cares about you as an individual.”

May I add my encouragement to Paula’s? God cares about you and wants you to be safe. He cares about your kids and wants them to be safe, too. Please, dear one, if you have any concerns, please share them today with a trustworthy friend. Find your anchor! Dear sister, please don’t become invisible and isolated in your pain.

What a shame to sacrifice the individual that Jesus Himself died to save!

“Christ came to save people, not marriages,” says Paula. “I beg the churches to get educated and to learn how to appropriately handle this area of domestic violence.”

Creating Safety at Church

It really encourages me to know Paula speaks often to churches. Focus Ministries has several people you can call on for help at your church or personally. This should not be a taboo topic at church especially, my dear friends!

“Also, we do counsel by phone or email,” says Paula. “They can get ahold of us. We don’t charge for any of that.” They have specific tools for pastor’s wives.

“We try to put as much information on our website, so whether they contact us or not, they still get the information.” All their resources are confidential, all only a click away on their extensive website. They really understand how hard the first step is—telling someone trustworthy.

May we pray together?

Good Father in heaven, How we love you! You are our anchor in all the storms of life. Domestic violence breaks our hearts. Have mercy on us, O Lord. How can we stand by without realizing a dear sister and her children may be suffering and in danger? How can we overlook the pain of a man who resorts to violence at the expense of his own family? Teach us, O Lord, to speak Your healing truth over these crisis situations. Let Your Holy Spirit wash over us like living water to cleanse our souls and mend our hearts. Teach us to value ourselves the way You value each one of us. Give us courage and wisdom to speak up. Bless us now because it is Your heart’s desire to do so. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a sister in Christ anchored your heart? What do you wish your church would do to help you? Which topics should we talk about on Fireside Talk Radio?

Coming Soon!

I want my listening and reading friends to be among the first to know this is happening! Watch here for more details!

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

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Domestic Violence In the Church: Her Story with Paula Silva

Domestic violence in the church? How can that be! Fortunately for the rest of us, Paula Silva knows exactly how domestic violence can sneak up on believing wives. She’s educated churches about domestic violence for over twenty-five years.

Founder of Focus Ministries, Paula is a nationally known expert on the topic of domestic violence. I was privileged to interview her through the connection of a dear friend. (Thank you, sweet friend!) 

Domestic Violence in the Church

Eventually, Paula began to realize something was terribly wrong in her marriage. In desperation, she proposed a separation to her husband within their own home to give them a chance to rethink their situation. (For more on how to be your family’s champion, click here.)

“He just told me that he would kill me and kill himself,” she says.

Without her knowledge, her husband went to their pastor. She doesn’t know what exactly her husband told their pastor. She was called into the pastor’s office. He asked what was going on. 

“I want you to realize after twenty-six years of marriage, I had never told anybody what was going on,” Paula says. In fact, she reports it’s common for women to suffer alone. Certainly, if they share anything, it’s only a tiny portion.

“I culminated with how my husband threatened to kill me and kill himself,” says Paula. Their pastor leaned in and said something chilling.

“Well, did he hold a gun to your head?” Then the pastor proceeded to lecture her about “my purposeful sin of divorce.” Fortunately, Paula listened to a different voice.

“I heard God say to me, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Paula gently shares universal truth as she tells her story and the way God cared for her through it all in our interview. Or find tools for great conversations to share at church or home here.

Church Can Be a Safe Place

I hesitate to share this story because I am blessed to know so many tender pastors who would never respond this way. But Paula’s story reminds me that all Christians are accountable before God for how we respond in those tender moments with our sisters and brothers in Christ. (If you are seeking counseling or pastoral care, may I recommend two of my favorite places to start? Find Alethia Counseling here or Good Samaritan here.)

Because we all know church can and should be a safe place, I asked Paula tons of questions about how this could happen to a strong Christian.

How Could This Happen to a Believer?

She was raised in a Christian home by parents who were very involved in church. (For more tools to gently bring up tough topics at church, click here.) She first met her future husband in their youth group at church. They dated off and on for many years.

“My husband was very outgoing person who could turn on the charm,” she reports, adding, “I felt privileged to be chosen to be his wife. That’s a key part.”

However, they weren’t married long before certain abusive traits—traits that he had gotten from his father—began to surface.

“A week after we were married I asked him to take out the garbage. He proceeded to go into a rage,” she says. “He yelled at me that I shouldn’t ask him to do such a thing. I was shocked.”

She began to question her own reality. 

“What had I done to set him off? Maybe he was just having a bad day. Maybe I asked incorrectly. It was the beginning of not trusting my own perception.” 

All the while, people at church held him in high regard. The couple ministered in their church to the youth and college students. He even taught at the local college. From all appearances, it was a perfect marriage. 

“But behind closed doors I was regularly verbally assaulted with not being a godly wife,” she explains, “I was accused of challenging his authority in the home.” He knew just which Bible verses to quote to trigger the reactions he wanted from her. (For more about spiritual manipulation and abuse, I suggest Athena Dean Holtz’s book, Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God.)

Then There Were Children

“When three children came along, things turned from bad to worse,” she says, adding he resented her devotion to their children. “Not only was the attention taken from him, but I wasn’t out there making money.”

He began each day with a checklist for Paula, often raging at her if she failed to complete it. He also followed his children around the house rehashing their perceived failures. Soon, the family began to dread the moment when dad arrived home after work. (For local, trustworthy help, find the East Texas Crisis Center here.)

“The children suffered verbal and emotional abuse,” she reports. Still, for a long time she didn’t realize they were living in an abusive situation.

What We Need to Know

“The term domestic violence never entered my brain because domestic violence to me was only physical abuse,” she explains. “Because I wasn’t being hit, if you told me I was being abused, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Based on Paula’s own experience she offers some important truths for us who love the Church:

  • Just because someone professes to be a Christian and attends your church, doesn’t mean they are.
  • The marriage ended because of abuse, but that doesn’t mean your life is over and God will never use you for His glory.
  • Domestic violence is more than just physical abuse.
  • Domestic violence is a cancer, permeating the Christian community. Churches are unprepared in handling domestic violence.
  • God can take the broken pieces of our lives and transform them into something beautiful, much like a stain glass window.
  • There is hope and healing when we keep our focus on the Lord.
  • Marriage has become an idol over the safety of a victim.
  • The church is not always a safe place, but it should be.

Maybe you could take a minute and tape Paula’s list in your Bible, in case you want to glance at it in church next Sunday. Or in case someone you know needs it.

Christians don’t like to admit there’s a problem within the church called domestic violence. Yet, when we speak up, we join Paula in making a big dent in the power of the enemy.

Victory and Inspiration

Do you know someone who may feel isolated in the darkness of domestic violence? We know the enemy does not want the sun to shine on reality.

Like so many of our guests, Paula offers real solutions. I feel so honored someone with Paula’s reputation and credentials would come on Fireside Talk Radio. So, I kidded her about Camp Krafve “hitting the big league.” 

“The big league is God,” replied Paula, without missing a beat. Dear reading and listening friends, only God could arrange for us to bring you this beautiful story of victory and inspiration. (For our free weekly on tender topics, click here.) For any sisters out there who might be suffering, Paula says turn to the psalms. 

“I have found that women who are hurting, if they start reading the Psalms, God picks a Psalm for them.”

One of Paula’s favorites is Psalm 34:17-23, so we’ll close today’s blog with it and our deep love for you!

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.”

Up Next

Next week, Paula shares what we can do to make the church a safe place for those suffering with domestic violence. We’re calling that episode, Domestic Violence: Anchoring Sisters. Don’t miss her wisdom!

Then, just in time for Father’s Day, we interview the amazing Stan Ward. You will love what he says about beating burn out. How do we zero in on what really counts in life? Don’t miss our interview with this down-to-earth, geeky Ph.D. smart father and friend!

Plus, Anna shows up soon for more fun (often funny) family moments!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, we cry out and You hear. You deliver us out of all our troubles. You are near to those who have a broken heart. We praise and thank You, O Lord! You save us and teach us to come to You with a contrite spirit. We praise You because You are trustworthy. Many are our afflictions, but You deliver us out of them all. You guard all our bones; not one of them is broken. So we pray for this dear one now. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a sister in Christ anchored your heart? What do you wish your church would do to help you? Which topics should we talk about on Fireside Talk Radio?

Coming Soon!

I want my listening and reading friends to be among the first to know this is happening! Watch here for more details!

 

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Hospitable Hearts: The Bounce Back of Welcoming Others

David and I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!
(Thanks to Meg Strout Loomin for one of our favorite pix together! She caught David about to say something funny–love his dimples!)

How do we teach our children the skill of valuing others? By having hospitable hearts! Plus, there’s a bounce-back for our kids.

Folks will focus on us for Mother’s Day. But what’s all the fuss about really? Here’s one thing all good moms do well. They welcome others with hospitable hearts. Clearly, hospitality is so much more than hosting parties.

As mothers, we all know welcoming others into our lives always bounces back to bless our children. Our kids become more confident when they see the value God puts on all people.

For instance, take this poignant example of how important a warm welcome is.

“I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.“~Harriet Tubman

Imagine achieving freedom after traveling hundreds of miles in hiding, days and nights spent in life-threatening danger. Yet, in the moment of her tremendous victory, Harriet Tubman felt the absence of welcome. 

“To have freedom but be missing a welcome, it (welcome) is THAT important,” agrees Anna.

(Click above for more of Anna’s hilarious questions to teach your teenagers so they can start up great conversations, like, what to ask your prom date. Or find more Fireside Talk Radio podcasts by clicking here.)

Hospitable Hearts

For Anna Krafve Pierce, our daughter and one of my favorite cohosts, a hospitable heart means going “deeper to the idea of expanding my heart to include new people, even those people who may seem unlovable to other people.” She added the perfect example of a heart full of love for whoever God brings across our path that day.

“When you say hospitality, I immediately visualize my daughter sitting on the front porch. With her cookie. In her little red dress. Waiting on the first guest,” says Anna. It was her daughter’s first tea party as co-hostess with the grown-up ladies and she was giddy with excitement!

With effervescent enthusiasm, my little granddaughter dashed across the yard to greet the first guests even before their car doors opened. Smiling, she welcomed them in by the hand to enjoy the tea, the cookies, the fellowship. 

“I was thinking about what is the first ingredient of hospitality,” says Anna. “I think it might be anticipation.”

Released From Negative Self Talk

Maybe, like me, you struggle with feeling unworthy–how do we reach out to others when we feel yucky? How do I encourage myself, even in those self-loathing, self-rejecting moments? 

I hear this over and over as I talk to amazing successful women who’ve conquered tons of stuff. We all know women commonly feel discouraged and anxious. So how do I offer my own heart the same kind of welcome I want to give others? Anna thinks we can build confidence in our kids long before negative self-talk ever takes root. (For more on raising confident girls, click here.)

Anna offered some wonderful examples of how we include others in our lives, to set the stage for our kids’ success and confidence. Not to mention our own emotional and mental health!

She suggested a hospitable heart overflows with the same kind of love God expresses for each one of us. His love initiates in celebratory anticipation. She compares it to Christmas morning.

A Christmas Morning Kind of Love

“When a little kid knows they’re gonna get the bike. Wouldn’t it be awesome if everywhere you went, you knew the person who was there was already anticipating you in that way?” she explains, “It makes heaven look really wonderful because we know God is anticipating us in that way.”

I have a friend who habitually greets people like they are her long-lost friend, even if you just saw her yesterday. She always wraps her arms around us with enthusiastic love and welcome. She became my perfect example of how I wanted to greet others.

When I mentioned this friend anonymously on-air, Anna knew exactly who I meant. (For more on building great friendships, click here.)

“I almost always have a ‘contract’ with her when I have a party, ‘Yes, you’re coming because it won’t be a party unless you’re there,’” laughs Anna. “She is so dear.” Her way of welcome has now influenced our family into three generations. TO READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.

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Domestic Violence In the Church: Her Story with Paula Silva

Domestic violence in the church? How can that be! Fortunately for the rest of us, Paula Silva knows exactly how domestic violence can sneak up on believing wives. She’s educated churches about domestic violence for over twenty-five years.

Founder of Focus Ministries, Paula is a nationally known expert on the topic of domestic violence. I was privileged to interview her through the connection of a dear friend. (Thank you, sweet friend!) 

Domestic Violence in the Church

Eventually, Paula began to realize something was terribly wrong in her marriage. In desperation, she proposed a separation to her husband within their own home to give them a chance to rethink their situation. (For more on how to be your family’s champion, click here.)

“He just told me that he would kill me and kill himself,” she says.

Without her knowledge, her husband went to their pastor. She doesn’t know what exactly her husband told their pastor. She was called into the pastor’s office. He asked what was going on. 

“I want you to realize after twenty-six years of marriage, I had never told anybody what was going on,” Paula says. In fact, she reports it’s common for women to suffer alone. Certainly, if they share anything, it’s only a tiny portion.

“I culminated with how my husband threatened to kill me and kill himself,” says Paula. Their pastor leaned in and said something chilling.

“Well, did he hold a gun to your head?” Then the pastor proceeded to lecture her about “my purposeful sin of divorce.” Fortunately, Paula listened to a different voice.

“I heard God say to me, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Paula gently shares universal truth as she tells her story and the way God cared for her through it all in our interview. Or find tools for great conversations to share at church or home here.

Church Can Be a Safe Place

I hesitate to share this story because I am blessed to know so many tender pastors who would never respond this way. But Paula’s story reminds me that all Christians are accountable before God for how we respond in those tender moments with our sisters and brothers in Christ. (If you are seeking counseling or pastoral care, may I recommend two of my favorite places to start? Find Alethia Counseling here or Good Samaritan here.)

Because we all know church can and should be a safe place, I asked Paula tons of questions about how this could happen to a strong Christian.

How Could This Happen to a Believer?

She was raised in a Christian home by parents who were very involved in church. (For more tools to gently bring up tough topics at church, click here.) She first met her future husband in their youth group at church. They dated off and on for many years.

“My husband was very outgoing person who could turn on the charm,” she reports, adding, “I felt privileged to be chosen to be his wife. That’s a key part.”

However, they weren’t married long before certain abusive traits—traits that he had gotten from his father—began to surface.

“A week after we were married I asked him to take out the garbage. He proceeded to go into a rage,” she says. “He yelled at me that I shouldn’t ask him to do such a thing. I was shocked.”

She began to question her own reality. 

“What had I done to set him off? Maybe he was just having a bad day. Maybe I asked incorrectly. It was the beginning of not trusting my own perception.” 

All the while, people at church held him in high regard. The couple ministered in their church to the youth and college students. He even taught at the local college. From all appearances, it was a perfect marriage. 

“But behind closed doors I was regularly verbally assaulted with not being a godly wife,” she explains, “I was accused of challenging his authority in the home.” He knew just which Bible verses to quote to trigger the reactions he wanted from her. (For more about spiritual manipulation and abuse, I suggest Athena Dean Holtz’s book, Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God.)

Then There Were Children

“When three children came along, things turned from bad to worse,” she says, adding he resented her devotion to their children. “Not only was the attention taken from him, but I wasn’t out there making money.”

He began each day with a checklist for Paula, often raging at her if she failed to complete it. He also followed his children around the house rehashing their perceived failures. Soon, the family began to dread the moment when dad arrived home after work. (For local, trustworthy help, find the East Texas Crisis Center here.)

“The children suffered verbal and emotional abuse,” she reports. Still, for a long time she didn’t realize they were living in an abusive situation.

What We Need to Know

“The term domestic violence never entered my brain because domestic violence to me was only physical abuse,” she explains. “Because I wasn’t being hit, if you told me I was being abused, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Based on Paula’s own experience she offers some important truths for us who love the Church:

  • Just because someone professes to be a Christian and attends your church, doesn’t mean they are.
  • The marriage ended because of abuse, but that doesn’t mean your life is over and God will never use you for His glory.
  • Domestic violence is more than just physical abuse.
  • Domestic violence is a cancer, permeating the Christian community. Churches are unprepared in handling domestic violence.
  • God can take the broken pieces of our lives and transform them into something beautiful, much like a stain glass window.
  • There is hope and healing when we keep our focus on the Lord.
  • Marriage has become an idol over the safety of a victim.
  • The church is not always a safe place, but it should be.

Maybe you could take a minute and tape Paula’s list in your Bible, in case you want to glance at it in church next Sunday. Or in case someone you know needs it.

Christians don’t like to admit there’s a problem within the church called domestic violence. Yet, when we speak up, we join Paula in making a big dent in the power of the enemy.

Victory and Inspiration

Do you know someone who may feel isolated in the darkness of domestic violence? We know the enemy does not want the sun to shine on reality.

Like so many of our guests, Paula offers real solutions. I feel so honored someone with Paula’s reputation and credentials would come on Fireside Talk Radio. So, I kidded her about Camp Krafve “hitting the big league.” 

“The big league is God,” replied Paula, without missing a beat. Dear reading and listening friends, only God could arrange for us to bring you this beautiful story of victory and inspiration. (For our free weekly on tender topics, click here.) For any sisters out there who might be suffering, Paula says turn to the psalms. 

“I have found that women who are hurting, if they start reading the Psalms, God picks a Psalm for them.”

One of Paula’s favorites is Psalm 34:17-23, so we’ll close today’s blog with it and our deep love for you!

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.”

Up Next

Next week, Paula shares what we can do to make the church a safe place for those suffering with domestic violence. We’re calling that episode, Domestic Violence: Anchoring Sisters. Don’t miss her wisdom!

Then, just in time for Father’s Day, we interview the amazing Stan Ward. You will love what he says about beating burn out. How do we zero in on what really counts in life? Don’t miss our interview with this down-to-earth, geeky Ph.D. smart father and friend!

Plus, Anna shows up soon for more fun (often funny) family moments!

May we pray together?

Dear good Father, we cry out and You hear. You deliver us out of all our troubles. You are near to those who have a broken heart. We praise and thank You, O Lord! You save us and teach us to come to You with a contrite spirit. We praise You because You are trustworthy. Many are our afflictions, but You deliver us out of them all. You guard all our bones; not one of them is broken. So we pray for this dear one now. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a sister in Christ anchored your heart? What do you wish your church would do to help you? Which topics should we talk about on Fireside Talk Radio?

Coming Soon!

I want my listening and reading friends to be among the first to know this is happening! Watch here for more details!

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

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Perfect Ain’t Pretty with Tammy Whitehurst, Her Wisdom

 

Tammy Whitehurst brings her smile and wisdom to CathyKrafve.comPerfectionism is one quick short-circuit to a friendship, according to Tammy Whitehurst.

Petticoats showing? Spinach in your teeth? Truly, all women struggle with weird worries, she reports. The temptation to look perfect is real. But perfect ain’t pretty.

 

Speaker and Christian Communicator Tammy Whitehurst laughswith Cathy on this week’s podcast, Perfection Ain’t Pretty.

Seriously, trying to be perfect doesn’t cure our anxiety. Instead, perfectionism creates more trouble. (For more about Tammy, including her personal story, click here.)

 

Ironically, perfectionism doesn’t make people run to you. On the contrary, it makes people run from you, according to Tammy.

“We feel like they’re just sizing us up and looking at every single crack we may have in our life.”

Maybe sometimes other people size us up, but not always, according to Tammy.

“Most of the time, I’ve found out they’re more worried about what they’re doing instead of what you’re doing.” (For insightful—often hilarious—insight from Tammy and her co-host  Lauren Reeves, check out their Joy for the Journey podcasts, here.)

I love this quote from Tammy in our interview, “I often say Satan is like a buzzard, he picks people apart one painful piece at a time until he has devoured us. We have to decide that we are not gonna feed him.” Click here for more Fireside Talk radio podcasts.

The Link to Loneliness

“Loneliness can be so tied in with anxiety,” says Tammy, siting technology as a contributing factor to modern loneliness. “We can take college courses from home and we can watch church from home. We can have our friends on Facebook from home.” 

Can loneliness be the source of anxiety? 

“Yes,” Tammy says. “When loneliness builds up, anxiety will creep in. What happens is we fall into a comparison trap.”

The Comparison Trap

“So, we fall into this comparison trap. All of a sudden we think that God just overlooked us.” Tammy points out the feeling God blinked somehow and He’s not seeing what we’re going through. “Loneliness creeps in. Anxiety creeps in. After that depression can come in.” (For more info about how God seeks you, click here.)

She ties our negative feelings back to the comparison trap. As if being perfect could make us more lovable somehow.

“All too often because of the comparison trap, we want people only to see the best side of us,” explains Tammy. “We think—wrongly—that if people see the best side of us they’re gonna like us more.”

Truly, though, people are not comfortable with perfection.

“But the truth is if people see we have weakness, that we can fall flat on our face, if people see that our knees can shake, we have tears running down our cheeks from time to time, that makes us real,” says Tammy. “When we’re real that’s so much better than perfectionism can ever be.”

Perfection Ain’t Pretty

“I often say Satan is like a buzzard, he picks people apart one painful piece at a time until he has devoured us. We have to decide that we are not gonna feed him.” She offers a serious solution to the battle with perfectionism. 

“We have to realize we are far from perfect. The only perfection is Jesus,” Tammy says. “We always have the sneaking suspicion that if we check every box off—if we look perfect—then we’re gonna look more like Jesus. But that is just not how we were meant to be.” 

Instead she talks with humor and insight about the courage to be real. Exactly what God made us to be. Really human.

Pulled Out of the Pit

“We are meant to show people Jesus. Part of that is when people can see the cracks in our life,” she says. “When people can see who we are and what we go through, then we can share with them what pulls us up out of the pit. What gets us going again, what forces us to stop what we’re doing and to really concentrate on what is important.”

Tammy shared so much in our interview, I hope you will click on it and listen in. I truly believe when we show our humanity, God’s divinity is honored. Pretending to be perfect is weird. (For more on how to be a creative woman of influence, click here.)

“We have to stop worrying about being bulletproof,” emphasizes Tammy. “We can’t take everything the world heaps upon us.” She insists one key to victory is seeing other people as partners, rather than competitors.

Compare, Compete or Collaborate

“When we collaborate rather than compete, life gets a lot easier,” she adds. “It takes all kinds of people with all kinds of gifts to make something great.” (For more on how to collaborate, check out Christian Communicators. To hear our interview with co-owner Lori Boruff, click here.)

Whether it’s a great business, a great church, a great community, or a great life, human imperfections open up room for creativity. 

“Perfectionism tries to make everything perfect, everything with no margin whatsoever. We are human, there’s all kinds of margin of error in our makeup, Tammy says. “If we keep waiting for everything to be absolutely perfect—if we don’t find happiness where we are now—we’re gonna run out of time.”

Perfectly Human

We don’t have to compete and compare. Certainly, we don’t have to be concerned with self-righteousness, perfectionism, or negative self-talk. In fact, the challenges you wake up to today may be incredibly difficult. 

If what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, we ought to be “bench pressing Buicks by this time,” according to Tammy. In fact, she even says, “Sometimes what doesn’t kill us will make us wish we were dead because it’s so hard!”

Instead of turning to perfectionism, we can turn to the perfect Savior. We don’t need to be perfect, Lord, we just need to be human. (For more on how to turn to God, click here.So, how does turning to the Savior look in our daily life?

“You literally take time early in the morning to find the calm in the chaos,” explains Tammy, “To halt the hustle, to resist the rush to be perfect, to press pause to get content. When you are content, you will also find joy for your journey. You will also realize the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Opening the treasure of our hearts, even the painful stuff, to share with others will increase the joy and companionship in our lives. “Don’t die with buried treasure,” she says. People let dreams die because they thought they had to do it perfectly.

“Cemeteries are filled with stories that were never told, books that were never written, jobs the were never taken, songs that were never sung, because we think we have to do it perfectly,” Tammy concludes. “Just step out on two-footed faith and say I’m gonna do it because this is what God called me to do.”

Coming Soon

Because we love you, dear listening and reading friend, we offer powerful and freeing messages in easy-to-share, loving formats. Please share them with your friends. (For direct access to our latest conversational adventures, podcasts, and blogs, click here.)

Next up, I’m thrilled to introduce you to nationally-known expert, Paula Silva. Domestic Violence is often an uncomfortable topic in many churches. Of course, the first and most important safe spot for women who suffer in silence with an abusive spouse should be her church. 

Do you suspect your friend may be experiencing domestic violence? If so, you’ll love the practical suggestions Paula makes to help your church be a safe refuge. Stay tuned for Paula’s life-changing insight coming soon right here!

Plus, don’t miss the wisdom Dr. Stan Ward shares about Beating Burn-Out, just in time for Dad’s Day! (To sign up for free weekly ideas to foster communication and companionship in YOUR home and community, click here! And we sure hope you will!)

May We Pray Together?

Dear good Father, how grateful we are to be loved by You. You take our messes and make miracles. Thank you for creating us in our humanity-somehow a reflection of Your divinity. Help us be honest and real with each other. Teach us to glorify You in our daily circumstances and life’s imperfections. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How have you learned to speak truth to your own heart? What encouragement has a friend offered you this week? What is your favorite “imperfection” about your best friend?

More Wisdom from Friends

We’re honored to interview some amazing folks for Fireside Talk Radio. With victory and joy, all our guests seem to highlight some common themes. For examples, click on any of our Fireside Talk Radio podcasts here. Look for Jeanette HanscomeJanet McHenry, Cynthia Tobias, SharRon Jamison, Carol Clark, or Grace English, to name a few. Compassion, companionship, creativity, and conversation are our passions here at Camp Krafve.

You are dear to me!

Finding heroic people–one of the personal blessings of a culture-wide retreat. Thank you to all who are serving on the front lines. And to my fellow writers and bloggers who are persisting in creating positive messages–Go Team! I’m sending lots of love to all my reading, writing, and listening to friends. I hope you are taking good care of yourself in these uncertain times, finding creative ways to share your love.

Each time someone tells me our stories of heroic friends are blessing them, I rejoice! With joy, I recommit myself to the task of telling the stories and sharing the wisdom of champions. Thank you for the million ways you find to encourage me and my family. I am grateful!

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

 

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Joy for Life’s Journey with Tammy Whitehurst, Her Story

Smiling, Tammy Whitehurst's face reveals the a heart of joy.

Her heart’s desire was to be an undercover FBI agent. People giggle every time she mentions it. Now Tammy Whitehurst focuses on joy for life’s journey and making people smile.

“There’s nothing undercover about me,” laughs Tammy, “I’m Texas raised, Jesus saved, and loving all things cheetah. That’s my forte color so the FBI route probably would not have been the route I should have gone.”

Not long ago, Tammy spoke at a banquet for CARE, Christ-centered Abortion Recovery and Education. Despite her serious topic, laughter filled the banquet hall. She reminds us joy and laughter accompany forgiveness and grace. 

In this episode, Tammy shares about learning from her first audience—middle school students! Even though God changed her classroom, Tammy still loves encouraging fellow-educators. To find more podcasts, go to Fireside Talk Radio, here.

A New Heart

Tammy became a Christian at twenty-six. At thirty she had heart surgery.

“I began to have a series of TIAs,” says Tammy. “I ended up in the emergency room.”

The mini-strokes got her attention. (For more on maintaining your physical and emotional health, click here.) An implant restored her beautiful physical heart to proper functioning, but God was doing another procedure on her inner heart, too.

“It’s at that point the Lord began to change my heart into speaking to women’s groups, at conferences and retreats. He was beginning to show me He can work through every problem that we could possibly have.”

Communication: Waves of Positive Impact

Tammy now co-owns Christian Communicators with Lori Boruff. (To hear our interview with Lori, click here.Together, the two ladies train an elite group of speakers each year at an annual conference. In a small group setting Christian Communicators focuses on launching exceptional women who are poised to reach a larger audience with their message. Naturally, this means their influence is rippling out in waves of positive impact.

All the while, Tammy speaks to a wide variety of audiences all over the United States. Each week finds her traveling to some location near and far. With so much success and many leadership roles, I asked Tammy how she manages it all.

Calm in Chaos 

“All successful women struggle to find the ‘calm in the chaos’. When the kids are bickering all the time and schedules are jam-packed. They have dishes and laundry are piled up,” Tammy explains. “They wonder how they are ever gonna get done what they need to get done.”

When we feel overwhelmed, as we all do sometimes, Tammy encourages women to root out any perfectionism. Perfectionism short-circuits our lives. (To find more Joy for the Journey, click here to discover the weekly—often hilarious—podcasts, Tammy and co-host Lauren Reeves create.)

Fighting the battle to break free of perfectionism can be an ongoing struggle for successful women everywhere. How do we find the “calm in the chaos”?

“Instead of arthritis, I often suffered with ‘Marth-itis,’” Tammy laughs, referring to the Bible’s most organized lady, Martha. “We never find calm in the chaos of perfectionism.” Perfectionism makes us less productive and more stressed. It’s okay to let the unimportant stuff all through the cracks.

Busy-ness is Not a Spiritual Gift

“I wrote an article, Oh gosh, several years ago  called ‘Busy-ness is Not a Spiritual Gift.’ That’s when I really began to unwrap what perfectionism looked like.” Tammy describes letting go of her perfect checklist and letting God give her life direction.

These days she wakes up and reports to God for duty, trusting Him for the day’s priorities. “I like the fact that life now is so much more relaxed.” (For more on how sassy faith looks, check out our interview with Michelle Adams here.)

“Whenever we begin giving Him every mistake and every mess we’ve ever made, He gives us the Messiah. I think the reason Messiah is spelled m-e-s-s-i-a-h is because of all the messes we can get in,” she adds with a laugh. 

Letting God make miracles out of our messes includes trusting Him, according to Tammy. If your life feels messy with new challenges around educating your kids, click herefor free Camp Krafve Lesson Plans.)

“It’s truly amazing what God can do with our lives. He can give us that sense of significance.”

Coming Soon

I loved what Tammy had to say as she shared her story. For next week, I asked her a ton more questions in a podcast and blog we’re calling Perfectionism Ain’t Pretty. 

Because we love you, dear listening and reading friend, our goal is to make Tammy’s powerful and freeing message easy to share with those you love. Please share it with your friends.

Additionally, I’m thrilled to introduce you to a nationally known expert on Domestic Violence. This is a topic often overlooked in churches. Of course, the first and most important safe spot for women who suffer in silence with an abusive spouse is her church. 

Sadly, many Christian women don’t know how to get free from domestic violence. You’re going to love the practical suggestions Paula Silva makes to help your church be a safe refuge. (A special anonymous shout out to the beloved friend who connected me to Paula. Thank you, dear one!) Do not miss Paula’s life-changing insight coming soon right here!

May We Pray Together?

Dear good Father, we love You. Your perfect nature and goodness permeate every aspect of life. Your perfect forgiveness frees us. In Your perfect love, we rejoice in our humanity. Your divinity shines in our humanity when we trust You. Our messes become a creative masterpiece in Your beautiful redemptive power. We praise You now. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to Hear from YOU!

How has perfectionism cost you friendships? When you notice perfectionism traumatizing a friend, how do you offer comfort? What truths do you speak to your heart to cherish your value to God?

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

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Blind Spots and Leadership in the Age of Corona with Ashley Kutach

Ashley Kutach and co-author Brian BrandtEast Texans got to see Ashley Kutach and co-author, Brain Brandt on local newsstands.

In this age of Corona, leaders need great communication skills. Ashley and Brian Brandt just co-authored their book, Blind Spots: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us. I invited Ashley Kutach on Fireside Talk Radio to talk about how our personal blind spots affect our ability to communicate.

As Ashley and Brian coached a variety of leaders, they noticed a trend. 

“We have both seen people who would have something happen to them again and again and they would wonder why. They would want us to help give them the answer, the solution,” explains Ashley, “And oftentimes what we had to do was get them to listen.”

The common denominator in these situations often turned out to be the leader. Of course, with the pandemic, leaders are tested in unexpected ways.

Self-awareness vs. Blind Spots with Ashley Kutach, Her Wisdom In the above episode, I begin our interview with a story about the first time I met Ashley. You will love her response to my first impressions of this wonderful lady.

A Quick List of Self Awareness Questions

Ashley began asking herself terrific questions to boost her own self-awareness. As we watch our leaders struggle to communicate in challenging circumstances, you may notice trends yourself. Now, more than ever, we need connection. Blind spots greatly impact our ability to connect with the people we love the most. Perhaps you’re noticing the trend as you lead your own family in responding to crisis.

If you read my blog often, you know how much I LOVE good questions. So, here’s Ashley’s quick list from the above podcast:

  • What things happen to me more than once?
  • What is my role in the situation?
  • Why do I let this happen more than once?
  • Do I have one-sided relationships, where I give more to the relationship than my friend?
  • Am I afraid to take responsibility for my patterns?
  • Is that really who I am?

“I think it’s so important for all people, all women—for wives, for moms—to think about those patterns they are seeing in their lives, to begin to really inspect those,” she adds. (To sign up for our free weekly podcasts and blogs, click here.)

Breaking Stereotypes

Blind spots can include stereotypes people put on us. Sometimes the most loving people in our lives say things that limit us. Ashley shares an example from her own life.

“I have always considered myself a very shy person. I still believe that to be true, actually, about myself,” she says, “I have never met a child as shy as what I remember myself being as a child.” Her parents reinforced her self-perception. 

However, when her elementary school teacher begged for participants in a speech contest, the tender-hearted shy girl volunteered. 

“I won, which was very surprising.” Now she advocates trying new things as a route to self-awareness. For instance, Ashley loves public speaking. She is a frequent guest at podiums and boardrooms across America to speak on topics like Taking the Con Out of Conflict and Superwomen in Leadership, to name just a couple.

Overcoming Blind Spots with Ashley Kutach, Her Story To hear more about how Ashley encouraged her own children when they were little and how that has changed over the years, listen in to our conversation above. She also shares how her sweet hubby gently coached her on a personal blind spot. Click here for more podcasts about encouraging a husband, our kids, or aging parents.

That’s Just Who I Am!

I confess I’ve heard myself say it. “That’s just who I am!” Sometimes, it’s our best excuse for ignoring something we really need to work on. Ugh! (For more on sassy faith without getting on everyone’s nerves, click here.However, Ashley offered some great wisdom.

“If you find yourself putting your hands on your hips and saying, ‘This is just who I am. They are going to have to accept it.’ One thing to remember is that we don’t really,” she explains, “I mean, people don’t really have to accept if I behave in a certain way.” 

People get to choose if they spend time with us. Likewise, I get to decide if I want to work on my own habits. Ashley suggests we take a hard look at our habits and decide how they may affect others. She suggests asking, “Is that really who I am?” Or, could we be making excuses because we don’t want to do the work?

The Trap of Perfectionism

I’ve worked on tons of my own stuff over the years, only to have patterns reemerge. I asked Ashley about the balance between working on bad habits and perfectionism.

“Where does it stop? That’s a great question. We go through all these different stages in life—when you have a new job or you retire from a job, or you become a parent or a grandparent, or you become a new neighbor—you have all these new situations lend themselves to potentially discovering blind spots.”

Ashley stresses that none of us can hope to be perfect. “I’m not perfect at all and I’m never going to be perfect. I’m human.”

She offered this test for when to work on blind spots and when to let stuff go. 

“If this is impacting the relationship I have my husband or children, then it’s worth investing the time,” she says. “For me it’s all relationship-based. If it’s impacting my relationships, it’s worth tackling.”

Coming Soon

Tammy Whitehurst is coming on Fireside Talk Radio soon to talk more about overcoming perfectionism. Tammy’s insight perfectly (see what I did there) compliments Ashley’s. We are so blessed to hear from both these good ladies.

Paula Silva will be sharing her story. Paula is a nationally known expert on domestic violence. One of her special focuses is domestic violence among believers. You are going to love this tender, wise woman’s heart.

Plus, Dr. Stan Ward has agreed to answer my questions about burn out. His personal stories about preempting burn out while caring for a beloved family member after a serious injury will refresh your heart. 

For the contents of the Corona Kits we dropped off to a few friends, scroll to the end. For my own sanity, I’m reading great books like Ashley Kutach’s Blind Spots.

You are dear to me!

As I consider all the craziness of the last few weeks, one thing stands out to me. I really care about my reading and listening to friends. I hope you are taking good care of yourself in these uncertain times, filling your heart with faith, rather than fear.

When folks stop me to talk about some heroic person they discovered because of our broadcasts, my heart fills with renewed energy for the task. Thank you for the million ways you find to encourage me and my family. I am grateful!

May we pray together?

Perfect Father in heaven, how we love You! You are the healer, the author and finisher of our faith, the beloved One who reigns in our hearts. Thank You for our brothers and sisters in faith. We praise You. Thank You for providing for us with Your presence and all we need in this world. For surrounding us with neighbors and kind strangers, we thank You. We trust You and find You to be ever trustworthy. Unite us in crisis. Strengthen our resolve to love each other well. Make us people who honor You in all our ways. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from you!

What are you putting in your Corona Kit? Has a kind friend or stranger done an act of kindness that encouraged you? How has crisis exposed blind spots in your life?

Extra Personal for Those Who Read to the End

My blind spot exposed by Corona Virus: It turns out I rely on hugs to convey my affection. Hugs are my go-to short cut for expressing affection. 

I’ve discovered verbal expressions of affection are hard for me. Who knew? Right now, I’m forcing myself to give people virtual hugs. I look people in the eye from six feet away and say something mushy. Yes, mushy. Can you read my bad attitude about how hard this is? Ouch!

So, please know you are very valuable to me, dear to my heart even. If we were together, I would look you in the eye and say so. Even though it makes me really uncomfortable to be so vulnerable and, well, mushy. 

We left Lysol-soaked Birdwatching Corona Kits to remind folks we love them. What’s in your kit?

Thank you for reading to the end of today’s blog. I’m grateful for you!

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

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Positive Change: Simple Steps are a Small Leap of Faith with Toie Martin, Part 1

From nurse to change expert, Toie Martin shares how to make lasting changes.Toie Martin, Positive Change Expert and yep, native Texan.

For ten years, tenderly serving patients matched her deep passion. Going to work each day was a joy. Her employers rewarded her with promotions. Then, she got her first bad boss. Things were about to change for Toie Martin. She can laugh about it now, but at the time change felt scary.

Have you ever felt stuck in your job? What about relationships going off course no matter how hard you try? In my case, what about the weight I lose and then regain? I wanted to know more from Toie about creating lasting change. 

Stuck?

Toie understand how frustrating it is to love what you do but feel stuck. Circumstances can seem beyond your control.

“I loved everything about nursing.” she says, but circumstances pressured her in unhealthy ways. “For the first time it felt more about business than about the patient. About that time I got my first bad boss, something I’d never had before.” 

(In this episode Toie shares about growing up in an entrepreneurial family and about losing her dad to cancer at a young age. Find more interviews at Fireside Talk Radio.)

A Leap of Faith

She was the director of nursing. She looked around for a different position, eager to change anything to make her situation more tolerable, but realized her heart was not leading her that direction. 

Instead, she quit her job.

“I took a huge leap of faith—a mid-life-crisis leap of faith, “ she laughs. “An awakening is what it originally was, followed by a melt down.” She followed her heart, but her head had different ideas. “You realize, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I done?’”

Instead of panicking, she began to ponder what was next for her. What were her possibilities? (For more on finding your passion and purpose, click here.)

“I knew the door had closed behind me,” she recounts, “I knew there was a door in front of me. But I had no idea what it was, where it was. I just knew it was important. That’s where I started.” She got her MBA while giving herself time to contemplate.

Creating Positive Change?

Toie reentered her career with a fresh perspective. Her nursing background and business training allowed her to begin to work with multimillion dollar companies. Her specialty was helping them create positive change. For more about what Toie learned and how she can help you create lasting change, click here.

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

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Five Steps to Change: Time to Reflect with Toie Martin, Part 2

Nurse and business consultant, Toie Martin boils down her five steps to all lasting change.

“Once I say them, you’re going to say, ‘dah,’” she jokes. But, honestly, I learned a ton from this gifted teacher, business consultant, speaker, and trained nurse. 

Toie noticed the five steps underlying all change while she was implementing Lean Six Sigma in multimillion dollar companies overseas. This came after her successful career in the nursing profession; first in patient care, then in health management. 

Hear her thoughts on this topic in her own voice, plus the stories she shared in our interview. (Toie’s story, here. Click here, for more Fireside Talk Radio.)

The Universal Blueprint for Change

In fact, when I joked about Alcoholics Anonymous needing Twelve Steps, she responded by saying even the Twelve Steps break down into her five steps. 

She claims all change breaks down to five steps and names several programs as examples, including Simon Sinok’s Start With Why and Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage

“Having five steps takes away some of the scariness of change,” she adds. She sees her five basic steps as the blueprint behind all change.

Ready for Positive Change in Your Life?

Last week, Toie shared about abruptly quitting her job. (You can find that interview, here. For a link to her book, click here.Her story is very inspiring especially if you think it’s time for a change yourself.

“One of the most important things to remember is our brains naturally resist change, no matter how good or bad it is,” explains Toie, “That fear is our brain’s survival mechanism.” Our brains want to keep us safe and secure, according to Toie, so the first big hurdle is recognizing the fear.  

“Self-doubt sabotages most dreams and goals before they even get off the ground,” she adds. (For easy tips about raising confident girls, click here.)

All positive change involves getting past our own self-sabotage. We have to put aside our natural fear, self-doubt, and self-defense, she says.

Tattoos and Taking a Breath

Two things are true about change based on her years of nursing. 

“First, all tattoos change over time no matter where you put them on your body,” she laughs. “And we all take a first breath and a last breath.” She says what happens between those two breaths counts. (For insight about caregiving for aging parents, click here. For help with caregiving in your home, click here.)

No one’s life should consist of joylessly living paycheck to paycheck.

“When you’re doing the work you’re supposed to be doing and you’re passionate about it, things just fall into place. You can’t explain it,” she laughs.

Five Steps Underlying All Change

Here are Toie’s five steps to leading yourself and others with confidence, courage and grace:

  • First, realize that you need or want to make a change. Define the problem and start seeing the possibilities.
  • Figure out where you’re starting from. Start from where you are.
  • Figure out where you want to go. 
  • Figure out how you’re going to get there. What’s the path between where you are and where you want to go.
  • Fifth and final step answers an important question. How do you stay there?

Our Overloaded Brains

Modern people take in five times more information than 50 years ago. Virtually every aspect of our lives is a distraction now, according to Toie. (For fun tips on encouraging your children to be flashlight readers, click here.)

“If you think about our poor little brain up there chugging away trying to process all this information,” she laughs. “When we don’t stop to process, all that stuff tends to run around like a squirrel on a wheel.” When we can stop and reflect it gives our brain a chance to process, she adds.

How do I really feel about this? Is this important with me? Is this worth the fight? Do I really want to pick this battle?

“To take the time to dream about what you want to do is a big, big step,” she says. Self-work and reflection are an important part of the equation. Ask yourself, how you want to spend your time, money and energy.

For more on how you can create positive changes in your life, cllick here.

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

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Camping, Glamping, and the Glories of the Great Outdoors with Anna Krafve Pierce

Confession time: last time we went camping, I rented a room at a nearby lodge.

“That was so nice of you to let the baby spend the night with you,” laughed Anna. With grandchildren ranging from 1 to 14 years old, I felt good about my decision. Honestly, who am I kidding? There’s just something about indoor plumbing.

My plan created a fun overnight with our littlest angel. Plus, her big sister who boldly spent the night in a tent, showed up bright and early the next morning for a shower and breakfast with me, Super Gram!

 

Three kids hang three hammocks in two trees like bunks. CathyKrafve.com

Camping, Glamping CathyKrafve.comCamping—or glamping in my case—is a perfect way to get the whole family together painlessly. Plus, I like the way everyone expects to eat cheap food. In fact, nothing tastes better than a flame-cooked hot dog followed by s’mores.

 

To listen in on Anna’s easy camping conversation (or how to’s on creating the famous Primer hammock bunk beds), click on the podcast. Or, find more at CathyKrafve.com. 

A shout out to my two amazing siblings today with our bunk hammocks flash from our past!

Christian Camps

Speaking of glamping, or glamor camping, we started our family’s camping adventures at Pine Cove Christian Camps, not far from our home. I’m pretty sure no one but me would think of Pine Cove as glamorous. But I love the way their people help you do everything.

As a mom of toddlers, I needed a break. At Christian camps, families enjoy lots of activities and fun together, while college-age counselors do all the heavy lifting. The cabins are air-conditioned, at least in Texas, and the food arrives at your table on real plates. Ah! All the niceties of home, including indoor plumbing, without the work. Anna offers an additional benefit of camps like Pine Cove.

“I wanted to be like that counselor who honored God all week in front of me,” she says, remembering many happy hours at Pine Cove. Plus, most Christian camps offer scholarships to families who may need a financial boost. 

Real Camping and Kids

“Once I got married I discovered I like real camping, too,” says Anna. “Tent camping is what I think of as real camping.” She married into the right family for real camping.

“I love the way camping allows kids to learn to be prepared,” Anna adds, suggesting the benefits fit all personalities.  But if that’s their natural inclination already, it also teaches them how to be flexible. It’s not just planning ahead it’s also being ready to change the plan.” 

For instance, if there’s a downpour on your campsite, you have to be ready to roll with it. She likes the accountability of being in the glorious outdoors. 

“In my daily life I plan ahead and I have the illusion of control,” she laughs. “I forget I’m watching God’s plan unfold.” (For more on how to get in touch with the God of the Universe, click here.)

Easy Does It: Living Room Camping

With small children, sometimes families are not quite ready to take on the great outdoors. Anna suggests seeing them up for success, no matter their age. (For more on staycations, click here.)

“Little children love to play house, and love to play school, and they love to play camping,” laughs Anne.  “My kids can set up their little teepee. They make little ‘camp fires’ where they stack every stick they possess—the hockey stick, every stick-like toy they possess–to be the campfire.” Anna’s children throw all their blankets and pillows in their teepee and play camping.

When they’re done, she insists they put it all away, just like they would at a real campsite. That way they are practicing great skills and etiquette for their next real family camping trip. (For how to set up a natural sanctuary in your own backyard, click here.)

Backyard Camping

When I was a child, we piled our sleeping bags on the covered porch out back. The gas grill became our ‘campfire.’ I’m sure our parents loved having us safe and happy in a backyard adventure as they slept in their own beds.

“For single parents, it’s really hard to go camping; one adult with a group of children,” says Anna. “There are so many unpredictable factors; the weather, the creatures, all of that.” She recommends making it easy on yourself. When you can camp in your own back yard, less things can go wrong, according to Anna. 

“You can get the credit for doing the fun, exciting thing,” says Anna, analyzing different parts of the adventure, “Going to the camping store and getting the tent. Your bigger kids can practice setting it up.”

When their friends invite them to go camping, you don’t have to go because you’ve already trained them to be safe. You can wave goodby, “Enjoy your camping trip!”

Warm Beds, Safe Kids

I soon learned our kids and their friends tended to wander in around 10:00 p.m. to sleep in their warm, soft beds. 

“That’s the other thing,” laughs Anna, “When it’s in your yard, unless you lock your door, everyone is probably going to move indoors for the air conditioning part way through the night. At least here in Texas.”

Safety concerns are real, though. Only you can judge if your backyard is safe from strangers wandering about at night or kids sneaking away for misadventures. You have to know when it’s time to bow out or change the plan. But the rewards of safe, fun, easy camping are countless.

Camaraderie of a System

Something as simple as setting up and tearing down a campsite allows you to teach your kids to be part of a team. Plus, they learn to steward nature wisely. Anna learned quickly that her husband had a whole different way of camping than what she learned growing up at our house.

The first time they went camping as a young married couple, her husband demonstrated his system for her. Then, he included her in the work the next time. She loved his system. (For more about our book on how to draw out authentic conversations with your family, click here.)

“It was like playing leap frog,” she laughs. “He would do something, I would do the next thing, and we’d fold it all up to go in together.”

It made Anna happy to be so efficient together. Plus, she loves the communicating and practicing together. She thinks it’s fun to set up, to pull down, and to take care of their gear together. (To find out more about our marriage communication book set to release next fall, click here.)

Leave the Campsite Better Than You Found It

My dad, an Eagle Scout, always said to leave the campsite better than we found it. I must have quoted him often as my kids grew up.

“You quoted him about the car. You quoted him about the hotel room,” laughs Anna. “It was your go-to quote whenever we were leaving somewhere.”

Just to be clear, Dad’s motto meant our family picked up other people’s cigarette butts in the 1960s. Stewardship of nature meant taking care of the glorious outdoors, not only our own camping gear. Campsites were butt free after we left. Can I even say that in public?

“If you do it right, stewardship involves fellowship,” explains Anna. Most importantly, even the hard work of stewardship should be fun–and funny–when a family does it together.

“If I’m at a campsite, picking up other people’s trash, I’m just never going to get it all done,” Anna adds. “But if I have a team of people doing it, it’s not overwhelming anymore.” Plus, there’s the fun of being part of a team.

Our childhood camping trips always ended with one special touch. My dad always insisted we leave a neat pile of gathered wood for the next campers. 

Where Eagles Soar

Family memories are made while camping or glamping. I’ll never forget one spontaneous, simple camping trip with my son and his dear friend. 

A large bird swooped down over us. Astonished at the bird’s boldness we ducked and looked up. Soaring up above us was a BALD EAGLE! I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. 

That was the same trip I forgot to bring the coffee, so we had to go to breakfast at a restaurant. Yep, I’m kinda spoiled that way.

Fortunately, kids remember the big moments. Even if mom insists on store-bought coffee, they laugh about it later. Finding easy ways to camp will mean sweet memories for your kids, even if it’s in your own backyard. Please get into the glorious outdoors. You and your kids will be glad you did!

We are grateful!

The numbers are in! Fireside Talk Radio downloaded over 2 million times again in 2019! What joy! 

YOU, dear listening and reading friends, are the reason we exist. 

We are grateful for all the experts who join us to share their sacred stories and wisdom, just for you. You tuned in! We rejoice to share our life with you. Thank you for sharing your sacred stores with us to add to our treasure. Thank you for passing our stuff on to your friends.

Don’t forget, there will be more ways to share this year when our first two books hit the market. Plus, Anna and I are hard at work for a fun book due out in 2021. We love you and can’t wait to share more fun stuff together!

May we pray together?

Good Father, Thank you for the glorious outdoors. We rejoice just to feel the sunshine on our skin. What could be sweeter than to sit around a campfire, telling stories, laughing, and savoring the companionship You designed us to enjoy. Give us energy and insight to create fun memories with our families. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

When have you shared a hilarious moment on a camping trip? Wat is your favorite hack for camping? Please send us your favorite glorious outdoors story.

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

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Anorexia and Freedom: No Exceptions, No Exclusions, No Exemptions to God’s Power, Part 2

Anorexia can be daunting, especially if you are watching someone you love suffer. But Beauty Beyond Bones blogger, Caralyn, says sufferers can get free of eating disorders. When it comes to anorexia and freedom, there are no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemptions to the hope God offers, she says. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Caralyn smiles at the future with great advice for those seeking victory over anorexia.

 

Caralyn won our hearts with her open, beautiful way of talking so authentically!

“You’re on a mission to save the person from themselves,” emphasizes Caralyn. “Eating disorders are all about control and they (the sufferers) are not going to be keen about giving up that control.”

When someone we love struggles with an eating disorder, like anorexia, people all around the sufferer are affected. How can we help?

To hear the full conversation and all the personal stories Caralyn shared from her own life, go to CathyKrafve.com

Get Professional Help Now

If you suspect someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, don’t wait to get help. Truly, your loved one needs to be under professional care immediately, according to Caralyn.

“Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. They need doctors; they need therapist,” declares Caralyn. “Sufferers need professional dietitians. They need professional supervision because their body is literally wasting away. The organs are shutting down. The body is feeding off of itself for fuel to stay alive as a last ditch effort.” 

Loved ones who see the pain will want to offer comfort, but how? Further complicating things, sufferers use their appearance as a way of pushing people away, Caralyn says.

“People are wearing the illness on their bodies. They’re skeletal. They’re gaunt,” says Caralyn, adding, their appearance fills an important function even so. “It’s the walking billboard for their inner brokenness.” 

In families and churches, we need to talk.

How Do We Begin the Right Conversations?

When was the last time you heard the word anorexia mentioned in church? Perhaps in a whispered confession by a close friend. Maybe.

“Anorexia and eating disorders are so misunderstood. There’s such a stigma around them, like they’re some vanity disease,” says Caralyn. “That’s part of the reason I didn’t want to tell anyone I had an eating disorder. How could I call myself a Christian and have this vanity disease?” She says pride and concern for her family’s reputation kept her from asking for help.

Yet, churches need to address the hard topics we all face daily, including how mental illness is affecting families. So, I asked Caralyn what influential people can say at church to break down barriers to these important conversations? 

For instance, body image is a great place to introduce eating disorders as a topic for open discussion, suggests Caralyn. Naturally, everybody deals with body image in one way or another. (For fun, easy ways to inspire confidence in your kids, click here.)

We Can All Relate to Stress

Lately, she’s been speaking to churches who find her via her blog. (Click here to sign up for her wonderful blog.) Every time she speaks, she feels humbled. She finds people are interested because we can all relate to struggling. 

“There’s a common thread. Daily life is stressful. There’s a vein that runs through (my story) that everyone can relate to. I think people shy away from talking about anorexia because it really makes people uncomfortable.” But, once the topic is opened up for discussion, people respond with compassionate hearts. (For more info about how mental illness affects families, click here.)

No Exceptions, No Exclusions, No Exemptions

Caralyn recommends persistence as one of your best tools for getting through to people who are suffering with anorexia or any eating disorder. Love them, no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemptions.

“Keep it up and do not let them slip through the cracks,” she says. Knowing how to communicate you commitment is powerful. She suggests comments like these: 

  • I care about you and I’m going to keep caring about you. 
  • We are going to keep loving you. 
  • We love you enough to not let this be brushed under the rug. 
  • I see these things happening and let’s talk about it.

“You’ve got to do it (speak up about anorexia) with prudence and compassion and empathy,” she says, “Shining a big ole spot light on it, starting a conversation, I think people will find a lot more people who can relate than expected.” (Why churches need to talk openly about tough topics, here.)

Anorexia and Freedom

With the words—no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemptions—Caralyn explains how much freedom God offers us all in His Son, Jesus. “I want to shout it from the rooftops!” God offers forgiveness, power, and hope.

“Obviously the weight loss is a glaring red flag. It seems “kind of counterintuitive, but there’s shame associated with how skeletal you look,” adds Caralyn. (For more on the spiritual battle associated with anorexia, please find Caralyn’s personal story here.She describes shame as this horrible weight that presses on you. 

“Shame corrupts our way of thinking about ourselves,” she explains. “Shame says, ‘You are too just far gone. What you’ve done or what you’ve been through is so terrible that you are exempt from God’s love, from His forgiveness, His redemption, His healing.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth! In fact, the idea of no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemptions speaks to the core of the ministry God has opened up for Caralyn. 

You Shall Live!

Ezekiel 37:5 has become one of Caralyn’s favorite verses: Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.’”

“Jesus comes and He breathes life. For me that’s how I got rid of that shame is through the new Spirit God put in me,” she explains. We can all build up theses impenetrable barriers between us and God. 

“When we feel shame we want to keep anyone and everything at arms length,” she says, “We don’t want anyone to see the mess behind the smile we’re wearing. Or, we’re hiding under baggy clothes.” 

Caralyn says the message comes through loud and clear, “Stay away!” (For more wisdom from Sandy Bristow on how the devil wants to isolate us, click here.)

Caralyn reminds us to be courageous about speaking up when we see others suffering. She credits her youth pastor for getting in her face and insisting she get help. (For resources and her website, click here.If someone you love seems to have symptoms of anorexia or other eating disorders, I encourage you to contact Caralyn. For the symptoms, click here.)

May we pray together?

Good Father in heaven, oh, how we love you! You love us—no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemptions. In fact, You sent Your Son to seek us out. Jesus died for our sins. He took on the shame  we felt. By His resurrection, You free us—no exceptions, no exclusions, no exemptions. Give us grace to reach out and accept the free gift You offer today. Help us walk in Your resurrection power. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

How has a persistent friend thrown you a life line? When did you notice symptoms of suffering and what did you do? How could your church be more effective in addressing mental health?

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

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Redefining Romance to Fit Your Family’s Lifestyle with Anna Krafve Pierce

 Redefining-Valentines-Day-Romance-CathyKrafve.com
Redefining romance? If you’ve got small children, a new way to spark romance is a necessity.
I confess, I love dessert on Valentine's Day. But chocolate is not for everybody....

No time for candles? Do your children gobble up the Valentine’s Day stash before you get a quiet interlude? No problem! Anna sat down with me recently on Fireside Talk Radio to offer some sparky ideas for easy, romantic fun.

Anna and I invite you to listen in as we talk about how to inspire loyalty and faithfulness in the hearts of your children, plus all the fun romantic stuff. (More at CathyKrafve.com)

Personal Definition of Romance

“When we were first married I stumbled upon my own personal definition of romance,” laughs Anna. “There were some things Drew did that shocked me when I realized I thought they were really romantic.” 

For instance, her husband surprised her with some thoughtful treasures he found in the yard to add to her growing collections of leaves, butterflies, and lizard skeletons. As an artist, Anna loves to study the way flowers and insects are structured.

“I came to realize romance was about him knowing what I like. It wasn’t candlelight for me at all,” Anna says.

Redefining Romance to Fit Your Lifestyle

Anna tells of being swept off her feet by her hubby one drippy afternoon in Texas’s hill country. He wanted to stand outside in the rain with her, so they dashed outside to the huge live oak in their back yard, holding hands and laughing.

For more insight about sparking romance in a way that fits your family's lifestyle, don't miss this fun and fabulous conversation!

 

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Anorexia: Blessed and Beautiful Beyond Bones with Caralyn, Part 1

Caralyn grew up as a child actor from age five. Blessed and beautiful go together for her now, but not always. She hasn’t always felt worthy of God’s love. In fact, her spiritual battle with anorexia began with feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. Her tendency to perfectionism was honed on the stage.

“I lived to please my directors. Directors loved to work with me because they would always say how coachable I am,” says Caralyn now, chuckling at the irony of her early life. “I thought my worth and value were based on my performance. It (perfectionism) really screwed my self-perception.”

I hope you will hear this courageous young woman’s story in her own voice by clicking above or finding our interview at CathyKrafve.com. We believe you will love her as much as we do!

The Battle is Real

Perfectionism is a very common thread among anorexia sufferers. In fact, by high school and college many young people, both male and female, suffer with full blown, life-threatening symptoms. (A list of symptoms is included below.)

“Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Sufferers need doctors; they need a therapist,” declares Caralyn. “Their body is literally wasting away. The organs are shutting down.”

Eating disorders are not about the weight loss, according to Caralyn. (For more on mental illness, click here.)

“The weight loss is really a manifestation of that inner wound, that lie they believed,” she explains. “For me, the lie I believed was that I was unworthy of love. And that I needed to be perfect in order to be loved.”

Anorexia: A Battle for the Mind

Christians know our enemy, the devil, loves to lie to us. So, I asked Caralyn how to redirect our thoughts about anorexia. 

“It’s all about lies. I always say an eating disorder is a battle for the mind,” she explains, “In the mind of every sufferer of anorexia or eating disorder is a lie. I call it the capital L lie.” 

Certainly, the capitol L lies are topics we must address in families and churches. Yet I notice we rarely hear the word anorexia at church. As Christians, we need to counterattack the lie with the truth.

The capital L lie is any falsehood sufferers “believe to absolutely their core enough to literally die for,” according to Caralyn. “At the helm of that lie, I truly believe, is the enemy.”

Her Own Personal Battle

“I fully believe—and I say this at the risk of sounding absolutely bonkers—that eating disorders are a form of spiritual warfare,” says Caralyn. When she shared the following story on our interview, I totally understood. (Please click above or click here to hear more in her own voice.)

“I was at a therapy session. It was as though I was watching this from above,” she begins.

“Whatever darkness was controlling my thought was released,” she says, describing a voice coming out of her. “I cannot replicate it. I was curled up in the smallest little ball possible. Out of my mouth came this deep dark cavernous ‘I lied!’”

When the words expelled from her mouth, her whole chest shook. Instantly, she told her therapist every secret, everything. She told him of obsessive secret exercise. How she secretly threw away food.

Before she hid whole aspects of her secret life. Now, suddenly everything came gushing out of her heart openly. 

Loving Family and Friends

She called her parents from his office within moments. She credits them with enlisting the attention and help of many others. (For how fervent prayer changes lives, click here.)

“I have the most amazing parents and families. They forgave me and they were just so grateful I was getting help.”

Deeply Spiritual Freedom and Comfort 

Almost immediately she experienced another spiritual moment of freedom and comfort. The treatment center where she received help was a Christian facility. She sat still in a pew at chapel service quietly contemplating. All around her people began to sing a beautiful worship hymn. The words—here I am to worship—touched her soul.

“My knees buckled. I fell to the floor. I smiled genuinely for the first time in two years,” she recounts. “My anorexia was on the cross. Jesus died to free me and forgive me. His forgiveness and love broke through.”

A New Mission

“I knew my mission was  to share my story to offer hope and encouragement,” she says. Telling such a personal story would take courage and confidence in the cross. Still, she was motivated by an important truth based on the experience she and her family had fighting their battle. “The biggest thing was there were no resources for me or for my loved ones.”   

Her blog, entitled Glorious Wounds, reads like a book, recounting her most personal struggles. With over ten years of recovery, lately, she’s been speaking in churches or anywhere else where people want to understand anorexia.

Symptoms of Anorexia

In case you are wondering if someone you love is suffering with mental illness, like eating disorders, here are the symptoms of anorexia. Please consider taking action today, like starting a conversation, to help those you love. (Thank you to Mayo Clinic for the following lists. For more, click here.)

Some signs may include:

  • Abnormally low body weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted perception of weight
  • High value on controlling their weight and shape
  • Extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
  • Severely restrict the amount of food they eat
  • Calorie intake restricted by vomiting or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas
  • Excessive exercise 
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Equating thinness with self-worth

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains
  • Thin appearance
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Bluish discoloration of the fingers
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
  • Soft, downy hair covering the body
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Constipation and abdominal pain
  • Dry or yellowish skin
  • Intolerance of cold
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Swelling of arms or legs
  • Eroded teeth and calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting
  • Overcoming Denial for Victory

    Sufferers need doctors; they need therapist. They need professional dietitians. They need professional supervision, according to Caralyn. Getting help may be difficult because sufferers are often steeped in denial.

    “I was kind of taken aback. Especially because I didn’t admit to having an eating disorder,” she says chuckling at her own denial, another common thread among sufferers. Caralyn’s parents staged an intervention, enlisting the help of her youth pastor. 

    “I came home from school and my entire family was there. My brothers had flown into town. My youth pastor was there from church,” she says, “It was tense.” In desperation, her youth pastor finally got right in her face and asked her a tough question. 

    “Caralyn, do you know what you are doing to your Father?” (For more on how you can begin a personal relationship with the God of the universe, click here.)

    “In that moment it was as though I was looking into the eyes of Jesus. It (His love) is what finally broke through. I’m so grateful he (her youth pastor) had that courage,” she says.

    Jesus Glorified

    We’re glorifying the One whose Spirit empowers us when we get to the place where we’re sharing what makes us tremble. I admire Caralyn’s courage very much. (For more on how leaders can hang in there, click here.)

    “Some of the things I’ve shared on the internet, I’ve thought, ‘Caralyn what the heck are you doing?’” she laughs. “But they all point to God’s love and God’s redemption and His saving power.”

     

    Everybody’s got a story. We highlight God’s own divine nature when we tell the truth, especially about our human frailties. (To sign up for free weekly encouragement and interviews with amazing leaders, click here.)

    “I’ve been given a second chance in this life. I’ve got to use it to point to Him and give Him the glory,” Caralyn emphasizes, adding with a chuckle, “If that means sharing some embracing stories, so be it!” 

    Next week, we’ll hear from Anna about defining romance to fit your own family style. Then, watch here for Part 2 from sweet Caralyn; Freedom: No Exceptions, No Exclusions, No Exemptions. You will love the rest of the wisdom Caralyn shared with us. Don’t miss it!

    May we pray together?

    Dear Father in heaven. You love us with unfailing love. You place incalculable value on each one of us. When we reject ourselves You still seek us out. You desire companionship with us in all the most tender, best ways. We turn to you now because You love us so much. Bless this dear reader with much-needed help. Please, surround this dear one with people who will demonstrate Your unfailing love. Have mercy on us, O Lord. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

    We LOVE to hear from YOU!

     

    When has someone stepped up to tell you a hard truth? How have you found gentle ways to express your love when you saw suffering? What is your most comforting Bible truth about suffering?

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

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Our Children’s Reading List: To Censor or Not to Censor

Our children’s reading list: when should we censor? When should we NOT censor our children’s reading list? As an educator, an avid reader, and a mommy to two kiddos, Anna Krafve Pierce challenged me to think deeper about how parents decide what their kids get to read or watch.

Anna and I spent a happy afternoon with two beautiful friends recently trying to create ideas for book covers. (More on that below.) Cynthia and Alex, what a blessing you both are!
In case you missed our conversation, I’m making it easy for you to click above to listen in or click here to find more podcasts from sweet Anna.

Scandalous to Christians

Personally, I wanted the big books influencing our culture on my children’s reading list. Hold the big books, read them, and examine them for yourselves. That was my message to my kids.

Anna and I agree often. But not always. My mom used to say, “We taught our kids to think for themselves and were surprised when they didn’t agree with us.”

Trust Your Parental Gut

When I put Anna on the spot to find out if she agreed with me about censorship, lo and behold, she did not. What Mom asks her daughter spontaneously on air if she agrees with her parenting! (To receive our free weekly interviews about companionship and authentic conversation, click here.)

“It’s tricky,” she responded. (Don’t ya love how she gave me a gentle clue she was about to offer me correction! For more on starting tough conversations, click here.

“I censored my kids’ books for the first time recently,” she explained. “I would not want to expose my kids to something on purpose that would tempt them.” She read a ton herself. But she says stories from adults who are open about their life struggles causes her to be alert with her own kids.

Our Children’s Reading List: Censor With Understanding

Parents need to trust their gut when it feels like a book might be wrong for their child, according to Anna. Each child has different frailties and tolerances.

“Each child’s heart is different. If you notice your child worrying about a story, it’s time to rethink the book’s message.” For instance, with toddlers Anna suggests paying close attention to stories about ghosts or fairies. Yuo can find more of her perspective about if and when (and how) to censor your child's book selections, by listening in on our conversation. Anna and I both love books. Don't miss this delightful educator's practical encouragement!

Coming Soon: Beauty Beyond Bones

I confess, Beauty Beyond Bones’ Caralyn used the word, prudent, when I interviewed her. I’ve been obsessing about the word ever since. If you’ve missed her amazing blog BeautyBeyondBones, you’re in for a treat. Caralyn began her blog to document her battle with the eating disorder, anorexia. 

Chain-breaker? Freedom fighter? You are going to love this champion as much as I do. Watch for her wonderful, victorious wisdom right here soon. I can’t wait to share Caralyn insight with you, dear reader. Don’t you just love the way reading brings us together!

Book Cover Preview! Yay! Double Yay!

A young couple is engaged in an intimate conversation.

Next, we want to send a big shout out to the amazing Derinda Babcock. Thank you, Derinda, for creating a beautiful cover for our first Camp Krafve book. 

In The Well, The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations we share over 40 principles Jesus exemplified in his community-changing conversation with a lone woman. The book comes out in March. I can hardly wait!

To see my very own author page on Elk Lake’s author list, click here. There, I mention Janet McHenry, Martha Hook,  John Trent and Josh McDowell, to name a few of the influential authors in my life.

Thank you, Derinda, for all your hard work and creativity! To find the books this accomplished artist and author has written herself, click here. For more from Elk Lake Publishing, click here.

The Adventure of Reading

Every book is a world of adventure. Sparking your child’s imagination to love books is a treat you don’t want to miss. (To sign up for our weekly blogs chalk full of creative ideas, click here.)

Does your child resist reading for fun? Is reading a chore? For more about people we love who learned read for fun late in life, click on our conversation embedded above. (To find all our podcasts, click here.)

Reading is an excellent way to travel the globe and imagine a better world, especially when reading with kiddos we love.

May we pray together!

Father, you granted us an amazing capacity to communicate. Books give us one way to share ideas. When we pray, we converse with you. Because you love companionship with us, you designed us for community. You surround us with talented and faithful people. You know our frailties and love us unconditionally with joy. All this happens because of your divine and sacrificial love. We praise you. Help us know the best, brightest ideas to pass on to the next generation. Bless us now because that is your heart’s desire. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from you!

Do you let your kids read the books typically censored by other Christians? Do you let them read the dumbed down, funny stuff that passes as children’s literature? (Is that a loaded question or what? Feel free to disagree with me. My kids do it all the time!) What about abridged versions of the classics, how do you share the classics with your kids and grands?

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

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Flashlight Readers: Inspiring Your Kids to Love Books With Anna Krafve Pierce

 

Inspiring Flashlight Readers  CathyKrafve.com
I confess. My family loves flashlight readers. We sneak flashlights to bed often. Maybe, like us, stories excite your imagination even more than chocolate! Are you a flashlight reader, too?

My own mom, Ann Primer, caught us at every naughty moment growing up. Yet, somehow, she never caught any flashlight readers. She, too, was a self-confessed flashlight reader. 

(Pictured above: One of our beloved grands cuddles up with a good book in her "library tent" during a recent power outage.)

Do you want your kids to love books so much they sneak their flashlights into bed under the covers? Sweet Anna Krafve Pierce, joined me on Fireside Talk Radio recently to give us some great ideas for inspiring flashlight readers in the next generation. 

Nurturing a Lifelong Love of Books

Anna went from the slowest reader in her first grade class to the kid who wanted to read and write all about Shakespeare’s plays by 6th grade. Listen in on our relaxed, honest conversation about parenting—two totally different points of view--mine and my daughter’s.

In this no-holds-barred conversation, Anna shares a bunch. An educator, mom, avid reader, and creative soul, you'll love her perspective. If you wonder whether we ever disagree, um, yes we do. (All my kids’ are independent thinkers!) You can also click here for more interviews.

Inspiring Your Own Flashlight Readers

In order to inspire the flashlight readers at your house, Anna suggests starting today, even if they’re not reading yet. (For more on nurturing confident girls, click here.) She offered the following quick tips on creating a book-friendly mindset.

#1 Well-traveled Books

No matter where Anna travels, she and her hubby find a used book store and buy their kids books as souvenirs. 

“For two dollars I can bring them a souvenir that’s not a key chain,” she laughs. “Last time we went on a trip, I found an oversized teacher’s book, you know the kind you read upside down to the class. It’s huge.” 

Is a book worthy of your child? Pick books your children will want to read to their stuffed animals, Anna suggests.

#2 Make Reading a Fun, Team Sport

Different children learn in different styles, even in the same family. (For more on how strong-willed children grow up to be dynamic adults, check out the interview we did with Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.) 

Don’t forget to appeal to auditory learning styles, says Anna. Hearing stories can inspire flashlight readers as the suspense hooks their imagination.

“We always liked it when you read best because you used voices,” Anna reminded me on our show, “I loved Brian Jacques’s Redwall series because all the creatures. He wrote those out where you can hear all the accents and voices.”

We spent many happy hours passing books around to each other, taking turns reading in front of the fireplace on cloud January and February afternoons.

“I loved it when we read those out loud. I was never very good at the voices. Then, Ellen, my sister got to be as good or better than you,” Anna told me. (Ellen, if you’re reading this, Anna tells listeners why we read Pollyanna. Click the above podcast to hear more or click here to find more Fireside Talk Radio podcasts.)

#3 Reading Out Loud 

Oh my gosh, I’ve done everything else today and now I have to read out loud. Really? Okay, okay. We feel your pain. Many people don’t like to read out loud because it's hard work. 

“You would trade us. At first, you said ‘if you’ll read this one paragraph’ and then you’d read two pages to keep the book moving,” recalls Anna. 

Pretty soon we were passing thick books around trading chapters. Before long, I just listened in as the kids traded chapters while I folded laundry.

#4 Reading, Writing, and Acting Together

Play acting is another way to spark your child's literary imagination. As a family, we like the way storytelling brings us together. Often we connect with others through sharing treasured family stories. If you can get your child on his feet acting, family stories come to life.

“We had to do a book report about one of the Greek tragedies. You told us we could either write a book report or say all the lines, in togas. In public,” laughs Anna. Barns and Nobles will never be the same!  (For many more ideas from Whitney Patterson about creating a childhood filled with wonder,  click here.)

#5 Radios, Reading, and, Yes, Our Family Loves Podcasts

Anna remembers the rule I enforced with vigor: "No T.V. until Dad gets home!" Instead, when we needed a diversion, we listened to tapes, like the Adventures in Odyssey series. (Find the Adventures in Odyssey podcasts here.We also listened to dramatized versions of old radio shows, like Agatha Christie and the Green Hornet. In fact, many of the shows from the 1930s and 40s were based on literature.

Teaching your kids to love stories, inevitably helps them appreciate all forms of literature. Story writing is another way to get your child engaged in books.  (For how to encourage the writing gift in your child, click here.)

#6 Choose and Treasure Your Favorite Books

Nowadays inspiring flashlight readers at your house is easy-smeasy with many ways to enjoy stories. I asked Anna for her favorite book.

“My favorite book is the Bible,” she answered without hesitation. “The way you visualize and imagine and relate to it—and know the truth—is part of the purpose for the imagination God gave us.” 

We believe God equips us with imagination so we develop compassion and empathy for others.

Most importantly, imagination is a huge component of faith, according to Anna because “you have to be able to imagine that God loves you.”

May we pray together?

Father, in a miracle beyond imagination, you inspired generations of people to record your stories. We read the Bible now and marvel at your goodness. Surely, if you love both the written and spoken word so much, we can treasure it with joy, too! We thank you, O Lord, that your spoken word has creative power. Teach us to guard our hearts today so the words we speak and write reflect your goodness and glory. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from you!

What is your favorite book ever? Which books do you delight in sharing with your kids? When have you marveled at another person’s ability to inspire young people to love books?

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

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Don’t Give Up! Encouragement for Leaders with Pastor James Dill

James and Linda Dill smile together as Pastor James recounts touching stories about shepherding others and finding the right mentor.Pastor James Dill with his beloved wife and champion, Linda. Yep,we really love these two!!

Don’t give up! That’s the advice James Dill enthusiastically gives to lay leaders, pastors and their families. Founder of Shepherd’s Heart, Pastor James and his wife, Linda, began ministry in the 1970s. He shared one story after another with me in a recent interview for Fireside Talk Radio.

He shares about a small, but beloved church, where they served. No growth. No new interest in Jesus Christ. Weary with struggling, he reached his wit’s end. One afternoon, he walked into the tiny sanctuary and looked out an open window.  

“I just began to cry. Very seldom do I get emotional like that,” he recalls. “But the Lord spoke to me gently and told me an exact direction. He shared with me exactly what I needed to do to correct the things that were going wrong with my church and myself.”

Don’t Give Up

Within a year, God blessed the little church and it began to grow quickly. Soon they went from 125 in attendance on Sundays (and nobody accepting Christ) to 1300 in attendance. Each Sunday was a joy-filled celebration as people experienced salvation at the alter of the vibrant, growing congregation.

With so many years of ministry, Pastor James understands the pressure pastors and their families can face. In fact, all families face pressures! (If your family is in need of wisdom and help for your aging parent, click here.)

To all those who work in light of a calling, he says, “Don’t give up!” He sees the interwoven connection between churches and leaders who serve in nonprofits. Healthy leadership in church means healthier communities.

“Probably the highlight (in any calling) is the intervention of Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the times of crisis. It (the Bible) says, ‘In the times of trouble, God will hide us in his pavilion.’ 

He said, ‘Come unto me all ye that labor and I will give you rest.’ That’s applicable not only to the pastors, but it is applicable to every one that is a born again child of God.

As we talked, James shared amazing stories, like living in the Sunday school classrooms with his family. You’ll love what he says about his sweet and amazing wife! For more of his stories, click here.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

When have you felt like giving up? How do you say, Don’t give up to other leaders? What encouragement really hits the spot for you?

For Christmas Giving: Books! Yay!!

Since I promised to share, here are some of my favorite books for Christmas giving. With delight, I sincerely hope this makes your shopping easier! (Nobody pays me for recommendations, these are just some of the ones under my tree this year.)

For Kids: 

Want to share the marvel of God’s creation with your grands? Dinosaur Devotions made it into my grandkiddos’ stockings. Filled with dinosaur facts and fun pictures, older kids will love it for independent study. Written with her dinosaur-loving daughter in mind, Michelle Medlock Adams calls this book “a project of the heart.” To add our interview with Michelle to any of your gift books, click here.

For History Lovers and Men Who Love Battle Stories:

Now don’t miss Danny Sessums’s new 2-volume set of fabulous first-source A Force to Be Reckoned With. Also, Dann’s books make a great gift for research-loving writers. With a few clicks you can download Danny’s own personal stories and wisdom on Fireside Talk Radio to include in your gift to a history-loving friend!

For Gals:

For an inspiring devotion, Michelle and Bethany’s book, Platinum Faith: Live Brilliant, Be Resilient, & Know Your Worth. Happily for me, Michelle and I connected through our mutual friends at Elk Lake Publishing. (For more positive insight from other Elk Lake authors, click here.)

Also, remember to look for historic novels from Sandra Melville Hart. For more, click here to find the interview we did together or her mom’s pumpkin pie recipe. As a personal touch to your gift, you can download our interview and include it with any of her entertaining historical fiction.

For more about Catherine’s hallmark-friendly romance books or to discover more fiction and nonfiction from our friends at CrossRiver Mediaclick here.

I’m wishing you a cuddly Christmas with those you love and a good book!

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

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Holiday Romance: Sparking Commitment with Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Holiday Romance with Catherine Brakefield  CathyKrafve.comWas Catherine destined to write romance? Maybe. Just check out her love story!

Snuggled in front of the fire. Sipping hot chocolate. Is it just me or do Hallmark Christmas movies stir up the holiday romance in all our hearts? Maybe, like me, you want a little holiday romance under your Christmas tree with all the other packages.

With six romance novels, not counting her other nine books, Catherine Ulrich Brakefield qualifies as a romance expert. Of course, her own love story reads like an epic novel with a swept-off-her-feet beginning!

Holiday Romance in Hawaii

Finally settled in her seat, she glanced up as the handsome sailor, Edward Brakefield, sat next to her on the plane. Polite but firm, she tried to ignore him to watch the movie. On holiday with her sister and a dear friend, she daydreamed of sandy beaches. Naturally, romance never climbed to her top ten things to do in Hawaii. 

To hear Catherine’s love story in her own voice, click above or go here.

Little did she know, Ed’s naval intelligence skill set played full force to his advantage. Even before she knew he existed, he spotted Catherine and negotiated pre-flight with the boarding agent for the seat next to hers.

As they chatted, he asked how he could find her once they arrived. She shrugged her shoulder. With proper manners, she refused to give him any information on the plane. Once they arrived, the girls further sabotaged his efforts accidentally.

A God Thing!

“I wanted this hotel that was hundred years old,” says Catherine, laughing about how her devotion to history led her to make a big mistake when booking the reservation. “But, no air conditioning! You know me, history, history.” (For more on raising history-loving kids, click here.)

Since the hot weather forced the young women to change hotels, they unpacked in the new accommodations. When they returned to the lobby, Ed was waiting for her. She was amazed.

“Wow! How did you find me?”

He told her it was a God-thing. Amazingly, he happened to see her turn the corner with her suitcase. For the next week, he spent every waking hour trying to be in her company. Undeterred, he even lined up blind dates for her two travel companions. 

Only a week later, on the last night of her trip, he proposed! Bewildered, she laughed!

“You’re kidding, right?”

Romantically Inclined

Over forty years later, she still prizes a couple of suitcases full of love letters she and her husband wrote back and forth in the months that followed. Today, real life still informs her writing.

“My novels don’t have the normal feel-good romance you see in most novels. It’s a tug of war romance; a true romance,” she says, adding, “It’s hard out there to know the truth about a man! We need to know what to look for, the signs.”

Thinking about the intersection of perseverance, fun, and romance, Catherine has some great insight about how to create your best life, including how to stir up holiday romance in your marriage. For tips about sparking life-long romance, click here.

May we pray together?

Dear Father, Life has a way of teaching us hard truths about endurance and commitment. Thank you for your example of unfailing, unconditional love. Your grace strengthens us for the day’s challenges. Give us hearts to love each other in a world full of rejection and bitterness. Help our hearts forgive each other. Draw us close to you, O good Father, as we spend time with family over the holidays. 

Please, strengthen us to see the delight you have in those we love. Give us hearts to cherish our loved ones, especially a spouse. Help us create romantic moments filled with tenderness and thanksgiving. Thank you, O Lord, for blessing us with your divine presence. We are grateful for the gift of your Son. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from you!

What’s your favorite romantic way to spark holiday romance? Who’s your favorite book character ever created and why? Which books are on your Christmas giving list this year?

For Christmas Giving: Books! Yay!!

Since I promised to share, here are some of my favorite books for Christmas giving. With delight, I sincerely hope this makes your shopping easier! (Nobody pays me for recommendations, these are just some of the ones under my tree this year.)

For Kids: 

Want to share the marvel of God’s creation with your grands? Dinosaur Devotions made it into my grandkiddos’ stockings. Filled with dinosaur facts and fun pictures, older kids will love it for independent study. Written with her dinosaur-loving daughter in mind, Michelle Medlock Adams calls this book “a project of the heart.” To add our interview with Michelle to any of your gift books, click here.

For History Lovers and Men Who Love Battle Stories:

Now don’t miss Danny Sessums’s new 2-volume set of fabulous first-source A Force to Be Reckoned With. Also, Dann’s books make a great gift for research-loving writers. With a few clicks you can download Danny’s own personal stories and wisdom on Fireside Talk Radio to include in your gift to a history-loving friend!

For Gals:

For an inspiring devotion, Michelle and Bethany’s book, Platinum Faith: Live Brilliant, Be Resilient, & Know Your Worth. Happily for me, Michelle and I connected through our mutual friends at Elk Lake Publishing. (For more positive insight from other Elk Lake authors, click here.)

Also, remember to look for historic novels from Sandra Melville Hart. For more, click here to find the interview we did together or her mom’s pumpkin pie recipe. As a personal touch to your gift, you can download our interview and include it with any of her entertaining historical fiction.

Of course, several of my kids are getting prayerwalking Janet McHenry’s books this year. If you order through her website, they arrived signed by the author. Be sure and tell her I sent you in the comment block! For her Fireside Talk Radio interview, click here.

For more about Catherine’s hallmark-friendly romance books or to discover more fiction and nonfiction from our friends at CrossRiver Mediaclick here.

I’m wishing you a cuddly Christmas with those you love and a good book!

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

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Sassy Faith: Walking in Platinum Faith with Michelle Medlock Adams

Michelle Medlock Adams: Sassy Faith on CathyKrafve.comPlatinum Faith Co-Author, Michelle Medlock Adams wowed me with her sassy attitude about faith!

Who ever heard of sassy faith?! Yet, talking with Michelle Medlock Adams sure put some sassy faith spring in my step. Sign me up for more of this sassy faith Michelle talks about!

With joyful energy, Michelle offers insight for how to be victorious, even on days when we all feel like a hot mess. An award-winning journalist and best-selling author, she joined me recently to talk about putting the sassy in our faith as we pursue Platinum Faith. If you’re a mommy or grandmom, you’ll especially love what she said about spending time with youngsters!

To hear more of her story including how to keep praying for grandson Bear and his family, click here or go to Fireside Talk Radio.

#1 Start Your Day with the One who Loves You

First thing in the morning, she recommends a simple act of faith.

“I don’t mean you have to go in your prayer closet. Although, you probably will want to hide in your closet sometimes just to get some privacy! I don’t think I went to the bathroom by myself for like ten years,” laughs Michelle.

When your feet hit the floor, begin your morning with a prayerful thank you to God, according to Michelle. By committing our day to God first, we invite him to line up our steps according to his plan for our day. (Personally, I think this approach helps me be a little more chill when unexpected stuff happens, as it frequently does at my house!)

“It seems like when you acknowledge the Holy Spirit—acknowledge the Lord—first thing in the morning as a mom, the whole day goes smoother,” Michelle says.

#2 Enjoy the Little Moments 

Even as a proponent of sassy faith, she still understands the pressure modern moms face. Laughing, she shares about a recent lunch with her own grown daughter. (With over 90 books, to find more from Michelle, click here.)

“I forgot my phone and you’d have thought I forgot my arm!” recalls Michelle, who recommends turning off phones—no matter the age of your children! 

Then, she offered a tender incentive especially for young mommies. “When you’re with your children, be present,” she says. “When they’re little they say the cutest things. So, don’t miss those days.” 

# 3 Speak God’s Word Over Them

Weaving in promises memorized from the Scriptures as we talked together, Michelle epitomizes the sassy faith she espouses. Boldly proclaim God’s word over every aspect of her family and life, she says. Michelle emphasizes the importance of encouraging our children and grandchildren in the Lord every single day.

“Things are not always butterflies and sunshine and bluebirds on your shoulder. We all have those days,” says Michelle. She has favorite prayers she’s drawn from Scripture. “I begin to say those promises that are all of ours.” (Michele shared so much more than I could include here. Find our fun interviews by clicking here.)

Sassy Faith

“No one likes to wait. But, there’s no such thing as drive-through faith. I’ve found out over the years his timing is rarely my timing. There’s always a waiting time,” says Michelle. 

“That’s when you have to put on those sassy faith britches and just stand and know God is working,” she says, quoting Ephesians 6:13. “I’m telling you, that’s the only kind of faith to have!”

“My SUV must be the most sanctified SUV in Indiana! People think I’m talking on my phone, but I’m talking to God,” laughs Michelle. “When I finish one of those sessions and get out of my SUV, I tell you I’m a different person!”

To hear Michelle talk about how God unfolded her book writing success, click on our podcast. For more from Michelle about growing your own sasy, platinum faith, click here.

My personal thanks to Michelle for the interview. She truly blessed me with her timely words on faith, words I personally need to hear. I hope you will listen in, too, dear friend. 

In the midst of busy holiday preparations, may God bless you with quiet moment with HIM, the only Holy One!

May we pray together?

Dear Father in heaven, Oh how we love you! You are the one who draws us to sit and be still in your presence. Our hearts seek you. Often we find you in a thousand small daily unfolding miracles, if only we just pay attention to you! Have mercy on us and teach us to look to you. Help us trust you with a faith that sparkles and withstands pressure. Give us resolve to stand against our enemy, the deceiver. Teach us to love truth and speak it over all those we love in our families and communities. As families come together over the holidays, give us your grace and joy. Fill us to overflowing with your Spirit. Teach us to love. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

For Christmas Giving: Books! Yay!!

I promised to share my favorite books for Christmas giving this month along the way. So, here’s a few favorites to make your shopping easier! (Nobody pays me for recommendations, these are just some of the ones under my tree this year.)

For Kids: 

Dinosaur Devotions made it into my grandkiddos’ stockings. Filled with dinosaur facts and fun pictures, older kids will love it for independent study. It’s also a perfect way to share the marvel of God’s creation with toddlers. Written with her dinosaur-loving daughter in mind, Michelle calls this book “a project of the heart.” Pet lovers might also enjoy The Little Angel gets a Big Job, with proceeds benefiting the White River Humane Society in Lawrence County, Indiana. In a wonderful application of art and community, there’s I Love You the Mostest, proceeds benefiting Riboflavin Transporter Deficiency Type2 (RTD).  

For History Lovers and Men Who Love Battle Stories:

Don’t miss Danny Sessums’s new 2-volume set of fabulous first-source A Force to Be Reckoned With. With a few clicks you can download Danny’s own personal stories and wisdom on Fireside Talk Radio to include in your gift to a history-loving friend!

For Gals:

For an inspiring devotion, Michelle and Bethany’s book, Platinum Faith: Live Brilliant, Be Resilient, & Know Your Worth. I connected with Michelle through our mutual friends at Elk Lake Publishing. (For more positive insight from other Elk Lake authors, click here.)

Don’t forget to look for historic novels from Sandra Melville Hart. For more, click here to find the interview we did together or her mom’s pumpkin pie recipe. You can download our interview and include it as a personal touch to your gift of any of her entertaining historical fiction.

Next up, I’m highlighting some dear author friends who write historical fiction and hallmark-friendly romance novels. Over the holidays, my Christmas gift to myself is to snuggle in with hot chocolate and a just-for-fun book. Stay tuned for some of my top picks in the coming weeks. (For more fiction and nonfiction from our friends at CrossRiver Mediaclick here.)

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What prayers are you praying over your children and grandchildren? When you draw near to the Lord, how does that look? What best communicates God’s love to you today?

 

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History Loving Kids: Tips from a History Nerd with Dr. Danny Sessums

Author and scholar Danny Sessums talks about his new 2-volume history of Granbury’s Texas Infantry Brigade in the Civil War, A Force to Be Reckoned With.History nerd to Ph.D and Civil war scholar, Danny lights up true stories with humor and a down home attitude!

Growing up a history nerd wasn’t easy for Danny Sessums. Maybe you’re trying to raise some history-loving kids at your house. If so, you’ll love what Danny shares. At first glance, he was probably the last kid you’d think would grow up to be a Ph.d. and real life T.V. consultant. Not to mention the author of a groundbreaking two volume work on Texas history.

Antebellum Authority, Professor, Museum Designer, Author, Civil War Re-enactor, Television Consultant. With so many titles, who would believe Danny grew up with a bootlegger for a dad?

Dinosaur Dan

As a youngster, Danny’s love of history began when he discovered an unusual fossil. When the local newspaper picked up the story, a lifelong passion for history was born.

“I became known as Dinosaur Dan,” laughs Danny, “my Borger students still all call me that.” With the odds stacked against the poor kid from west Texas, he grew up to offer some rock solid advice for young parents on how to raise history loving kids.

To hear all Danny’s insight, including a bit in an Irish accent, click above or go to Fireside Talk Radio.

A Nudge from His Grandfather Started His Quest

“My dad was killed a month before I turned nine. So, I really ran the streets of my hometown, Borger Texas. Therefore, I got a really good common sense education,” Danny told us in a recent Fireside Talk Radio interview. As always, Danny put his positive outlook on some hard truth.

“I ended up with my granddad just after my junior year working in Fort Worth,” explains Danny. “But he said, ‘You need to go back to Borger and finish school there because you’re the first Sessums kid I’ve met that I think could really be something.” With a nudge from his grandfather, Danny returned to finish school in his small hometown. Back in Borger, he excelled, acquiring college scholarships. Next, he set his course for Texas Tech and beyond.

The Adventure of History

Again sparked by his grandfather, Danny began to develop an interest in war history, particularly Civil War era. As his expertise grew, he accepted an invitation to perform on-screen in a documentary-style series, never realizing what would follow. First, he played a Virginian who fought for the British on the Tory side. Then, in the same series, he played a Texas soldier who was a Confederate.

“As luck would have it—and I mean my life has been luck, but I’m gonna say God inspired luck—a Hollywood producer saw that (series) and gave me a call. I’m gonna tell you, I thought it was a friend of mine pulling a joke on me at the time,” laughs Danny. “He said, ‘We’re gonna do a series of movies, called North and South.” 

One adventure led to many more adventures, including The Alamo: the Price of Freedom and Glory, along with some other PBS documentaries and consulting gigs. For more of his stories and some terrific ideas for raising history-loving kids, click here

Best Christmas Gift Ever For Men, History Lovers, Writers, Museum Curators…

For two special history loving people on my Christmas list, I’ve already secured a 2-volume set of Danny’s book, A Force to Be Reckoned With: A History of Granbury’s Texas Infantry Brigade 1861-1865. (Okay, one of those people might be me! Stay tuned for more books Santa delivers to stockings at our house this year.)

Notably, this two-volume set is groundbreaking research, plus tons of fun. Beautifully formatted, you will be delighted to give them, read them, or keep it on your shelf for future reference. With striking thoroughness, they contain never-before-published, first-hand accounts amid detailed chronicles of troop movement. Please, buy the hard covers; you won’t regret it.

Danny’s books represent a dream come true for readers, history lovers, Texans, and Antebellum historical fiction writers, museum curators, students of battle strategy, Civil War aficionados, re-enactors, public speakers, you name it.

Note to Fellow Writers 

As we talked, Danny modestly mentioned the bibliography in the back of the book. What he didn’t say was that it’s ninety-eight (yes, that’s 98) pages of research footnotes and references! He included appendixes like lists of casualties originally published in the Galveston Daily News and the Houston Telegraph in the 1860s. Plus, a list of materials discovered during his archival search.

If you’re interested in these topics, he did your research for you: Civil War history, first source quotes, Texas, the midWest, pioneer era stories, uncommon war stories, antebellum, ancestral research, and much more.

Also an accomplished author, Danny’s wife Candace Sessums published over 25 books published under her nom de plume, Olivia Hardin. (Her books are fun to read and would make a happy gift in the stocking of a romance-loving friend!) When we talked, Danny couldn’t wait to honor Candace for all her help on his project.

“She has dedicated so much time to getting these two volumes published that I gotta give her a lot of credit there,” Danny emphasized.

What’s up Next for Danny?

Together, Danny and Candace are closing in on a dream to create a documentary chronicling the lives of everyday Texans in the years leading up to and including the Civil War. 

“When you read my books, a lot of it is the people telling what they were experiencing. Wouldn’t it be neat to chronicle  the lives of all these men, these women, these children?” asks Danny, “Wouldn’t it be neat to show there were people who came to Texas before the Civil War from the North who didn’t believe some of the things that were going on in the country or even in the state of Texas. But when the war came, they still fought for the South. They fought for their new native state. I had Germans and Hispanics, and blacks who fought in those regiments the constituted, Granbury’s Texas Brigades.” 

Strong Women

Naturally, I’m begging Danny to shed light on current lives of Texas women by writing about our antecedents, those amazing pioneer women who established the precedence of strong Texas women.

“Women in the 1850 and 1860s were the driving community resource,” explains Danny, “Women took over the leadership of not only their home and hearth but also the family lands. They drove the cattle. Women raised the crops. They helped work in hospitals and factories, things like that.” He’s got the research to prove it, too.

“Poor old Molly Scurlock of Johnson County and Mary Ann Cornwaldt from near Waco,” Danny offers as examples, “They’d write how the Indians were raiding in their territories, killing people and burning farms, ‘I’m afraid to go outside.’”

History Like  Relay Race

For emphasis, Danny likes to characterize history like a track relay race. 

“The relays always demanded an intricate hand off from one runner to the next runner,” he explains, “It was such perfect thing that it’s difficult for us to understand if we’ve never run that kind of race. As we look back at the past, we need to understand, I don’t get to run a lap or a part of a race unless the previous person brought that baton and handed it off to me.” 

May we pray together?

Dear Father in heaven, we are so grateful to live in the land of the free. With humility, we can’t really imagine what our forefathers went through to deliver this blessing to us. They only did so with your divine guidance and mercy. American values are not something we deserve, but a priceless treasure handed off to us by stout, courageous, faith-filled men and women who came before us. We raise you for their fortitude and vision. Thank you for your providential guidance and blessing on this nation, O Lord. Make us faithful, gracious stewards of the blessings you’ve bestowed. In Jesus name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

Which blessings are you counting during this special time of year? When you think back on history, which eras inspire you the most? How are you passing on a love of history to the next generations in your family?

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

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Veterans Day: The Busy Mom’s Guide with Anna Krafve Pierce

Art supplies for creating patriotic Veterans Day banners.Creating a teaching moment about sacrifice is as easy as turning kids lose with a few art supplies and some good ideas.

If you’re wondering what you’re going to do for Veterans Day, Anna says no need to panic. You can walk in the door and have your kids laughing and creating within minutes tonight! All the while, you can transfer your respect for sacrifice to them without missing a beat.

Recycle Old Magazines into Kid-friendly Veterans Day Art

“Who doesn’t have a pen and old magazine,” laughs Anna. “Junk mail was made for collaging,” laughs Anna. Collages are a simple two-step process and tons of fun!

1) First, have the kids go through the magazine and tear out all the pages that have blue in them. 

2) Next, tear up all the little blue pieces and glue them down in the shape of a star. 

Toddlers to teenagers love collages. Anna suggests printing out quotes from George Washington or family quotes from veterans. 

“The reason teenagers love collages is you can hide things in them,” Anna says, adding, “if you really are driving home tonight and need a patriotic activity, there you go!”

I included two of my favorite George Washington quotes below. Of course, if the first one seems too self-serving for a mom to suggest (wink) then there’s the next one.

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”― George Washington

“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”― George Washington  (For more  George Washington quotes, click here.)

Patriotic Banners

Set out paper, ribbon, scissors and glue to help your kids make patriotic banners, a historical  decoration tradition for our country. If you made star collages, you can string them together. We love banners!

Stars on banners represented the number of people serving in the military in your household, during WWII. Yellow ribbons say welcome home. Plus, yellow ribbons represent the longing we feel when our heroes are away. But, if anything seems overwhelming, keep it easy!

“Even red, white, and blue streamers over a table are so happy and festive,” Anna says. And simple for Mom!

Read About American Patriots

Since she loves books, Anna suggests collecting books on American heroes, like George Washington. No time to shop for a book? No worries! She suggests searching for kid friendly articles. (Searching for kid-friendly articles about George Washington, I found Facts for Kids, here.) You can even read to your kids out loud while they create banners.

Don’t forget, the Library of Congress offers videos of American patriots telling their true stories, here.)

Punch Bowl Patriotism

Giving a whole new meaning to filling the punchbowl, Anna suggests filling a large glass bowl with pictures of military pictures in past generations of your family. Or, collect pictures of veteran heroes in your neighborhood or of heroes currently serving. Kids love to pull snapshots out and look through them. Remember to pray for each one as you consider their sacrifice.

To hear our whole conversation about teaching kiddos to respect sacrifice, click above.

Real Sacrifice

Sometimes, we say we’re making sacrifices when we really mean we’re trying to get ahead in our career. Of course, there’s a time and place for work sacrifices. But Anna points out when we honor the real sacrifices our veterans made, we call attention to those who sacrifice for the purpose of serving others, even at the risk of their own life. (For a teacher’s toolkit about he Vietnam War, click here.)

If Veterans Day snuck up on you this year, no worries. Next week, I pulled together Anna’s terrific tips for how we all—especially grandparents—can help teach kids to respect sacrifice every day of the year. With the holidays, many families will love her easy ideas to fold teaching moments into your normal holiday traditions!

As we honor our veteran heroes, those who have already served, our family keeps in our hearts and prayers the men and women who serve presently. May God bless you and bring you home to your family safely. 

May we pray together?

Dear Father, all over this country are men and women who have followed your Son in acts of sacrifice. Like Jesus, they willingly offered their lives for the freedom and lives of others. Today, as we pray, there are those who continue this tradition of making sacrifices for others. Bless them now, O Lord. As Americans who enjoy more freedom than ever in history, may we cherish the sacrifices made by our heroes. May they and their families enjoy respect for their courage and sacrifices throughout this nation. Give us the courage we need to preserve freedom and pass it on to another generation. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

In what ways are you teaching the next generation to respect sacrifice? As a child, what memories do you have of honoring veterans? Which veterans’ stories have impacted your heart?

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

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Cheap and Easy Homemade Costumes with Anna Krafve Pierce

Thinking about cheap and easy homemade costumes for your kids this year? Anna Krafve Pierce brainstorms some fun, cheap and easy homemade costumes for us.

Plus, she added some incredibly worthwhile ideas about sparking up your child’s imagination! Dreams for the future? A love of history? All that and more wrapped up in hilarious, easy costumes!

Cheap and Easy Homemade Costumes_CathyKrafve.com
A bride and a cowgirl: fun memories all dressed up!

 

Imagining a Bright Future

Pirates or princesses? Fire fighters or fall fairies? Soldiers or super heroes? Anna claims dressing up can be a significant part of helping your children imagine their future. Plus, cheap and easy homemade costumes are tons of fun!

“As little kids part of dressing up is you get to try on who you want to be when you grow up,” she says. “Kids need to imagine the grown up world and think about being responsible adults and interacting with other adults in ways that are healthy.”

For instance, Anna sites a recent experience with her niece who quickly learned to pretend. “Like my sweet little niece coming over and pulling out one of her diapers out of her diaper bag and trying to put it on the baby doll. She was adorable. She just pulled my children right in. They wanted to do it too.”

Even if pretending is healthy for kids, let's face it. Of course, planning costumes can be burdensome for mom. Naturally, we all want more time for fun! So we came up with some easy ideas to simplify your life! 

First, cheap and easy homemade costumes get your kids creative juices flowing. Second, some of these ideas are so easy, you can even turn your kids loose to create their own costumes!

Cheap and Easy Homemade Costumes For Princesses

Of course, the genius of our family’s cheap and easy homemade costumes philosophy is we always use what we have on hand. If you’ve worn out the Disney princess costumes at your house, here are some wonderful ways to free your child’s inner princess. Obviously, it's all about your child's imagination. So, no Hollywood necessary!

A Woodland Princess—

First, hot glue and fall leaves combine into a festive headband. Next, hang fluttery leaves from orange and yellow ribbons attached to a vintage apron. Easy-smeasy!

Indian (Native American) Princess—

For this one, fringe the sleeves and hem of a brown t-shirt. Then, turn your children loose with a harvest of felt, ribbon, and feathers to create belts, headbands, and jewelry. Voila!

Bride Princess—

For our daughters, my grandmother’s 1940s nighties layered on piles of lace for wedding dresses and veils. Fondly, Anna remembers serving with her sister as a flower girl in their aunt and uncle’s wedding. Afterwards--inspired--the little girls went everywhere in cheap and easy homemade costumes! Yes, they transformed into princess brides, sporting way too much antique lace everywhere we went!

“As a little kid, I thought my aunt was the star,” chuckles Anna.

Unicorn Fairy Princess—

Okay, my granddaughter thought this one up herself.

“It’s like Walmart highjacked Pinterest in the best way possible,” laughs Anna, “She had on a unicorn horn, fairy wings, a crown, and this shiny necklace. It’s like someone took a picture of the Queen of England’s necklace and made it out of gaudy rhinestones and plastic.” Certainly, if there is any way to add wings or capes to a costume, the Krafve children and grandchildren will find it!

“My daughter carries on that tradition in a fine way,” laughs Anna. On a more serious note, “It may be instinctively we want to be God’s children, so as little girls we make everything about being a princess,” she adds. 

Sparking an Interest in History

According to Anna, cheap and easy homemade costumes can also help kids appreciate history and culture. “Now we’re talking about two of my favorite things, costumes and education! I guess my three favorite things, costumes, creativity, and education!”

For instance, dressed as Native Americans or Indian Princesses, children can easily imagine living in tents, hunting for food, and cooking over an open fire. Clearly, such pretending encourages children to think through how brave people overcome hardships and enjoy being in touch with their natural settings.

What’s another big benefit for Native American costumes? You can wear them all year round. “We wore those at Halloween and at Thanksgiving. We wore them to run around and play in the woods.” In March, for Texas History Week, our Native American costumes made another encore.

More Year Round Fun

For more inexpensive year round cheap and easy homemade costumes fun, Anna recommends catching fall sales on wings, swords, and other fun accessories. (Since she shared more about how to repurpose stuff you have around your house into costumes, listen in above. Or, click here to find more podcasts with Anna on Fireside Talk Radio.)

“Every year, our kids get plastic swords in their stockings because I buy them for fifty cents after Halloween,” she says. By the way, we love the way sword play can teach kids about chivalry and our nation’s history of defending freedom.

What About Scary Costumes?

For some Christians, Halloween celebrates evil. Certainly, garish and scary costumes tend to frighten small children. For our family, we focus on positive imagination and happy costumes year round. 

Because fear worries me (get it?) I asked Anna if she thinks it’s okay for parents to go along with a little adrenaline rush this time of year? With clarity, she emphasized that parents know their kids. Then, she gave a great example of how she decides when her kids have maxed out on scariness. 

“Pay attention to what triggers fear or nightmares for your child,” she says, since each child may express fear uniquely. “Or, she may say she doesn’t like the dark.”

Adrenaline-Laced Fun

Still, even if you try to emphasize the positive, kids tend to invent adrenaline-laced games out of their imagination naturally, according to Anna. At her house, they pretend to be dinosaurs.

“I know it's scary because one of them will be chasing the other one through the house growling and roaring. They’ll be pretending and having fun,” Anna says. “Then, next thing you know it becomes real to them because they’re clinging to me and hiding behind me and shaking like it’s real.” Dinosaurs are a fun way to get an adrenaline rush with some added benefits, according to Anna. 

“Dinosaurs are cool and there’s a whole field your kids can study later,” she laughs. “I like to point them to the things that God made. If you need something that’s a little scary, go for that!” 

Costumes Create Fun and Credibility

All three of our kids worked as wranglers throughout high school and college. Each work day, they wore full cowboy ensembles: boots, hat, chaps, big belt buckle, bandanas. Even though it was real work and real gear, their western attire looked fresh off a movie set. 

“We’d wrap the bandana around the lower half of our faces almost like bandits when it got dusty on horse back.” (Oh, how their mom remembers those loads of laundry!)

“They were costumes because they lent us credibility when we were teaching children, and even adults, about horses and what to do on horseback,” says Anna. At the barn, our kids learned many crucial life lessons, including how dressing the part stimulates the imagination of those you want to teach.

Real Life Costumes

Just like in real life, if you’re a wrangler, a nurse, a firefighter, a teacher, or work in a bank, our daily attire helps people visualize our purpose, Anna points out. In the same way, Anna created cheap and easy homemade costumes for teaching art. Now, she uses her artist costumes to communicate her authority and expertise.

"I throw my hair up on top of my head in a French twist and stick twenty paint brushes in it. Next, I put on the brightest purple lipstick I own and whatever painted up clothing I have. Then, I carry a paint palette I have for this purpose.”

For example, whenever she’s in charge of art at Vacation Bible School or any kids’ camps, she shows up dressed in one of her cheap and easy homemade costumes because dressing the part gives her a platform. “I’m obviously the person in charge of art!”

Annie Get Your Gun!

Whether you're playing around with your kids or teaching a class, cheap and easy homemade costumes spark imagination! Happily, costumes can establish credibility, engage, and entertain. Cheap and easy homemade costumes creating fun memories for everyone! As an example, Anna shared a story from her childhood about how costumes can inspire a great memory. (For more family stories and ideas about raising creative kids, click here.)

“It was probably the first time I ever had to teach a class of kids something,” Anna laughs about a project assigned to each of her fellow fifth graders. “We had to read a book about a real person, dress like them, and give a book report.” She chose a book about Annie Oakley.

Before class, her teacher secretly placed a playing card, with hole conveniently pre-burned into it, on a shelf at the back of the room. 

As Anna spoke, all attention was focused up front on her. For her grand finale, she quickly turned around and shot her toy rifle over her shoulder with a loud “Pop!” Suddenly, all the kids noticed the card with the burned hole in the center as if she really shot it. Ah, what special affects!

Long live imagination and fun costumes!

Shout Outs to Fellow Creatives

In addition, Anna and I want to give a shout out to Lisa Rachel Horlander, our friend and talented artist whose hubby helped us produce the podcast that goes with today’s blog. (For direct access to our latest conversational adventures and blog, click here.)

While we’re shouting out to talented fellow creatives, check out some of our favorite stuff on raising creative kiddos: Liberty Loving Kids, Plus Lathan Watt’s Top Books for Fostering Religious LibertyRaising Creative Kids: The Art of Glowing in the Dark with Neita Fran WardFamily Thanksgiving with Anna Krafve Pierce, or Musically-Challenged Mommy? Inspiration for Music Loving Kids.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, deliver us from evil as the scary stuff flowing out of Halloween surrounds us this time of year. Give our families courage as we look for ways to communicate positive ideas as we stand against fear. Thank you for the imagination you created in each one of us. Most importantly, O Lord, let us be careful stewards of the beautiful imagination you’ve provided in the hearts of our kids and grandkids. As we trust you, help us inspire them to dream of a bright future as they respect history. For any young mom planning costumes for her family, please give her inspiration. Help her find the perfect cheap and easy supplies to spark up her kids’ imagination with lots of homemade fun. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen. 

We love to hear from you!

What is your favorite costume memory? Which important lesson did you learn while in costume? When you create costumes at your house, what’s your favorite trick?

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

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Liberty Loving Kids, Plus Lathan Watt’s Top Books for Fostering Religious Liberty, Part 1

First Liberty's Lathan Watts joins us on Fireside talk Radio.

Defending religious liberty all the way to the Supreme Court takes up a ton of Lathan Watts’s mental energy. An attorney with First Liberty, one of the nation’s foremost defender of religious liberty, Lathan joined me recently on Fireside Talk Radio. Of course, he shared a ton of stuff on instilling a love of religious liberty in the younger generations.

You’ll love his passion and sense of humor. Plus, he sports an insider’s view of where the battle lines are drawn on the issue of religious liberty.

Lathan’s Book List for Educating Young Patriots

With a constitutional scholar and history lover on the show, I couldn’t resist asking for a book list. Here’s Lathan’s top picks for raising liberty loving young Americans.

  • His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
  • American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis
  • The Federalist Papers, which Lathan describes as “some of the best writing about the Constitution by the men who wrote the Constitution” 
  • Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World by Daniel Hannon, which makes the case our Founding Fathers were simply claiming the rights they enjoyed as true British subjects. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble thinking of myself as a subject, rather than a citizen. My, how far we’ve come!
  • The 5,000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen
  • 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help by Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D.
  • 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read: Plus Four Not to Miss and One Imposter, by Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D, Robertson Dean, et al 

Respect for Religious Liberty

Honestly, I just wanted a book list for kids. But leave it to Lathan to get to the heart of the matter—what adults don’t know. Seriously, Lathan caught me flat footed. Especially since the only thing on his list I’ve actually read myself was the Federalist Papers. Ouch! 

Still, he gave me a GREAT excuse to order books promptly! In my world, the only thing better than chocolate is a good book! Actually, chocolate plus reading out loud to our grandkids ranks as the BEST! (Soon, Anna and I plan upcoming episodes devoted to fun ways to instill a love of reading in your creative children. Stay tuned!)

“You can’t go wrong starting with the reading the Constitution and the Federalist Papers,” adds Lathan. (For more on raising kids with a love for liberty: Independence Day: How to Foster Independence in Kids and Country .)

Passing on Passion for Civics 

As a father himself, Lathan appreciates just how hard it is to raise children.

“Well, my parents did their best to raise me right, I guess,” he laughs, describing himself as “that weird kid in grade school who watched the news.” He adds, “I just couldn’t wait to vote and all that.” As a little boy of four or five his dad was his hero. 

“I have a memory of being over at my grandparents’ house and my dad pulling me over and sitting me in his lap. He said, ‘I need you to be quiet because I want to hear what this man has to say.’”

The man was Ronald Reagan. 

A Love of Learning

Clearly, many parents want to raise kids with a passion for history and a love of country. So, Lathan encourages parents to stay alert when it comes to their kids’ education. (For more about how religious liberty secures families from the effects of anarchy, click here.)

“I think a big mistake that some parents make, and it’s easy to do, is assuming their kids are going to be taught history and a love of country in school. In many places they’re not.”

According to Lathan, parents must be intentional. He suggests opening up daily conversations about what they’re learning in school. “They (his own kids) know Daddy was a history major,” he laughs, “So everything they learn in history class they want to talk about with me. I ask them, what did you talk about in history today.” Plus, he pays attention for normal opportunities to observe and think.

“It’s taking the opportunity to discuss things when they’re current. One thing that is seriously missing in education is critical thinking.” In order to get his own kids thinking, he asks good questions. “Did you hear the way the newscaster introduced that story? Does that sound objective to you?”

One Interest Leads to Another

In his own life, his initial interest in President Reagan led to a fascination with American history. That bloomed into his passion for religious liberty. 

“Whether it’s a political figure or a band I like, I want to know who they’re interested in.”

From Reagan, Lathan discovered Calvin Coolidge. Then, because Reagan often quoted American patriots, Lathan’s interests expanded to include Alexander Pain, Thomas Jefferson George Washington and so many others.

“I wanted to know who were the men they believed in,” Lathan says. Naturally, his self-education expanded to include more historic figures. “Who were the Founders reading?” he asks, answering John Locke, for one. 

A Texan By Marriage

“I’m a Texan by marriage,” laughs Lathan who thanks his wife for bringing him to Texas. “I was raised in a small town, went to school in small towns. When I moved to the Dallas area, this was the biggest city I’d ever lived in.” 

As a young man, he served on his first political campaign. His goals included using his legal training locally in a less traditional way. Soon, he discovered an innate gut instinct for civics.

Raised in the church, his sought his own personal calling to service. With his background, he began to realize his passion for the American self-governing process.  

“Other than being a full time minister, I saw no other opportunity where you could impact more people’s lives than having an influence in our government.”

To understand more about some current Supreme Court cases and how they impact our lives, find more of our interview and another podcast, here. For more about how Lathan and his colleagues at First Liberty champion the cause of religious liberty—they specifically request prayer—click here.

May I pray for you?

Father in heaven, we are grateful for the way You established freedom and free will for us all. We’re amazed at Your willingness to send Your Son. When we were enslaved to sin, You bought our freedom with His life, if we but choose it. How grateful we are for the choices we get to make daily! Grant us now wisdom to choose companionship with You and freedom.

Bless those who fight–those protecting our liberty–to keep us a free people. Today, specifically, we thank you for the attorneys across this nation who study the U. S. Constitution. Give them wisdom as they present cases to our courts to protect our religious liberty. Thank You for our Founding Fathers who–at their own personal expense and sacrifice–stepped into the destiny You created for them. Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunity to follow our own hearts today, devoting our lives to worshipping You. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What teacher inspired your love of history? How do you open up fun conversations with your kids and grandkids? What’s your favorite book about American history?

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

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Suddenly Single Mom Jeanette Hanscome Shares Tips

Jeanette Hanscome and I pose for our listening friends!I waited two years to interview Jeanette Hanscome, author of Suddenly Single Mom. Believe me, it was worth the wait! Experiencing divorce? Or, someone you know? Jeanette offers comfort and power in the authentic stuff she shares in our podcasts for Fireside Talk Radio. 

Jeanette writes for publishers like Focus on the Family, The Upper Room, Standard Publishing, Walk Thru the Bible, LifeWay, and Guideposts. We took this quick video recently as we plotted the ways she could encourage you! I hope you love this courageous leader as much as I do!

 

 

 

Is Divorce an Option?

People say, “Divorce is not an option.” Sadly, though divorce is an option, even in the church. In fact, sometimes divorce remains the last, best option. For followers of Jesus, we need to talk about divorce in an open way, preparing us to care for the wounded.

Fortunately, my friend Jeanette transformed her experience with divorce into a book. Oh, the tender, authentic way she writes in short chapters perfect for the reader overwhelmed by divorce! If you’re suddenly single or love someone going through divorce, you are going to thank me for passing along her message.

The Shock of Being Suddenly Single 

Here’s her wisdom. (Plus, she shared her story in a podcast here.)

 

Tips For the Suddenly Single

Kindly, Jeanette offered a bunch of great insight from her own experience with navigating a messy divorce. (She shared a bunch more, so click here to find more podcasts.) Here are a few of her thoughts—

#1 You can do this.

“We all have something in our lives that causes us to believe, ‘I can’t do this,’” Jeanette says, “For me, it was facing life as a single mom who had low vision. For others, it might be something else.” No matter the case, Jeanette offers plenty of practical advice. How do you ask for help? Why does recording the blessings God sends your way help? Fortunately, she answers these questions and a bunch more in our podcasts, so click above.

#2 Others should assume they don’t know the whole story.

For Jeanette, separation from her husband involved a one year process of “trying to work through some serious issues I purposely didn’t put in the book.” Of course, with young sons, she simply could not share every detail, a common experience for people going through divorce. 

Fortunately for Jeanette, her church stepped up with help, no questions asked. (For more about how the church should handle those who hurt, check out what Dana Goodrum had to say.)

#3 Sometimes the worst thing that could ever happen to us turns out to be the best thing.

“I had to hold on to the knowledge that God would use what I was going through. As a writer, everything in my life becomes material,” she laughs, “I kept that in my mind, God is going to use this for someone else.”

#4 Your life will be good again. 

“I never expected this, but I can honestly say that my life is not only good, it is actually better,” Jeanette says. Today, she is amazed at all the doors her life experiences have opened, including ministering to many who have struggled with divorce.

Kids are More Resilient Than We Think

“I was really afraid that my boys would feel maybe ostracized or that they maybe had something to be ashamed of because their parents were divorced,” Jeanette shares tenderly. Surprisingly for her, a turning point came when her youngest son won an award at his school. As she watched him interact with his friends, enjoying the moment, her heart lit up with gratitude.  

“I marveled at how messed up he wasn’t,” she laughs now about what turned out to be a healthy trend, adding, “Kids are resilient. We don’t give them enough credit. I’ve seen that our attitudes really do make a difference in the experience they have.”

Single and Strong

When Jeanette was a child, her parents heard a lot of negative predictions of what would happen to her, as a visually impaired youngster. For instance, people said she would never be able to make it through a public school. Or, she’d never go to college.

“God reminded me when I was young I was the first visually impaired student at pretty much every school I attended. I went to school at a time when they just didn’t know what to do with the visually impaired kids yet,” she chuckles. Instead of caving in to the negative predictions, she accomplished them all!

“I remember thinking, I bet surviving as a single mom never occurred to them!”  

Practical and Down to Earth

Well, you can see for yourself how practical and down to earth this dear lady is! Not to mention funny. I find her stuff encouraging on so many levels. (To find more terrific interviews about being your family’s champion, scroll back to our interviews with Sandra Beck or Darlene Marshalhere. Both women are impacting our world in a big way post-divorce, so they offer tested Biblical insight and experience. Plus, some great stories!) 

In addition to her own writing, Jeanette also offers coaching for fellow writers, along with many other services. If, like me, you can’t get enough of Jeanette’s writing, you can sign up for her blog, here, in the left hand column of her website.

Help for Homeschoolers

Speaking of friends who write great stuff, as many of you know, we’re pro-education at Camp Krafve–all forms of it! Plus, every now and then, I scan my friends websites for stuff I can get excited about. Boy, did I hit the jack pot this week! I’m not getting paid to advertise here, I just like Susan Stewart’s website.

Just in time for fall, I found Susan’s class on creating clear purpose for your homeschool! Wow! This is exactly what I needed to keep us on track when I homeschooled along the way. (Especially since I really like to have fun rather than study!) Called, Why Am I Doing This? Seven Steps to an Educational Philosophy, Susan nails all the important points step by step to focus and personalize your homeschool plan.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, see our friends, Your children, who are struggling with divorce. Surround these friends with compassionate people who will minister kindly with practical help. Give sisters and brothers in the church wisdom and tenderness to understand there’s so much we don’t know. Protect any children affected by divorce and comfort their souls. Strengthen this family to come out of this crisis with courage and dignity. Give this dear one strength to be the family champion You designed! Thank you for my friend Jeanette, who wrote courageously and authentically about divorce as a blessing for all of us. And as our children and grandchildren return to their studies, thank You Lord for all the religious and educational liberty we enjoy in this country. We are grateful. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What has helped you in a crisis situation? When have you felt like your life was unraveling? How has a “no questions asked” policy provided privacy and compassion in your life?

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

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Tea Time Anytime: Raising Confident Girls with Anna Krafve Pierce

Could raising confident girls be as easy as planning a tea time anytime? Yes! According to Anna enjoying a hot cup of tea with your daughter is one of the BEST ways to create confidence in her heart. And who doesn’t love any excuse for a hot beverage?

Tea Time Anytime: Raising Confident Girls   CathyKrafve.com

Anytime is the perfect time to serve tea and create memories!

Tea Time Anytime

As a mommy and a teacher, Anna stumbled over this tea-time-anytime truth recently as she observed the dynamics in her own home. This week, she joined me to share what she’s learning about teaching her young daughter to be comfortable in ALL social settings.

 

The Benefits of Tea Time Anytime

What a happy coincidence: to share something as fun as tea time and know in your heart you are simultaneously serving your daughter and her friends! 

“So many tea parties were a part of our pretend world,” laughs Anna, remembering happy pretend parties with her grandmothers, “By the time we graduated to having people over for tea or ice cream socials, where I was sitting at the table with my grandmother and her friends, it was a seamless transition. We had practiced with my stuffed animals!”

Undoubtedly, parenting doesn’t get any better than that! (To hear Anna’s story about her kindergarten teacher’s tea party, click on the above podcast.) Keep reading for Anna’s list of tea time benefits.

#1 Learning to Honor Others

Not only does tea time introduce young girls to the concept of polite conversation, according to Anna. Simultaneously, the rhythm of tea time helps little girls feel good about the way kind women engage with each other.

“We are a very casual culture and in a way that is a good thing,” Anna says, “The down side is our culture has forgotten how to ask polite questions, while respecting the other person’s perspective.” Fortunately, tea parties can teach your daughter to cross cultural lines with confidence because she feels good about herself and what she offers to a conversation, adds Anna.

#2 Sharing the Joy of Initiating Friendships

Sadly, all kids inevitably face rejection, especially at school. (For Anna’s thoughts about Back to School success, click here. For powerful information about bullying at school, click here or go to theMegan Meier Foundation.) However, the confidence they gain from practicing proper etiquette and learning to initiate healthy friendships can actually insulate your daughter’s heart. Recently, taking the initiative, Anna’s daughter invited her mommy, her brother and all her stuffed animals to tea time.

“She initiated it. It was an honest to goodness invitation, ‘Would you come to tea?’” laughs Anna. (For more insight on why initiating is important please listen to the full podcast above or look for more ideas here.)

“What was so cute is about half way through, her brother decides he wants to do the same thing. Because he had been invited, he wanted to try that out himself,” Anna adds. Spontaneously, he invited his sister and his mommy to go hunting.

As soon as tea time finished, the hunt began. Together, the children snuck around the house hunting the stuffed animals Anna quickly hid.

#3 Appreciating the Trust Produced by Good Manners

Surprisingly simple things like what to wear and when to bring a hostess gift can teach youngsters confidence about how to honor others.

“I was sitting at a tea party recently with my mother-in-law, my daughter, and my niece,” Anna shares, “My mother-in-law and I were both in our shiniest dresses because the girls had picked them out.” The words prom dresses might have come up in our conversation! Instinctively, the little girls felt so special, Anna reports.

“Grandy, please pass the cookies,” each girl said in her most elegant voice. Crystal and silver serving trays were arrayed in a dazzling menu, including rainbow colored marshmallows, squirt can whip cream, and peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches.

“Everything was covered in sprinkles,” laughs Anna, adding “I was just doing it because it was fun and my niece was so excited. Until I sat there with my mother-in-law, I didn’t think through the fact that what we were doing was important not just fun!”

Learning a structure for honoring others builds a kind of confidence that comes from knowing society’s rules and being able to navigate them successfully. Rules are not to restrict people, but to free us so we can focus on what’s really important, other people.

#4 Uniting Women is Powerful

Anna makes a good case for the universal appeal of women gathered around a table together, enjoying a snack and a hot beverage. She says tea time experience at home trains our daughters to be comfortable with women anywhere in the world, simply because we recognize the ritual of tea time.

“I don’t remember ever sitting down at a table with women where I felt awkward, in lots of different contexts, in lots of different places and cultures,” Anna explains, almost reverently. “If I’m in a group of women, I feel pretty confident about how to be kind. Truthfully, the focus on how to be kind is definitely part of it.”

When you teach a kid how to be the hostess, Anna explains, you coach them on how to respect  the needs of others. Specifically, planning ahead to make everyone else comfortable, becoming alert to the relationship dynamics, learning to relax, and enjoy others develops deep confidence in a girls’ heart.

And I Thought Tea Time Was All About the Fun!

Honestly, I was astonished when Anna told me she thought tea time was a powerful tool for raising confident daughters. I just thought tea time was fun. (Anna shared more about how her grown up friends schedule tea time to get a break in their mommy jobs. To listen to our whole conversation, check out the above podcast or click here for more podcasts.)

Since everyone wants to raise confident girls, she had my undivided attention and I scheduled the show. Could confidence develop out of something as easy as hosting a tea party? Now I know.

Don’t forget: tea time is a great way for grandmothers to jump in and support the raising of confident girls. (In the above podcast, Anna honored the three generations of women in a beloved family we know. I hope you’ll listen in for how one family’s tea time tradition of is still impacting our family into the fourth generation.)

Raising Confident Boys? Oh my!

Consequently, this topic of how tea time can be a tool for raising confident daughters, got us thinking. How do we raise confident sons? Is there an activity that mommies can start early with their little boys? Fishing? Hiking? Sports? Hmm.…

The answer isn’t obvious to Anna and me. Therefore, we hope you’ll chime in with your thoughts. Soon we’d really like to do a show about raising confident boys. But we could really use your help. (To sign up for free weekly ideas about creating life-long companionship in your family, click here.)

Including Others

Certainly, the formality of tea party sets your sons up for success just like your daughters, if you can only get a son to sit still for a minute! Because she believes they make everyone feel more comfortable, Anna advocates enthusiastically for good manners. Of course, as much as she loves chatting over a cup of tea with other women, she thinks tea time is best when everyone feels included. 

“It’s a way of being inclusive. Just like my sweet little daughter set off a domino affect with her brother when she invited us.”

Many times, the formality of being specific about inviting others, honors guests by respecting their free will. For instance, asking for the honor of another person’s company means letting the other person decide. Then, they get to choose to accept or decline your invitation. Tea time is gracious in that way.

Whether your next team time gathering is formal or casual, Anna suggests kindness translates into easy confidence in your child’s heart.

May I pray for you?

Dear Good Father, You want the best for Your daughters just like we do. It’s hard to imagine being so loved by You. Yet, each day You send tender, gentle proof of Your love in the chirping of a bird, the caress of a pet, or the comfort of a good friend. Today, O Lord, grant us Your favor as we try to instill wholeheartedness into the spirit of our daughters and granddaughters. Surround us trustworthy women who can comfort and strengthen our hearts as we pour out love on our families. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What is your favorite treat to serve with tea? (Yes, and feel free to send us recipes, dear one!) When have you been invited to tea and what made the invitation special? What is your favorite childhood memory of playing tea party?

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

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Back to School: A Plan for Success with Anna Krafve Pierce

Lots of bottles of children's school glue.Ah, the relief of back to school! A plan for success each day! Suddenly, weekdays fall into place and weekends gain savored freedom. Kids groan. Moms rejoice.

Moms everywhere can all release a collective sigh of relief. Even as we grieve another summer of their childhood spent. (Speaking of learning a ton, I have a really happy personal announcement at the end of today’s blog. We invite you to join our family in rejoicing and celebrating because you are an important part of what’s happening!)

Naturally, we want them to go back to school full of joy and anticipation. To prepare for a successful new year at school, I asked Anna for her best tips as teacher and mom. Whether you taxi your children to school or prepare to homeschool, you’ll love Anna’s back to school plan for success.

Back to School Enthusiasm

Lovingly, Anna starts by honoring her own dad’s enthusiasm for back to school.

“I feel compelled to honor him when we talk about back to school,” laughs Anna, recounting her dad’s enthusiasm for back to school shopping, “He was always thrilled and excited to buy whichever thing he could afford to buy for us.”

It’s true. Even in the worst years financially, David always rounded up back to school treats for our kids. As a small business owner, he believes folks need the right tools to do their jobs. (If you’re curious about David, you can click here for more about our family.)

“He (Dad) really honored the effort we were putting into school by making sure that he was excited to get us what we needed to be equipped. It doesn’t have to be extravagant,” explains Anna. A parent’s enthusiasm is contagious. “It was always a thrill to sharpen that new pencil for the first time.”

As a teacher and mom, Anna can’t wait for school to start. After taking a few years off to be with her babies, each fall in her classroom delights her. With joy, Anna offers a few tips to plan for back to school success.

#1 Be Practical About Fashion

Even though advertisements depict fall leaves and little red school houses with bells, in the south where it’s still hot, fall fashion may not be practical. For instance, new sweaters may torture for several months.

“One year when rain boots came into style, I think every girl in the junior high wore those to school,” laughs Anna, “They were desperate to take them off. The whole room smelled of feet and rubber.”

#2 Keep Lunches Easy

To keep things simple in the morning, Anna likes a container with divisions. “Self-contained and easy,” best describes her attitude about school lunches. Her family likes containers with a built in spork, a spoon with teeth like a fork. According to Anna, the right container doubles as a snack container for after school care or picnics in the park. Plus, the divisions have an unexpected bonus.

“I can look at it and think, ‘Oh, I didn’t put quite enough food in here!’”

#3 Say it in a Note

Additionally, she likes notes in lunchboxes, but nothing too complicated for mom. To keep it easy she suggests a personal note on their napkin or a Bible verse on a 3×5 card.

Even though this was a daily habit from Anna’s childhood, I have to confess, I always looked for the easy way to accomplish goals with my kids. So, I often copied several verses onto 3×5 cards ahead of time, just in case the mornings got away from me. In fact, mornings frequently got away from me!

Due to their cheerful pictures, left over party napkins are a lifesaver. Quick as a wink, one loving sentence and done! Also, jokes put a smile on a child’s face and give them a fun way to talk to new friends at lunch.

“The consistency is what communicated your love to me,” adds Anna, remembering the simple notes in her own lunch box.

#4 Intentional Morning Rituals

Anna suggests a loving habit the kids learn to trust. This pattern serves them well as they make new friends at school.

“I try to say, ‘Good morning’ every morning. I look them in the eye the first time I see them, and my goal is to say their name,” Anna shares, adding, “Mind you, I don’t always do it because they are waking me up at 5:30 right now and I’m groggy!”

It’s important for kids to know they are loved each day, according to Anna.  She can tell the difference when she fails to intentionally greet each child. Beyond the daily greeting, she tries to convey another important truth always.

“Even though mommy is groggy and not in the best mood, that’s not about them,” she adds, “That’s my battle. Whatever stress I’m carrying today, that’s not about them. They are amazing and wonderful and exactly who I want them to be.”

#5 Offset Inevitable Rejection With Initiating Friendship

Of course, Anna knows from experience as a teacher and as a kid that rejection is inevitable. But, she says there are tricks you can try to rejection-proof your children.

“I’m just thinking about all the times I’ve been rejected,” sighs Anna, “I have so many friends and people I love, people who are dear to me. Yet, still in the course of a lifetime there’s always rejection.” (If your child experiences bullying at school, click here to find our blog and podcast with the amazing Tina Meier, one of the nation’s leading experts on how to handle a bullying situation or go to their website here.)

Naturally, as children learn to be thankful for others, they grow more confident because they understand their own value, according to Anna. With intentionality, wise parents can accomplish this understanding between siblings, cousins, and neighborhood friends, long before a child arrives at their first day of school. As an example, she refers to her friendship with her own sister.

“Ellen is like the friend God chose for me because we share DNA. She’s the friend that’s so different from me. If we’d only been in a classroom, we might not ever have found the footing of deep friendship. But because we had to share a room….,” she laughs, adding that learning to respect and value differences prepared her to value friendships with people of all varieties. (For tips from our friend SharRon Jamison on how to build lasting friendships, click here, or go to her website here.)

Teach Your Kids to Initiate

“You can’t stop someone from rejecting your child,” says Anna, “So, when they run into kids who are ready to be friends, they must know how to initiate. Initiation communicates a great basis for friendship.” (For insight about dealing with difficult people, click here to look for our interview with Learning Styles Guru Cynthia Tobias or go to her website here.)

For instance, Anna suggests talking out loud at dinner or in the car about how to initiate friendships. Begin by teaching your kids to ask good questions. For example, ask your child, “What did you like about that new friend?” By doing so, you’ll prime their brains to go back to school, thinking about what they like about the other kids.

“A big one is learning the new person’s name,” Anna says. In the junior high where she teaches, she loves to hear friends shouting each others’ names down the hall. She suggests coaching your child to pay attention on the first few days when the teacher calls roll. (For more great ideas about the etiquette of friendships, watch for next week’s blog called Tea Time: Raising Confident Girls or find all our blogs here.)

Honoring Their Hard Work

Along with her tips, we also talked about those first glorious days before the homework starts. Possibly, I may have shared a few pet peeves about homework. Perhaps, Anna may have reminded me of one family story, ahem, about my bad attitude about homework. (To listen in click above or find the podcast here.)

She sums up back to school success this way: “Honoring the effort your kids put into school is important. The beginning of the year is a great time to start honoring their effort.” Together Anna and I want to thank all the teachers who are going back to school, celebrating our kids in their hearts.

“I love school! I’m so thankful to be a teacher. Having people entrust their kids to you, it’s such an honor to get to be a part of educating kiddos.”

We are thankful for teachers! To teachers and parents, we wish you every blessing as you guide our children and grandchildren!

May I pray for you?

Father, You are the Parent who loves us unconditionally with unfailing tender love. Oh, how we want to be like You, filled with Your Spirit as we guide our children and grandchildren! Thank you for the parents who ensure a great education for their children, all the while working hard to provide for them and making sacrifices for their child’s well-being. Thank You for the teachers who receive them with joy!Please strengthen them now, as they send their kids back to school and plan for success. Please show them the plans You have for each one; for each family, each parent, each child, each teacher, each administrator. We love You, good Father. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What plans do you have for your child’s success at school? In what ways does your morning routine function well? Where could you use some fresh ideas? Which experts would you love to hear from when it comes to helping your child succeed at school?

More Good News!

Aspiring author Cathy Krafve in front of a painting of her great grandfather, another author.Me with my great grandfather, Sylvester Primer, the last author in the family (unless my cousins send me a correction about that!)

I’m thrilled to announce that Karen Neumair of Credo Communications agreed to be my agent! If you hope to write a book and wonder how to get an agent, my best advice is beg! Seriously, Karen’s experience and natural ability to build relationships showed immediately as she answered all my myriad of questions. I’m so grateful to have her working behind the scenes on behalf of all of us who love books!

(Please click here to check out my very own author page!)

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

Most of all, thank you for sharing this moment together. Without you, it would be no fun at all!!

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

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How to Launch a Book or Business? Entrepreneurship with Mike Sahno 

Mike Sahno with some of his favorite people: readers!

Author, Speaker, and Publisher, Mike Sahno, joined me to chat about entrepreneurship and following your dreams in a social media world. No stranger to challenge, Mike understands the hurdles small business owners face daily. In fact, whether you want to launch a book or business, many of the tips Mike offers are the same.

Author of the newly released fiction novel, Whizzers, Mike knows the angst and the joy of seeing your message in print! If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business or writing the book of your dreams, you can listen to the whole conversation below.

Mike’s Book, Whizzers

Whizzers just released last week. I pre-ordered the book and can’t wait to read it. It’s the story of “a recovering alcoholic, Mike, who discovers his six-year-old cousin, David, travels through time to bring comfort to those in need. Mike soon finds himself along for the ride, and while he gets the opportunity to bring solace to some of his greatest heroes, he must also confront his own demons.” (You can order your copy by clicking here.)

One Example of a Success Story

This latest release is not Mike’s first opportunity to launch a book or business. In fact, he often enjoys helping others benefit from his experience in order to succeed. For instance, one of his favorite stories involves a highly successful business coach, a “terrific guy,” to quote Mike.

“He had written a book on his own and published it. It was okay, but he didn’t feel it was as successful as he hoped,” recounts Mike. The coach, an entrepreneur himself, recognized he wanted more social media traction for his next book. He enlisted Mike to ghost write part of the next project and to help him with the launch.

“What was so great about that project was that within the first couple of weeks that book went to Number One in one of the subcategories on Amazon. So, he’s able to put Number One Best Seller on his stuff going forward,” Mike laughs, “He’s a great guy and I was pleased to be able to help somebody like him.” Nothing feels quite as good as helping others succeed. (For more on mentoring, check out the two blogs we did with Civic Leader and Businessman Tony Johnson: https://cathykrafve.com/girls-need-healthy-male-role-models/ and https://cathykrafve.com/qualified-to-mentor/)

To Launch a Book or Business: Mike’s Advice

As a marketing expert, Mike likes to see his clients adding value for readers long before you want launch a book or business. Whether it’s a blog, a free book, or articles based on your expertise, adding value for your potential customers means treating them respectfully by offering free, meaningful content they need. (To read Mike’s blog, click here.)

Fortunately for us all, he pulled together some tips for the entrepreneurial at heart, especially about how to grow a social media following. (To get an insiders view of starting up a social media platform and a short list of people I trust to help, click here.)

Ignore the Myths

#1 Ignore the Myths. Mike offers Twitter as an example of a platform where people suffer from commonly held misconceptions. He suggests ignoring the common misperceptions about social media, especially if your thing is helping others.

“Twitter has some downsides to it. I think people think of it as kind of a broadcast medium for people to go out and argue with each other and so forth,” Mike explains, “But there’s also a lot of people trying to be supportive of each other and what they’re doing. I learned early on that it can be used in a way like networking.” But, that’s only if you use Twitter as a way to help others.

Serve Others

#2 Serve Others. With over 22,000 Twitter followers, including me now, Mike can speak with confidence about how to build a social media network by serving others. (To follow Mike on Twitter, click here.)

“The best networkers are people who really focus on being a giver and trying to do something good for somebody else. Maybe connect them to someone else or help them promote their stuff a little bit,” suggests Mike, who adds he shares other people’s messages 80% of the time and his own a mere 20%.

Woo the People You Love

#3 Woo the people you love. There are no shortcuts in finding the people who love the same things you love, according to Mike. Instead, he shares another myth when it comes to social media.

“’If you publish it, readers will find you.’ I quickly learned the hard way that if only a few people know you work or know about you, you’re not going to make a whole lot of sales.” Instead, as you  prepare to launch a book or a business, he makes an unusual suggestion.

“To use an old-fashioned word, you have to woo your audience.”  

Shhh…Another Fun “Pet” Project

As a perfect example of wooing the people who love the same things you love, Mike shares a little bit of a special project he enjoyed lately. Watch for this next project; one that’s still so secret he can only hint about it. It involves a retired NFL pro and a new breed of dogs. The football player followed his interest in the dogs to discover an amazing story.

“He funded this project but it’s someone else’s story,” reports Mike, because the football player cares so much about the message. The story includes the life of one of the co-founders of the breed. “Her life had to be in there because she has such an interesting life,” he says, adding, “There was some real drama in there.”

Respecting and Wooing Your Audience

I really loved Mike’s choice of words to explain the process of finding people on social media who share your passions. For instance, when a man woos a woman, he really studies what she cares about. Mike shared more stories and more insight than I can include here. To hear our entire interview click above on the podcast button. (To find other experts on a wide-range of topics, go to CathyKrafve.com. Find more Fireside Talk Radio podcasts here.)

Most of all, please know we really love our reading and listening friends. We love it when you let us know the issues you care about so we can line up experts on those topics. (You can sign up here or make comments or send us messages here. or scroll to the bottom of the page. I read each and every comment personally.)

Readers Rock!

As a reader, I love both sides of this equation. As much as I love writing, I also love reading. I truly love reading other people’s stuff. When an author respects us as readers, doesn’t it feel good? After all, readers give our time to engage in a book. We want to be inspired, encouraged, and yes, entertained, too.

Okay, I’m done writing today. Thank you for reading. Next up: I get to find a cozy place to curl up with Mike’s new book. For a few hours, Mike’s book will be my book. What a treat!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You are the Master Creator. You hold heaven and earth together. All life flows from Your nature. You designed us for Your purpose and for companionship with You. We are all creative because we are designed in Your image. We praise You.

Yet, it’s no small task to figure out what You want us to do with our lives. We turn to You now for creative inspiration. Teach us to love and serve others in a way that brings glory to You. In Jesus’s name Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What social media sites are your favorite and why? Which topics do you wish someone would talk openly about? How can we serve your family, church or community to open up terrific, healthy conversations?

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

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Forgive Relentlessly, Praying in the Face of Injustice with Prayerwalking Janet McHenry

Forgive relentlessly. That was not a phrase that comes to my mind when I think about prayer. What about you? Yet, according to Janet McHenry forgiving relentlessly is exactly what Jesus prayed first on the cross.
Forgive Relentlessly says Prayerwalking Janet McHenry, shown here relaxing against a stone wall and smiling. CathyKrafve.com

 

“We have three prayers from the cross itself, where He prays first, first He prays, His very first prayer, is a prayer of forgiveness. He says, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’ from Luke 23:34. He prays forgiveness first,” she emphasizes. Janet compares Jesus’s prayer to the ones we typically pray when we’re faced with injustice.

Prayers in the Face of Injustice

Okay, I confess it. When I feel misjudged, first I usually remind God (and myself) that He is just. Then, I ask Him for justice in the situation. Eventually, I might think to ask Him to forgive the other person, if I pray long enough. 

Injustice calls for powerful prayer, relentless prayer. Forgive relentlessly? How can we pray when condemnation threatens to polarize families, churches, or communities? When we witness injustice (or live through it) what prayer tools do we have at our disposal? (To hear the entire, unedited 30 minute podcast, click below or find it here.)

Forgive Relentlessly

“We have a responsibility of forgiveness because that is the key of Christianity. Forgiveness.” Janet adds that to forgive relentlessly “is not something taught in other religions and other faiths. We can make a difference for humanity and for eternity if we in fact forgive relentlessly.” But, she knows full well how difficult it can be when we cry out due to injustices in our lives.

“We had to say, ‘Father we still trust you for this situation. And we forgive those people even though they’ve not repented yet. They are in your hands and we trust you.’” To forgive relentlessly can seem like some counterfeit super-spiritual pretension. How do we forgive relentlessly?

“That does not mean I’m a doormat, but (instead) I’m putting the situation in God’s hands and allowing Him to be the judge,” explains Janet about how tough forgiveness can be. But, forgiveness benefits all, she clarifies, as Jesus emerges “the victor in the situation, but also in my life personally as a testimony.”

More from Janet

With six books on prayer, including The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, Janet helps us figure out how to pray, using Jesus’s own prayers as our guide. Particularly, I loved what she says in our interview about releasing our children into God’s care.

Plus, in The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, she defined submission as committing our spirit over to God. Her definition is one of the best I’ve ever seen or heard on the topic of submission! I highly recommend understanding her perspective on submission for all pastors and teachers because she presents the concept so clearly. In fact, she shared so many profound ideas, I had a hard time choosing just one or two for this blog.

If you are planning a ladies retreat at your church, a community prayer walk or a Mindfulness Triathlon, I urge you to consider Janet as your guest speaker. To my good fortune, I got to sit under her teaching at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference this year and I highly recommend her. (You can reach Janet, by clicking here. To learn more about how to rally your community for a Mindfulness Triathlon, find the episodes we did with Colleen Long, here.)

Prayer and Being Women of Influence 

As she shared wisdom, Janet suggested practical tips for becoming a woman who habitually seeks God. (Please click the above podcast to hear all she packed into our short 30-minute interview or go here.)

When I asked her about the mental health issues all women seem to face, like anxiety, depression, feelings of unworthiness, she gave the following insight about offering people compassion.

“Where ever you are, there’s a need for prayer. As you stand in line and the mom ahead of you is having a really hard time with her fretful toddler, you could pray. You could offer a kind word, rather than condemnation,” says Janet on how we develop into the influential women God intends for us all to be. Of course, we’ve all seen women who have faced tough challenges and lived to become godly, powerful women, influencing everyone around them with their faith.

“It’s not that hard to shift from a self-focused life to having a more open life where you’re seeing you can partner with your Savior in prayer for your community,” says Janet with deep and time-proven conviction.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You love us and seek a relationship with us. When we pray, You hear our prayers. Jesus, our Savior, also prays for us still. Forgiveness is Your passion, O Lord, the reason for the cross. With such a high value placed on forgiveness, help us forgive others as You forgive us. We want to be relentless in our forgiving. Teach us to love others as You love us. Give us compassion, mercy, and forbearance for one another. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How have you seen God answer prayer? When you pray, which verses from the Bible give you encouragement? What is your favorite prayer to pray for your friends?

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

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The Not-So-Normal Life of Prayerwalking Janet McHenry

“That’s only five words: you walk and you pray,” she laughs. Now, she’s written over 25 books, six of them on prayer, including Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline. Today, she’s widely considered an expert on the topic of prayer and prayerwalking. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to invite her on to Fireside Talk Radio to answer my own personal questions about prayer. 

Prayerwalking

Janet began by sharing how prayerwalking developed in her own life. Of course, many of us can relate. Whether you’re a mommy to toddlers or an aging grandmother, most women multitask at caring for everyone but themselves.

“I was falling apart physically. The worst moment was when I stepped out my door and found myself in a crumpled heap because my knee had given way,” explains Janet, “I knew I needed to do something about my health, but I also knew that God had been calling me for a long time to spend more time with Him.” 

Fortunately, prayerwalking quickly developed into a lifestyle for Janet, as she learned to seek His companionship, transforming her perspective on prayer. Oh, and she wrote the book, too! (For more about Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline, click here.)

Strange Coincidence

Just as her book on prayerwalking was taking off, another strange situation developed. Through a string of false accusations, Janet’s husband, a respected rancher, was charged with animal abuse due to the death of a few cattle lost during a blizzard.

Hearing the story sounds like something out of a John Wayne movie. But six long years later, when the charges were finally overthrown in appellate court, Janet and her family had a whole new appreciation for how Jesus feels about injustice. (To hear more of their experiences in Janet’s own voice, click below.)

Circled with a P

“Years ago, as I began prayerwalking, I realized I wanted to know more about prayer,” Janet remembers, “This hunger developed in me and I began reading my Bible straight through and marking all those places with P and a circle.”

As I listened to Janet describe her study methods, I thought, if only! If only I had the good sense to mark every prayer reference with a P in my own Bible years ago. What a treasure trove! 

“I particularly began to focus on Jesus’s prayer life, what He taught about prayer, His prayer practices, and His prayers themselves,” adds Janet, “Even how He continues to pray for us today.” For instance, she mentioned a special kind of prayer for parents.

The Hand Off Prayer

“I kinda call that the Hand Off Prayer,” laughs Janet, from John 17 in the upper room, “He knows what’s ahead. He prays for Himself, He prays for His disciples, and He prays for even those who will believe.” For modern parents, Janet offered this insight.

“For His disciples, He says basically, ‘Here they are Lord, I’ve finished my work with them. Now they’re yours.’ He’s giving them over to God. For us as parents, that’s a really healthy prayer as well.”

Fortunately, Janet taught at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference  this year and I got to be there. Certainly, she provided some of the best training I’ve ever received on how to write. Because I’m a sponge for that stuff now, I’ve actually received quite a bit of training. Even so, her exercises stand out, reflecting how well-trained she is herself in the art of writing AND teaching. (If you need a speaker, I highly recommend her for your next event. You can find her here.)

Janet McHenry shares about PrayerwalkingShown here in her cowboy boots, Janet invites new generations to join in prayerwalking.

Fact or Fiction?

“I had thought I was going to write some great Christian novel, which never happened,” Janet laughs now. But, hey, there’s still time! Perhaps a Hallmark movie script about a small town gal and her rancher husband who overcome injustice and end up with movie crews following them around all day? Stranger things have happened. 

Actually, Janet is no stranger to media attention, it turns out. In fact, when her prayerwalking book came out to a media blitz, including national magazine attention, a journalist and a photographer did follow her around town for three days.

As an English teacher in her town’s only high school, sporting the flurry of a film crew, folks started asking, “What’s going on, Mrs. McHenry?”

Meanwhile, the dark cloud of injustice loomed on the horizon, like a storm in a wild west shootout. After one failed attempt to clarify the truth, she and her husband fired their lawyer to represent themselves in appellate court. Together, using the original court documents, they researched and listed all the ways the original judge prejudiced the jury.

Interestingly, research and content analysis is a natural skill set for those who love to write! Eventually, their perseverance paid off and the false conviction was overturned.

Jesus Faced Injustice

Because we live in a time when people really struggle with injustice, it’s important for those who’ve lived through it and understand it to be able to speak out. For this reason, I’m grateful to Janet for sharing her story and wisdom in this podcast and the other one we recorded together, Forgive Relentlessly, Praying in the Face of Injustice. (Click here to find both.)

“Jesus certainly faced injustice and I can speak to that as well. I understand the heart of those who struggle with injustice in their lives. I would love to give them a little more help.” (To learn more from Janet, click here.

As for my personal reading list, I just finished up Janet’s book The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. What a read, like a conversation with your best friend over coffee! Plus, it’s a great reference book for anyone who wants all that prayer info in one place, like pastors, teachers, or prayer warriors. Shhh, don’t tell William, but he’s getting an autographed copy for Christmas. (To find her website book store, click here.)

When Life Feels Out of Control

“We think we should be able to control our destiny,” Janet says, “When it’s not controllable at all, we get frustrated. We want to try to manipulate a situation or a person in our life. That’s just probably not going to work.” Thus, a tested kind of trust in God develops in those challenging moments. 

“Ultimately, as we grow in the faith, we learn releasing, submitting, committing ourselves; that’’s not a bad thing. There’s less anxiety as we put things in God’s hands. Even if we have to do that hour by hour, over and over again. He is a good, good Father, He loves us. He knows what is best for us. We can put our trust and our faith in Him.”

We Get to Choose

Moment by moment, we all get to make choices. To develop a powerful, prayerful lifestyle, Janet recommends choosing time in God’s word, that is, the Bible. 

“You’re thinking about it, you’re meditating on it. You look at life in such a way that you realize where ever you are there’s a need for prayer. And so you develop a praying lifestyle. But when you’re really in a conversation and communion with God all day long, it begins to show.”

Finally, Janet compares a life of walking with God in prayer to the lines, crinkles, and wrinkles we get as we age. Time spent with God begins to show, she suggests gently.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, we come to You now, Your children. Like the disciples in the upper room, we don’t know what is about to happen. Yet, we can know You, if we so choose. Quietly, You invite us into companionship with You, giving us ongoing access to You through prayer. We lift our trembling hearts to You now, declaring ourselves unworthy of Your love and attention. Yet, because of Your Son’s love for us and His sacrifice, You receive us, beloved and worthy. Thank You, O Lord for the record of Jesus’s prayers. What a beautiful gift You prepared for us! Thank You for His ongoing intercessions on our behalf. Even now, we pray to You in His beloved name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What is the most profound lesson you’ve learned about prayer? When you feel distracted, how do you refocus your mind to pray? What is the one question you wish someone would answer about prayer? 

Coming soon:

Next week, Janet joins us again to discuss the ways justice and forgiveness come together in prayer. If you’ve ever felt the pain of injustice, you won’t want to miss what she has to say. Then, we can’t wait to share all the insight gleaned on the new wave of entrepreneurship. First, Author and Publisher Mike Sahno comes on, followed closely by Work Hub CEO YO Orrostieta .

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

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Birthday Myth Busting: Create a Terrific Birthday Party without Breaking the Bank!

The best birthday party creates birthday blessings for everyone, including Mom. (Especially Mom!) Plus, they don’t have to break the family budget. Enough with over-the-top birthday parties for kids! Today, Anna and I put our heads together to do some birthday myth busting. We hope you enjoy our list of easy, fun, and yes, really cheap ideas.

Flash From the Past 

Seriously, my mom was a genius at creating fun in the cheapest, easiest ways. Still, I’m getting so old, it’s hard to remember any birthday party from my childhood! Somehow, knowing the most unforgettable birthdays may fade in our memory, helps relieve any self-induced pressure. After all, if the kids aren’t going to remember the details, moms can freely to focus on the relationships instead! (Get free weekly ideas for building fellowship-based relationships here!)

Probably my most memorable birthday party as a child was the year Mom invited my friends to come over dressed as their mommy or daddy. Imagine! Two little boys even showed up as a judge and a preacher! Naturally, in the era of stay-at-home mommies and glamorous 60s television, the little girls dressed in faux mink stoles with gloves, rhinestones and yes, cigarette holders! Très chic!

Next, flash forward to the 90s when Anna’s favorite birthday party included an excursion to Shreveport to see the western art of Russel and Remington in person at the R.W. Norton Museum. Well, you get the idea. Clearly, the simplest birthday, tailored to fit the child’s interests, are by far the best. Simple is best.

Busting the Myth of Over-the-Top Birthday Parties

“I’ve gotten to where I only plan parties I can cancel at the last minute,” laughs Anna. “Last year my sweet son was sick on his birthday!” (For more common-sense parenting ideas from Anna, check out our other podcasts here.)

Of course, if you still feel the pressure to create Pinterest perfect birthday parties, we hope you’ll tune in for all the easy, freedom-inducing ideas she shared in our interview for Fireside Talk Radio. (Listen to our full podcast above.)

Dirt Piles and Black Ninjas

Anna likes to tell of one family who waited to order the dirt for their landscaping, so they could time it for their son’s birthday. Delighted little boys played with abandon in a huge dirt pile, sprinkled with all his trucks and shovels. Some very dirty boys enjoyed one of the best, and easiest, birthday parties ever, featuring, of course a “dirt” cake made of crumbled Oreo cookies and pudding.

Another favorite birthday party memory for our family featured a black ninja party in Anna’s back yard. “One of my wonderful friends has a son who is a creative inspiration. He’s hilarious and wonderful,” laughs Anna.

“‘If I was going to throw you a birthday, what would you like for it to be?’” Anna asked the little boy. “My only instructions from him were ‘black ninjas.’ He wanted us all to be black ninjas. Rather than red ninjas or green ninjas. Black ninjas.”

To accommodate his request, Anna cut scrap black fabric into mask length strips, collected card board from an appliance store, and bought many rolls of boxing tape. As families arrived, adults cut the eye holes in the black ninja masks. 

“The eyeholes were all wonky depending on how good they were at cutting with scissors,” Anna explains, “Some of the adults were the wonkiest because they put them on over glasses. It was so funny.” Her back yard soon morphed into a black ninja village of card board forts. (For many more creative ideas for kids, check out Fireside Talk Radio.)

“The best thing that came out of it was we got a group photo of all the people their in their black ninja masks!” Anna’s backyard has been the location of so many hilarious birthdays, she’s starting to get them all confused. “Was that the birthday I gave them all squirt guns and put the kiddie pool inside the fort?”

For Teen Age Girls

Are parties for teenage girls stress inducing for mom? Not necessarily! For instance, one way you can get some relief is by letting high school girls plan their own party. It’s a grown up thing to do, so they find it inspiring to manage a party budget and plan thoughtful surprises.

“I took our child hood tree fort and all the cushions and tablecloths you had and made a little bower, like a little nest, for our high school girls friends,” recounts Anna about one twinkle-lit surprise party she planned as a teenager. Her menu included cute little box lunches. “We climbed up there and celebrated together, like a secret fun place to be grown up girls together.”

And Grown Up Girls, Too!

In another birthday blessing for a newlywed friend, she hosted a special moment at the park in early Spring. Come and go, keeping it simple made the afternoon easy for everyone to spend a moment together basking in intersecting friendships. 

“One of her girlfriends, who I love as well, helped me host,” reports Anna, “We invited everyone, all the grown up women, all the generations, young and old, all who love the birthday girl. We had some finger food and water bottles and punch, but mainly we congregated in the park and told her how much we love her.” Sometimes a small, simple party encourages everyone included, not just the sweet birthday mommy who might enjoy a few extra hugs for her birthday.

Grand Blessing

Like parties, birthday presents do not have to break the bank, either. For instance, even Grandparents can feel overwhelmed at the pricey plastic toys marketed for kids today. Especially when we’re blessed with many grandchildren, birthdays can start to tax fixed incomes. Cha-ching! Here are two ideas to put the focus on blessings, rather than fancy gifts.

Completely free, birthday jingles are a nice way to give a lasting blessing to your toddler grandchildren. A birthday jingle is a short tune praising some special attribute of the child. You can steal a tune from the latest advertisement or an old hymn. 

Not a musical person? No worries. Chants and raps work just as well. Best of all, by calling attention to positive characteristics of the child, you’ll teach the rest of the family to appreciate those good qualities, too.

The Blessing of Books

If you still want to buy a gift, Anna and I vote for classic books. I love the way the title page provides the perfect place to write a short note with the date. Nothing inspires great note-writing like classic literature highlighting courage, faith, or sacrificial love! Birthdays are a great moment to write a short birthday blessing for your growing grandchildren.

Writing an annual birthday blessing in the front of each book means your grandchildren will have a personal collection of great literature and a reminder of their grandparents’ affection.

Are Donation Parties Right for Your Child?

Finally, I wanted to address one more birthday party myth. One popular trend is clever and fun for the right child. If your child wants to sponsor a birthday party food drive or donate gifts to a charity, what a beautiful idea! Donation parties may be perfect for your child. But if they aren’t, don’t waste emotional energy worrying about it.

You sure don’t want to train your happy child to resent your spirituality! You may think it’s a great idea for him to be generous, but he might not be there yet. So, don’t put yourself on a  guilt trip if your child doesn’t want to give away his birthday presents this year.

Here’s why: In order to foster generous stewardship, it’s first necessary to foster ownership. A sense of confident ownership is fundamental to generosity.

True Generosity Involves Sacrifice

Here’s what I learned with our kids. I wanted our children to be adults who give from their hearts. Generosity includes sacrifice, though. Contrary to what many of us were taught in my childhood, it’s okay to enjoy the things you own. We don’t have to feel guilty about material blessings. 

In order to be truly generous, we do have to be willing to let go of a personal blessing to enjoy the better blessing of sharing it with others. In the process, true generosity reflects Jesus’s own generosity of giving up His own earthly life to share a better, eternal blessing with us.

The Stewardship of Managed Blessings

As parents, our end goal is to raise good stewards, not host amazing birthday parties. Stewardship is managing all the blessings entrusted to us, so that many people are blessed as a result. In order to be generous, a child must first recognize he has something valuable to give. Receiving valuables (even if it’s just toys for now) may be the first step in understanding ownership and sacrifice for your child.

Stewardship includes making responsible decisions about taking care of his valuables. When he’s ready to share, who will he trust to pass the blessing on to others? Consequently, another part of stewardship is learning to identify those nonprofits and ministries who responsibly steward blessings and resources as well.

In a variation of the donation birthday party idea, you can craft a special donation that fosters your child’s own passions. For instance, a few days before the birthday party, take your child along to give eight blankets to a homeless shelter in honor of your child’s eighth birthday. Or, together as a family, donate sixteen bags of dog food to your local animal rescue agency in honor of your teenager’s sweet sixteen.

The Gift of Lasting Blessings

Looking back, I loved my mommy and daddy dress-up party as a child. But the best part was when my first grade teacher showed up with a book! My mom was touched that my teacher would take time on a Saturday to drop by my party. Mom’s amazement and gratitude translated itself into my heart, too. In fact, my children love the book she gave me, treasured today by another generation of grandchildren.

If you’re wondering what to do for the next birthday at your house, keep these truths in mind. Bigger and more expensive is not better when it comes to birthday parties. Together is better when it comes to birthdays!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, the One who chose the day of our birth, we praise You. You knew us while we were yet in our mother’s womb. You know our lives from before conception to the moment we leave this earth and beyond. As mommies plan the next party to celebrate the birth of a child, we ask for Your inspiration.

Give each child a sense of their own value, O Lord. Have mercy where it’s needed in the lives of children who don’t know what it means to be celebrated. Reach deeply into our hearts and touch us, so our lives reflect the love You pour out on us. Give us grace to create fellowship and lasting companionship with those we love. Let us have courage to build strong relationships filled with blessings. We don’t know about tomorrow, but we have today. Therefore, today, we praise and celebrate You, O dear One. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!!

What are your favorite birthday memories? How has your child surprised you in a birthday moment? If you had it to do over, what would you do differently when it comes to birthdays?

More Adventures to Come!

We’re so excited to have our interview with Prayer Walking Janet McHenry coming u soon. Plus, don”t forget to tune in for entrepreneurial wisdom from two of our favorite successful people, Intern turned CEO, Yaziri “YO” Orrostieta and Writer/Publisher Mike Sahno.

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

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A Natural Sanctuary in Your Outdoor Space: Backyard Summer Adventures

Quick as a wink, a little fairy friend moved into our garden with furniture from our toy box.

Every child deserves a chance to explore and learn from nature in the safety of their own backyard. Yep, even if your backyard is a porch or a balcony! Creating a natural sanctuary is as simple as inspiring a child’s natural imagination.

Who Has Time?!

If just thinking about outdoor family excursions induces groans, we invite you to relax! Even with full-throttle family and work schedules, you’re gonna love the ideas Anna tosses out. Mainly because they’re so free and easy. A natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination already exists just a few short steps away.

Fireside Talk Radio, Creating a Natural Sanctuary: Backyard Adventures.

Outdoors: Natural Sanctuary for Your Child’s Imagination

No place inspires imagination like the great outdoors. For instance, yesterday, her daughter brought Anna an egg found in their backyard.

“About the same moment she showed it to me, it was being crushed because her little fingers couldn’t figure out how to hold it delicately enough,” laughs Anna, “But she was so proud of it because she and daddy found it in the yard. He’s teaching our children to love nature right now because that’s what their Daddy does.” However, a child-like perspective differs from an adult’s, Anna warns. 

Gifts from nature often surprise Mommy. “‘Momma, Momma, look at this beautiful flower,’” Anna offers as an example, “and its some little weed they’ve pulled out of the grass!” Still, even the busiest mommy can pair nature with imagination to create natural sanctuary for kids. Enthusiastically, Anna offers four ideas for creating a natural sanctuary for your children. 

Why Imagination Matters

Nature instructs us, stirring our imagination. Stimulating your child’s imagination produces lasting benefits in all future relationships. Why? Because it’s impossible to love others without imagination.

In order to love people well, we have to empathize. Empathy requires us to imagine life from others’ perspective. Compassion means we’re able to relate to others’ needs, sorrows, and joys. Connecting with others requires our imagination. Imagination is crucial to all relationships. (Get free weekly ideas about creating great relationships, here.)

Blessedly, we fostering imagination in our children is easy. We can create a natural wonderland for inspiration in our own backyards. Any outdoor space will do. Actually, smaller is often better when it comes to creating a natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination!

Establishing Safe Boundaries

The best outdoor spaces give children safety and boundaries within the watchful attention of adults. For instance, Anna raves about the fence her father-in-law installed in a portion of their yard beneath the window where she draws. 

Not only did he create a safe environment for our mutual grandchildren. Simultaneously, he enlisted the help of our son, the children’s uncle, thus teaching him how to build a relatively inexpensive, yet beautiful fence out of wood and wire game fencing. Voila! So many people blessed by one man’s ability to imagine a fence!

“My fence is cheaper than chain link and much more beautiful,” exclaims Anna, “My toddlers have a lot more independence and freedom because I know they’re safe.” (For more cheap, family-friendly ideas, click here or listen to the above podcast.)

Providing A Canopy

Safe boundaries may also include a covering overhead. For example, there’s something so protective about a full canopy of oak trees. We all need a place set apart to unwind, relax, and let our minds rest.

“I’ve noticed with kids they want a destination, a place that’s set apart and feels special,” Anna explains, “whether it’s a fort or like my kids, a spot in the bushes where they feel safe, like it’s their secret.”

For an easy solution with toddlers in mind, Anna suggests a beach umbrella in a big pot of sand. A small chair beneath it provides an enticing place for a child’s imagination to flourish. Easy and inexpensive is the key as family needs change. Her own back yard has a sail awning secured to a nearby tree with eye hooks and rope.

Stimulating All Their Senses

As a teacher, Anna quickly suggests numerous ways to engage your children’s imagination outdoors using all their senses. For example, she mentioned planting herbs for the child who learns via taste and smell. Or, for the child who is energetic and tactile, there’s big muscle games like learning the alphabet by hopping on stones marked with chalk. Then, for those who are more audio, don’t forget wind chimes and musical instruments.

“My sweet daughter wanders around our brick planters with her plastic guitar singing to herself. Her favorite place to do that is outside,” Anna mentions. (Turtles, teenage girls, chalk, and fairy gardens? On our above podcast, Anna shares dozens more fun, even silly, things to do in the back yard. Or, click here, for more podcasts.)

Get the Grands Involved

Especially with a wise partner, outdoors stimulates all the senses. For instance, grandparents can provide a simple craft, like a birdhouse or bird feeder, to inspire the next generation of outdoor lovers.

Creating a sanctuary outside may serve multiple generations of family members. For instance, some grandparents may control their outdoor space for serious reasons, like to avoid falling.

Yet the idea of a sanctuary prompts instant family unity. Imagine a porch with planters for boundaries and twinkle lights overhead. Now, both elders and youngsters feel safe and inspired!

For instance, the fairy table pictured above is a wasabi cup. Perhaps it contains a shiny button or a marble, but I’ll never tell. Surely we all know, fairies like folks who can keep a secret.

Go Barefoot

Finally, don’t forget to go barefoot! “You always had a designated digging zone where we knew we wouldn’t get in trouble if we wanted to take a shovel and make mud,” Anna reminded me, referring to our mutual conviction that kids are happiest when they freely engage with dirt and shovels.

Honestly, as young parents, we were just relieved when their younger brother couldn’t get into their tree fort without an adult’s help. (For many more adventures from our kids’ childhood, listen to the whole podcast above. Or, click here to find more inspiring conversations.)

Intentionally Nurturing Imagination

Our family is very intentional about nurturing imagination in the next generation. The neighborhood kids were never just children in our backyard; they were princesses or pioneers or woodland creatures. Finding an abandoned barge, they instantly became adventurous, swashbuckling pirates. (For more Anna stories about tree forts, abandoned barges, pillowcase flags and oh-so-much-more information than I would have shared, listen to the whole podcast embedded above. Or, click here for more fun podcasts!)

“I think we named the boat The Explorer,” adds Anna wistfully.

When parents provide opportunities for their kids to imagine, they set in motion empathy and compassion. All of which become a real blessing for future relationships. Imagination allows us to connect with other human beings.

So, next time you trim your bushes, let the kids make a quick fort with the trimmings. But first, Anna offers one more piece of advice: “Make sure no insects, like wasps, have decided to make a home there, too!”

We Love Hearing from YOU!

How have your kids used their imaginations in your own backyard? What’s your favorite tip for creating a natural sanctuary on your porch? How do grandparents foster a love of the outdoors in your kiddos?

May I pray with you?

Dear Father, Oh, how we admire Your creation! The beauty of Your nature is reflected in all that You made! We rejoice to go barefooted in the warm sand or drop our fingers in cool water. We see Your reflection in the way a bird soars or a turtle nests. Thank you for the sunny smiles of children at play. Teach us to cozy up under the safe covering of Your love. Let us marvel at the pattern on a shell or the glory of a gentle breeze. Remind us that the growth of a flavorful herb is an expression of Your love and tender power. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Coming Soon

Don’t forget we’re starting a series on entrepreneurship soon, featuring Yo Work Hub CEO Orrostieta and Author/Publisher/ Entrepreneur Mike Sahno! We can hardly wait!

Janet McHenry will be joining us soon to share how prayer walking fits the active lifestyle of another generation of young mothers (and grammies, like me!) And I have some more surprises toward the end of the summer, but I can’t announce them yet! So stay tuned!

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

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The Not-So-Normal Life of Prayerwalking Janet McHenry

"That's only five words: you walk and you pray," she laughs. Now, she's written over 25 books, six of them on prayer, including Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline. Today, she's widely considered an expert on the topic of prayer and prayerwalking. Naturally, I couldn't wait to invite her on to Fireside Talk Radio to answer my own personal questions about prayer.

Prayerwalking

Janet began by sharing how prayerwalking developed in her own life. Of course, many of us can relate. Whether you're a mommy to toddlers or an aging grandmother, most women multitask at caring for everyone but themselves.

"I was falling apart physically. The worst moment was when I stepped out my door and found myself in a crumpled heap because my knee had given way," explains Janet, "I knew I needed to do something about my health, but I also knew that God had been calling me for a long time to spend more time with Him."

Fortunately, prayerwalking quickly developed into a lifestyle for Janet, as she learned to seek His companionship, transforming her perspective on prayer. Oh, and she wrote the book, too! (For more about Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline, click here.)

Strange Coincidence

Just as her book on prayerwalking was taking off, another strange situation developed. Through a string of false accusations, Janet's husband, a respected rancher, was charged with animal abuse due to the death of a few cattle lost during a blizzard.

Hearing the story sounds like something out of a John Wayne movie. But six long years later, when the charges were finally overthrown in appellate court, Janet and her family had a whole new appreciation for how Jesus feels about injustice. (To hear more of their experiences in Janet's own voice, click below.)

Circled with a P

"Years ago, as I began prayerwalking, I realized I wanted to know more about prayer," Janet remembers, "This hunger developed in me and I began reading my Bible straight through and marking all those places with P and a circle."

As I listened to Janet describe her study methods, I thought, if only! If only I had the good sense to mark every prayer reference with a P in my own Bible years ago. What a treasure trove!

"I particularly began to focus on Jesus's prayer life, what He taught about prayer, His prayer practices, and His prayers themselves," adds Janet, "Even how He continues to pray for us today." For instance, she mentioned a special kind of prayer for parents.

The Hand Off Prayer

"I kinda call that the Hand Off Prayer," laughs Janet, from John 17 in the upper room, "He knows what's ahead. He prays for Himself, He prays for His disciples, and He prays for even those who will believe." For modern parents, Janet offered this insight.

"For His disciples, He says basically, ‘Here they are Lord, I've finished my work with them. Now they're yours.' He's giving them over to God. For us as parents, that's a really healthy prayer as well."

Fortunately, Janet taught at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference  this year and I got to be there. Certainly, she provided some of the best training I’ve ever received on how to write. Because I’m a sponge for that stuff now, I’ve actually received quite a bit of training. Even so, her exercises stand out, reflecting how well-trained she is herself in the art of writing AND teaching. (If you need a speaker, I highly recommend her for your next event. You can find her here.)

Janet McHenry shares about PrayerwalkingShown here in her cowboy boots, Janet invites new generations to join in prayerwalking.

Fact or Fiction?

“I had thought I was going to write some great Christian novel, which never happened,” Janet laughs now. But, hey, there’s still time! Perhaps a Hallmark movie script about a small town gal and her rancher husband who overcome injustice and end up with movie crews following them around all day? Stranger things have happened. 

Actually, Janet is no stranger to media attention, it turns out. In fact, when her prayerwalking book came out to a media blitz, including national magazine attention, a journalist and a photographer did follow her around town for three days.

As an English teacher in her town’s only high school, sporting the flurry of a film crew, folks started asking, “What’s going on, Mrs. McHenry?”

Meanwhile, the dark cloud of injustice loomed on the horizon, like a storm in a wild west shootout. After one failed attempt to clarify the truth, she and her husband fired their lawyer to represent themselves in appellate court. Together, using the original court documents, they researched and listed all the ways the original judge prejudiced the jury.

Interestingly, research and content analysis is a natural skill set for those who love to write! Eventually, their perseverance paid off and the false conviction was overturned.

Jesus Faced Injustice

Because we live in a time when people really struggle with injustice, it’s important for those who’ve lived through it and understand it to be able to speak out. For this reason, I’m grateful to Janet for sharing her story and wisdom in this podcast and the other one we recorded together, Forgive Relentlessly, Praying in the Face of Injustice. (Click here to find both.)

“Jesus certainly faced injustice and I can speak to that as well. I understand the heart of those who struggle with injustice in their lives. I would love to give them a little more help.” (To learn more from Janet, click here.

As for my personal reading list, I just finished up Janet’s book The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. What a read, like a conversation with your best friend over coffee! Plus, it’s a great reference book for anyone who wants all that prayer info in one place, like pastors, teachers, or prayer warriors. Shhh, don’t tell William, but he’s getting an autographed copy for Christmas. (To find her website book store, click here.)

When Life Feels Out of Control

“We think we should be able to control our destiny,” Janet says, “When it’s not controllable at all, we get frustrated. We want to try to manipulate a situation or a person in our life. That’s just probably not going to work.” Thus, a tested kind of trust in God develops in those challenging moments. 

“Ultimately, as we grow in the faith, we learn releasing, submitting, committing ourselves; that’’s not a bad thing. There’s less anxiety as we put things in God’s hands. Even if we have to do that hour by hour, over and over again. He is a good, good Father, He loves us. He knows what is best for us. We can put our trust and our faith in Him.”

We Get to Choose

Moment by moment, we all get to make choices. To develop a powerful, prayerful lifestyle, Janet recommends choosing time in God’s word, that is, the Bible. 

“You’re thinking about it, you’re meditating on it. You look at life in such a way that you realize where ever you are there’s a need for prayer. And so you develop a praying lifestyle. But when you’re really in a conversation and communion with God all day long, it begins to show.”

Finally, Janet compares a life of walking with God in prayer to the lines, crinkles, and wrinkles we get as we age. Time spent with God begins to show, she suggests gently.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, we come to You now, Your children. Like the disciples in the upper room, we don’t know what is about to happen. Yet, we can know You, if we so choose. Quietly, You invite us into companionship with You, giving us ongoing access to You through prayer. We lift our trembling hearts to You now, declaring ourselves unworthy of Your love and attention. Yet, because of Your Son’s love for us and His sacrifice, You receive us, beloved and worthy. Thank You, O Lord for the record of Jesus’s prayers. What a beautiful gift You prepared for us! Thank You for His ongoing intercessions on our behalf. Even now, we pray to You in His beloved name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What is the most profound lesson you’ve learned about prayer? When you feel distracted, how do you refocus your mind to pray? What is the one question you wish someone would answer about prayer? 

Coming soon:

Next week, Janet joins us again to discuss the ways justice and forgiveness come together in prayer. If you’ve ever felt the pain of injustice, you won’t want to miss what she has to say. Then, we can’t wait to share all the insight gleaned on the new wave of entrepreneurship. First, Author and Publisher Mike Sahno comes on, followed closely by Work Hub CEO YO Orrostieta .

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

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Independence Day: How to Foster Independence in Kids and Country

How do we foster healthy independence in our own kids and in our nation? The two seem inseparably  linked to me. So, I brought in my expert on childhood philosophy and fun, my daughter Anna Pierce, to brainstorm some fun ways families can foster freedom in our country by nurturing healthy independence in their own children’s heart. What she says may surprise you. (For our complete interview, click below or go to Fireside Talk Radio.)

Anna and I chat about how to foster independence in healthy ways for family and country.

Maybe, like us, your family has a strong independent streak. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially when we think about how our forefathers committed to fight for freedom. Still, with toddlers and teenagers, independence can flat wear out parents!

Have some fun

A national holiday is a great time to reboot and focus on family fun. With summer in full swing at our house, we float watermelons so often, my grandchildren may think they grow in water! Anna suggested neighborhood parades and collecting kiddie pools for all kinds of fun. (For more on initiating neighborhood parades, listen our 28 minute podcast above.) 

“I’m going to fill one kiddie pool with ice and drinks. And I’m gonna fill one with cold water for the adults,” laughed Anna. But she doesn’t mean drinking water. “I’m going to put all my lawn chairs in a circle so the adults can soak their feet in the cold water while the kids do water balloons and squirt guns.” As an artist, Anna also likes face painting for backyard gatherings.

“There are tons of homemade recipes for face paint,” adding one caveat because food coloring and drink mixes can stain skin for a long time, “read the recipe carefully and try it somewhere it won’t show first!” (For more ideas to create fun family memories, click here for more podcasts.)

To foster independence in our kids, remember kids always learn better when they’re laughing and having fun. Once the stage is set for fun, make the holiday more memorable by emphasizing the reason we celebrate.

Acknowledge with Gratitude the Sacrifice of Others

In order to emphasize the sacrifice of heroes, Anna anticipates asking one of her husband’s dearest friends to talk about why he served in the military.

“Because just asking another adult a question in front of someone younger is a way of honoring them,” Anna says, “I visualize asking him questions about why he chose that (to serve) in front of our son.”

In order to honor beloved elders who did not serve, she suggests changing up your questions only slightly. When we show gratitude for others’ sacrifice, we foster independence in our kids as they learn to serve others, too.

“You can ask them to explain something to your kids like ‘Why do we honor the flag?’” Anna suggested several more questions, like What do the colors represent or Why is the eagle a symbol of our country. All those symbols prompt powerful messages, according to Anna. (To receive free weekly ideas about fostering freedom in families and communities, click here.)

Promote Education

“Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” ~ George Washington, January 8, 1790, in his first annual address.

Our forefathers committed to the idea that people should be educated in order to read, to learn, and to participate fully in public discourse, thus ensuring all the freedoms for future generations. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, all these wonderful freedoms we have hinge on our citizens’ understanding of the rights we enjoy, according to Anna.

As an enthusiastic educator, Anna offered a list of fun ways to teach kids to respect and cherish our nation’s history, starting with memorizing speeches and important documents. After the Declaration of Independence, she particularly likes Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The rhythm of the poem captures the horse’s hoofbeats and the anxiety of danger. Freedom always includes danger and sacrifice, including additional historic moments of freedom.

“Throughout American history, other leaders influenced our national perspective on freedom, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King,” added Anna, “They dealt with some of the same issues again. People were making sacrifices because they wanted freedom.”

Additionally, don’t forget to teach your kids all the verses of patriotic songs. For instance, as with America the Beautiful, many of our most patriotic songs are actually hymns of gratitude to God for freedom. (For more ideas about raising creative kids, click here.) By revering God, we foster independence in our kids by teaching them to look to God, not men, for direction.

Never Marginalize Free Will

As citizens of a spiritual kingdom, how do Christians reconcile their loyalty to God and country? For Christians, there’s something so glorious and freeing in a deep understanding of how much God loves freedom. That is, God loves freedom so much He gave individuals free will to choose their path. In fact, He loves free will so much, He created a plan to pay for our mistakes and our sin nature long before humanity’s arrival here on earth.

By giving us each a free will, He set us free to choose a relationship with Him or to reject Him. 

Christians recognize and cherish a beautiful truth. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the price of our sin. Thus, we can come into a relationship with God freely.

I know, I know, that beautiful truth often gets lost in the rhetoric. Certainly, those who do not follow Jesus can’t be blamed if they miss the main point altogether. (For Free weekly ideas about how faith can impact family unity, click here.)

To the outside world, it must seem like Christians struggle with perfectionism, always focusing on the sin of others, without acknowledging our own human frailties. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. (For more of Anna’s thoughts about how poor choices can impact the whole family, listen to our interview above.) Free will means Christians still face the same temptations all humans face to choose selfishness.

However, with God’s Spirit Himself residing in our hearts, we now experience a new kind of freedom; the freedom to choose wisely with others’ best interests in mind. Beyond all imagination, true freedom is really about the freedom to choose a relationship with God.

Raising Kids with Healthy Independence

Unselfishly channeling your child’s natural independent streak is for warrior parents, not wimps. But, hey, we come from strong freedom-loving stock! (We’ve got lots more ideas for raising creative kids here.)

“It is an era of life where we are raising children, but our goal is for them to be independent adults,” Anna continues, “They are going to be their own individual people. Independent implies free. They are going to have to make choices and utilize their free will.”

Will your child disobey and rebel? Or will your child stand alone for what is right in the face of cultural pressure to do what is wrong? We can foster independence in our kids by modeling a healthy respect for their free will.

“The prayer of my heart as I’m parenting is that everything we do would equip them to be powerful, brave, and faithful in how they utilize their free will,” Anna summarizes tenderly.

Gratefully, our family sends out our heart-felt gratitude to all who currently serve sacrificially in our Armed Forces and our First Responders on this day when we celebrate our nation’s love of freedom. May you be safe and blessed and may your families prosper.

May we join together in prayer?

Dear Father in heaven, You are the One who leads us. You bless us with freedom. In fact, freedom was Your idea in the first place. Your Son even paid for it with His life. We thank YOU! Thank You for the gift of free will. Thank You for the freedom we enjoy in this country. We gratefully acknowledge that heroes went before us to secure the freedom we enjoy to day.

As we consider the sacrifice attached to freedom, we thank You for those currently serving on our nations behalf in order to preserve peace. We ask that You would faithfully bless them and their families. Preserve their families. Protect our troops today. Protect our first responders today. Please, O Lord. Grant them wisdom, courage, and strength for the tasks they face. Provide all the supplies, equipment, technology, and intelligence they need to make wise decisions and execute their responsibilities precisely. Give us wise leadership. Help us remember to turn to You, O Lord, for guidance. We seek Your wisdom now. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

“America, America, God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” ~America The Beautiful, 3rd verse, Katherine Lee Bates 1859-1929, Samuel A Ward 1847-1903.

Coming Soon:

Next week, Anna regales us with a zillion ideas for creating backyard adventures in the natural sanctuary of the great outdoors. Okay, maybe not a zillion, but whole bunch! 

Plus, I soon welcome Janet McHenry, Yaziri “YO” Orrostieta, Mike Sahno, and Jeannette Hanscome, and Melissa Moore. Yep, this is shaping up to be an amazing season of interviewing some of my all time favorite heroic people! Plus, sharing it all with YOU!!!

We love to hear from you!

How are you passing on deeply spiritual truths to your kids and grandkids? What are some of your favorite ways to make history fun? Which songs and hymns touch your heart every time?

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

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Delightful Dad’s Day and Father’s Day Fabulous with Anna Krafve Pierce

Delightful Dad’s Day: How to Create Father’s Day Fabulous with Anna Krafve PierceMy young hubby with two of our sweetie-pies way back when….

How can we possibly balance life with ear infections, crazy schedules, nonstop chatter, and create a Delightful Dad’s Day? Oh my! Married, single, working, or stay at home, with toddlers or teens, all moms want our own Father’s Day Fabulous!

Anna Krafve Pierce joined me recently on Fireside Talk Radio to share some simple and freedom-packed ideas. She started with a story about the potential of self-fulfilling prophesies.

Delightful Dads

“Sometimes, the phrase self-fulfilling prophesies has negative connotations,” she laughs, “but they can have a positive impact, too.” For example, she tells how her husband responds each time stories of his toddlerhood pop up. Apparently, he was active child. Of course, mercifully, he doesn’t remember the details.

“I was delightful,” he always concludes any stories from his youth. Naturally, as a new mom-in-law, I adopted Delightful as my nickname for this fine leader.

“When we had kids of our own it was just the obvious thing to describe them as delightful,” laughs Anna, happily reporting that her kids fulfill the prophesy. Plus, “God delights in us, too,” she affirms.

Confession: I’m a Father’s Day Failure

If you’re stumped about what to do for Father’s Day, you are not alone. Personally, I wasted a lot of time using Father’s Day to train my husband, so he could do a better job of surprising me for the next Mother’s Day! Eventually, I thought to ask him what he liked best about Father’s Day.

“Father’s Day was never about me. It was always about the kids,” he answered as sweetly and honestly as can be! With freedom in mind, we came up with some easy-does-it ways to honor the father of your kiddos, no matter your situation. (Click here to sign up for more weekly fun ideas and encouragement.)

Fortunately for mothers everywhere, hilarious stories come with the motherhood territory. Stories can be an easy way to honor Dad.

#1 Begin with a Delightful Story

“I’ve started telling them (Anna’s kids) stories on Father’s Day,” Anna explains, “Plus, I’m collecting his (her husband’s) quotes.” She zeroes in on stories recounting his successes. Now, their kids beg for repeats of their favorite Dad stories. Don’t forget to video the stories!

Additionally, by collecting wisdom from various sources, the people you honor will feel blessed. Plus, your kids can replay their wisdom often, as a cherished video keepsake. Win-win-win!

Speaking of videos, your children may want to prepare an annual tribute to their father. Even if he lives far away or travels with his work, hitting replay will encouraged him to foster his relationship with his kids. (For more of Anna’s activities for kids, click here to find our podcasts.)

#2 A Good Laugh

Laughter restores our soul. Why not write down the hilarious things your toddlers say about Daddy? For teens, a collection of jokes in a booklet makes a terrific and thoughtful present, especially when the jokes are personally edited to fit their dad’s favorite pastimes.

#3 The Way to a Man’s Heart: A Picnic

Picnics, deviled eggs, the great outdoors? Truly, nothing puts a smile on a man’s face like a huge sandwich with all the condiments. Unless, you include his best friend’s family, too. Even in his own backyard, if you throw in some family sports, like whiffle ball, disk golf, or extreme croquette, he’ll enjoy a holiday to remember.

#4 Picturing Happiness

In a different kind of surprise, Family photos taped everywhere might delight Dad with a happy treat. At our house, my hubby habitually tapes family photos to all surfaces. No painting or mirror escapes his collection.

“I have a theory that you’re saving money, like on counseling or something,” Anna laughs, “Every time Dad sees those photos of us as little ones, it’s a little endorphin rush because it’s associated with such sweet emotions and memories for him.” Yep, it’s quirky. But this is the man who thinks Father’s Day is all about the kids.

Being Single and Awesome

Many women grieve over the idea that there is not a man in their homes to shepherd their kids. On Father’s Day, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge our many friends who are single-handedly raising kiddos.

“God is a Good Father to us even when we don’t have an earthly father who’s there for us,” says Anna, having watched closely as friends rocked the single parent role. 

For instance, my dear friend, media guru Sandra Beck shared some great tips on how to recruit good men without overwhelming them to minister to your sons. (For Father’s Day, why not give yourself the blessing of her wisdom on how to be your family’s champion.)

Wisely, Sandra suggests clarifying the limits of your request. Being single and awesome means you can ask for help without imposing.

All the Good Men

It’s so important to honor all the good man in our lives. They’re out there! Case in point, James Kemp came on Fireside Talk Radio to talk about impacting kids beyond your own family. Through the chess clubs they’ve started all over Dallas and surrounding areas, he demonstrates how we can stand in for families. (For more from James about legacy building for creatives, click here.)

Of course, mentoring programs also offer positive male influences, as Civic Leader Tony Johnson pointed out. (Click here, to find Tony’s wisdom on how good men and women team up to mentor together in the school lunchroom.)

Romance is Alive, Even When Child Raising is Hard

“You used to say that one of the most romantic things you ever did together was be parents,” confides Anna in our Father’s Day episode of FTR. “I didn’t get it until I was parent myself.”

To be honest, I’ve gotta admit when Dave and I stole a quiet moment away from the kiddos, pressing issues always popped up to spoil the mood. For us, date night seemed to end in bickering. (For weekly ideas to get past bickering and create rich companionship, click here.So, why call parenting romantic?

Anna thinks romance exists in all the shared things, so she made a list: “shared delight, shared sacrifices, shared struggles, shared prayers.”

Share the Love

“If you can find someone to share some of it with; it’s the same feeling,” explains Anna. “I can share all those things with God. I share all those things with you, too.” Whether you call it romance, unity, or companionship, Anna nailed something important.

“There’s this fellowship that happens because children exist,” clarifies Anna, “As parents, you get a front row seat on this.” Anna calls this the “beautiful creative process where we’re just taking after our own creative heavenly Father.” Grandparents, friends, trustworthy neighbors, esteemed elders can all join in the companionship created by raising kiddos.

“When you’re exhausted and don’t have time for what the world says is romantic, chocolate and wine and candlelight, the daily things can be romantic. It’s an incredible endeavor you’re doing together,” she emphasizes.

Now, in honor of dads everywhere, let’s conclude with a couple more quick, practical gift ideas. (For weekly tips, click here.)

Two More Quick Gift Ideas

“Two weeks before the big day I asked my son, ‘Do you want to buy your dad a present?’” explains Anna. Since he answered yes, her son spent a week earning coins. Then, he didn’t want to buy anything with them, he just wanted to give his dad the money.

“My son instinctively knew what would speak to him (his dad),” laughed Anna about the way her husband is training their son to save money.

If you’re still wondering what to do, here’s one quick go-to idea from our family. We love painted rocks! Kids think it’s terrific to make anything that involves paint. Plus, you can create them outside where there’s almost no clean up. Then, hiding them can be a family adventure.

My most treasured rock finds came from hospice when my mom was passing on to heaven.For that reason alone, although it may sound silly, I think painted rocks are a wonderful way to bless others! You just never know what another person may need! Everyone can create a rock to share on Dad’s Day, the day we celebrate the Rock in our lives! Why not make it a theme and add rock and roll music!

Whatever your circumstances, please remember you have a Father in heaven who loves you very much. He designed you for creativity and to be a positive influence for pure good in our world. Most of all, He designed you for companionship with Him. That’s the Fabulous Father you have and the Delightful Dad you get to share with your children!

May we pray together?

Dear Good Father in heaven, You love us faithfully and tenderly. Thank You for being a Father we can trust. We honor You now as the Ultimate Parent. Give us grace to be creative, as we look to Your example. Help us put away any residual pain or bitterness from the past and soak up today’s joy. May we be kids who reflect our Father’s unbounded love and delight in each of His children. Please surround us with trustworthy friends who can joyfully unite in our parenting endeavors. Help us honor the good men in our life. May we express Your delight to our own kids. In Jesus’s name. Amen

We love to hear from you?

What are some of your most profound Father’s Day memories? How will you jazz up Father’s day to honor someone else? How are you praying for something special this year?

To sign up for weekly ideas on creating fellowship in your family and warming up the companionship in your life, click here. You a welcome companion in all our conversational adventures!!

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

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A Natural Sanctuary in Your Outdoor Space: Backyard Summer Adventures

Quick as a wink, a little fairy friend moved into our garden with furniture from our toy box.

Every child deserves a chance to explore and learn from nature in the safety of their own backyard. Yep, even if your backyard is a porch or a balcony! Creating a natural sanctuary is as simple as inspiring a child’s natural imagination.

Who Has Time?!

If just thinking about outdoor family excursions induces groans, we invite you to relax! Even with full-throttle family and work schedules, you’re gonna love the ideas Anna tosses out. Mainly because they’re so free and easy. A natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination already exists just a few short steps away.

Fireside Talk Radio, Creating a Natural Sanctuary: Backyard Adventures.

Outdoors: Natural Sanctuary for Your Child’s Imagination

No place inspires imagination like the great outdoors. For instance, yesterday, her daughter brought Anna an egg found in their backyard.

“About the same moment she showed it to me, it was being crushed because her little fingers couldn’t figure out how to hold it delicately enough,” laughs Anna, “But she was so proud of it because she and daddy found it in the yard. He’s teaching our children to love nature right now because that’s what their Daddy does.” However, a child-like perspective differs from an adult’s, Anna warns. 

Gifts from nature often surprise Mommy. “‘Momma, Momma, look at this beautiful flower,’” Anna offers as an example, “and its some little weed they’ve pulled out of the grass!” Still, even the busiest mommy can pair nature with imagination to create natural sanctuary for kids. Enthusiastically, Anna offers four ideas for creating a natural sanctuary for your children. 

Why Imagination Matters

Nature instructs us, stirring our imagination. Stimulating your child’s imagination produces lasting benefits in all future relationships. Why? Because it’s impossible to love others without imagination.

In order to love people well, we have to empathize. Empathy requires us to imagine life from others’ perspective. Compassion means we’re able to relate to others’ needs, sorrows, and joys. Connecting with others requires our imagination. Imagination is crucial to all relationships. (Get free weekly ideas about creating great relationships, here.)

Blessedly, we fostering imagination in our children is easy. We can create a natural wonderland for inspiration in our own backyards. Any outdoor space will do. Actually, smaller is often better when it comes to creating a natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination!

Establishing Safe Boundaries

The best outdoor spaces give children safety and boundaries within the watchful attention of adults. For instance, Anna raves about the fence her father-in-law installed in a portion of their yard beneath the window where she draws. 

Not only did he create a safe environment for our mutual grandchildren. Simultaneously, he enlisted the help of our son, the children’s uncle, thus teaching him how to build a relatively inexpensive, yet beautiful fence out of wood and wire game fencing. Voila! So many people blessed by one man’s ability to imagine a fence!

“My fence is cheaper than chain link and much more beautiful,” exclaims Anna, “My toddlers have a lot more independence and freedom because I know they’re safe.” (For more cheap, family-friendly ideas, click here or listen to the above podcast.)

Providing A Canopy

Safe boundaries may also include a covering overhead. For example, there’s something so protective about a full canopy of oak trees. We all need a place set apart to unwind, relax, and let our minds rest.

“I’ve noticed with kids they want a destination, a place that’s set apart and feels special,” Anna explains, “whether it’s a fort or like my kids, a spot in the bushes where they feel safe, like it’s their secret.”

For an easy solution with toddlers in mind, Anna suggests a beach umbrella in a big pot of sand. A small chair beneath it provides an enticing place for a child’s imagination to flourish. Easy and inexpensive is the key as family needs change. Her own back yard has a sail awning secured to a nearby tree with eye hooks and rope.

Stimulating All Their Senses

As a teacher, Anna quickly suggests numerous ways to engage your children’s imagination outdoors using all their senses. For example, she mentioned planting herbs for the child who learns via taste and smell. Or, for the child who is energetic and tactile, there’s big muscle games like learning the alphabet by hopping on stones marked with chalk. Then, for those who are more audio, don’t forget wind chimes and musical instruments.

“My sweet daughter wanders around our brick planters with her plastic guitar singing to herself. Her favorite place to do that is outside,” Anna mentions. (Turtles, teenage girls, chalk, and fairy gardens? On our above podcast, Anna shares dozens more fun, even silly, things to do in the back yard. Or, click here, for more podcasts.)

Get the Grands Involved

Especially with a wise partner, outdoors stimulates all the senses. For instance, grandparents can provide a simple craft, like a birdhouse or bird feeder, to inspire the next generation of outdoor lovers.

Creating a sanctuary outside may serve multiple generations of family members. For instance, some grandparents may control their outdoor space for serious reasons, like to avoid falling.

Yet the idea of a sanctuary prompts instant family unity. Imagine a porch with planters for boundaries and twinkle lights overhead. Now, both elders and youngsters feel safe and inspired!

For instance, the fairy table pictured above is a wasabi cup. Perhaps it contains a shiny button or a marble, but I’ll never tell. Surely we all know, fairies like folks who can keep a secret.

Go Barefoot

Finally, don’t forget to go barefoot! “You always had a designated digging zone where we knew we wouldn’t get in trouble if we wanted to take a shovel and make mud,” Anna reminded me, referring to our mutual conviction that kids are happiest when they freely engage with dirt and shovels.

Honestly, as young parents, we were just relieved when their younger brother couldn’t get into their tree fort without an adult’s help. (For many more adventures from our kids’ childhood, listen to the whole podcast above. Or, click here to find more inspiring conversations.)

Intentionally Nurturing Imagination

Our family is very intentional about nurturing imagination in the next generation. The neighborhood kids were never just children in our backyard; they were princesses or pioneers or woodland creatures. Finding an abandoned barge, they instantly became adventurous, swashbuckling pirates. (For more Anna stories about tree forts, abandoned barges, pillowcase flags and oh-so-much-more information than I would have shared, listen to the whole podcast embedded above. Or, click here for more fun podcasts!)

“I think we named the boat The Explorer,” adds Anna wistfully.

When parents provide opportunities for their kids to imagine, they set in motion empathy and compassion. All of which become a real blessing for future relationships. Imagination allows us to connect with other human beings.

So, next time you trim your bushes, let the kids make a quick fort with the trimmings. But first, Anna offers one more piece of advice: “Make sure no insects, like wasps, have decided to make a home there, too!”

We Love Hearing from YOU!

How have your kids used their imaginations in your own backyard? What’s your favorite tip for creating a natural sanctuary on your porch? How do grandparents foster a love of the outdoors in your kiddos?

May I pray with you?

Dear Father, Oh, how we admire Your creation! The beauty of Your nature is reflected in all that You made! We rejoice to go barefooted in the warm sand or drop our fingers in cool water. We see Your reflection in the way a bird soars or a turtle nests. Thank you for the sunny smiles of children at play. Teach us to cozy up under the safe covering of Your love. Let us marvel at the pattern on a shell or the glory of a gentle breeze. Remind us that the growth of a flavorful herb is an expression of Your love and tender power. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Coming Soon

Don’t forget we’re starting a series on entrepreneurship soon, featuring Yo Work Hub CEO Orrostieta and Author/Publisher/ Entrepreneur Mike Sahno! We can hardly wait!

Janet McHenry will be joining us soon to share how prayer walking fits the active lifestyle of another generation of young mothers (and grammies, like me!) And I have some more surprises toward the end of the summer, but I can’t announce them yet! So stay tuned!

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

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Strong Women Working Together Without Intimidation with Cynthia Tobias

Remembering Marsha Yarberry Harrison

Marsha and her hubby

Our family dedicates today’s blog and podcasts to the life and legacy of our dear friend, Marsha Harrison. Clearly, Marsha epitomized a tender heart and deep faith influencing a whole community. With so many strong friends, her teams were perfect examples of strong women working together, always attracting strong men to their projects, as well. Marsha lived with passion for those she loved and service to all.

Undoubtedly, we miss her. At the same time, I suspect, she’s already helping organize the great celebratory banqueting in heaven. For folks like my parents, who loved her humor and strength while we were together here, Marsha’s joy and presence in heaven is one more reason to praise God. David and I send our deepest condolences to her beloved family.

One Strong Woman’s Influence on Our Culture

Strong Women Working with Cynthia Tobias CathyKrafve.comTired of folks who tell you to simmer down? Does the idea of strong women working together without intimidation seem like an anomaly? Skeptical about whether one strong woman can influence our whole culture? I’ve got great news!

Trusting God in Strength

Fortunately, strong women can work together without intimidation. Truly, one strong woman can impact a whole culture. Mercifully, I can prove it!

God can and often does use one strong woman to change a whole culture when she trusts Him. For example, just look at Cynthia Tobias. However, don’t expect Cynthia to take a bit of credit. Possibly, she might acknowledge learning styles as an idea whose time had come in the 80s, without mentioning her own drive and determination. Also, she might suggest God gave her a gift for making complicated stuff accessible for the rest of us. Again, without taking credit for her passion to help students who suffer in traditional classroom settings.

In fact, she’ll give God all the credit, even for the string of crazy ways she followed her heart as she trusted His leadership. Plus, she talks freely of her own struggles, all while giving us an excuse to laugh. For me personally though, her life inspires confidence. According to Cynthia, God takes what we give back to Him and uses it, even the strongest will.

Then, God uses a person’s strong will to benefit everyone else. And, in Cynthia’s case, I do mean EVERYONE. (For more proof from the Bible about breaking through communication barriers to impact a culture, click here.Obviously, strong women working together without intimidation can affect a whole culture. All it takes is one strong woman to speak up.

Strong Women Working Together Without Intimidation

For instance, if you have kids with any kind of learning differences, you can thank Cynthia for educating three generations of educators about how learning styles affect classroom instruction techniques. With a background in law enforcement and education, she travels the globe speaking to groups as diverse as school districts, police departments, mega-corporations, women’s prayer groups, you name it. (For some hilarious stories from her law enforcement years, click here to find our interview and more podcasts.)

Surprisingly, all those diverse groups share a lot in common. Clearly, they all benefit from Cynthia’s life-long passion of enhancing our strengths. All of us experience a universal human need to work together, unifying around our unique, individual strengths. Therefore, with so many women working, we simply must ask the question how strong women can engage without intimidating or falling for the intimidation of others.

Accountability for Our “Weakness”: the Strong Will

Lately, Cynthia leads the charge to let women everywhere know it’s okay to be strong. Yep, it’s good to be strong women working together, even at church, according to Cynthia. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a giant sigh of relief. 

Thankfully, if you’re surrounded by strong women working together without intimidation, you’ll love Cynthia’s thoughts. Here are a few of the tips Cynthia shared with me about how to maneuver life with a strong sense of passion and determination, without hurting others.

#1 Embrace and Build on Strength

For instance, she advises focusing on knowing our own strengths, while observing and respecting the strengths of others. Conversely, focusing on any difference, even the difference of gender, can create more problems than it solves. Ironic, given the title of my blog today, right?

“If I’m bossy or impatient, I don’t like that in men. I don’t like it in women either,” Cynthia explains, adding often strengths actually unite people, “We focus on strengths instead of looking at the negative and being defensive.” 

By acknowledging strengths in yourself and others, we discover positive ways to build trust.

#2 Seek Accountability

With plenty of college degrees and years of experience training others, Cynthia speaks with confidence about how to handle the strong will, even when it’s our own!

For instance, by making ourselves accountable to trustworthy women friends, we open the door for truthful insight, according to Cynthia. She explains self-awareness is key to keeping our strength under God’s direction.

#3 Seek Self-Awareness

“Awareness is half the battle. We (strong women) don’t intend to be impatient. It’s not meant to be mean or anything, we just have a certain drive,” Cynthia says, “There’s a big difference between a strong-willed woman with God and a strong-willed woman without God.” As we talked, she mentioned how we can trip over other people’s styles without realizing we are guilty of letting our determination make us seem bossy or opinionated, too. Ouch! 

“I don’t like ultimatums; I don’t like people bossing me around,” she chuckles. Adding, “I have to bring myself up short sometimes and realize, if I were getting this direction rather than giving it, how would I take it? I would hate it!” So, how do strong-willed folks learn to engage patiently?

#4 Recognize the Source of True Strength

From her point of view, deliberately choosing to follow Christ’s leadership puts our strong will at the disposal of the One who leads us faithfully. Easier said than done, right? Fortunately, she also describes the process of turning over our strong will to God, without discounting it’s potential.

“God doesn’t take away our strong will; He consecrates it,” Cynthia explains. Thus, tapping into the best source of tender, compassionate strength.

Trail Blazers and Trail Walkers

Using an analogy her sister gave her, Cynthia explains the beauty of mutual respect. Some are trail blazers, others are trail walkers, according to Cynthia. On the one hand, strong willed people tend to blaze trails, often asking tough questions and stirring up change. On the other hand, we all depend on trail walkers to tend the path, carefully keeping the way cleared and marked for future generations. 

Perhaps you do both from time to time. God created each of us with His purpose in mind. Whether you see yourself primarily as a trail blazer or a path tender, all roles in the process are crucial.

“Excuse me, but you can’t change the world, if you like it. God sent us into the world, not to be part of it, but to help transform it. You’re supposed to change it,” she said on an episode of Focus of the Family. In our interview and on the Focus broadcast, Cynthia talks authentically about the ways God led her into alliance with His purpose for her. (To hear the whole Focus broadcast, click here.)

The Surprise of A Lifetime

Raised a “preacher’s kid,” Cynthia dreamed of writing, but switched to education at God’s prompting while in college. After graduation, teaching began a learning process. She spent summers trying to understand her students better by taking odd summer jobs. Through her ongoing summer job experiment, she discovered her love of law enforcement. She served in the police department for six years.

In seeking to understand why some of her students lacked enthusiasm for learning, she discovered a relatively new field of study focused on learning styles. Fortunately for us all, she became so passionate about learning styles, as she studied them for her post-graduate degrees. Along the way, she started giving lectures on the topic.

Imagine, a few years later when Focus on the Family called her out of the blue and asked her to write a book on learning styles. (For more of her life story, go to Focus on the Family’s recent broadcasts.) Somehow, some of her seminar handouts landed at Focus. Coincidence? Not according to Cynthia. Instead, she claims God was simply returning her full circle back to her dream of being a writer, the very purpose He intended for her all along. Plus, she finally knew a topic worth writing about!

“God has such amazing an amazing ways to weave in our backgrounds,” adds Cynthia, encouraging those who wonder if it’s too late to pursue their dreams.

Strong-willed Kids and Adults

From there, Cynthia wrote about teaching (and living with) strong-willed children. Even now, she’s concerned too many smart kids are misdiagnosed with learning disorders simply because of classroom boredom.

“Who gets to decide what’s normal? They can’t all have ADD,” she exclaims. “We’re still looking at kids who get kind of categorized as abnormal even when they’re using their strengths.” What a relief from this expert for moms who see raw potential and talent in their kiddos!

“What I tell parents with strong-willed kids especially; it comes to you raw,” laughs Cynthia. “Usually with most of our kids the things that irritate us the most are indicative of some of their greatest strengths; that they’re going to be most successful with later.”

Multifaceted Impact 

Confession: Reining in a strong will just happens to be my own felt need. However, Cynthia’s impact and life-long teaching is so multifaceted, I hate to mislead by over-focusing on her latest insight about strong women. (If like me, you’ve been told to simmer down, you may also enjoy our interview about Trauma Informed Care with another strong woman making a big culture-wide impact, Judge Carole Clark.)

Cynthia shared much more on our podcasts. (To hear the full interviews, click here.) Above all, I loved the way she laced humor though out all the serious stuff. Happily, she touched on one of my favorite topics, asking good questions. Plus, she mentioned the advantage when strong-willed women pray. I hope you’ll tune into our podcasts for the complete interview. Most of all, I’m thankful for Cynthia’s lifelong, faithful devotion to bringing good ideas to our culture.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, You design each of us with a variety of strengths. We all have a tendency to be self-willed. For those of us with strong wills, sometimes we feel overwhelmed and don’t know 

what on earth to do with all this energy and determination. We really want You to have mercy on those who live with us! For parents raising strong children, we thank You, O Lord. Lovingly, You give them fortitude and a vision for the future. Grant them energy to keep up with strong-willed little ones.

For those of us who must remember daily to turn our will back over to Your leadership, grant us grace and insight. Additionally, give us determination to focus patiently on others’ needs. In all of our design, we praise You, O Lord, the Wonderful Creator! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How has your strong-willed child made you chuckle this week? If you tend the way as a Trail Walker, how do you help the strong willed folks in your life cope more gracefully? As a strong willed woman, what has the work place taught you?

Upcoming Adventures: Fear and Friends

Next up: I’ve committed to writing about fear and anxiety this summer. Please pray. Ironically, I’m kinda scared and anxious about this project! Also, you can further help by sending any stories of times you felt anxious or afraid, to be include in our manuscript.

Finally, joyfully, may I remind you to catch the interview with my new friend, Janet McHenry? You’ll love her as I do already. Don’t miss her prayer-walking stories, along with all her wisdom! 

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts!

If you, too, are a strong woman, 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: Tina Meier, Robyn Boyd, Alise Cortez, Grace English, Sandra Beck, Sandy Bristow, Darlene Marshall, Mary Ottman, B.J. Garrett, and Marina Schroeder, to name just a few more people we find heroic. Don’t forget, Anna is returning soon for more creative fun with kiddos. Or, 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 CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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What We Really Want: Mother’s Day Marvelous with Anna Krafve Pierce

Mothers Day Marvelous: that's the kind of mom you are every day of the year! Anna's kids cut and glued this collage with creative vigor.

Mothers all over the world: We know how powerful you are! What we want is Mother’s Day marvelous every day of the year, right?

Every day, we pray constantly for our children, wanting what is best for them. Steadfastly, we influence our children, willingly making sacrifices for their success. It’s NOT easy to be mom.

As Anna says, “We understand your agony!” Happy Mother’s Day Marvelous from the bottom of our hearts! Yep, we think you’re pretty dang marvelous!

What is Mother’s Day Marvelous?

Marvel means to be in awe, to wonder. For instance, at a well in Samaria, the disciples marveled that Jesus talked to a woman! How hilarious is that? To marvel is be to be astonished and bewildered. In another example, when Jesus stumped the Pharisees in the face of their scholarly testing, they marveled. Perhaps, because He handled their philosophical traps with panache and compassion. Or, maybe because He understood their hearts better than they did.

Soldiers marveled at Jesus’s power. There’s a little edge of disbelief: Is what He just did even possible? Is it okay to do that? Moms, we recognize your good deeds day in and day out and we marvel, too!

Worst Mother’s Day Gift Ever

Okay, but let’s get real. Some gifts are better than others. My worst Mother’s Day involved crunchy scrambled eggs. My young daughters had a microwave cook book. Crack two eggs in a tea cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and nuke 15-30 more seconds. Genius! Just remember to help your kids crack the eggs without any shell pieces getting in there. Otherwise, like me, you’ll have to fake lovin’ those eggs. A perfect example of being Mother’s Day marvelous, by the way! (To hear all the juicy details, tune in to our podcast, here.)

Anyway, we still enjoy the story that went with the eggs! In case your day is shaping up to be more story than you’d like, keep reading!

Easy Crafts In Honor of Your Marvelousness

In your honor, Anna shared a couple of easy crafts. (For more creative ideas and ways to build community, especially in your family, subscribe to our weekly blog here.)

“My children beg to paint right now. So I get out the washable markers because, yes, they’re washable,” she laughs. “I tell them if they cover the paper with markers, then I’ll let them paint.”

When they’re ready, she gives them a tiny bit of water in a sturdy cup and turns them loose with a paintbrush. The water changes the marker color to look like a watercolor painting.

“And it’s easy to wipe up with a baby wipe.”

“If daddy or grandma help the kids, then they can say, ‘Tell me about your picture,’” laughs Anna, “Then, you can write down all the goofy things they say.” Dave and I just received two gorgeous pictures from our grands. My favorite part was all the hilarious ideas they shared, written on the back of their painting. 

Inspired by another mommy friend, Anna gives her kids a pile of their recent creations and a pair of safety scissors. With delight, the children cut away happily. Then, she lets them glue to their heart’s content.

“I let him (her son) reconfigure it all into one bigger piece with glue or tape, whatever he’s in the mood for,” Anna adds.

Best Mother’s Day Gift

In honor of teachers, I’m sharing one of the best Mother’s Days gifts I ever received. When our son was in fifth grade, his teacher helped him create a silhouette of his head. When I opened it, I cried. 

I went by the school to thank her and explain it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I’d ever received. (Because, yeah, past Mother’s Days included things like crunchy scrambled eggs.)

Standing in the hall, talking to his teacher, I started crying again!

What If No One Remembers Your Day?

If you suspect your Mother’s Day may be awful, you are just not alone. Even with a great family and a great life and crunchy scrambled eggs still happen.

The trick is to ask for what you really want. For instance, if it’s a day loaded with tension due to past fails, you may need to gently communicate ahead of time. Or, if you’re a single mom, you may need to bring in reinforcements. Either way, knowing what makes you happy and asking for it is key!

Why not plan a Mother’s Day lunch with your girlfriends? Near the holiday, give yourself and a few friends a little treat of togetherness in this marvelous mom journey!

Special Marvelous Connections

For instance, Anna enjoys a special connection with one Mother’s Day Marvelous friend who happened to get married on the exact same day Anna gave birth. On that special day they share, her friend never fails to call and say, ”Happy Day you became a mom!” Together, they’ve developed a habit of honoring each other’s special moments.

“She shows up at my house in significant moments with chocolate and wine,” laughs Anna. Chocolate and wine? Now that’s a friend that gets life’s priorities! Marvelous!

Asking for What You Want

Of course, it can get awkward training your hubby to choose the right gifts. Like when he thinks because you’re short you wear a size small. (Okay, that’s kinda cute.) In fact, the tension can build until it’s just not worth the trouble.

After years of watching me sabotage myself in this area, Anna invented a marvelous game. The Jewelry Game makes gift choosing a fun adventure for your husband instead of a dreaded obligation. Yep, it’s jewelry gift training!

As newlyweds, with her new wedding ring still sparkling on her finger, she stopped at every jewelry counter with a question for him. Which piece of jewelry would you pick?

“It didn’t matter what it was, I would tell him what I liked about it,” she explains, “Then, I would tell him what I would have picked.” She always complimented his choice, letting him know which of his instincts were on track. “It’s such a fun game. He’s gotten really good at it,” she laughs.

Best Jewelry Gift Ever

Some gifts increase in value over time because of the sentiment we attach to them. Anna’s first Mother’s Day Marvelous illustrates how life’s little moments can become especially dear later.

“After our son was born, he (her hubby) picked me out earrings,” says Anna. “It was Mother’s Day, but I was kinda overwhelmed. So, it didn’t register.”

But, soon her little son was old enough to notice her appearance. The first time he noticed her earrings, her heart spoke truth with precision.

“Son, those are the earrings your daddy gave me because he thinks I’m a good mommy,” she heard herself say. “In that moment, the present he (her hubby) gave me two years before suddenly was very valuable to me!” (For more of our conversation about how you can ask for what you want, find our podcast here.)

We Think You’re Marvelous!

Moms, we respect and love you! We’re grateful for you! Together, we’re raising children for the next generation to be a blessing to each others’ kids. We applaud the tender work you do as you mother your children.

As grandmothers, many of us desire to come alongside our adult children and support their parenting in any way we can.

As grandmothers, many of us desire to come alongside our adult children and support their parenting in any way we can.

“And don’t forget mothers-in-law,” Anna adds from personal experience, calling attention to the blessing a great mother-in-law can be, “I’m so grateful she raised my husband. I have a fabulous mother-in-law!” Raising children who become great spouses in our culture is a major achievement!

If You Have a Child in Heaven

For those moms who may grieve for a child, please know we care about your sorrow. Because we hear so many stories from courageous women, we know it’s very common to grieve for a child.

You are not alone, although it can sure feel that way. If that’s your experience, please accept our tenderest condolences. In your honor, we’re scheduled some amazing woman soon to talk about the grief of losing a child. (You can sign up for our blog here to stay tuned for our upcoming adventures!)

Hope for the Future

No matter your family background or present circumstances, you can create blessings for your children. For instance, I truly believe both my daughters are better moms than I ever was. There’s hope in knowing you can give your kids the best you have, then they can turn around and exceed your wildest dreams!

Being Mother’s Day Marvelous is not for wimps. We hope you courageously ask for what you want in life. And, as always, asking for what you want starts by asking the One who hears every prayer and tenderly cares for every heart. May He surround you with those who marvel about your own dear heart!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, we thank You for Your example of parenting. You see our value, even when others don’t remember to honor us. Lord, You even paid the most sacrificial price ever paid for our well-being. Your Son died on the cross for us and for our sin. This is the best gift we’ll ever receive. For this amazing blessing, we thank You from the bottom of our hearts. We marvel. Could such a thing possibly be true? You answer our heart’s longing with unconditional love and companionship. We thank You and rejoice! In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What’s your worst Mother’s Day story? What’s your favorite Mother’s Day Marvelous Moment? Who in your life epitomizes Marvelous Motherhood and why?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts!

If parenting, grandparenting, and family are your passion, as with us, you may want to check out the podcasts we’ve done with Dawn Franks, Sarah Cumming, and Neida Fran Ward. Don’t forget, Anna is returning soon for more creative fun with kiddos. Or, you can sign up for our blog by clicking here (and we sure hope you do!!!)

If you, too, are committed to sparking companionship in our world, 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: Tina Meier, James Kemp, Charlotte Canion, Alise Cortez, Chris Legg, Henda Salmeron, and Tony Johnson, to name just a few more people we find heroic.

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

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How to be a Friend Maker with SharRon Jamison

 

Author and thought-leader SharRon Jamison joins Cathy Krafve on Fireside Talk Radio.

Business woman, author, speaker, blogger, minister, and a Friend Maker. Of course, that last one reveals my personal title for SharRon Jamison, not hers! Today, based near Atlanta, SharRon shares wisdom vulnerably as she travels the world spreading great ideas about how to create loving relationships.

Every day, women tackle lots of gut-wrenching responsibilities; we need to support each other. Clearly, even the most successful women commonly feel isolated, insecure, and anxious. Frequently, we hear these refrains as women share their stories with us at Camp Krafve.Fortunately, healthy friendships provide the security and encouragement we all need as we courageously take risks, seeking to reach our God-given potential.

Friend Maker Extraordinaire

Because SharRon epitomizes what it means to be a Friend Maker,  a perfect antidote to the Mean Girl Syndrome, I asked her to expound on some of the great teaching I get via her blog.

“Relationships are so important to me. It took years for me to learn how to be a friend,” she says tenderly. Along the way, she noticed other women struggled, too.

“In fact, some women even shared they felt lonely and felt starved for companionship. They wanted and yearned for confidants; they missed connecting on a deep level. But, they also shared that they feel scared, overwhelmed and isolated because building friendships was so draining or filled with drama,” she shares on her website.

The Secret to Disagreeing Without Disconnecting

Naturally, true friendships require authenticity and honesty, right? But how? Surprisingly, one secret to true friendship includes learning to disagree without disconnecting.

All people hold a God-given purpose, according to SharRon. Contrary to our natural reactions, even the most seemingly disagreeable person may simply be extra-focused on their purpose. Therefore, keeping their purpose in mind can help us extend compassion and patience to all. Okay, to me patience seems like a big chore, especially when I’m having trouble imagining the other person’s purpose!

However, she reveals a powerful secret to becoming a Friend Maker: extending compassion and patience to ourselves, too. Especially when the world tells us to reject ourselves, we should embrace our own unique design, according to SharRon. Why? Because we’re one of a kind! I love what else she says about being unique!

Why Don’t We Trust Our Awesome Uniqueness?

“My father used to highlight the way that people are different. He always used to say you come into the world fully loaded with goodness, grace, and genius,” she remembers tenderly, adding specific details. Her dad believed God designed all people “with ideas to generate income and to have influence. You’re fully loaded with creativity that makes cash. He used to tell us we were a treasure chest of riches.” How encouraging!

In spite of her encouraging, wonderful parents, SharRon knows exactly what she’s talking about when it comes to underestimating her own worth. The child of a Methodist minister, her father cut a wide swath when it came to pushing against injustice. (For how you can make a difference for social justice in your community, click on our articles about Trauma Informed Care.) Yet, even he could not protect her from the racial prejudices she experienced in a newly desegregated school.

Bullying in School

“I started school when integration was still new in Missouri. Even though integration may have been the law of the land it was not necessarily the love of the people,” she says now with gentle integrity. 

As early as kindergarten, she suffered bullying, unintentionally from uninformed teachers and intentionally from kids. For instance, one teacher assumed SharRon was about to attack her, claiming SharRon moved too fast and scared her. In kindergarten! In another example, fellow students jumped her on the playground in second grade and gave her a concussion. (If your child is experiencing bullying, please listen to our podcasts with Tina Meier for great ideas.)Unfortunately, the threat of constant rejection at school, instilled in SharRon a deep need for companionship, even at a high cost.

“It (moving around a lot) made me yearn for being included,” she shares. “I started making friends the wrong way.” She describes her neediness and the pain of self-betrayal. “I started giving parts of my soul away to anyone who gave affirmation and attention.” (Find our entire conversation here.)    

“It took awhile to get over bullying as a child because I started to bully myself as an adult,” she adds. Eventually, the solution was to embrace the truth of her father’s good wisdom; “to understand I was worthy.”

Freedom From the Inner Bully

Now she offers amazing training in easy to remember acronyms, like Relationship GPS (for training on how to build lasting relationships) and CIA (how to create healthy connections). Just to give you a taste for the kind of transferable, excellent material SharRon is creating, GPS stands for Goals, Passion, Struggles and CIA stands for Consistency, Intimacy, and Awareness. (May I encourage you to click here for more from this deep-thinking friend?)

“I was never part of the in crowd,”she says, “As an adult I see that my life was a perfect training ground to do what I do today.”

With enthusiasm, let me share a few of my favorite blogs from SharRon: Should We Be Friends? (This one has a long list of questions and you know how I love questions!), What type of love is that? Expensive or Valuable?, and Break Some Rules and Fix Your Life! Obviously, I could write tons more from our interview. Instead, let me close with a few more of her thoughts. (Find the entire interviews here.)

Unseen, Unknown, and Unheard

“In my coaching practice I always hear people say that they feel unseen, unknown, or unheard,” SharRon shares tenderly. Lovingly, she offers this freeing truth: “Our God-sized gifts never belong behind man-made gates. We were not made to fit because we’re one of a kind anyway!”

Wonderfully, when it comes to our individual differences – our own unique quirkiness – SharRon says, “We are wired to win if we just embrace all those things that the world tells us not to embrace. God made us to be this way.”

The world offers lots of foolish ways to judge ourselves and others; labels, stereotypes, norms, what’s considered pretty, and other societal standards, according to SharRon. So, when people see weird or quirky, she understands their dilemma. Obviously, our uniqueness means people have never seen somebody like us.

“Of course, they’ve never seen such a wonderful masterpiece!” she laughs.

Encouraged and Empowered

“We can love people to healing, we really can,” she assures us. “I believe when people feel they can be vulnerable, they can be honest even if they don’t know how to say something.” By creating room for authenticity in our relationships, we prove the worth of others. 

“They can feel confident and courageous enough to say what they need to say. Even if they have to say it in a messy way,” she laughs. Of course, momentary messiness can be progress when authenticity results!

Happily, a few minutes with SharRon and I feel empowered to reach my own potential. Of course, I couldn’t wait to share her insight with you! Now, I hope you, too, feel encouraged and empowered by this remarkable lady’s wisdom.

Upcoming Adventures: Just Pinch Me!

Also, I’m truly excited to announce Cynthia Tobias will be a guest soon! (Click here for one of  the videos she sends out regularly.) Since the 90s when my kids were little, this amazing thought leader’s training taught us to appreciate learning differences. (What an awesome example of claiming God-given potential early in life!) As a frequent guest on Focus on the Family over the years, inspiration and encouragement follow her around like cute puppies!

Then, Prayer Walking Guru Janet McHenry promised to show up for no telling what kind of inspiration, not to mention her trade-mark humor and down-to-earth attitude. Please, click here to get excited with me about this highly anticipated treat! I’m absolutely giddy about these two amazing and inspiring women!!

May we pray together?

Dear Father, at times, we all struggle, wondering if we fit the description of a worthy friend. Yet, You prove our worthiness because You love each one of us. May we live up to Your friendship by extending Your grace and compassion to others in bucket fulls! Teach us to love ourselves unconditionally. We want to live out proof of Your knack for creating unique Masterpieces! Let our hearts know our incredible worth to You, the Our Truest Friend. You love us unconditionally, with uninhibited delight. Through us, may Your joy extend to everyone we meet today. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What do you love about your best friend? How do your friends encourage you for today’s challenges? What one change did you make in your life to become a better friend?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts!

If you, too, want to spark companionship in our world, we want to encourage you! Joyfully, we interview experts. Please catch their stories and wisdom, shared just for you on Fireside Talk Radio: Judge Carole Clark, Sarah Cumming, Ben Sciacca and Tina Meier. Also, Anna returns soon for summer fun with kiddos. Or, 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 CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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CPS Worker to Judge, Trauma Informed Care with Carole Clark

Judge Carole Clark learned early in her life to appreciate what the courts could do. Her first job out of college? Child Protective Services. From CPS Worker to judge, she’s seen it all. Now, she shares her story in order to call attention to Trauma Informed Care.

(Above photo: Sweet memories mixed with serious business: Judge Carole Clark took a quick break from serious court concerns to celebrate pet adoption with a friend.)

 

“I was 22 years old at the time. I had no idea that children were ever removed from their home by the government,” she says now. After presiding over Smith County’s designated family court for 20 years, she’s developed a passion for Trauma Informed Care. 

Through Trauma Informed Care all those involved in our justice system create dramatic and lasting change in families. In the past, family courts tended to see the same families over and over, according to Judge Carole. Obviously, the justice system is groaning under the weight of providing justice to families in crisis.

CPS Worker: Time in Court

Trained in education, she took the CPS worker job almost accidentally. Her husband was an attorney. They moved to Tyler, Texas together in October, with the school year well underway. With no jobs as a teacher open, she opted for another way to help children, CPS worker.

“That job requires you to spend a lot of time in court,” she says. After awhile, she caught on to the problems. There seemed to be a pattern, with the same families showing up in court, endangering the same children, generation after generation. Sadly, nothing seemed to help. No one had solutions. 

Trauma Informed Care

From the beginning, Judge Carole’s passion for helping children inspired her commitment to family well-being. As a young CPS worker, her natural assumptions got a dramatic wake-up call.

“I was stunned that some people were such abusive parents or neglectful parents that they endangered their children so much that the state had to step in and take them away. So I spent six months walking around with my mouth open in sheer shock.” She began to note patterns and seek solutions. Eventually, as a judge, she discovered Trauma Informed Care.

Ultimately, with Trauma Informed care, breaking the cycle of recidivism in our court system means kids get relief. Over the years, cases in her court prove the data.

In example after example, parents who habitually make poor decisions may experience an underlying issue with generational trauma. Fortunately, Trauma Informed Care provides a tool to break the destructive cycle popping up in multiple generations of the same families. (Stay tuned as we learn more about how to bring  Trauma Informed Care to your community in next week’s blog. Or,click here to find podcasts of our interviews with Judge Carole.)

The Lena Pope Home

Growing up in Fort Worth, she attended high school was across the street from the Lena Pope Home. Lena Pope, a nonprofit committed to serving children and families, is still well-known in Fort Worth and throughout Texas. Cultural ways of helping have evolved; we don’t use the word orphanage anymore, it seems. But, back then the term was common. (For more interviews on how to create companionship in families, click here.)

“I can remember asking my mom why they lived there. She told me their parents were dead,” explains Judge Carole. At the time, few people understood that some children could be abandoned due to neglect. Most people assumed that children in group homes were truly orphaned. “Back in those days a lot of things were not real public knowledge,” she adds. 

Soon she was attending Texas Christian University and preparing to be a school teacher. “I was the first person in my family to graduate from college,” she adds.

A Heart for the Law

That’s when mutual friends introduced her to the love of her life, a young law student attending Baylor. Instantly in love, they were married, bringing her to Tyler. Her husband’s family viewed law as the family business, with several family members practicing in the courtrooms of Smith County.

While it was agonizing at times, her job as a CPS worker opened her eyes and heart to the challenges in the justice system. (For our interview with Lorie Boruff, Cell 121: How to Respond When Your Child Goes to Jailclick here.) Gradually, she began to have a vision for how the law could help families. After several years, she decided to attend Baylor Law School.

“It was my first time to live by myself,” she laughs, adding, “I lived in a camping trailer they put in a mobile home park.” On weekends, she made the drive from Waco to Tyler, spending time with her hubby at home and studying for the next round of tests in law school. After graduation, “I came home and practiced with my husband and his dad.”

Clear the Court for Caring Solutions

In 1999, she became a judge, presiding over Smith County’s designated Family Court.

“I was very familiar with the court, different aspects of the court,” says Judge Carole, who recently retired. “Over the first five years, I became very frustrated with the child protective service system because I felt like we were seeing the same people over and over. We were not providing services to families that really made a difference.” She grew more and more disenchanted with procedures and laws that exacerbated problems, rather than solving them.

“I thought these children need to be with their families, but their families need to learn to be good parents,” she says. How in the world could THAT be accomplished? It seemed hopeless.

In what Judge Carole views as a series of miracles, long term solutions began to unfold, step by step. Now called Trauma Informed Care, no human could have anticipated the success of the unexpected and effective solutions they developed for courtrooms. Stay tuned because next week’s blog is all about Trauma Informed Care. (Sign up here so you don’t miss it!)

Fostering Justice

After serving twenty years as a Family Court Judge, Carole is taking on the system with an insider’s viewpoint. When she retired recently, folks throughout east Texas made donations to the Judge Carole Clark Trauma-Informed Care Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation. The new fund provides for training so that those serving in courts throughout the United States create lasting change in families. (To make a donation to the Judge Carole Clark Trauma-Informed Training Fund at the ETCF, click here.)

Offering hope and healing is the best way to help families, according to Judge Carole. Of course, healthy families foster justice throughout our land!

In our next interview, Judge Carole explains why traumatic events in families affect several generations. In it, Judge Carole offers hope and effective tools, along with how to contact experts to bring the training to your community. Please click here to be sure you receive our next bog on Trauma Informed Care.

May I pray with you?

Dear Father, You are the Righteous Judge. You alone know every detail of every case before every court today. Please intervene on behalf of families across America who are suffering. Especially for children who are affected, we ask Your mercy. Oh Lord, have mercy! We pray now for all the officials in our justice system who struggle under the weight of traumatized families. Give them wisdom and insight with each individual You bring across their path today, O Lord, so that our justice system can reflect Your glory.

We ask for healing and restoration for those who have been hurt. Help court officials provide tools to those who are willing to recover from old wounds. Help us break the cycle of repeated trauma in generations of the same families. May Your goodness and unfailing love pierce through, with firm guidance and hope. Have mercy, O Lord! We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What has the justice system in your location taught you about the nature of God? How is your church encouraging those who have experienced incarceration? In your community, what seems to be helping families who struggle with trauma? (It means so much to us when you leave comments below in our comment box! Thank you!!) 

More Ways to Create Healthy Companionship

At Camp Krafve, we strongly support all efforts to create companionship in our families and communities. Just for you, Anna Krafve Pierce offers lots more easy ideas about spending time with creative kids, here. Also, if you’ve ever struggled to write a stack of thank you notes, watch for our “Foolproof Thank You Notes” cheatsheet, which will be available soon! Sign up for our weekly blog, here. In an upcoming bog, we’ll discover why thankfulness frees our children’s hearts

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts

If you, too, embrace justice and compassion in our 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: Doug McSwane, Marcie McSwane, Lori Boruff, Ben Sciacca, Tina Meier, and Colleen Long, to name a just a few of our favorite heroic people! Don’t forget, Anna is returning soon to Fireside Talk Radio https://cathykrafve.com/fireside-talk-radio/ for more creative fun with kiddos. Or, you can sign up for our blog by clicking here (and we sure hope you do!!!)

Cathy Krafve, host of Fireside Talk Radio, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Communicator, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang spoken here!

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Creativity and Redemption: the Art of Messing Up with Anna Krafve Pierce

Easter, Creativity and Redemption are three words that go together well. With a few uncharted moments, we can give our kids memories to treasure, especially at Easter. Still, family gatherings can feel a little daunting.

How can we use free time to foster creativity and redemption in our kids’ hearts? My daughter, artist Anna Krafve Pierce co-hosted Fireside Talk Radio recently to brainstorm ideas for making the most of holiday moments.

Two soft, little lambs lean into their mom for comfort. From Easter, Creativity, and Redemption: Surviving Spring Break with Anna Krafve

Happy Easter!

First, Happy Easter! In honor of the resurrection, we made you a little gift. Please click here to download the printable templates we created just for you. Hopefully, these will keep your kids happily coloring, cutting, and pasting. (Feel free to email me directly, if you’re already getting our weekly blog. We really love to hear from you!)

By the way, our free design creates a darling gift box for a candy bar. Pretty genius way to pass along a Bible verse to any of your neighbors, combining creativity and redemption and your kids’ crayons! More good news: according to Anna, any parent can foster creativity in their kids in 3 simple ways.

Three Ways Parents Successfully Foster Creativity in Their Kids

#1 Greet all art work like a valuable gift.

“Most children at some point will bring you art work that’s on a piece of paper. If they’re really little you might not even realize it’s art work until they tell you,” she laughs. “So, it’s always convenient when they can talk.” In this classic approach, Anna suggests letting them describe it to you. If. instead, you try to guess what in the world it is, you’ll miss all that’s in their beautiful imaginations!

“It’s discouraging when people don’t realize you’ve drawn a dragon,” she laughs, offering a common mistake, “when they (mom or dad) think you’ve drawn a dinosaur.” Naturally, the best way to encourage future artists is to receive their art work like it’s a treasured gift. Then, if you’re enthusiastic, they may go make another one.

“That’s instantly practice. Practice is always good for any artistic skill,” says Anna. Plus, parents get a minute more of down time! Win-win! For anyone who wants to excel at art or anything else, Anna emphasizes practice as an essential habit “If you do it over and over again, you will get good at it.”

#2 Complement specific details. 

Surprisingly, you don’t have to focus on the most skilled part of your child’s project, according to Anna. Just by noting the things that interest you, you engage your child’s heart and imagination. Also, calling attention to interesting details conveys a wealth of information.

For instance, praising specific parts of their art teaches them how to focus in on details. Plus, it lets them know what they created matters to you. (Listen in on our conversation for more cool stuff Anna said about combining creativity and redemption for your kiddos.)

#3 Teach your children to observe. 

“The skill of observing makes you a good artist, combined with practice,” says Anna. “You have to notice how things are put together, how different shapes, lines, and color relate to each other.” Certainly, anyone, even parents who don’t think of themselves as artists, can help their child learn to observe.

Practically speaking, she suggests focusing on things that intrigue you. For example, a scientist can point out the way nature interacts. When an adult points out the relationship between animals and their environment, for instance, a creative child learns to pay attention to how things relate. Happily, an artistically gifted child might even note visual relationships the parent never noticed.

We’re ALL Creative

Fortunately for all of us, God gifted all His kiddos with creativity. However, people express their creativity in a myriad of ways. That’s good news for parents raising a bunch of extremely creative kids. (For the signals to watch for that indicate a natural gift for art in your child, find our podcasts here. Or, sign up for our weekly blog, here.)

Naturally, every family contains a unique variety of creative kiddos and adults. Since God made us all in His image, it’s good to keep in mind that ALL creativity reflects His nature. Individual creativity makes parenting a rewarding challenge. Yet, wondering how to keep the kids’ natural creative bent occupied in a healthy way seems to be a common challenge for all parents!

More Creative Ideas for Outdoors

On our podcast, Anna reminded me that any holiday with kids includes extremes in energy levels. Of course, energy levels spike as kids anticipate no school or visiting guests. Plus, imagine all the sweet treats they’ll consume! For high energy moments, she suggests creating extreme sports out of all your favorite games.

For instance, Badminton, Croquet, even Spoons, can all morph into safe, full-body, back yard experiences, with parental direction. Obviously, enforce kid-friendly, consistent rules so no one gets hurt. Then, prepare to laugh; belly laughter can be a full-body sport, too! After a little fresh air and a romp with the family, kids often respond well to offers of quieter activities.

The Quieter Side of Creativity and Redemption

Creativity and redemption is all around us! Especially at Easter, don’t miss the opportunity to teach your children to observe. While you’re outside together, point out all the beautiful things God made. With good observation skills, they’ll be better equipped for life, no matter how their creativity expresses itself.

Finally, since Easter is all about God’s plan for creativity and redemption, why not give yourself a little weekly boost by getting our blog filled with ideas to spark creativity and redemption in all our relationships?

Creativity and Redemption: The Art of Messing Up

Finally, want another way to bless your family when it comes to creativity and redemption? Anna claims one of the best things gracing your child’s Easter is not the stuff in the basket. With fresh insight, she explores the connection between messing up and creativity and redemption.

Lovingly, she offers an example of how to teach your child to master the art of messing up. For example, as a parent or teacher, no matter how much you encourage, there’s always that moment when a kid melts down over their art work.

“Instead of bringing you a present with their artwork, they bring you something that’s a little bit wonky,” laughs Anna. “It has a big mark in the wrong place according to their little hearts and minds.” Sure enough, distress and frustration follow. Dramatically, your child may even rip or wad up his latest creation.

As you try to comfort the inconsolable kid, what do you say? Anna likes to think of those moments as opportunities for everyone! Wonderfully, how you respond to mistakes actually illustrates creativity and redemption to young hearts!

Mistakes: an Opportunity for Creativity and Redemption

“(Redemption requires that) we take what we thought was a mistake and make it be a part of the whole,” she says, “To make it right. That idea was so freeing.” Sometimes, a simple solution like tearing up their mistake and letting them paste it into a new collage illustrates redemption. Their new collage can represent how God rearranges our lives, turning past mistakes into present wisdom.

“Mistakes are an opportunity to be creative. Essentially, we got to be inspired, we got to think of something we never would have thought of before,” explains Anna. With tender compassion, we encourage our children to understand that God takes what we view as tragedy or crisis, and remakes it into something beautiful, according to Anna.

“Isn’t it humbling that God would let us be the picture of redemption for our children,” adds Anna. Tenderly, Anna likes to share a story about her own dear little daughter who is so happy to be forgiven for her minor infractions.

The Creative Process of Forgiveness

“I need to be more delighted when God forgives me, rather than stuck in my mistake,” begins Anna. Thoughtfully, Anna describes how her daughter’s joy at forgiveness holds her own mommy’s heart accountable.

“As a mom, the whole ‘mistakes are an opportunity to be creative’ applies to motherhood, too,” Anna expanding her thoughts to include her own mess-ups as a mom, “Like with my kids, I regularly mess up where I snap at them a little too fast because I’m tired, because we’ve been together a lot.” With two toddlers, she practices what she preaches, often translating her deep, abstract faith into bite-sized portions for her children.

“Those moments are some of the best moments because I get to apologize,” Anna says, “There’s a certain creativity in identifying the mistake as a parent, figuring out how you’re going to make it right, and how you are changing the pattern.” (Right. I caught the way Anna said, “get to apologize.” Believe me, she figured that out without my help.)

Creativity and redemption, mixed with the art of messing up: beautiful themes for celebrating Easter with family. May your joy be complete as you celebrate the creative and redemptive love of Christ!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, as we plan for more time with family, may we honor Your Son. Help us demonstrate what it means to live in creative redemption each day. Inspire our hearts with Your loving sacrifice, as we love those around us. Let all our creativity bring glory to You, O Lord, and spread redemption to others. Thank You for making us in Your image, full of creative energy. May our hearts embrace with delight the free gift of forgiveness made possible by Your beloved Son’s death on the cross. Allow His resurrection to fill our hearts with gratitude and awe. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What are your plans to make Easter special? How has art helped you understand God’s creativity along the way? In what ways have you experienced the gift of redemption?

Get Your Free Easter Templates Here!

Printable Easter Templates CathyKrafve.com

Yep, just in time for Easter! These darling templets are perfect for a Sunday school craft or to enliven creativity at home. Each one has inspiring messages and can be cut out to create a gift box for a candy bar. They are the perfect little treat to let friends know they are loved. Sign up for our blog and get your free templets here!

Or, if you’re already getting our blog, email me, here,for templates or to share stories! Find podcasts with 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 families with creative kiddos, 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: James Kemp, Chris Legg, Sarah Cummings, Neita Fran Ward, Benjamin A. Simpson, Dawn Franks, and Tony Johnson.

Cathy Krafve, host of Fireside Talk Radio, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Communicator, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang spoken here!

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Staycations on the Cheap: Family Holidays with Anna Krafve Pierce

Anna dressed as Yoda and her brother dressed as Popeye.FTR Co-host Anna Krafve Pierce and her brother still having fun in costume. 
(Can you guess who Anna is?)

Spring Break and Easter are two family moments that used to have me biting my fingernails. In fact, we accidentally innovated dozens of staycations on the cheap. Really, it wasn’t the holiday as much as the Monday after. Invariably, the teacher asked the kids to write about their vacation.

What Did You Do Over the Holiday?

Naturally, other kids wrote about snow skiing and cross-country travel to visit grandparents. Sadly, my kids struggled to fill a page about why their parents think down time is good for children. Thus, the dreaded question: What did you do over the holiday?

Being entrepreneurs, we still don’t take days off easily, not if we want to pay the bills. But, we’ve learned along the way to work in some fun. Especially when our kids were growing up, staycations were a godsend! Maybe, like me, it’s up to you to figure out how to use the extra holiday time with family. Of course, we all want our children proud of their rockin’ family.

More Dates, More Romantic Adventures

Perhaps, you, too, look for creative and innovative ways to bless the socks off your own kids. Just for you, I interviewed Anna Krafve Pierce on this very topic on Fireside Talk Radio. An artist, Anna is one of the most creative people I know. Plus, she’s in the midst of creating second generation staycations on the cheap for her own kiddos.

“I need more dates, stay at-home-style dates,” Anna says. Not an easy assignment for parents of toddlers. “Child care is expensive, but I don’t want to miss out being in love with my husband.” Her creative juices flowed in all directions on the show: how to engage the children, have fun, cultivate cultural blessings, and still make time for romance? Wow! That’s a bunch of multitasking, even for Anna! So, what’s she got up her sleeve?

“We plan to take our family on a vacation to the Mexican market and do all the things we can that are hispanic in our area,” laughs Anna. Maybe at first, the market doesn’t sound like much of a holiday, but wait until Anna adds all the fun fluff she thought up as bonus excitement.

The Blessing of Cross Cultural Holidays

In Texas, where we live, hispanic culture adds all kinds of spice to our lives. In big cities, there’s often a China Town, which we make a point of visiting whenever we travel. Whatever cultural backgrounds are prominent in your area, remember experiencing different cultures expands your child’s horizons.

Cultural Vacations on the Cheap

Anna recommends taking the whole family to specialty markets. There, look for inexpensive splurges, like fancy salsa, unusual beer, or regional chocolate. Let the kids explore and savor the new sights and sounds specific to the market’s cultural specialty.

“Let them pick out treats and tell them this is from another country and explain what that means,” Anna says. In doing so, you can teach your kids the great advantage we have in America to “travel” without leaving home. Savoring foods and music from all cultures are ways to value our cross-cultural American heritage.

Movies, Music, Costumes, Oh, the Fun!

Like discovering new foods and music, finding movies that tie into the theme, especially if they’re bilingual, can make for more culturally-themed, family-friendly fun. We also like picking out simple children’s books in Spanish at the local library to expand our vocabulary. 

When my kids were in their teens, I often begged them to attend a local church with me that held services in Spanish, with Mariachi music no less! What fun! Surprisingly, the vocabulary is easier when they’re quoting familiar verses from the Bible in Spanish. Along with music and language adventures, don’t forget to round up some costumes for family fun over the holiday.

“The idea of blending it with a date night makes it fun for everybody,” Anna says, “My husband will be so much more game to wear a sombrero to the Mexican market if he thinks he’s going to get all my attention once the kids are asleep!” She’s planning to download a Tango lesson video from You Tube, too. Por supuesto!

Friends With Cultural Skills

The benefits of cross-cultural friendships are too numerous to name, but she especially likes exposing her children to language opportunities. As a grandmother, who raised kids to be unafraid of second and third languages, she’s right about giving kids the advantage of exposure to languages.

“They’ve started greeting my children in Spanish for me,” Anna says about some friends who know her desire to help her kids embrace language learning. Such friends are a fabulous resource. Like my hubby’s grandmother who sang Jesus Loves Me in Swedish, you never know what beautiful surprises cross-cultural friends have in store!

Freedom from Guilt

Consistent, not perfect, is every parent’s goal, according to Anna. The whole purpose of fun is to be free, not to put more guilt trips on mom. Doing something consistently, does not have to take its toll on your sanity. Fitting fun into your family’s priorities can stay relaxed. Thankfully, kids often give parents  more credit than we deserve because special moments resonate so much with them, according to Anna.

“I could have told everybody Dad made pancakes every Saturday,” laughs Anna. Truly, her dad made pancakes often, but there’s no way he could do it every Saturday. It’s simply not possible to be that perfect. So, Anna recommends cutting yourself some slack. “You can feel like you’re failing when you’re really knocking it out of the ballpark.”

While we’re on the subject of holiday fun and giving yourself a break, we’ve got you covered for a fun family craft. To get your free printable templates, click here. You’ll get our blog each week, filled with all kinds of ideas to foster companionship and fellowship in our lives. Plus, as a special little treat just for you, we’ve created boxes to color, cut, glue, and wrap around a candy bar. Your kids will love them!

More Ideas for Staycations on the Cheap

Cooking Camp Adventures

Older kids can claim the adventure of creating their own kitchen on a porch, like our son did when he was young. For a staycation that includes cooking adventures, turn all the meals over to the kids. Let them choose and budget for the groceries. Let them search for recipes they want to experience.

“Coleman stoves are almost indestructible,” Anna says, adding “two or three days of that is probably enough, but the kids will never forget.” Also, for the truly adventurous, they can set up their own tent in the back yard.

The Picnic Challenge

To test your kids’ imagination, challenge them to think of unusual places to enjoy a picnic. Help them pack new foods that intrigue their taste buds. Different places each day can include your own patio, nearby lakes and rivers, a friend’s boat or camper, a relative’s back porch, the top of a tall building, an office on Saturday, a tree fort, a nearby church foyer or grounds, a local zoo, local attractions. Heck, we’ve even picnicked in a really beautiful, small cemetery.

Family Holiday Reality Show: Hollywood Week

Get the kids engaged for an upcoming Family Holiday Reality Show. As they think ahead about all the fun, they’ll be ready for lights, camera, action at your house. With phones, youngsters easily record video. You’ll create staycations and they’ll document the occasions for lifelong memories. What a perfect way to delegate! Enlist their help in planning the pre-show promos before your holiday. They can create costumes, topics, even scripts.

“Have everybody get excited about what they’re going to wear and what their personas are going to be,” says Anna. “Let everyone go around interviewing each other.”

Additionally, Hollywood Week is a great time to co-star the grandparents, telling family stories. Obviously, you cannot record enough family stories. Also, here’s the list of questions Anna gave us on the show for your kids to ask anyone who happens to drop by over the holiday.

“How do you Mom and Dad? Well, do you know how my parents met? Do you know my grandparents? What stories do you have about them?”

Vaya Con Dios!

Finally, we suggest you give your culturally themed staycations on the cheap a special name, like, How to Rock a Central American Adventure Without Ever Getting on a Plane. Or, Vaya Con Dios a la CentroAmerica! Certainly, Our Family’s National Lampoon Holiday is a sure hit. Armed with hilarious memories, your kiddos return to school with a title for their post-holiday writing assignment. With so much fun on the agenda, it wouldn’t be surprising if you have your family serenading soon, maybe in a new language!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, we love the way You spend time with us, always available, always present. Sometimes, as parents, we feel we’re letting everyone down around us; there’s just not enough hours in a day! We need You to help us choose priorities that honor You. Help us use creativity and innovation to create memories for our kids that don’t break the bank. O Lord, supply our needs, please. Let us create fellowship with our children just as You create fellowship with us. Give us what we need for today. We are Your grateful people. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How are your Spring plans shaping up to include easy-on-the-budget staycations? Which family staycations on the cheap secured a special place in your memories? How is your family savoring the spice of other cultures? (Please leave us messages in the Comment Box below.)

We have Winners!

Winners were contacted via email and will be receiving Open With Your Broken from author Dana Goodrum!! If you missed the contest, it’s not too late to get in on the action because I created a fun little freebie just for you, 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 love these! (I tested them on my friends!) 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 for our blog 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 companionship in your own families, 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: James Kemp, Sarah Cummings, Tina Meier, Neita Fran Ward, Benjamin A. Simpson, Chris Legg, Katie Butts, and Tony Johnson.

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

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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.

Return to the Fireside Talk Radio Show Page
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Bullying in School with Tina Meier, How to Help Your Child

 

Bullying in School with Tina Meier, CathyKrafve.com

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 MeganMeierFoundation.org. 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 CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Passion and Purpose with Alise Cortez, 5 Tips, 3 Questions

Finding a path to passion and purpose can be challenging. Alise Cortez found her path to passion and purpose in the most unexpected way.

Unexpected Path to Passion and Purpose

One day, her boss fired her from the job she loved. Only nineteen, until that moment, she was feeling every bit the little country girl making it in the big city. His reason for firing her? He saw something bigger for her life than anything she could imagine for herself.

“You have to get out of here, see the world, do something with yourself. But, before you go, hire your replacement,” he said as he left for lunch.

“I was devastated,” she says now with a chuckle. But, he was right. To find her passion and purpose, first she had to become less complacent. 

With the holidays opening up some time away from the office, it’s a great time to grab ahold of our big life goals before the New Year slams us with the usual activity.

A Clearing for Myself

Once she was free of her preconceived lifestyle, Alise more than fulfilled her boss’s expectations for her future. In fact, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, two master’s, and a doctoral degree. She lived in two foreign countries, traveled all over South and Central America and has delivered professional work to almost every continent.

Alise recently shared on an episode of Fireside Talk Radio how unexpected events can unleash us to pursue our passion and purpose in life. In another example, when her marriage came to an abrupt end, she determined not to waste the opportunity. Her divorce was a “getting fired, you can go now, kind of thing,” she says. While unwanted, the divorce, proved to be a hidden blessing.

“It rocked me out of that place of complacency that comes from having a comfortable life.” Or, as she puts it, the change in her circumstances “yielded a new clearing for myself.” She began to re-calibrate her life in the most beautiful way possible. Now she travels the globe offering help to those who are “asleep at the wheel.” We’re not talking country music here; Alise delivers insight that allows people to create meaning in their work and life, instead of just going through the motions.

One Precious Life

“What will you do with your one precious life? You just get one shot at this thing,” says Alise, “It’s really up to us to cultivate meaning.” Interestingly, she’s noted refreshing tendencies for people who’ve embraced a life of creating meaning.

“When leaders find their own purpose, they’ll be much more authentic, interesting, and irresistible,” says Alise. “At the same time, those kind of purpose-driven leaders become really good at being able to acknowledge the value of any contribution that their team members provide to the organization. That is incredibly enticing for people.”

For those who feel like they are just going through the motions, what advice does Alise have? She says purpose takes time to develop and recognize, but we can reconnect with our passion pretty quickly.

Discovering Passion – 5 Tips

To reignite passion in your own heart, Alise suggests trying these simple tips:

#1 Look for awe in your day. What do you admire and appreciate? Train yourself to be alert for it.

#2 Look for a human and say something beautiful. “I look for and intentionally tell them something amazing, like ‘You’re beautiful’” she says, “It blows them back; they hardly ever hear that. I want that ripple effect. I want her (a stranger) to have a better day.”

#3 Be playful. Alise endorses letting ourselves be gleeful, like small children. She shared an example of pretending the trees drop leaves for us to catch, using our imaginations the way children do.

#4 Gratitude is enormous. Alise suggests keeping a “Gratitude Pad” next to the bed and writing down three things that you are grateful for at the end of each day.

#5 Cultivate our senses. Making use of all senses – sight, smell, taste, touch and audio – will help us get back in touch with our interests and passions, according to Alise. Rather than feeling like “the walking dead,” she emphasizes cherishing and honoring our own pleasure in small things.

“I like languages, it’s stimulating for me to hear the human voice rendered in different languages,” Alise says, as an example of ways we can learn to relish the things that fascinate us.

Discovering Purpose – 3 Questions

Alise shared so many amazing ideas, I heard myself saying, “I love this!” throughout the interview. I really wanted more time with her. Please go to our podcasts and listen in for yourself!

On the topic of finding purpose in our lives, Alise says purpose takes time to discover. But, she offers three questions that can tune you in when it comes to cultivating a life of purpose:

#1 Is there a nasty problem in the world that you want to help solve? Look for service to something bigger than yourself, she adds.

#2 In the process of serving a bigger purpose, Alise asks (referencing Erin Hurst), “Are you growing and stretching yourself?”

#3 Finally, are you creating a community as you serve?

“You are completely in control of how you perceive the moments that happen, how you let them inspire you to live a life of passion to touch other people to make them better,” emphasizes Alise. “What will you do with your one precious life?” You can find much more wisdom from Alise on her podcasts and radio program, Working on Purpose.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, You designed each of us for a unique purpose. Sometimes it feels like we are just going through the motions. Yet, You designed us to cherish this time on earth and then, to cherish eternity spent in Your presence. Help us tune in to the pleasures and interests that spark our imagination, especially the ways we can serve others. For this dear reading friend, I ask that You would spark a child-like playfulness today. Allow us to enjoy the air we breath, the quietness in our hearts, and the company of others. Open our eyes to ways we can serve a bigger purpose to Your glory. We are Your grateful children. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How does your imagination inspire you to delight with child-like joy? When do you find time to carve out a clearing for yourself? What are your favorite tips for focusing on passion and purpose in your life?

More Stories and Wisdom to Bless Our Hearts!

If you’re interested in sharing the wisdom of women who’ve walked the path to passion and purpose, you may want to check out the podcasts we’ve done with Sandy Bristow, Suzy Shepherd, Marina Schroeder, Sandra Beck, and Darlene Marshall. Don’t forget, Anna Krafve Pierce is returning soon for more creative fun with kiddos. Or, 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 CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Hide the Squirrel, Find the Nuts, and TWO Million: Family Thanksgiving with Anna Krafve Pierce

Hide the Squirrel Two Million CathyKrafve.comOne million Fireside Talk Radio downloads this year? Nope...drum roll please...we just passed TWO MILLION!! No one is more surprised than me!

Speaking of nuts, I thought every one was crazy who suggested I should podcast. I have a million reasons why an old lady like me should never try anything so hip. (In my age bracket, we worry more about hip injuries than being hip!)

Boy, Was I Wrong!

Anna, our beloved artist daughter, agreed at the last minute to co-host a spontaneous Fireside Talk Radio show with me for Thanksgiving. My idea was get this extremely creative human to brainstorm about Fun Thanksgiving Ideas. We all want harmony at the holidays, even if our family includes a few squirrels and nuts, right?

We've been doing Fireside Talk Radio a year, so I thought I should announce our one millionth download, assuming it had happened. Right before the show, I asked Roy Bryan, our genius tech guy at Toginet, exactly where our numbers stood.

Not One, But TWO MILLION!!

Imagine my surprise when Roy tallied our numbers and whispered in my ear right before we went on that we've had more than TWO MILLION downloads!!!! I'm still in shock. (This is where Sandra Beck gets tons of credit. Please see below for more on her wonderfulness.)

High Energy and Other Family Traits

I hope you'll click on that show and listen in. It's pretty hilarious because Anna and I are both so high energy and, honestly, I was so flabbergasted about our numbers, I totally forgot what we were supposed to be doing. So, Anna shares some fun family stories. It's always a little scary when my kids start telling stories. But in fairness to the commitment we've all made to be authentic in life, I held my breath and turned her loose.

Hiding the Squirrels, Finding the Nuts

Now, if you're wondering about hiding the squirrels and finding the nuts, here's a list of activities we intend to share with our family this Thanksgiving. Especially if you're thankful for toddlers this year, as we are, you'll love the games. We'll probably set up all over the house, like stations in a kindergarten. That way the introverts, (yes, there are a few Krafves who aren't extroverts)Thanksgiving Kits as Gifts CathyKrafve.com can take a break from all the excitement. Pictured right is the stash of goodies I put together to create a Thanksgiving Kit.

Hide the Squirrel

I bought a small plastic squirrel to hide around at eye-level for the toddlers in our family. Children love to play hide and seek. Many people (I won't say who exactly) like to sit still and digest their food, so this will be the perfect distraction for the little ones. It's sure to produce belly laughs for us all.

Find the Nuts

Walnuts are too big for toddling helpers to swallow. We put whole walnuts out for the squirrels on the windowsill outside. Imagine how many mouth and fingerprints there are on my windows when the squirrels are brave enough to collect their bounty.

Hug Ball

All the grown ups find a chair or couch in a circle. All the little ones stand in the middle. A small ball is tossed across. Any child who wins by grabbing the ball, gets to hug the person of his choice as his prize. (Yep, this is genius. Anna's not sure it will work, but I'm counting on getting lots of hugs. I'll keep you posted.)

Coloring Books, Chalk, and Crafts

We have a couple of darling new Thanksgiving books. Plus, there's a child's table with colors and chalk for little creators. Kids love thank you notes with envelopes. They can hand deliver them to loved ones gathered or send in the mail with a little help. Helping the little ones is a joyful activity for older cousins.

Another tall table will have a special craft that involves glue and scissors for the big kids. This year we're making Native American headbands. (And anyone who shows up dressed as a Pilgrim or Indian gets a special prize, probably a hug.)

Silly Songs and Hymns

I confess, I'm musically challenged. Consequently, I invent all kinds of creative ways to introduce music into our family. This year I got the Veggie Tales Silly Songs DVD because screen time is a treat that will enthrall the little ones, letting the grown ups relax. Anna thinks I'll be the grown up most tempted into the dance party that is sure to result. She's probably right!

Oh, the Joy of Sharing Life

Anna emphasized that it's important to her that we always include others in our family at every holiday. Sometimes, it's just our family because folks have other places to be, but we always keep the door open. Some of our most sacred family memories resulted because we invited a guest who blessed us by saying yes. We are thankful for our adopted (chosen) family members!

We are thankful for you!!

You are our reading and listening friend and we are thankful for you. We say it that way because we mean it. Two million downloads is a big number, but that never would have happened if you didn't care about the same things we care about: family, companionship, conversational adventures, authenticity, prayer. Thank you for passing along our stuff/blog/podcasts to your friends!! We are truly grateful for you and blessed to be in this together with you. What joy and fun!

Speaking of fun, Anna's has already committed to a Christmas show! We had so much fun co-hosting Fireside Talk Radio together. We'll spend more time at Christmas on the way hymns permeate our family, in spite of my knack for getting the melody wrong. And I'll turn her loose again (that sound you hear is me biting my nails as I wonder what stories she'll think of spontaneously!)

Then, speaking of things I should never do spontaneously on air (sing!!), Anna wanted you to have the words to the song we couldn't remember on the show.

Be Present at Our Table Lord

Here are the words with blessings from our family to yours!

"Be present at our table, Lord. Be here and everywhere adored. These mercies bless and grant that we may strengthened for your service be. Amen." (For those who are musically talented, go to the Lutheran Service Book Pg #755  for the music.)

We love to hear from you!

What Thanksgiving and Christmas ideas will you share with us? In what ways has someone surprised you with a "blessed yes" to your invitations? What are your favorite holiday memories?

On a Personal Note:

Finally, to my dear friend and media consultant Sandra Beck: this is a shout out for all the marvelous ways you've had faith in this project from the beginning, even when I had serious doubts! Who else would have spent a year telling me podcasting would be fun, if I would just try? Not to mention doing a word-by-word edit on my first manuscript. You are a genius and no where is it more evident than in the patience department! No one else had the experience and media savvy to know the best topics, best guests, and best way to get me to relax and get real. If I could afford TWO MILLION red roses, they'd be on your doorstep today, dear one! I'm thanking God for YOU!

You can sign up for our blog by clicking here.

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

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Dense Breast Tissue and Henda’s Law with Henda Salmeron

Henda Salmeron, Henda's LawTen years makes a big difference in the life of children, especially when their mom has cancer. Ten years ago, Henda Salmeron was diagnosed with breast cancer, hidden on the mammograms due to Dense Breast Tissue. Almost immediately after the diagnosis, she had a heart attack. Life seemed bleak, but she wasn’t done yet; thank you very much!

Dense Breast Tissue Victory

She is perhaps best known for Henda’s Law, a Texas law that requires health care providers to inform patients of their risk due to Dense Breast Tissue. Along with the victory in Texas, many states have similar laws, but not all. Still, after all she’s been through, the sweetest victories is the additional time spent with her kids.

“I am looking forward to next year when I celebrate my 10-year survival,” says Henda, 

Women with a Mission

She understands how it feels to get slammed with an unwanted diagnosis.

“I felt like a preprogrammed robot each morning: shower, dress, feed the kids, do the laundry, show houses, sell houses, shop for groceries, smile, smile, and smile. (Yelling, shouting, and screaming were not algorithms allowed in the code),” she says in her book, Grit Under My Nails. Now, Henda is creating momentum for a mission on behalf of women across our nation, especially in the Armed Forces. If, like me, you’ve been notified of your status when it comes to Dense Breast Tissue, we can thank Henda and all the women and men who have stepped up to help. But, the work is not finished.

For example, since the Armed Forces are not governed according to state law, but national laws, health care providers are not required to notify women in the military if they have a greater risk of breast cancer due to Dense Breast Tissue. (This really bugs me, since they defend our freedom.) So, Henda is taking making the case for national laws, in order that standard of care becomes notifying all women of their status.

When Your Body Betrays You

Victory and joy are two words that describe Henda’s life now, so I was fascinated to ask her how she combatted the anxiety and depression that followed her double health crisis. Henda shared vulnerably about surviving when your body has betrayed you on recent episodes of Fireside Talk Radio.

Accidental Lobbyist

Determined that no other women would be surprised by a diagnosis, Henda devoted herself to getting the state laws changed. This became on way she fought back to live a full, adventurous life. She bought a whole new pink wardrobe, think “pink lady.” As an accidental volunteer lobbyist, she wandered the halls of the Texas capitol, which ironically, is made of pink granite, cornering anyone who would listen.

“I was so angry that someone’s lack of care might cost me my life. That’s when I swore I would change the standard of care,” Henda says. Another part of her personal recovery, physically and emotionally, was running a 100 mile, 5 day race in the Himalayas. Training gave her a way to process within herself.

The Therapy of Being Alone with Her Thoughts
Henda Victorious, CathyKrafve.com

“I learned to be patiently alone with my thoughts. All of them. After about three months and lots of miles together, we became somewhat friends. Not close friends,” laughs Henda now, “I was still mad at them for disintegrating to where I had to go run 100 miles in India to restore our togetherness. But we were making progress.”

Self-Advocates

If you search Henda’s social media, you’ll discover her success as an author, serial entrepreneur, real estate broker, lobbyist, philanthropist, just to name a few. So what advice does she give other women?

“We need to be advocates for ourselves, not depend on others to advocate for us.”

Joy: Life is Best When Shared

With so many accomplishments, what gives her the most joy?

“More than anything I’m my kids’ mom. They are the kindest most wonderful people,” she says, “By being their mom, it healed so many wounds with my own mother. They humble me every day with their love and acceptance, warts and all.”

She adds that she opted out of reconstruction because she loves her scars, calling them her “medal of overcoming.” For a free excerpt from Henda’s book, go to Henda’s Law and sign the petition to make notification of Dense Breast Tissue a national standard fo care.

May I pray for you?

Father in heaven, I know some folks are reading this because they are facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Maybe they searched Dense Breast Tissue. Perhaps shock has turned their brain to fog, wondering how they will make it through today. I pray now that Your great love would be their comfort; that they would experience Your presence in the place where crisis tries to claim our hearts. Today, I pray they would find courage and strength as my friend Henda did. Show them the personal mission You have for them and the ones who love them. Give them a vision for how their life can be filled with victory and joy in their new reality. Heal their bodies and give them hope. Thank you for all who surround them with help and comfort. Give their doctors wisdom and exceptional skill. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

We love to hear from you!

How have you pressed through to victory? What tips do you have for someone facing a crisis? How has a friend offered you the simplest, most loving help?

You can sign up for our blog by clicking here.

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

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Mom, Daughters, and Breast Cancer, with Sasha Vukelja, Care Giving

Her original plan was to treat lepers. Mom, daughters, and breast cancer were not words she ever thought to hear in the same sentence.

“When I realized that there was no more leprosy. What else? In many ways, cancer is like a modern leprosy. You have something no one wants. It disfigures you,” says Sasha Vukelja, or Dr. V, as her patients lovingly call her.

Moms, Daughters, and Breast Cancer

Sasha came on Fireside Talk Radio recently to talk to me about how we can comfort friends who are diagnosed with breast cancer. (For those podcasts, click here.) Breast cancer can seem especially threatening for the whole family since daughters may also be subject to risk. 

“The first things that go through the daughter’s mind: Is mom going to be alive? Would I get breast cancer?”

Facing the Truth with Joy

Since breast cancer affects the whole family, not just the patient, Sasha coaches her patients to live joyfully now. Also, she always counsels women to hold onto their identity.

“They are who they are. This is an extra part of the journey that can draw so much out (of life),” she says, emphasizing how important it is to stay in this moment with joy. Tell the truth to family members, especially young children, without minimizing, she says, because, “if you don’t tell them, their imagination will carry them places you may never go.”

Sasha's Own Mother's Courage and Creativity

An immigrant to America, Sasha credits her own mother with setting a high standard of dedication, courage, and joy. 

“She (Sasha’s mother) always said, ‘Art is a medicine and medicine is an art.’” Sasha developed a deep, life-long reverence for her amazing mother, a gifted artist.

“Her biggest desire was to express her belief; freedom of speech. So, she packed up and brought me to this country through many, many other countries because she wanted me to enjoy freedom of speech; to be free to express my beliefs. She was a tough woman to do this, not knowing any English and not knowing anyone here.”

How to Respond When Your Friend has Breast Cancer

Sasha says that those who want to comfort a friend can respond to the news in three ways: 1) they can talk about it, 2) they can change the subject if the patient prefers a welcome distraction, or 3) sometimes, they may choose to say nothing. 

“Just give a hug. Just be there. Don’t minimize it. How can you minimize it? Let’s face it, (cancer) is there,” she says, adding that sensitivity is the key. “There are times when they want to show you their scars.”  

Join the Team

Sasha, part of Texas Oncology, likes to think of herself as a medical coach. She recommends letting everyone, family and friends, join the patient's team by giving them a way to help. Small children can wash their hands, keep their rooms clean, and be flexible since they will probably have more babysitters as mom goes in for tests and treatments. 

Adults can find ways to help, too, especially with the changes the patient will be facing with her own body. For instance, since feet often need special care during chemo, one family member can rub Mom’s feet frequently.

Celebrating Victories and Soft New Hair

“People love to laugh,” which Sasha calls inner jogging. Shown in the picture as she "wins" a cake at a 

recent fundraiser supporting Bethesda Health Clinic, Sasha epitomizes living joyfully in the moment and making life fun for everyone around her.

With zealous fervor, she encourages physical exercise, too. She’s also devoted to prayer as a mandatory part of her patients’ treatment plans.

“Prayer is inexpensive, actually it’s free. You don’t need special equipment. It doesn’t cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss.” Celebrate the little victories together, she says, like when hair falls out (“that means the treatment is working”) and when it comes back. 

“Sometimes you may want  touch their hair,” she laughs, adding, “Once you touch their hair, it’s impossible to keep your hands out of it, it’s so soft!”

Six months or a year from now, they’ll still be on the journey, so pace your attention and remember to check back in, says the good doctor. Most of all, cherish the small victories all along the way together. 

 

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, especially when we feel afraid, You love us and hold us close. You are a constant source of comfort, and yet, sometimes we wonder if You care at all. Today, we ask for You to open our eyes to see the good people You put in our path on this journey. Help us identify the ways You find to surround us with Your love, expressed through the kindness of others. Give health and strength to those who need it as they fight the battle of cancer. Surround their family with those who will pray and laugh and find joy together in the moment. We ask for Your blessings today because it is Your heart's desire to pour out blessings on us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

When has someone said or done the perfect thing to help you in your journey? How have you faced down fears about cancer? What sacred story would you like to share?

You can sign up for our blog by clicking here.

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

 

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Generosity as an Inheritance with Dawn Franks

If money is the hardest thing to talk about in  families, like me, you may jump for joy when you hear of resources that take the sting out of that tough topic. Why not start with how generosity could look in your family? 

Generational Generosity 

Generosity is a natural gift in all humans, according to expert, Dawn Franks. If so, the next question is how do we cultivate generosity in our family? Dawn, President and CEO of Your Philanthropyhad a lot to say about how generosity on a recent episode ofFireside Talk Radio. In fact, she says generosity can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Gifting Appaloosas

Dawn credits her grandfather for one of her earliest memories of what it means to be generous. He raised Appaloosa horses, when he wasn’t conducting trains for the Cotton Belt Railway. With a core group of young people who helped him, he modeled dedication. 

“Three of those individuals grew to be so close to my grandfather that he actually gifted them a horse. I watched him give these young adults their horses as they went off to college. They took (the horses) with them to college,” Dawn says. 

She adds it was an incredible act of generosity on her grandfather’s part because “we’re not talking about a family with a lot of resources.” It would be years before she fully appreciated all that it meant to those young people or to her grandparents. Even so, the lesson was not lost on the little granddaughter.

Giving Fingerprints: Maximize Your Impact on the Causes Closest to Your Heart

You know how I love free stuff. So, guess what? Dawn's new book, Giving Fingerprints, is now available at Your Philanthropy and yep, it's free!! One of my favorite things about Dawn: her ideas are always practical. Just like her new book, Giving Fingerprints. In it, Dawn mentions 6 ways a unique brand of giving can help you. Your giving brand can:

#1 Impact your career,

#2 Help position your business,

#3 Strengthen family relationships,

#4 Start new friendships,

#5 Deepen your understanding of community, and

#6 Help you become an expert in specific areas you care deeply about.

Getting Started is Easy

Do those reasons pique your curiosity about your own giving brand? If so, it’s easy to get started. In Dawn’s new book, she spells out a simple step-by-step process to identify the values you most treasure when giving. In 30 minutes or less, you can know the values that are your own personal giving fingerprints.

“We all have a place in our hearts where we know this gift is the one that shoots off the fireworks,” she laughs when asked about recognizing the values that matter most. She loves it when families do the worksheets in her book together, as my own family has done. “When you ask them to identify the values that matter to them, there are always words that are similar and words that are different.”

Conversational Adventure for the Whole Family

By getting the family talking in such a nonthreatening way, each person makes a significant contribution to the conversation. Differences can be explored and esteemed. Plus, helping folks know what they value when giving has a way of boosting confidence, according to Dawn. Of course, confidence and collaboration are values we all want in our families. 

Just like a small child who brings a dandelion in for mom, we can all get back in touch with our natural generosity, that way of giving that gives us joy. 

“Joy is almost impossible to describe,” says Dawn, yet the word has an innate meaning, Our heart recognizes when we give in the way that makes our heart happy.

May I pray for you?

Heavenly Father, You are so different from any earthly father that we must recognize Your generosity is beyond our comprehension. For those whose earthly families enjoyed generous hearts growing up, we thank You. Others may wish to do something different from what they experienced growing up, so we ask for Your guidance now. How does it look to give joyfully, the way You give? Sacrifice is not our favorite word. We need Your help, O Lord. Open our eyes today to the ways You bless us. We want to be grateful, responsive people. Let us be people who pass along blessings as we go about our day. In Jesus name. Amen.

We love hearing from YOU!!

Who inspired your generous heart? What story do you treasure about generosity? In your family, which things seem to be working to pass generosity on to another generation?

Please sign up for my blog by clicking here.

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

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5 Tips for More Energy and the Mindfulness Triathlon with Colleen Long

Colleen Long (shown left with her husband at the recent Bethesda Bash) didn’t set out to change the stigma around mental illness. A mindfulness triathlon was not on her radar. In fact, she was pretty busy being an amazing wife, mom, professional financial advisor, yep, all around awesome human. (My words, not hers.)

Sometimes Depression and Anxiety Find Us

Like most women, she noticed dips in her sense of well-being along the way. But, between college, career, and family, what woman has time to focus on herself? However, life has a way of catching up with us all. 

A miscarriage stopped Colleen in her tracks.

“I wasn’t really sure how to process it (the emotional pain that goes with miscarriage),” says Colleen, “I found myself, or what I should say is, yoga and meditation found me. It was a beautiful way for me to handle my grief and depression.”

The Stigma

Her experience taught her a whole bunch about how important mental health can be. In fact, Colleen discovered, like so many of us, that there’s a stigma attached to truthful words like depression and anxiety.

Five Tips for Renewed Energy

Based on what she’s learned, she offers some great tips for renewing our energy.

#1 Exercise. Stretching ourselves physically has emotional and spiritual benefits, too. Plus, according to Colleen, accomplishing physical goals, even small ones, creates confidence that spills over into all parts of our life.

#2 Take Every Thought Captive. Be aware of the “gremlins” as Brene Brown calls them; those negative thoughts which attack us all.

#3 Practice Self-Compassion. Keep in mind that you are worthy. Treat yourself as kindly as you treat others.

#4 Keep Stretching. Let growing confidence and self-worth inform your desire to step up for new adventures.

#5 Find Community. Stretch into the adventure of finding a new group of people who share your interests.

Hope in Community

“You gotta learn to love yourself. We need each other,” Colleen says, “Sometimes, it takes other people to help us get there. Sometimes, it takes us being okay by ourselves to get there. There’s no perfect way to do it. But hope is available.”

In her personal journey, Colleen learned a lot about compassion and the stigma of trying to talk to others about so-called “negative” emotions. She developed a deep conviction to take on the stigma. Plus, she learned to treasure community. Thus, she’s pulled together a whole team of people to create Tyler’s first Mindfulness Tri.

What’s a Mindfulness Triathlon?

A regular triathlon is a three-part race that includes running, biking and swimming. So, what is the Mindfulness Tri? It’s a triathlon composed of running (walking or rolling), yoga, and meditation. No swim suits, what a relief! In fact, anyone can step up and participate; there are no physical limits, just a loving community coming together.

East Texas’s first Mindfulness Tri, at True Vine Brewery, is Saturday, October 27th from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Vendors will be gathered to help you connect with services for your family or so you can help others.

To Sign Up

Register with this code, KRAFVE5, and you get a $5 discount on your registration. (Thank you, Colleen, for that sweet bonus to my friends!)

“People are showing up. They’re asking, how can we show support? How can we help? What can we do to spread awareness? They want to remove the stigma,” Colleen says.

To Fight the Stigma in Your Community

As soon as the Mindfulness Tri crosses the finish line, Colleen promised to come up with a planning timetable for those who would like to bring a similar event to their communities. When its ready, I’ll have it free on CathyKrafve.com. To hear more ideas from Colleen about how to regain equilibrium after a life-event like a miscarriage or postpartum, find her podcasts on Fireside Talk Radio.

I’m so thankful to Colleen for sharing her story and wisdom. To all the heroic people we know, thank you for being true to God’s purpose in your life today! Stay tuned here for more adventures!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You care about every cell in our bodies and every pain we experience. You designed us to be in community with You and others. Help us, O Lord, because sometimes we feel we simply can’t go another day. Give us energy for today’s journey. Make us aware of those who are in pain near us. Help us understand how to reach out and encourage ourselves and others. Thank you for this effort to remove the stigma around mental illness and spread compassion in its place. We are Your grateful children. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How have you overcome stigma and reached out for health? What tips do you have for self-care and self-compassion? Do you have a story that involves exercise?

You can sign up for my blog by clicking here.

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

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Family Values and Peace at Home with Benjamin A. Simpson

Ben and Molly were the most unlikely pair to fall in love. Whoever heard of a Baptist preacher married to a Methodist minister? To establish peace at home takes work in any family, but, my, what a brave couple! It turns out peace at home is just a byproduct of living out a set of unifying family values. Benjamin A. Simpson describes peace at home as a way of measuring if they're hitting the mark when it comes to their family values. Family values are the very thing I was eager to ask Ben about, but first, how in the world did these two pastors find each other

"Bearing" with Each Other

Ben and Molly met on Baylor University’s campus and started as friends, both determined to be true to the calling God had already established in their individual hearts. Even so, in a miracle of unity that cherishes differences, they fell in love. (Baylor's mascot is the bear for those who don't follow Texas football. Thus, my awful pun!) As friendship turned to love, they found they were already embracing a life of bringing people together in community.

Honoring Each Other's Calling and Traditions

“What we’ve sought to do was support and honor one another within our respective callings and our respective traditions,” says Ben, “That means, in whatever Christian community we’ve been in, we’ve brought those things with us. We’ve learned and grown. We’ve encouraged each other mutually, along with the people we’ve gotten to serve.”

Along the way, their separate callings to serve melded, becoming a beautiful picture of what God can do. As their understanding of peace at home grew, so did their influence and leadership roles. With many conversations over the years, a set of family values emerged, expressing their joint purpose in life.

Family Values for Peace at Home

So, guess what Ben did next? Yep, Benjamin A. Simpson, writer, blogger, and spiritual scholar, wrote down the family values developed in his family life with Molly and their children. If your next question is, how can I get my hands on that document, look for “Tallying Family Values”on Ben’s website. (By the way, Ben is not the only communicator in the family. Soon, you will be able to hear more from Molly on her new website, Pastor Molly.)     

Ben came on Fireside Talk Radio recently and wowed me with all his practical insight about being intentional in family life. Peace at home follows family values that reflect our true priorities. Remarkably, even for normal people without seminary training, establishing a set of family values is pretty simple.

Asking Good Questions

In fact, flourishing as a family can be as simple as having a conversation that includes asking good questions and making a list, according to Ben. “Is my family thriving? Is there a way I can serve them?” are two of Ben’s favorite questions.

“When I ask that question (about thriving), I’m included, too,” he adds. “Obviously, it is about Molly. It’s about my children. But I also ask, do I have the things I need to flourish as well? The more that I’m at peace, the better I am able to serve them.” He thinks of peace in the Jewish tradition of shalom, meaning wholeness.

Peace at Home as a Marker of Wholeness

“‘Peace at home’ is a critical marker for how we are doing, says Ben. ‘Peace’ involves each person and the entire unit. We have to evaluate how we are doing physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. And peace begins with me.”

Finally, if you're a Baylor bear fan, you’ll especially love the story he shared about asking Molly to marry him. Or, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live with a baby North American black bear in your apartment, find our podcasts on Fireside Talk Radio.   

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You are the One who set the stars and planets on their path. You designed all nature, including bears and their cubs. You are trustworthy with all things that affect our family. So, now we turn to you and ask You what you would have us value. Help us identify the things that matter to our own families. Give us a heart of gratitude and peace. Strengthen us for the battles all families face. Bless our beloved children with good health, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Give us Your peace. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How has your family established family values? In what ways do you see peace and family values tied together in your life? Would you share a story about a time when values and peace (or turmoil) came together for you?

You can sign up for my blog by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author, focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

 

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Unity in Community. The Spiritual Side of Public Service, with Neil Katz

In what role can peacemaker, trendsetter, community servant, religious thought leader, scholar, musician, and elected official all combine? Why, rabbi, of course! (I bet you didn’t see that one coming!)

Rabbi Neil Katz (shown with his beloved wife, Jen) may be breaking some stereotypes lately about public service, but he claims a rabbi in public office is a natural progression of expressing servanthood in community leadership.

Public Service as an Unexpectedly Spiritual Expression of Faith

“I’m a little contrarian to people who tell me it can’t be done; (that attitude) energizes me to try,” laughs Rabbi Neil about his tendency to stick up for the underdog or do the unexpected. “More to the point, I’m actually led by how great this community is and how great it can be.”

Neil serves as rabbi at Congregation Bethel in Tyler, Texas. He came on Fireside Talk Radio recently to answer my questions about the history of separation of church and state. So, what about the modern doctrine of separation of church and state? With his unique perspective and humor, he offered insight about stewardship, public service, and what it means to be an elder.

United by the Challenge of Practical Solutions

“No one knows what their expiration date is,” he chuckles, “with the limited time we have on earth, let’s make it the most peaceful and beautiful place it can be.” Interestingly, he shared a story about serving on a nonprofit board with both far-right Republicans and far-left Democrats. Political differences vanished in the face of meeting challenges together for the betterment of our community.

“At the end of the day, no one cared,” he says because unity is nurtured around finding practical solutions.

Opening Conversations About God with Compassion

He also gave me a quick lesson on Predicate Theology, which involves moving God from the subject of the sentence to the predicate. (You know how I love grammar!) For instance, we try to describe God, saying God is righteous. Instead, he suggests saying that righteousness is godly, in order to open up engaging conversations with anyone. This allows us to talk freely about being in community with each other and with God.

Spiritual thinking captivated his imagination from the time he was a young man. He met his wife Jen when they were still in high school.

The Rockin’ Rabbi and His High School Sweetheart

“Jenny has always been the smarter of the two of us. She’s been a phenomenal mom,” he says, his voice turning tender, “We’ve always been partners. It’s been wonderful.”

He loves serving with her by his side. Even as a youth, he served, bringing his unique blend of spiritual scholarship and down-to-earth practicality to everything. 

“When you get to move outside your congregation, you get to see different styles of leadership,” he laughs, “You go to camp and see a rabbi in shorts playing music.” As the self-proclaimed “rockin’ rabbi,” his songwriting highlights his love of traditional Jewish music.

Generosity and Listening

When it comes to uniting our community around serving others, Neil has plenty to say.  “We’re actually more generous than we give ourselves credit for.” If you’ve ever wondered what it means when a community unites to listen to each other, you may want to check out the rest of Neil’s ideas. Or, you can click here to hear the full podcasts and all that Neil shared.

Will you join me in praying for our leaders?

Dear Father in heaven, You are ruler of all. You are compassionate and full of mercy, yet just. This truth is beyond our comprehension, but we can say with joy that compassion, mercy, and justice are godly traits! We honor You now, recognizing Your unique nature and wisdom. Have mercy on us, O Lord, and allow our leaders to be wise as You are wise. Give them wisdom, Your wisdom. For our children’s sake, preserve our democratic nation to Your glory. Thank You for the peace we enjoy. Teach us to be wise stewards of all Your blessings, O Lord. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

On a personal note

Rabbi Neil was so kind to instruct me on public prayer when I called him on a Friday afternoon about a year ago. I had to pray in a public setting and needed advice. And yep, I forgot the Sabbath starts on Friday at sunset! Yet, this kind gentleman took time to talk in depth with me about prayer. My questions revolved around how to create a public prayer that respected divergent views, yet honored the One whom I trust for my salvation.

The above prayer is formatted in my usual way for a blog that is a personal expression of my faith. No disrespect is intended. I know Rabbi Neil makes a point of honoring other perspectives and will not take offense. In fact, he has promised to come back to Fireside Talk Radio to talk about prayer together. So, stay tuned for more conversational adventures right here coming soon!

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Raising Creative Kids: Giving Them a Childhood Filled with Wonder, with Whitney Patterson

“Right now, my daughter is very into butterflies and bugs. We’re always looking them up and making charts,” she laughs.

A Childhood Filled with Wonder

Discovery Science Place is the epitome of a place where fun and play inspire a passion for life-long learning in kids of all ages, including grandparents like me. If you want to know more about DSP or make a donation, click here

So, what does it take to give our kiddos a childhood filled with wonder? Knowing that Whitney comes from a family of dynamic, joyful women, I couldn’t wait to get her on Fireside Talk Radio and ask her what it takes to inspire passion for life-long learning in our homes.

Whitney’s List of Inspiration for Life-long Learning 

#1 Whitney says her mom was never restricted by limitations. “She got her hands into everything,” she laughs.

#2 Her mom was very inquisitive. Seeing their mom’s joy in learning “inspired us at a very early age” to be inquisitive as well.

#3 Plan family vacations around learning.  Her mom planned “fun, creative things along the way with every trip.” Sometimes, the cheapest vacations were the very best, she says.

#4 Creating memories that inspire them to want to learn more was a hallmark of her childhood, she adds.

#5 Do the things that may seem different from everyone else’s perspective.

Innovation and Creativity Fostered Here

Once Whitney mentioned it, I realized innovation and creativity are fostered in families when we think, travel, and play outside the box. In fact, the “different” stuff about a family can be the very things that mean our kids grow up to be the unique, engaging people God intended them to be.

Don’t Overcommit Your Family

Finally, Whitney offers one more valuable bit of wisdom she gathered along the way: Don’t overcommit your schedule.

“Not to discount organized activities, we just found that we were so busy we spent some evenings without looking each other in the eye. You have to limit (outside activities) or they just take over,” she says. “I’m starting to see a couple of my friends who are doing the same thing. She suggests church as an ideal place to find other families who want to meet up and relax together. Un-programmed moments are healthy for young families to cultivate imaginative hearts, according to Whitney. For young moms out there that feel overwhelmed  with busy schedules, Whitney’s words are a relief.

Inspiring Collaboration Among Community Partners

Whitney also did an episode with me about how nonprofits and educational institutions can collaborate, Fostering a Community Filled with Scientific Discovery. This is one of Whitney’s special skill sets, so don’t miss her wisdom if you want to influence your own community in exponential ways.

May we pray together?

Father in heaven, all around us, we see proof of Your creative Spirit. What an amazing Creator You are, O Lord. We praise You. Thank you for giving us another generation of young people who can experience joy in creativity and innovation. What do You have for us to enjoy today, dear One? How can we honor You in our most creative and joyful expressions? Teach us to reflect Your glory and love. Help us collaborate together for the benefit of all. Give us wisdom as we inspire those around us, especially those we love in our own families and communities. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What is happening currently in your community that inspires you? How did creativity blossom in your family when you were growing up? Is there a special way you encourage your kids to innovate?

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Sustainability, Gardening, the Bible, and, What Weeds? with James Van Dyke

When James Van Dyke (shown with his adorable wife) came on Fireside Talk Radio lately to talk about entrepreneurship, I was giddy with excitement. I might not get compost, but entrepreneurship stirs my heart. Plus, I have a long history with gardening sustainability. 

The Right Spot

Once, when I was a kid, my dad let me pick out seed packets and a new trowel. The only thing Dad didn’t let me choose was my spot in the yard.

“Dad, this is the dogs’ pen!” I exclaimed in dismay.

“Yes, but I’m not sure you’ll remember to weed your flower bed. If you take care of this one, next year I’ll give you a spot other people can enjoy, too,” he responded with a twinkle in his eye.

Weeds? What Weeds?

Two months later, Dad asked me if I had checked on my garden. Nope, not once. I hurried out to the spot, delighted to discover a flower bed brimming with marigolds, inpatients, and petunias in profusions of colors – all surrounded by a healthy bouquet of weeds! Apparently, the dogs provided sublime organic fertilizer.

Fertile Ground

I love what James is doing as a young businessman with Texas Organics. Plus, there’s that side business of flipping houses with his amazing wife. Not to mention raising their darling small children.He makes entrepreneurship look easy, even when I know better! Yep, life is blossoming under James’s loving attention and hard work. 

Stewardship and Sustainability

Stewardship, according to James, is a guiding principle when it comes to entrepreneurship. An environmental scientist, he explained how he’s learned to appreciate the process of culling, replenishing, and germination.

For example, he told of one field that wouldn’t grow a thing. The story has a happily-ever-after ending, though, because now it’s fertile and flourishing.

Hydrogen, carbon, and all that fancy chemistry stuff graced our conversation, as he inspired me with tales of reclaimed fields, organic compost, and soil samples. Best of all, having given a lot of thought to sustainability, he took a moment to offer some specific spiritual insight.

Principles For Stewarding in Business and Life

“I would say stewardship is the opportunity to maintain and care for the things around you, with sustainability in mind. That sounds pretty cheesy,” he laughed, adding, “to make something sustainable” is key. Here’re some choice things James shared about stewarding companies, the land, and relationships with customers. (To hear James’s entire podcastsclick here.)

#1 Being a good steward is the most profitable option. As an example of how smart business people think, he noted that the timber industry in East Texas replants because it’s in everybody’s best interests, especially theirs.

#2 Business thrives on efficiency. Whatever industry you’re in recycling ends up being the most efficient way to increase profits, according to James.

#3 Problem solving serves your customers. James says the mindset, “I’m a problem solver; that’s when you develop a relationship with customers.”

#4 Steward relationships for sustainability, too. Stewardship includes building strong customer relationships by taking care of needs, according to James.

May we all take heed from our loamy East Texas soil and this wise young entrepreneur and grow!

In Other News: 

Checklist Charlie, my column which just hit its eleventh birthday last June, gained a new home on-line in the Tri County Leader. At the Tri County Leader, it’s the same staff you trust and see at Brookshires or the Post Office. As always, their commitment to good old fashioned reporting and real news coverage continues for a great big chunk of East Texas. Please support this local bastion of accountability by subscribing. (No one pays me to say that, I just think our democracy needs trustworthy reporting.)

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, so many people are taking the risk of becoming independent through entrepreneurship. I ask now for Your blessing on their efforts to steward their lives in ways that honors You. May we treat all around us with loving respect. Help us take note of Your creative design for sustaining not only the physical stuff in our life, but also our relationships. Teach us to serve as Your beloved Son served, with a heart to do what is best for others. Bless our efforts, O Lord, that we may care for our families. Please bless especially those with young children. Give young entrepreneurs grace, strength,, and courage as they face daily challenges. We ask in Jesus name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What makes your heart happy in the garden? When you think of sustainability and entrepreneurship, what new idea are you wanting to try? Since James and other environmental scientists get giddy over good soil, what are you doing to keep your heart rich and ready to grow?

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Relationship Superheroes: Beyond Brokenness with Suzy Shepherd

Suzy Shepherd, CathyKrafve.comI drove 450 miles to meet Suzy Shepherd; two of us Texas gals in Missouri brought together by a love of communicating good news. She shared of being broken when her first marriage failed.

Beyond Brokenness

At that point, she turned to God to put all her relationships in order. Now, she’s rockin’ a blended family. If that’s not enough, Suzy’s life is full of friendships and relationships all over the place. So, how do we get beyond brokenness?

God Raises Up Saints to Pass Along Good News

It’s encouraging to know God is raising up saints to spread good ideas about relationships in a culture that’s overdosing on fear and foolishness. Suzy and I are both in Christian Communicators’ graduating Class of 2018. I couldn’t wait to get back home and get Suzy on Fireside Talk Radio to share her wisdom.

God Meets Us in Our Brokenness

Suzy shared how brokenness can be a place where we meet God in a new and tender way. She learned this when her own life came crumbling down around her. Getting beyond brokenness can be as simple as turning to God and friends for insight.

“We’re going to fail as mamas,” laughs Suzy, for instance, about the inevitable challenges we all face. Immediately in our shows, she mentioned the support and necessity of good women in our lives. Hallelujah and Amen, Sister!

Connectedness to Get Beyond Brokenness

Her personal story of brokenness led her to discover the beautiful ways God pursues connection with each of us, and in turn, He invites us to connect with those around us. Connectedness can apply to all our relationships, according to Suzy, if we start practicing principles that work.

Suzy is founder of The Sisterhood and Divisional Director for Stonecroft, so she’s an expert on creating connections. She spends her days helping women connect in meaningful ways to others and to Jesus. 

The Four Principles

A gifted communicator, Suzy turned her sorrow into victory for everyone else in a new book called, The Four Principles. Just this past May, the book became a national simulcast called “Where Love Lives,” as women tuned in to hear how to jump start their relationships. Pretty cool, stuff!

Love is the ungirding power that underlies all relationships, according to Suzy. The Four Principles include:

#1 Love seeks relationships. “We are created to be interdependent. We are wired to need relationships,” says Suzy.

#2 Love desires wholeness. “You are looking for wholeness for that other person,” says Suzy about wanting what is best for those we love.

#3 Love moves first. “Love initiates,” she says, adding, “Love moves toward those we are in relationship with.”

#4 Love gives life. “It’s easy to take offense. Its easy to take issue,” says Suzy, but, “when we see God in these principles, then we have a beautiful model for all relationships.”

Their Special “Blend”

Suzy refers to her blended family like a special mix of coffee. With nine kiddos between them and a big mix of relatives, Suzy and her hubby get to practice the four relationship principles on a daily basis. You can find our podcasts at CathyKrafve.comShe chuckles when I ask her about how they manage their unique family blend. “We’ve resigned ourselves to the idea that laundry and dishes are forever,” she laughs.

“Love is Life,” she says, summing up how our Father’s love can become a conduit for loving others. I hope you will check out more from Suzy at https://suzyshepherd.com/.

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Raising Creative Kids: The Written Word Sparks Imagination with Sandra Merville Hart

 

Sandra Merville Hart, CathyKrafve.comTo understand how excited I was to have Sandra Merville Hart as a guest on Fireside Talk Radio, you have to know how much I love educating about history through story-telling. Sandra writes some of the best historical fiction I’ve read lately. Her pristine handling of the written word sparks imagination.

Civil War or the War Between the States?

Whether you call it the Civil War or the War Between the States, I bet you’ll enjoy her latest book, A Rebel in My House. Don’t let the romance novel book cover, fool ya. There’s a love story all right, but the story is fast-paced entertainment with dramatic flair is a perfect example of how the written word sparks imagination.

The Written Word Sparks Imagination

Sandra did her homework in this perceptive telling of the battle around Gettysburg, so we can relax. I love it when a fun read educates me. 

To me, this is one of the best uses of imagination: enhancing empathy by letting folks try out other perspectives in an engaging story. My family loves the arts, like the written word, mixed with imagination. Children especially benefit when parents let books spark their own imagination, too.

Raising Creative Kids Takes Parent Imagination, Too

World-class imaginers, my kids and their friends inhabited a world where pirates captured space ships floating in the canal across from our house. Canoes were patched with duck tape until the next capsize. Indians and cowboys defended our tree fort. Kings and queens issued royal decrees to knights prepared to defend honour to the death (by plastic sword).

Sandra endorses being alert to all the ways your creative child may already express their imagination. “I expressed a strong interest in writing as a child,” she says.

To Spark the Creative Urge in Your Child

If you’re raising a natural-born story-teller Sandra shares these thoughts on how to best encourage your creative child’s gifts.

“I would have loved to visit libraries when authors were speaking. Author events at bookstores, museums, or schools might have allowed me to meet others who achieved my dream and encouraged me. Look for writing classes for kids at the library or school,” she says.

Of course, don’t overlook simple encouragements. “If my parents had given me a desk, writing supplies, and a quiet place to write, I’d have been on my way,” says Sandra.

For the Visual or Tactile Child

Art museum visits, painting parties, birthday party at pottery places; Sandra’s imagination begins to tick off ideas about how to encourage the creative child who tends to be visual or tactile.

“What if your child draws cartoons in their free time? Parents can research the creative journey of someone like Charles Schulz, creator of Charlie Brown and Lucy and Linus, to find ways to help them develop his or her abilities,” says Sandra.

Finally, Sandra closes with this wisdom: “Encourage them. Praise their efforts. Allow them to try something new and fail and learn how to pick themselves up to try again. Your attitude makes a HUGE difference.” For more of our interview with this lovely creative author, look for our podcasts on CathyKrafve.com.

We love to hear from you!

What creative adventures with your kiddos exceeded your imagination? Any fails you might share for a laugh? Any creative dreams for the future?

May we pray together?

Dear Father in heaven, You are the great and amazing Creator, with endless imagination. You created us in Your image and we rejoice. What joy to be creative beings as You Yourself are! Thank You for letting us be like You in this. Inspire our imaginations with ideas and plans that will bless our families. Help us model creativity in all aspects of our lives, so our children can prosper. Thank You for gifting authors, like my friend Sandra, and many others to be proficient with the written word. We know You love the written word Yourself because You gave us the Bible. Thank You for those who taught us to read. In all this we are Your thankful people. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Cell 121: How to Respond When Your Child Goes to Jail with Lori Boruff

 

Lori Boruff, CathyKrafve.comHave you ever had “your own personal nine-eleven moment”? A personal nine-eleven is what my friend Lori Boruff called that crisis moment when she knew her son was arrested. When a child goes to jail, the pain is excruciating. But, in Lori’s case, there’s nothing but victory now.

The Painful Moment When a Child Goes to Jail

When they arrested her son, Rusty, leading him away from their home in handcuffs, Lori’s life direction changed instantly. Yet, she says, “God had plans for her family and “it was a good direction even in that painful moment.”

Many Families are Suffering

Sadly, I know many good families with parents who love their kids who are suffering because of a conviction. I’ve been praying about who could come on Fireside Talk Radio to answer questions about how to handle the sorrow when your child goes to jail. I wish I didn’t need this information. 

Lori is a nationally known speaker and one of three partners in Christian Communicators. I believe in answer to specific prayer. So, when I attended the 2018 Christian Communicators Conference and met Lori, it couldn’t be a coincidence. One of the things she shared with us was the way time in jail transformed her son, Rusty Boruff.

“Rusty spent many years as a homeless addict who eventually found himself sitting in Cell 121. He spent a year of his life behind bars and met Jesus there,” according to One Eighty, the ministry her son started to help others who’ve been to jail. By the way, the folks at One Eightyare very kind about answering questions, if you need someone to talk to in that intense moment.

Praying for A Child in Jail, Especially about Grief

In the midst of crisis, Lori began to pray for him from Psalm 121 once she saw the number on his cell. Now the leader God always intended, Rusty helps others rebuild their lives after incarceration through One Eighty.

Lori believes strongly that grief can be a crucial factor in making poor decisions that lead to arrest. She tells of her lightbulb moment as she listened to story after story. Blink! Could grief be the common denominator that sets a son or daughter onto a self-destructive path? Yes, says Lori. Parents need to be alert to signs their child is grieving.

If you know anyone who is going through this process, you will want to share Lori’s wisdom on our podcasts.

The Stress on Marriage

How did Lori hold her marriage together in such a strained moment?

“It came back to knowing that God loves my husband more than I do!” she laughs, and she prayed, “‘God, you’ve got him; I’ll just work on my heart.’” In retrospect, Lori says the crisis brought them closer and closer because she wasn’t “working out of a wounded heart all the time.”

What the Church Can Do

What can the church do to comfort those who are in shock because their child has been arrested?

“One of the most hurtful thing is to ignore it,” she says, “I loved it when we’d get a card in the mail.” You may not need to say just say the perfect thing, but acknowledge the hurt that is happening.  Lori suggests asking a simple, tender question: “What part of your heart is hurting?”

For myself, I want to say that you are not alone. Since we hear confidential stories all the time at Camp Krafve, we know people often feel alone and isolated. The truth is so different, though. Please don’t isolate yourself. You’ll be amazed at how folks want to help, if you just reach out.

We want to hear from you…

How have you found comfort in a crisis? Has someone encouraged you when you felt you were isolated and rejected? If your child has been arrested, how did your church offer you true help?

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, You love our children even more than we do. This week again we cried when we heard of another arrest. Have mercy on us, O Lord. Thank you for Rusty and Lori and their testimony of Your loving care in the midst of sorrow. You established order and gave us the law as a way to find Your Son, Jesus. In heaven and on earth, You reign. Your judgment is righteous and merciful. We turn to You for mercy. Oh, how we love You. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Joy and Justice in Education with Sarah Cumming: Can a School Give a City Joy?

Promise Academy Student, CathyKrafve.comOne of my favorite thought leaders, Sarah Cumming, the Head of Promise Academy, joined me recently to chat about how communities benefit when joy and justice team up.

Joy and Justice Together

Did it ever cross your mind that joy and justice could be byproducts of each other? Sure, everyone knows that joy happens when there is justice. But did you ever think joy could be the creative force behind righting injustice? Not me. At least not until Sarah prodded me to think deeper about how God’s Spirit permeates our lives with both joy and justice. Wow! I’d been praying for years about the pernicious self-segregating in our east Texas communities. It never once occurred to me that joy could be the solution to the generationally ingrained issue of injustice.

Joy-full, Healthy Communities

Sarah describes the best kind of communities, when joy enhances respect and justice, in an episode of Fireside Talk Radio, called Joy in Education, Justice for All.

“In a (healthy) community you come to things as equals. There’s not a skewed power dynamic. Joy says its good for us to be together and, as equals, to learn together,” says Sarah. She also shared insight about how students, donors, volunteers, teachers, parents, all benefit from a discipleship mindset.

Falling in Love

Just for fun, I got her to share her love story about how she and her hubby met and fell in love, in Joy in Education, For the Love of Community. Since I’ve known and respected Alan from his youth, their story feels like a Hallmark movie where I scored a minor cameo late in the show. If you’re wondering how Sarah and Alan developed a passion for the way education can be a spring board to joy and justice, you will want to tune in. Her ideas are a multifaceted blessing, especially in her own voice.

For the Joy of a City

Next question, have you ever thought that a school could be designed for “the joy of a city”? Promise Academy, is the dream of bringing Christian education to a part of Smith County that’s underserved, “for the joy of the city.”

“Christ-centered education of the highest academic standards should be accessible to all students, families and neighborhoods in Tyler regardless of geography, economics and social restrictions, and that the city will know God’s joy, unity and biblical justice through this pursuit. This holistic education — committed to the truth, discipline and values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — will affirm the promise of each student: that all persons are made in the image of God, created for God’s glory and endowed by him with the potential to acquire wisdom and knowledge. As such, Promise Academyjoins families to nurture kingdom-minded citizens who work for justice, economic opportunity, ethnic harmony, hope for the family and joy in their communities,” according to their website.

Back to School with Joy

With school around the corner, if you’re making decisions about how to best educate your children or encourage your grandchildren, check out what this wise educator and mom shares from her heart on our podcasts. May the kiddos we love see joy expressed in our lives!

We love to hear from you!

Please let us know what you’re up to. For instance, what are you doing to prepare your kiddos to return to school with joy? How did you stand strong in the face of injustice when you were a kid? What injustice today concerns you the most for the next generation?

Will you join me in prayer?

Dear Father in heaven, You are the One who establishes justice. Joy and justice are such a part of Your nature, that our human nature yearns for them, too. Make our hearts aware of injustice. Give us courage to speak boldly and compassionately for justice’s sake. Give us persistence and perseverance, O Lord. And most of all, give us Your joy! In Jesus’s name. Amen.

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Columnist, Speaker, Radio Host, and “almost” Author focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Freedom for Men: Winning the Battle for Purity with Dave Howe

Dave and Barb Howe CathyKrafve.comEvery where we look, only a phone screen away, it seems the porn battle has taken over our culture. Is there anything a woman can do to help safeguard the hearts of her sons and her husband?

Winning the Porn Battle

Would you go on the radio and talk about porn? If it meant our culture could win the porn battle, would your mind change? What would you do if you found a stash of porn on your spouse’s laptop or in a son’s drawer?

“In our groups we are getting men that are younger and younger. In fact, we are getting men who are twenty who have been looking at porn for ten years,” says author and speaker, Dave Howe.

Live Pure and Free
Live Pure and Free CathyKrafve.com

Fortunately for the rest of us, husband and wife team Dave and Barb Howe are sharing how to win the porn battle. These two brave souls came on Fireside Talk Radio recently to give us strategies that will work in our homes and churches. Dave is the author of Live Pure and Free, the 90-Day Game Changer. He can be reached at DaveHowe.org. Barb has a blog for those with a grandmother’s heart, Spiritual Legacy Memoir.

When A Wife Discovers Porn

“I was at a loss for what to do, but God is good,” says Barb, as the reality dawned on her that her beloved husband was struggling with porn. Instead of giving up or considering divorce, she took inspiration from other godly women. She searched the scripture for every reference about marriage she could find. Then, she began to pray those verses of truth over her marriage, trusting God to work in His own way.

Purity and Purpose

Within weeks, Dave came home and announced he had signed up for a men’s conference. At the conference in 2004, he began to reclaim his mind for God’s purpose and for purity.

“While I was going through (the group), I thought this is something we need back at my church.” Soon he was leading groups of men. Years later, with men successfully winning the battle against porn addiction in group after group, Dave shares some of the things that work best.

Help for the Weary

Even if your church does not yet offer help, “It’s critical for a guy to find an accountability partner,” Dave says. He recommends finding someone who can commit to a mentor-type relationship; someone who has a good relationship with his wife.

In fact, Dave’s book is perfect for small groups or personal use. It’s a workbook-style manual with chapters that include, The Man Cave, Armor in Place, and God Quest. Each inspiring chapter is so short, you could read it at a stop light (not that reading and driving is ever a good idea!)

For more of our interview, go to Fireside Talk Radio.

I’m so grateful for these two warrior-hearted souls, courageously taking on this hot-button topic. Dave brings his battlefield mentality to the challenge and he’s backed up by a prayer warrior wife. What a blessing for the rest of us!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father in heaven, we are overcome with images bombarding us in this world of technology. How can a family expect to find shelter from the deluge? We need You to give us minds that seek purity and purpose. Have mercy on us, O Lord, as we strive to protect our families from attack. Give us discipline to turn away from temptation. Surround us with friends and prayer warriors who will join the battle with us for purity. Teach us to value wholesomeness in all our relationships. Help us to see each other as Your children, brothers and sisters. Strengthen our marriages in every way, so that all our needs are met with intentional tenderness and loving respect. Protect our marriages and our children. We depend on You. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

You can sign up for my blog by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions atCathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Guys Feel Insecure? No Way! The Battle for Significance with Jon Drury

Jon Drury and Plane CathyKrafve.comImagine my joy when Jon Drury offered some insight on what men feel. He even offers examples of how guys' feelings of weakness might look to the rest of us. Jon is the author of one of my favorite books lately, Lord, I Feel So Small, Using God’s Yardstick to Conquer Self-Doubt.

When it comes to men, most women are like those actors on T.V. pretending to be a doctor. Sure, we may live with a hubby, raise sons, and study a boss’s vision. Truthfully though, most of the time, we’re only acting like we understand men. Sometimes, we forget that men battle for significance, too. Guys feel insecure? No way! 

The Battle for Significance

“What do you do with feelings of inadequacy?” Jon asks. Then, he immediately offers inspiration gleaned from his own personal search for significance, “God says He created us with weakness. God has provision for turning weakness into strength. It (acknowledging the truth about our feelings) can be a starting point for letting God strengthen us.”

Fr a video of Jon talking about significance, go to: https://youtu.be/ErCeEa06Vkc 
Successful Men Can Feel In Insignificant

I met Jon accidentally when I sat at his table at a writers conference, taking a chair intended for those who had been waiting in line for a chance to talk to him. Oops! I quickly discovered that he is not only a gentleman with a big heart, but he’s my favorite kind of human: real. By real, I mean, he confidently tells the truth about his own frailties and feelings of vulnerability. (We immediately taped the above video because I knew I wanted him to come on Fireside Talk Radio.)

Pilot and Pastor

Jon served in Vietnam as a pilot and pastored 40 years. He is a devoted husband and family man. Plus, he’s a leader among West coast writers. What in the world could this successful man possible know about feeling insignificant? Surprisingly, Jon shares that feelings of insignificance are common among successful men of any background.

What Wives Can Do

Jon shared a bunch of stuff about how wives can recognize when negative emotions may be short-circuiting their husbands when he came on Fireside Talk Radio.He offered practical ways women can encourage and pray for all the men in their lives.

Lord, I Feel So Small Jon Drury CathyKrafve.com

2 Tips for Cultivating Significance

According to Jon, two things will help men the most when it comes to getting a grip on their sense of significance: 

1) Diffuse The Lies.“The Lord had to take me to the scriptures to find and discover the truth,” he says. Sadly, I don’t have space here, but Jon extensively and specifically lists lies men believe on our podcasts. Wow! Great stuff! Please check those out at Fireside Talk Radio.

2) Find Men Friends. “Certainly, if guys can find and bond with other guys that will help,” he says. In his book, available on Amazon.com, he goes into depth about the fear that can keep men isolated. 

Finally, I want to thank Jon for sharing so openly. Who would ever believe successful men often feel insecure or afraid or weak? Yet, many successful guys fight to remember the truth about their own God-given significance. The battle is real. Jon's insight is invaluable for all of us who love the guys in our life and want to encourage them.

May I pray for you?

Dear Perfect Father, we exalt You in Your goodness and mercy. We are so thankful that in wisdom You created us to be human and not perfect little demi-gods. Every one feels insecure and insignificant sometimes. We see that our enemy the devil wants to lie to us. He tells us we are of no value, just garbage with no purpose. And yet, we believe You, not him. Teach us to depend on You for truth. Together we rejoice knowing You value each of us and have a purpose for our lives. Help us strengthen each other for the battle. May we value humility and allow You to transform our weakness into a demonstration of Your strength. Honor the men in our lives with Your richest blessings. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

We love to hear from you...

What words encouraged you when you most needed it? What lies seem to be most pernicious? Could you share a story with us about a time when a friendship strengthened you?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Marriage, Family, and Community, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Girls Need Healthy Male Role Models, Too, with Tony Johnson

 

But what about girls? Our heart breaks at the way girls are often treated these days. Sadly, young women may not realize they are worthy of first-rate treatment. Don’t young girls need healthy male role models, too?

Single mothers often worry about how to find a father figure for their sons. If you read my stuff, you know I constantly pass along the great ideas I get from my reading and listening friends. For instance, I just wrote to dispel some of the myth around mentoring in Man Guide to Proverb 31. Anybody can mentor, according to my friend Tony Johnson, especially with a little foresight.

Girls Need Healthy Male Role Models, too

Okay, but, girls need healthy male role models, too. Yet, that seems really tricky to me.

Tony wrote the book, Me & My Boys, My Experience with Mentoring, to encourage others to take the plunge. Since he’s a gifted story-teller, the book is a quick read. Every page has drama. But still, as I read Tony’s book about the success of mentoring young men, I had my question: What about girls? Girls need healthy male role models, too, I kept thinking.

Obvious Problem with Men Mentoring Girls

We all know even the most trustworthy man puts his reputation in jeopardy when he tries to help a young lady. Are there any solutions? Fortunately for us, Tony touched on this very issue with insight and practical experience in a recent episode of Fireside Talk Radio.

Practical, Safe, Time-effective Solutions

In fact, impacting young men to treat young ladies respectfully is high on Tony’s list of outcomes. Naturally, he had lots of ideas about how to accomplish mentoring for young ladies right alongside the young men he’s mentoring. Talk about multi-tasking. Tony knows how to make an hour of mentoring go a long, long way!

A Family Atmosphere

Because mentoring appointments often happen at lunch in the school cafeteria, Tony makes a point of frequently teaming up with a female mentor and her female student.

“You create a family atmosphere. Both kids are being helped.”

While together in a “family” setting, Tony finds ways to encourage the young lady by asking the kind of questions a father would typically ask, based on any input the mentors may have from her mother.

Correct, But Never Embarrassing

Tony also shared details about how to phrase corrections without embarrassing young people. “That’s not appropriate,” he finds himself saying when young people need direction. “You apologize to her” is another way to hold young men accountable to treat young ladies respectfully.

In fact, young people translate accountability as love because they recognize that families who love their children set boundaries, according to Tony. He says progress for many kids is astounding.

Fried Pies and Other Good Stuff

“My grandmother used to fix fried pies,” he chuckles, adding sometimes the pies burned or looked funny, but it didn’t matter to him. “I couldn’t care less what they looked like because I knew the best part was inside. The best part of these kids is beneath the crust.”

Mentoring Made Easy

If you want to change the life of a child by mentoring, you can contact the local school district or check out The Mentoring Alliance. You’ll love what Mentoring Alliance does in our county to help kids. Or, start by reading Tony’s book.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, Genesis tells us that You made mankind in your image, both male and female. While we may not understand it fully, we do recognize that men and women both have important things to offer our children. Help us, O Lord, to treat other respectfully. Teach us to value each other in ways that make You happy. You love all Your children, we know that. Bless, especially, those brave single parents who are loving their kids in a double portion. Keep our kids safe, we pray. Provide what we need today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you…

What insight have you observed when working with the young ladies at your church or school? Any experiences you could offer to provide insight for those wishing to mentor? Would you share your favorite mentoring story with us?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

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Chris Legg’s 2 Best Life Hacks for Fathers

Chris Legg recently came on Fireside Talk Radio and shared his best life hacks for fathers. 

Defining Fatherhood

We all have ideas about fatherhood. How would you define fatherhood? About comforting? Protecting? Providing?

Naturally, given that it’s Chris, there’s nothing standard about his definition of fatherhood.

Discipleship You Can’t Escape

“All parenting is discipleship; it’s just discipleship you can’t escape, you or the kids,” he laughs, acknowledging how much energy it takes to parent. He emphasized the most important thing for dads to know is simple: “The Christian family is the ultimate expression of community. My first ministry is with and to my wife.”

Family Ministry. What?!

But, minister is such a church-y word. What does that even mean? “To serve, to tend, to care for,” says Chris, even as he acknowledges that heartbreaks happen in marriage and family.

Yep, Chris may be a scholar (he has a wall in his office, floor to ceiling, of bite-and-chew books to prove it), but his wisdom is practical and earthy. Every conversation with him is fast-paced and fun.

A Wake Up Call Around the Threat of Suicide

He began ministering almost accidentally as a youth leader in a Baptist church in Crocket, Texas. Chris was so young, he grew a beard so folks would know he wasn’t one of the kids. The young people used to climb in his window, rather than come through the front doors.

One night, a young man saw Chris’s office light on and knocked on his window. He told Chris he was thinking of suicide. Since it was the 80s, no one was talking about mental health yet. Feeling unprepared to handle such a crisis, Chris listened and encouraged.

Life Hacks for Fathers

Today, Chris is a founding member of Alethia Counseling Center where they still listen, helping folks uncover truth and live in freedom. Also, he pastors South Spring Church. For fathers, he offers two quick hacks for parenting well:

1) Be a world-class husband.

2) Use the special dad platform.

The Dad Platform?

Everyone in social media knows that a platform is the combined ways we get messages out over the internet. But, what in in the world is a dad platform?

“Dads tend to speak identity very powerfully,” Chris says, explaining “platform” as the way dad’s words impact their kid’s hearts. For example, telling your children “you’re proud of them simply because you get to be their dad” equips them to be successful and strong in life, according to Chris.

A Powerful Weapon

Chris went on to compare a father’s words to the sharp World War II saber he likes to show other men. Like a precision weapon, a dad’s words can target their children’s power to stand strong when life gets tough. Or, a dad’s words can leave lasting pain. Therefore, Chris exhorts fathers to choose their words carefully.

Example of Good Words for a Son

As an example of “God modeling for us being a good dad,” Chris offers Matthew 3:17, “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Thanks to BibleGateway.com for the New King James Version reference.)

“Insider Trading” and Much More

On our Fireside Talk Radio podcasts, Chris offers much more to strengthen men and encourage the women who love them. Imagine, he even called our podcasts “insider trading” because of the great tips we love sharing! He promised to come back soon and talk about sex on air, so stay tuned for more adventures (if by adventure, you mean great life hacks!).

Find Chris

You can find more from Chris on zillions of topics at South Spring Baptist Church or on his personal website ChrisMLegg.com, where he offers a whole “phalanx” of stuff for guys. Don’t forget, too, there’s always Sunday mornings at South Spring.

Happy Father’s Day

In the summer months, we are focusing on men. Partly because women always like to talk about men. But, also kinda accidentally because a bunch of great men came on Fireside Talk Radio. Thank you for reading our stuff and for tuning into our podcasts.

Most of all, thanks, for helping us get the word out about good ideas. For instance, like our friend Jon Drury, who addresses the way men embrace significance in his book, Lord, I Feel So Small. Jon will be on an upcoming episode. I can hardly wait for you to hear the great stuff he shares!

Half the time, we don’t know what to expect, but we see God at work. Therefore, we’re really happy to be traveling this road with you.

Finally, for all the great dads out there tenderly ministering to families, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Keep up the good work! 

May I pray for you?

Dear heavenly Father, You love us as we are just because a good father loves His kids unconditionally. We turn to You now. We live in a culture desperately needing what good men have to offer. Many people disappoint and hurt us, sometimes even our own fathers. Good men may easily feel insecure and inadequate when the job is so important. We pray now for Your mercy, O Good Father. Teach us to forgive each other as You forgive us, even when we need to forgive ourselves. Strengthen men to be sons and fathers that are a blessing to those they love. Allow fathers to use their platform to speak strengthening truth into the hearts of their children. Provide healing and support where we hurt. Have mercy on us and love us tenderly, we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

How has your dad blessed you? Do you have life hacks that would strengthen men? What’s the best thing your children’s father ever said to them?

You can sign up for my Blog/Newsletter by clicking here.

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Myth Busting on Mentoring. Qualified to Mentor?

Tony Johnson CathyKrafve.com

At first, Tony Johnson didn’t think he was qualified to mentor. How does any  busy leader find time? Perhaps, it was his family’s wealth of love that prompts him to advocate for mentoring now.

Rich in Love

Tony likes to say his family didn’t think of themselves as poor because they had what they needed, even if they didn’t have all the fanciest stuff. One of eight kids, he credits his parents with setting an example he’s proud to follow to this day.

The Influence of Good Men

“I’ll tell you what we did have, two loving parents. We were in church on Sundays. We were taught to love each other, take care of each other, be there for each other.” Now, as a family, church, and civic leader, Tony Johnson sets the bar on how good men can impact the lives of everyone around them.

One of my favorite things about Tony is he’s a deacon in his church, Corinth Baptist, alongside his dad, T.J. Johnson, who’s been an elder forever. Okay, maybe not that long, but close. I have to be careful not to joke too much here because, well, I’m a little in awe of Brother Johnson, the elder. He has a stern, yet loving look that he’s perfected on his kids and grandkids. Even I sit still in church if he looks my way. I’m just sayin’ Tony got some good training on fatherhood from Brother Johnson, the elder.

Pain Does NOT Respect Race, Creed, Color, or Status

“As a mentor, I have come to realize that our young boys and young men want and need a father figure in their lives. Contrary to many beliefs, the youth of today actually want someone to guide them, to teach them, train them, and discipline them, but most of all…they want someone to love them!” he says in his new book, “We have to realize that hurt and loneliness know no race, creed, color, or economic status.”

Qualified to Mentor

Tony was an accidental mentor. He felt unqualified because his time was limited. What could he accomplish in the life of a child with only an hour to spare each week? His book, Me & My Boys, tells the story of how he was affected by the boys he mentored first. He asked many of the same questions we all have about mentoring. Mainly, how in the world could he work one more thing into his already busy schedule? But, anyone who knows Tony also knows he can’t say no when the district’s schools need him.

Almost before he knew it, Tony was pulled into a new mentoring program and the rest is, ahem, a history lesson. Not only is he a big proponent of mentoring youths in our school systems now, but he’s gone on to bring the successful program to neighboring districts. Plus, he wrote his book to put to rest the fears of other potential volunteers.

Drama, Action, StoriesMe and My Boys CathyKrafve.com

Ever the story-teller and accomplished public speaker, Tony zips through the drama of finding out his boys needed him. He highlights ways anyone could earn the respect and cooperation of kids who’ve been labeled as “problems.” He recounts the joys of seeing young men become successful in school and life. He’s such a great teacher (and writer), you won’t even know you’re learning.

This gifted leader, with a successful career in management and past presidencies in multiple organizations, trembled the first time he went to meet “his boys.” On a recent episode of Fireside Talk Radio, he drew on his agricultural roots to express his enthusiasm, extolling the virtue of tending young lives.

Planting a Seed

“It’s like planting a seed. That’s when they need the most nourishment,” says, Tony, explaining how much an hour a week can mean in the heart of a young person, “As a mentor or father, you have to be the one to nourish that. Otherwise someone else will.”

Wouldn’t it be a miracle if a generation of good men were raised up due in a large part to mentoring? If you want to plant some seeds of your own, you can order Tony’s book, Me and My Boys, to pass along to friends.

If you are interested in mentoring, please contact the local school district. They are always looking for volunteers. I also like Mentoring Alliance for the work they do with Boys and Girls Clubs in our area. Blessings on you for considering the way your hour might impact the life of a child forever.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, we are so grateful for the way You care for us even when others let us down. You give us strength and encouragement in the tender concern of strangers sometimes, if we will but notice Your care. Our hearts break for youngsters who need extra attention. We consider the kind of work their parents do and we yearn to help. Often single mothers or fathers feel forgotten. Teach us, O Lord, to see and respect those who feel overlooked and overwhelmed. We all need a kind word of encouragement some days. Help us reach out to each other for the help we need. Strengthen those whose heart says yes. Help us all carve out the time to engage with those around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

Who made a difference in your life when you were a kid? What’s the kindest thing a stranger ever said to you? What unexpected blessing did you receive when you reached out to encourage a young person?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

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Unexpected Parenting: Finding Joy When the Sonogram is a Diagnosis with Katie Butts

 

Sonogram and diagnosis are not two words any of us want to hear in the same sentence.

How do you handle the fear that comes with a sonogram diagnosis? Katie Butts knew her child had “limb differences” before she knew he was a son. Even before she knew the right lingo for limb differences, she and her husband determined to celebrate the arrival of this child they loved already while he was in her womb.

Now their family fields honest questions from curious kids with joy and humor. Of course, kids have questions. All moms know this truth.

“Will’s blades have flames on them, so we’re not exactly subtle,” she laughs. Blades are fancy prosthetic legs that athletes use. Her active, joyful son puts them to good use.

Change of Plans, Change of Prayers

“My mom will tell you it was an answer to prayer for her because, standing outside our room, she heard laughter. Of course, that was after the epidural,” Katie laughs.

Katie posted a sign on the hospital door warning people not to offer sympathy. “This is a baby we’re celebrating,” the message went.

A Second Sonogram Diagnosis 

With their doctors’ assurance that the condition was not genetic, they prepared for the birth of a beautiful second baby, only to be told that she, too, had unrelated medical conditions.

“She does not have limb differences. They’ve never been able to find links between their conditions.”

The Power of Celebrating

With hearts filled with gratitude for their adorable children, over ten years later, their family is still celebrating. She handles their family’s differences with unity and humor.

With experience that includes children’s hospitals, diagnosis, surgeries, travel, appointments, and insurance, how does this busy mom find energy to encourage other moms? “I’m a professional napper,” she claims.   

You might assume that their double surprises would overwhelm and discourage their family, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Instead, their two beautiful, active children find ways to connect with others in all walks of life. They both do so with their own unique brand of graciousness.

“If its Will, he’ll usually challenge them to a race and beat them,” she says of her son’s ability to start a friendship in almost any setting. Ellie’s approach is less dramatic, but every bit as loving.

Oh, the Stories!

Katie shared some hilarious stories in a recent broadcast of Fireside Talk Radio. Like the lady at the airport who scolded her harshly for putting her baby in a bag upside down before realizing it was just two baby prosthetic legs. Oh my!

Mainly, though, Katie shares great advice for all moms. She names beloved women who came to comfort her when she was on the floor vomiting with grief. She counsels all moms to seek out women who understand their journey.

Community and Companionship for All

“We allowed people to come into our sorrow and heartache and our celebration. Let people in,” she says, adding, “They’ll carry you when you can’t stand up.”

Katie may know the world of children’s hospitals, a world most of us never want to know. In the process, though, her family epitomizes the daily decision to celebrate life with joy.

Happy Mother’s Day to you, dear reading friend, with joy to all.

May I pray for you?

Dear Good Father, who knows our every need and loves us: When life surprises us with the unexpected, we can find ourselves hurting. We want to isolate and lick our wounds, even turning away from You. We often find it hard to imagine how You can turn sorrow into joy in our present circumstances. Give us patience and stamina, O Lord, as we trust You today. Teach us to laugh and find joy in the unlikely places. Surround us with companions who hold us up. Fill our heart with gratitude as we mirror the Savior in our suffering. In His name, we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you…

Have people stepped up at the just the right moment in your parenting journey? How were unexpected needs met? When crisis hits, how do you find comfort?

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Suicide and Comfort for Siblings with Marcie McSwane

 

Marcie McSwane View to the Future CathyKrafve.comMarcie McSwane was home from college when she got the call that changed her life. “You need to get home,” her dad said urgently, “Patrick’s threatened to kill himself.”

Mental illness often strikes a child without warning, leaving families reeling in their search for answers. But, how do you find comfort after a sibling’s suicide? 

A Sibling’s Suicide

For almost a year, her parents worked diligently behind the scenes battling for their oldest son’s mental health, while shielding their younger children from trauma and bewilderment. But the day came when her father had to warn Marcie as events unfolded.

With so many unknowns, police officers met the family at their home for Patrick’s safety as well as theirs. Marcie will never forget the sorrow of seeing her beloved older brother led away in hand cuffs. 

After a year of protecting the other siblings, their family switched gears, preparing to fight the long battle together. Fortunately, by telling their story, families like the McSwanes shed light on mental health for all of us.

Terminal Stage Schizophrenia

For a heroic nine years Patrick fought the battle against the disease of Schizophrenia with the loving support of his family. Finally, though, his disease progressed to terminal, ending in suicide. Marcie searched for ways to process the pain, compounded by confusing emotions like grief, guilt, and anguish. No one wants to be an expert on sibling suicide, and yet, she found that talking about her experience helped others.

How can a family stick together and initiate loving communities in the battle for mental health? Now she offers practical ideas based on what helped her family, including how her parents helped the “other” siblings.

Comfort for Siblings

“You’re grieving for your first friend,” she explains tenderly when I interviewed her recently for Fireside Talk Radio. She encourages parents to find the balance of protecting young siblings, while respecting their perspective as they grow into adults.

“It took the whole family to battle the disease. That’s why God gave us families,” she says.

Since mental illness can preoccupy many years, the siblings roles change. As she and her brother, Ryan, became adults, their parents included them, often making joint family decisions. Noting how difficult a child’s mental illness is on the parents, she adds “You have a front row seat to watch your parents walk their child through it.”

One example of their unity and support for each other came as they waited for news together on the night Patrick died. “My dad asked Ryan to lead us in prayer,” she says tenderly, in a reverent whisper.

More Information and Help

For more of Marcie’s wisdom and insight, go to CathyKrafve.com for Marcie’s podcasts: Her Wisdom: Celebrating the Beautiful Life of A Sibling and Her Story: How Siblings Suffer and Heal.

In addition, each fall, Tyler hosts the Peace of Mind Conference, in conjunction with Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas. Tickets go quickly, but you will find videos and encouragement at PeaceOfMindTyler.com.

Don’t Forget to Celebrate

Marcie encourages families to remember the blessings of their sibling’s life. For example, on Patrick’s birthday, Marcie celebrates “Sibling Appreciation Day,” gathering her closest friends to laugh, cry, and share about the wonders of growing up with siblings. Together, her family and friends honor her beloved brother and his beautiful life Marcie remembers with joy. 

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You call us into a loving relationship with You. You surround us with loved ones. Sometimes our relationships are pure heaven and sometimes they hurt, often simultaneously. We don’t understand when life gets confusing and painful. In the midst of our pain, we turn to You. We bring our wounds to You and ask You to have mercy on us. Help us, O Lord of heaven and earth. Open our hearts to receive the comfort You pour out through Your tender servants. In Jesus name. Amen.

More Adventures to Come. Up Next

With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day around the corner, I’ve got some special surprises coming up. I’m so excited, I can hardly keep the secret! Stay tuned for more adventures….

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A Child’s Mental Health and Suicide with Doug McSwane

A star athlete and scholar, his friends called him Patch in high school. As he graduated, his family celebrated his coming adventure to Texas Tech, a family tradition. 

Mental Health, Mental Illness, Suicide?

His battle with mental illness struck without warning. Two weeks after a perfectly normal call from college, Patrick called his dad again in a frenzy. This time, the conversation would change their lives forever. Micro chips, aliens, paranoia, and all kinds of hallucinatory imaginings; something was wrong.

Doug McSwane speaking on behalf of Mental Health CathyKrafve.comA Parent’s Nightmare

A devoted father, Doug McSwane (pictured left) raced the eight hour trek to Lubbock. When he got to Patrick’s apartment, things were worse than a parent could ever imagine.

“It looked like a tsunami had hit the place, food wrappers everywhere….” Doug says, “That began our dark, dark journey down the world of mental health.” Now, Doug graciously shares his wisdom on mental illness and suicide for all of us.

Mental Illness Means the Body is Malfunctioning

“Mental illness is a function of your body, specifically your brain,” explains Doug. For instance, like the schizophrenia that Patrick heroically battled, all mental disease is caused by malfunctions between our chemistry and our brains, he explains.

“Dopamine is what washes over the zebra’s brain when he sees the lion. He has a split second to decide if he is going to run away or become lunch,” Doug says. Both schizophrenia and bipolar disease involve malfunctions of dopamine, he adds.

Support from Community

Unprepared for the tempest of mental illness, the McSwanes initially withdrew from friends. Being isolated only meant they didn’t get the support they needed at first, though. Now they strongly recommend that families seek out trustworthy friends and advisors immediately. The best help is in creating a community of compassionate friends and advisors.

Peace of Mind

Since Patrick’s suicide, their family makes it their mission to call attention to the resources needed to combat mental illness. One terrific resource is Peace of Mind Conferences, an annual event that brings together experts and families. At PeaceOfMindTyler.com you can find information, videos, and stories about how others combat mental illness.

Doug created two podcasts with Fireside Talk Radio to help other families. He shared so much more than I have room for here. Go to His Story:  A Father’s Story of his Son’s Suicide or His Wisdom: When Mental Illness Strikes Your Family. You’ll be glad you did.

The Beautiful Life of Patrick McSwane

I remember Patrick as a tot. I’ve known his family for over 35 years. Their family motto is “trying to live a beautiful life.” I’m deeply grateful to the McSwanes; they make life better for all of us by sharing their experience. With that in mind, today’s blog is dedicated to the beautiful life of Patrick McSwane.

If you or someone you love is battling mental illness, I hope you will search out the support you need. 

May I pray for you?

Dear Good Father who designed our bodies to reflect Your glory, we don’t understand what we need to about our minds, souls, and spirits. We turn to You because You offer comfort and hope when life seems hopeless. Have mercy, O Lord, on us, Your beloved children. Give us grace for this day. Surround us with others whose hearts are filled with compassion and understanding. Thank You for Your people who lovingly share their heartaches so we know we aren’t alone. Give us courage, stamina, and grace, Dear One. You are the source of our strength. In You, we trust. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Upcoming Adventures, Prayer Needed

Next Up: Marcie McSwane shares her beautiful heart and life with us. On Fireside Talk Radio, she talks about how to comfort siblings dealing with mental health and suicide. Please share her wisdom with your friends, so many will be blessed. Following that, we’re bringing some more amazing moms and dads to share their experiences. Always tenderly, often hilariously! And, as always, please keep praying!

Let us hear from you!

Never forget that we love to hear from you. You are the reason we keep writing and sharing. You are dear to our hearts.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Creating Multi-Generational Wealth with Marina Schroeder

Marina and family CathyKrafve.comToday, her family epitomizes the idea of life-long fellowship. Yet, the hardships of her childhood helped prepare her for success now, claims Financial Advisor Marina Schroeder. 

Multi-Generational Wealth

So, what’s the most common mistake young families make when we think about future multi-generational wealth? “Failing to plan,” she told me. Oh dear, I thought, that’s still my own most common mistake.

The child of immigrants, Marina joined me recently on Fireside Talk Radio to share about starting from scratch to create sustainable multi-generational wealth. Yep, Marina encourages folks to plan two or three generations ahead.

“‘I want to send my kids to college,’ we can all say that, but at some point you have to put pencil to paper and develop a plan,” she says.

Respect and Family Business

I couldn’t wait to get her wisdom about multigenerational businesses, since she partners with her own son, T. J. Mathis, a Certified Financial Planner.

The secret to successful family businesses is respect, according to Marina. “If you treat others like a king, you ought to treat those closest to you with respect, too,” she says.

Sometimes, folks “assume that our kids shouldn’t work,” however, Marina says her background of hard work inclined her for success. “We didn’t waste anything,” she laughs, remembering paper routes and lawn mowing as a youngster.

Family Conversations

With tenderness Marina advises us to have open conversations within families, so there are no surprises. For instance, often when one spouse dies the other one doesn’t know how to pay the bills, much less what investments are available. Single moms can beat the odds, too, by saving and investing with a little careful planning.

Openness in families fosters a kind of respect that prepares our children to be better stewards, she says. “Have a plan. Develop a plan. Be a blessing,” she adds.

Blessing Others

In keeping with the blessing theme, Marina advocates committing to “first fruits” giving. There’s accountability and freedom in tithing, it turns out. By planning our budget and looking closely at income and spending, we free ourselves, according to Marina. In our freedom, we have the chance to bless others.

“A basic principle within me is that I know I am so blessed to be cared for by God,” she says, explaining the value of knowing God as our companion in life. “Ask this: How can I be a blessing to other people?”

Benefits of “First Fruit” Giving

In Marina’s explanation, I found a whole new level of accountability built into the concept of giving. What a fun conversation with this talented and thoughtful financial guru!

“It’s easy to look back on (childhood trials) now and see how God brought me through. He has been with me throughout my life,” she says. Allowing Jesus to heal the parts that hurt made Marina the successful person she is today. Plus, embracing a lifestyle of forgiveness and freedom means she now draws on her compassion to generously bless others.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, we all want what is best for our families. We may have trials left over from our childhood that require forgiveness. Sometimes, we struggle to find the right ways to start conversations about money. We have kids we want to encourage. We may be caring for beloved elders. Our lives get hectic. We need You. Help us push pause, pray and make the plans that honor You. Give us freedom financially to focus on Your plans for our families. Bless us in the ways You choose as we trust You because it’s Your pleasure to do so. Thank You for work. Thank You for allowing us to pass along Your blessings to others, too. Surround us with wise counsel. We love You. In Jesus name. Amen.

I have a prayer request…

I sent out three book proposals this month. Two are finished manuscripts with sequels on the way. Please pray all my books will find the right publishing home.

Special Shout Out

A special shout out to my friends at the Lake Palestine United Methodist Church. What a blessing to hang out with such godly and fun women! All united around such a worthy cause! Thank you for the innumerable ways you inspire me last, even letting us film my speech at your amazing annual Ladies Luncheon. I can’t wait to see us all on You Tube, especially those table decorations. You are dear to my heart! (Hi to Linda, Lillian, Debbie, and Pastor Taylor!)

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Living the Dream, the Desegregated Life with Stanley Cofer

Stanley and Christy Cofer at CathyKrafve.comIf you’ve ever wondered what you could do to help put an end to ongoing self-segregation, just ask Stanley Cofer. (Pictured left with his wife, Christy.) Want a desegregated life for you and your family? With a dynamic family to back him up, Stanley isn’t letting man-made lines divide his relationships.

The Desegregated Life

“I’m not pro-black, I’m not pro-white. I’m just pro-human,” he laughs.

So, what does he say to folks who are uncomfortable with his willingness to talk about race issues in a way that spreads unity and grace? What about when white folks distrust his motives? What about when black folks label him as an Uncle Tom?

“I just try to get funny with it,” he chuckles. He’s heard it all, from friends of every pigment, “You’re not black or you’re not black enough.” He doesn’t take it personally.

Drawing Mixed Crowds and Respect of Others

At every community event, Stanley and the team at Empowerment Community Development seem to draw a mixed crowd. You name it, they show up. I’m talking folks from all walks of life, all ethnic backgrounds, all socio-economic groups, and all ages. With so many churches searching for ways to attract the younger generations, for instance, this is no small feat. What’s his secret? He took a minute and educated me on the power of relevance in an episode of Fireside Talk Radio we called Racial Unity: The Desegregated Life.

Wise Parents and Freedom

Stanley credits his parents with teaching him to value himself and respect others.

“They placed the word of God as the top authority. I never heard my parents downgrade a caucasian person, nor did they exalt their own race.”

He also thanks God for his wife Christy, whose openness matches his own. She makes it easier to accomplish God’s plan for their family to break down barriers to unity among God’s people.

“I don’t think I could have been more blessed with a better woman than Christy. She has always had my heartbeat.”

Living the Dream

Stanley strongly states that African Americans “need to quit living in the shadows. We’re not in the 50s and 60s (any) more. Are we going to live out the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King?”

He advises young parents of any race to keep “the Bible as the center of your life…. If Christ is the center, you can’t help but be an agent of love. You will see the world as God sees the world.”

In Racial Unity: the Empowered Community, Stanley explains how we can all make a difference.

Jesus Privilege

“I don’t believe in white privilege. I believe in Jesus privilege. There’s a God who loves us all. There’s a devil who hates us all.” he says, adding, “I just thank God for other friends we have. We are going to make the difference.”

To learn more about upcoming events or to make a donation, go to Empowerment Community Development or to the Tyler Chamber website.

One Other Personal Thought

For those of you, my dear readers, who understand my interest in post-abortive ministries, I want to mention that Christy and Stanley show up year after year at CARE events. CARE stands for Christ-centered Abortion Recovery and Education. Ever true to their hearts, Stanley and Christy speak openly about their concern that abortion among African American women is a growing heartbreak. As is often the case, the Cofers show up at many community-wide events even when others don’t. I just wanted to mention this because it means so much to me personally, along with my deepest thanks for their leadership.

May I pray for us?

Dear Father in heaven, You love Your children and rejoice in our variety. We are each unique because You intentionally made us to be so. What a blessing to come together in loving unity! Yet, how could we ever put aside our differences, our past hurts, our insecurities, and our prejudices without Your help. Help us now, O Lord, to be children who honor You by loving each other. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you…

What ways have you found to cross over self-segregating lines? How has someone’s unexpected kindness blessed you this week? What do you wish we could try in our community?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Click here to find more of Stanley’s amazing wisdom in podcasts.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Safe and Secure: Trusting Intuition When it Says Sexual Predator with Sandy Bristow

She called me a few months ago with a story to tell. Sandy Bristow’s story is all about trusting intuition. Of course, for some of us trusting intuition sounds good, but it’s harder than it ought to be. Subconsciously for most of us, we trust people we shouldn’t and fail at trusting intuition when alarms go off.

Trusting Intuition and Self-Protection

As a Christian, trusting intuition meant letting Sandy’s natural faith and love habitually guide her. Most people can relate to Sandy’s natural tendency to want to believe the best about every one. However, when a trusted professional took advantage of her in the guise of chiropractic treatments, her faith expressed itself in a whole different way; trusting intuition spelled self-protection. In the moment of crisis, fortunately Sandy’s instinctive trust of Jesus kicked in to rescue her from the sexual assault.

Sexual Assault, Intuition and Safety

Fortunately for us, Sandy shares practical details about how to know the difference between an accidental brush up and inappropriate groping. She makes the valid point that most women definitely know the difference instinctively. The trick is to run, not walk, to the nearest escape exit.

Yes, of course most health professionals are perfectly trustworthy, but as women how do we protect ourselves from a few bad apples? The truth is, professionals protect themselves and their patients when they follow standard protocol: have someone else nearby. The patient’s family member right outside the door or a staff member in the room to assist; there are many ways to keep women safe. Thus, too, professionals safeguard themselves against false claims of inappropriate behavior. This has been standard practice for school officials or pastors for decades. Why not in health professional settings, too?

Power in Jesus’ Name

In Sandy’s case, with pure instinct, she called on the name of Jesus in trusting intuition. Instantly, the predator released her and she ran out the nearest exit with a surge of adrenalin-laced prayer power. She’s okay in spite of the shock and trauma. But even better, Sandy is one smart cookie; a trained expert with years of experience ministering to women. So, she knew what to do next, including how to stand strong in the face of push back.

Sexual Addiction

Sandy shared how perpetrators are “lording it over their victims. Thankfully, when she “called on the Lord’s name,” the predator released her. Traumatized, she realized that not everyone is so fortunate. On the other hand, when she tried to report the assault initially, the professional governing board dismissed her, offering feeble excuses for his behavior. Because of her extensive education, though, Sandy understands the science behind sexual addiction. Therefore, out of compassion, she filed an official complaint that is now being investigated. It turned out she wasn’t the only person with a similar account.

Sexual addictions, like all forms of addictions, progress to more dangerous forms of stimulation, she explains. This creates a dangerous environment for women whether it’s at home or work.

Tough Topics: Tools So We Can Talk

We all want to put a dent in the devil’s aggressive, hostile attacks of violence toward women and men. Sandy heard about the work we are doing on Fireside Talk Radio to give folks tools to talk about difficult topics. In Sandy’s case she wanted other women to know the nature of sexual assault.

People who meet Sandy Bristow recognize immediately that she’s all about other people. Strong to her core, she has a long history of helping others. For instance, she’s made her home a safe-haven for those who seek her out.

In an episode we called Intuition and Safety: Trusting Our Gut When it Says Sexual Predator, this highly educated, gifted woman offers the legal definition of sexual assault and much more. As she succinctly sums up God’s love of justice, Sandy shares one profound insight after another. If you or someone you love has been fondled, groped, or raped, her wisdom will equip you to seek justice.

Healing in Community

The most important thing after sexual assault is healing for the victim. In a second episode called Intuition and Safety: The Value of Intuition and Healing in Community, she explains that most women who’ve experienced sexual assault have a form of PSTD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Trauma actually physically damages the brain of the victim. Since the statute of limitations is 5 years on sexual assault, it’s important to seek help right away.

“Isolation is where the devil takes you to go in for the kill,” she says, emphasizing that although our instincts tell us to isolate when trauma happens, the best thing we can do to recover is to find people we trust and get help, “Healing happens in community, not isolation.”

Justice God’s Way

“God gave us an instinct. We are created to have an inner knowing. God gave us (believers) His Holy Spirit.”  Even so, she explains that because God is a God of justice, His justice is foreign to our way of thinking.

“We’re looking for fairness. We’re looking for revenge,” she chuckles. Instead, we need to trust Him for the highest and best justice. Only then can we experience all God has planned for us.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, so many women have been assaulted and somehow recovered with justice and victory. As Your amazing women, we look to You for guidance and comfort in any and every hurt place. Help us be watchful for each other and trust our gut. Teach us to listen to Your Spirit when You warn us to be wary. Comfort our broken and frightened hearts. Surround us with people who love us, creating a safe community for our families. Strengthen those who love us as they look for ways to live tenderly with us. Give us courage to speak boldly to this threat, always calling on Your mighty name. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

We love to hear from you.

What has experience taught you about safety? Can you offer some great  advice for other women about staying safe? Will you send us your best tips for finding the right community of friends?

I have a Prayer Request

Next week, I submit my latest manuscript in a contest. The book is called: Be Heard, Being a Woman of Pure Influence in a Messy, Messy World. They may change the title, of course. The grand prize is a publishing package. What a blessing to  find a great publishing partner! Publishers do the important work of editing, picking book covers, networking, giving legal advice, etc. Please pray, if God is pleased to do so, that I find favor, and yes, even win. I know it’s asking a lot, but I always ask God for what I want. If He says no, so be it. I trust Him to have my best interests at heart as I write to His glory. I am grateful for your prayers. More than I can say.

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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The Month of Love: Is Racial Unity Even Possible? with Ben Sciacca

Dr. Gordon and Ben Sciacca, CathyKrafve.com Imagine working in Chicago’s infamous Cook County juvie jail. Additionally, try to imagine the bitterness on both sides of the bars. You gotta wonder if racial unity is even possible. Could a young white male make a difference? Naturally, some folks might label Ben Sciacca as too idealistic for his own good. (Pictured above with Dr. Anthony Gordon.) Certainly, change happened. Mostly in him, Ben says now with a chuckle.

 

Racial Unity: Being a Peacemaker is Risky

In fact, Ben says being a peacemaker always involves risk. Why? Because making peace means stepping out where peace has been compromised. As a result, Ben labels those willing to take a risk for peace, like Dr. Gordon, as “solutionaries.” Dr. Gordon started Restoration Academy in response to educational injustice in their community. Ben serves as Executive Director. Clearly, justice closely ties to to education.

Because justice undergirds peace, peace-making is riskier than peacekeeping. Peace-keeping guards the status quo. On the other hand, peacemaking creates risk for those who seek to restore justice.

A Page-turner

Perhaps you read Ben’s best-selling book, Meals from Mars, which he calls a parable. I call it genius. Especially relevant, in the book he invites us to think past our own skin pigment, grasping different perspectives. Yep, the book’s a page-turner. A well-meaning white guy delivers food to a kindly black grandmother in a dangerous neighborhood. Then, the oldest grandson, a studious kid, gets slammed into a carjacking situation with the white guy.

However, this is not some do-gooder’s fantasy. No, Ben lives, walks, and breathes the lifestyle of reconciliation with his family in Birmingham in all aspects of their life, particularly through the justice-restoring education ministry, Restoration Academy. (Interested in a similar school in East Texas? See Promise Academy.)

“At Restoration Academy, we believe that every child in the Birmingham area deserves an excellent, Christ-centered education. Our mission is to provide this opportunity through advancing the two greatest commandments in the life of every student: to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as ourselves,” according to their website.

More Wisdom on Reconciliation

On Fireside Talk Radio, Ben shared with me how his preconceived ideas were challenged the young men he met in juvie jail. They challenged him to think about reconciliation and justice in a whole new way. We called that episode, Racial Unity, with Meals from Mars author, Ben Sciacca.

In the episode we call Racial Unity: Meals from Mars, When Two Universes Collide with Ben Sciacca, he offers practical advice on creating unity in our communities and teaching our kids to cherish the diversity of the human race.. 

Shalom means Peace with Delight

Most of all, what can we do to promote reconciliation? Anything simple and easy that might make a difference on the tough issue of racism? You bet! Most importantly, Ben offers insight on “Shalom, peace that makes harmony and delight in all our relationships.” Ben suggests that Biblical peace begins with the secret of seeking it first in our own hearts.

As he shares about the challenge of living in his neighborhood, he enthusiastically lists benefits that his wife and children share because he followed his heart and God’s leading. Eighteen years as an educator at Restoration Academy have cemented this good man’s love for his diverse community.

If you wonder what you could do to help heal our nation’s schism over race, you will want more practical and perceptive insight from Ben. I suggest reading his book today.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You love Your children, all of us. You delight in the way You made each one of us unique. Help us, O Lord, put aside our foolishness to love each other with grateful hearts. Thank You for giving insight to our leaders. Now favor good men and women with Your wisdom and power. Thank you for all those seeking to create justice for those who have not received educational opportunity. Strengthen us as a people. We look to You for peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I love to hear from you!

What have you done to make peace in our community? What do you wish could happen to create reconciliation?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Roofie? At Our Age? Protect Yourself from a Woman’s Worst Nightmare With Mary Ottman

A professional woman with a solid reputation and strong morals in her forties doesn’t need to worry about a roofie, right? Especially not at a professional meet-and-greet the night before she is scheduled to address a conference of her engineering peers. Not by a colleague she worked with and trusted for years?

Professional Women Beware

And yet, my friend Mary Ottman is not alone. Other professional women have whispered privately of awaking in terrifying circumstances, amidst confusion and horror, unable to speak or defend themselves.

Roofie is Not a Stereotype

We stereotype the words roofie and date rape when we think that the crime happens to drunken party-girl coeds who hang out at bars with too many frat boys.

The top definition of roofie is “When someone spikes your drink with a drug without your knowledge,” according to urbandictionary.com. Roofie is slang for Rohypnol, developed as a sleep aide, it’s infamously used to sexually assault unsuspecting people.

Drug-induced Confusion

Even women who make it a habit to limit themselves to one drink or less, find that the confusion induced by the drug is so great that they believe they complied in a drunken stuper. For some women, it takes days, even weeks, to piece together what actually happened. By the time they realize they were maliciously drugged, the evidence is out of their system. In fact, the evidence in the blood stream dissipates within hours, typically less than 72 hours, according to confirmbiosciences.com. The mental fog and emotional despair can linger for much longer, in part because Rohypnol induces amnesia, which can cause mental and emotional distress.

Courage Speaks and Prays

So, imagine my surprise when Mary agreed to come on Fireside Talk Radio and share her story for the first time publicly. Believe me, we prayed right up until she went on air and I am still praying for her. Our enemy the devil does not like it when we speak clearly about his destructive tactics, warning others to keep safe.

How does the drug effect a person? How can we be fore-warned and thus, fore-armed? Mary tenderly shares what she learned when reality set in after the initial trauma and shock wore off. She is no wimp, either, so her advice is all about victory and courage.

More from an Amazing Woman

Her message is so powerful you will not want to miss it, Sexual Assault and Courage at CathyKrafve.com. Listen and then, PLEASE, share it with your daughters and friends of all ages.

I asked her to come back and talk from her experience as a boss, executive, engineer by training, and a wise woman by decision. In a show we called Easy Does It: Passing Along Hard-Won Wisdom, she shares her tips on self-diagnosing ways to become a trusted and insightful leader.

Mary’s resume is impressive, but of course, the thing I most admire is her spirit and courage. May her courage help keep you safe, dear reader. Please pass this information along so other professional women can keep themselves safe, too.

May I pray for you?

Dear good Father, every woman seems to have some experience that breaks her heart. Often we are preyed upon by those who injure us. Our hearts become enraged when we learn a woman we love has been injured or taken advantage of. We know that You are good and powerful Father, yet we feel confusion and defeat when bad things happen. Teach us patiently, Dear One, to trust You with the places in our past that continue to break our hearts. Help us protect our hearts from people who would hurt us. Allow us courage to be victorious and to speak out in triumph. Heal us. Teach us what Your Son’s resurrection means in our life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love hearing from you!

How have you regained your footing after a heartbreak? What habits have you cultivated to remind yourself that your value is beyond measure?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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How Abortion Damages the Church and Our Community with B.J. Garrett

B. J. Garrett, CathyKrafve.comAbortion damages the church, but most Christians don’t think about how the damage occurs. Imagine a patient with cancer who refuses to get diagnosed because he or she does not want to talk about such a difficult topic. For some reason, it seems Christians have a hard time talking about abortion in a tender, yet strategic way.

Gently, Please

Fortunately, folks like my friend B. J. Garrett are changing the way Christians talk about abortion. Can we talk about it gently? Of course. All it takes is a little insight and compassion. For our funny (okay, maybe I’m a little dorky) video about how CARE is changing the conversation about abortion, click here.

Abortion is Controversial

I guess I was naive. For starters, the original radio station I was contracting with for Fireside Talk Radio immediately dropped my show because of one taboo topic. Oh, that’s right. I forgot that there was a time when I, too, was afraid of the word abortion.

Families and churches suffer when we’re afraid to talk about what ails us. Not only that, the whole community is affected when Christians treat Jesus’ blood like it doesn’t cover some sins because, well, some sins are just too scandalous to talk about. Where can folks go for comfort, if not church?

No Topic is Too Taboo

I invited B.J. on my show to talk about abortion, in spite of the taboo. She shared her story in the most courageous and inspiring way you can imagine. Simply by telling the truth without bitterness or shame. 

B.J. has a resume most professionals would love to claim. I’m impressed because she served in a pastoral role in a Baptist church. That takes guts for a woman in East Texas. Currently, she serves as executive director of CARE, Christ-centered Abortion Recovery and Education.

On our show, B.J. shared how her childhood experiences include being trafficked for sexual exploitation. With compassion and hard-won grace, B.J. gently explains how her mother offered her in exchange for food and drugs. You can hear more of B.J.’s first-hand wisdom for free by listening to the podcast available on CathyKrafve.com or by clicking on Taboo Topics: Serious Symptoms of Post-Abortion Syndrome with B.J. Garrett.

Truth Frees and Empowers Us All

This victorious and mighty woman of God shared how she shook free of her childhood experiences and became a powerful force in the fight to empower others. If you are struggling with the after-affects of abortion or love someone who is, you will love what B. J. and her team are doing at CARE. They joyfully point others to the path of freedom.

Many, but not all, CARE volunteers are post-abortive. Some share their stories publicly; while all appreciate the strict confidentiality of the ministry. In another episode of Fireside Talk Radio, What’s so Special about CARE?, B.J. addressed the myth that post-abortive trauma is not affecting whole Christian families and their churches.

Is Your Church Ready to Gently Talk about Abortion?

We talk to East Texas pastors all the time who are delighted to have help in breaking down the wall of silence. They love seeing post-abortive families reclaim freedom and joy in serving others. Your church can be involved in this worthy endeavor. CARE can send a team of volunteer experts to train or facilitate a post-abortion ministry anywhere.

You Can Help (And Have Fun!)

CARE and Confections, the annual gala happens at KE Bushman’s Celebration Center on Tuesday, February 6, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Click here to join us that evening. If you are wishing you could make a difference when it comes to abortion, contact B.J. (via CARE) to find out more about how people are quietly making a gentle difference behind the scenes on this very personal, but worthy topic.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, O Compassionate One, look on us now with Your tender mercy, please! Our hearts break and yearn for the children we never got to hold. We trust You with their well-being in heaven until we meet them there. Until then, give us, O Lord, hearts to have compassion on ourselves and each other. Let us joyfully share the way to heaven through Your Son. Teach us to love one another with gentleness as we respect the difficult circumstances we all face in life. Teach us to be mighty warriors for those we love, offering forgiveness and restitution, victory, healing, and tenderness to any and all who come to Your church for help. Help us, O Lord! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What experiences have you had that taught you to be careful when others need compassion? How have you benefitted by a tender word?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions atCathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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How to Be the Family Champion With Sandra Beck

Sandra Beck on CathyKrafve.comShe arrived at community movie night in the park with her two small boys. Grappling with a load of blankets, lugging the cart, strollers, and everything else, she pushed down her feelings of jealousy. As usual, she ignored the families all around them with two parents wrangling the kids together. If only her boys had a dad who could be the family champion.

“It was always a source of shame and pain for me for me,” media guru Sandra Beck explained of the dread inspired by gatherings immediately after her divorce.

The Dilemmas of Divorce

Oh, the dilemmas arising after divorce. Forlorn, she felt the loss of a spouse when she arrived at restaurants with tables for four. Who would watch one child, while she rode the roller coaster with the other? Should she invite a guy to her annual Christmas party?

The Family Champion

Often, I hear single moms fret about good role models for their sons. On the other hand, Sandra’s love for military families translated to good role models surrounding her boys. Still, in my opinion, nothing replaces a courageous mom. In fact, the family champion can be Mom. Since Sandra’s boys growing up into enterprising, intentional young men, I asked her to share her favorite advice on Fireside Talk Radio recently. She gave some funny and insightful tips.

How to Be Your Family’s Champion

#1 Look around for unhappy couples, she says with a chuckle. There’s no better way to appreciate your own freedom than to realize how exhausting marriages can be.

#2 Separate private and professional life. Going on dates causes too much speculation, she says. 

#3 Keep in mind, gender rolls blur for young people now. Consequently, she asks specific male friends to teach her boys, too, whenever they teach their own sons to use power tools, ride a dirt bike, or anything else that might be traditionally defined as a manly skill.

“You don’t have to be the dad. These other dads are so filled with pride when you choose them to stand in,” says Sandra. Personally, I love the way she divides up these specific requests among many families. This frees up families to say yes enthusiastically to specific help.

Most Importantly: Teach Discernment

#4 Ask your boys what they admire in other men, thus teaching them to be on the alert for male qualities they most want to emulate.

She also shared some practical wisdom on how the church can up the ante when it comes to helping those who’ve gone through divorce. For more, look for Single and Strong: How to be Your Family’s Champion with Sandra Beck or Single and Strong: When is Enough Enough with Sandra Beck on CathyKrafve.com.

Sandra tells the truth with vulnerability and tenderness. No matter our circumstances, when we choose to be our family’s champion, we see strength manifest itself in our children.

May I pray for you?

Good Father in heaven, our hearts yearn for a wholesome relationship with You. You offer to fill the holes in our hearts where earthly parents inevitably fail us. More importantly, as a parent, we yearn for our children to know they are loved and cherished. We want them to understand who You created them to be and to dwell in their identity with purpose and confidence. Grant us now, O Lord, the wisdom we need to be parents who honor You by being champions for our family. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I love to hear from you!

What have you done to get the help you needed for your children along the way? What have others done (big or small things) that really blessed your family?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Single and Strong

 

 

I first met Darlene Marshall at an event for Discovery Science Place. Her obvious love of kids, education, and her beautiful spirit drew me to her instantly. I knew immediately we were going to be life-long friends.

When I found out Tony Johnson was her brother, I about fainted. Could two such outstanding humans share the same family? I took them right up on their offer to worship one Sunday at Corinth Baptist because I wanted to meet the rest of this amazing family.

Single and Strong in Spite of Sorrow

When I asked her to tell the story of how such a godly woman could end up divorced, I knew I was asking a lot. Nobody but me would have the nerve to even ask the question bluntly. Yet, we see the heartbreak everywhere; amazing women discouraged by marriages that fail. On the other hand, here was my friend Darlene, single and strong. It made me pause.

Mental Health and Family

With tenderness typical of her heart, Darlene told me how the man she loved began to suffer all kinds of symptoms, probably due to the concussions he received as a talented boxer. Her words reflect the growing understanding Americans are gaining about how physical conditions, for example concussions in athletes, can affect the whole family.

Here are just a couple of the tips Darlene shared when I interviewed her for Fireside Talk Radio.

#1 Find a Focus

Finding a focus is one way to get to the next level in the midst of sorrow. Her kids’ well-being was Darlene’s focus. For example, she kept her married name in order to match her kids’ last name.

#2 Forgive Yourself

Even when it is unavoidable, Christian women inevitably deal with guilt about divorce. Forgiveness is necessary, though, according to Darlene.

Megaphone Truth

I also asked her the most important truth she has learned so far in life. You know, the one she would shout through a megaphone for everyone if she could.

“You don’t have to be tough. Tough means we keep people and things from hurting us. Tough is outward. Strong in inward,” she answered.

Pursue God’s Goals

As Christians, how do we get over our judginess of others and ourselves when it comes to divorce? Darlene suggests pursuing the same purpose God always intended for us, no matter what challenges we face, married or single. She says her experiences taught her to develop confidence in the future God had for her and her children.

If you or someone you love has been through divorce, you don’t want to miss Darlene’s encouraging message. I invite you to go to www.thementoringalliance.com to learn more about my friend Darlene or catch our podcasts, Single and Strong: Excellence after Divorce and Serving God After Divorce, on Fireside Talk Radio at Toginet.com.

To me, Darlene is proof that divorce is not an ending when it comes to serving God. I cherish her story and all that brought her to the moment when I first met this remarkable friend.

May I pray for you?

Dear good Father in heaven, thank you for my sister Darlene. Thank you for giving her such a heart of courage and love, much like Yours. We all struggle when life knocks us down, O Lord. Teach us to pursue the purposes You have for us this day, regardless of the distractions and heartbreaks we experience. Protect our children because they belong to You and You love them more than we can imagine. Bless this dear one and guide her in Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I want to hear from you

What is your megaphone truth about divorce or anything else? How has someone comforted you?

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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Oncology Nurse Beats Breast Cancer with Susan Ellsworth

CathyKrafve.com

Susan Ellsworth had a double mastectomy, a reconstruction, and then a third surgery to remove the reconstruction. She’s an oncology nurse who beats breast cancer. Plus, she keeps beating cancer daily as she helps her patients in their most vulnerable moments.

Questions that are Too Personal?

Maybe you even know someone like Susan with an indomitable spirit who faces down cancer with courage and dignity. Are you afraid to ask too many personal questions? If so, I have great news: Susan came on Fireside Talk Radio and courageously told us all the nitty gritty details.

An Oncology Nurse with First Hand Experience with Breast Cancer

She share her very personal story to help other families trying to figure out how to face down breast cancer with dignity and victory. Consider it a Christmas present for anyone grieving because their holiday is not what they expected.

 We knew her experience with breast cancer as an oncology nurse makes her qualified to help many, many women as they go through the journey with their families. For instance, Susan candidly discusses the difficulty of getting lymphedema diagnosed. So, even though Susan is a very private person, she wanted to tell her story simply to help others.

Faith + Practical Info = Victory

With 24 years in nursing, Susan has served both as a cardio and an oncology nurse. She has tenderly cared for countless patients in the most difficult and vulnerable moments in their lives. She and her husband have been married 28 years and she is the mother of 3 kids. One of her daughters is also a nurse. Her beautiful mom is also a breast cancer survivor. The MOST important thing about Susan is her faith, which you are about to discover as she tells her story in this tender conversation.

Click here to find the podcast.

I want to hear from you.

What have you learned when you or someone you loved faced off with cancer? Who was on your team and how did they show they cared? Do you have a story you would like to share?

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, our hearts turn to You in a special way during the holidays. For some of us, we see other families celebrating and we feel alone in our grief. We don’t realize how common our feelings are this time of year. Give us courage to openly share with a trustworthy friend the feelings that make us feel isolated. Help us draw near to You.

All families experience grief along the way and this time of year it feels really sad to miss someone we love, face a crisis, or transition into a new normal.

You alone provide the unconditional love, support, and true companionship we need. May our tender hearts find peaceful joy in cherishing Your Son. In His name we pray. Amen.

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

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The Collision of Life and Art in Chronic Pain with Frankie Picasso

The Unstoppable Frankie Picasso, Talk Radio Guru and wonderful human, joins us to tell her story of dealing with chronic pain. We turn the tables on Frankie and ask her all the hard questions she is usually asking the guests on her programs. In return, she opens up and tells us the truth about what she does each day to be the fabulous person we all admire. You may find yourself holding your breath as Frankie shares her adventures with overcoming pain. How did her experience help her reconnect with an old passion? As always, she manages to weave in stories of other people she admires and, of course, the pets we all love!

Frankie Picasso on CathyKrafve.com

What in the world do pets, pain, and Picasso have in common?

Chronic Pain, Pets, and Picasso. 

I first met Frankie Picasso because of Dynamic Women. I understand how Frankie got invited. Don’t ask me how a small town gal like me got on a program like Dynamic Women. It’s gotta be proof God has a sense of humor. In each episode, strong women prove that folks can still have civilized conversations without actually arguing.

Founder of The Good Radio Network, Frankie hosts a couple of shows herself. Frankie’s listeners would never guess that she’s in constant pain. She seldom mentions it on air. 

In fact, Frankie focuses her attention on every one else. Authors, musicians, all kinds of amazing people show up to talk to Frankie. Because of Frankie, I’ve gotten to chat with Rachel Dekkar, author of  the The Seer Book Series, Ben Sciacca, author of Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence, and Ralph Williams, the singer/songwriter who gave us songs like the 2016 hit “He Cares.”

Just pinch me, I must be dreaming.

But, you know me. I like to get the personal, behind-the-scenes stories, too. So, when we decided to say yes to Fireside Talk Radio, I called Frankie and invited her to be on our show. With a prayer and my fingers crossed.

Frankie’s personal story includes a motorcycle accident, six months in the hospital, and living with chronic pain. It involves a complete change of life, a divorce, new training from her hospital bed, and a whole new career. There’s a reason we call Frankie unstoppable.

She shared many tips with us on air about how to live with chronic pain. One of my favorites, of course, involved art. Is it any wonder I’ve grown to love this friend so much? On our show, Frankie explains how getting our mind engaged creatively frees us from pain, at least momentarily. Shifting our focus also creates positive energy for helping others, especially in Frankie’s case, as it turns out.

In the midst of her pain, this determined soul had a brainstorm. Why not create paintings to help others?  

“Proceeds from the sale of her artwork and custom orders go directly to pay for Cleft Palate Surgery for children through Mercy Ships Canada, Saving Animals in Sanctuaries, Shelters, Climate Change Project and to other Humanitarian efforts in need at the time,” according to The Good Radio Network website.

Yep, that’s Frankie. The same intellectual gal who asks me tough questions on air in front of God and all humanity, also has a very soft side that passionately cares about the plight of abandoned pets, for instance. Her “Pawcasso” pet paintings capture the personality of her furry models in joyful exuberance.

If you or someone you love is in chronic pain, I hope you will listen in on our show via podcast. (I want to thank Home Instead for sponsoring these wonderful episodes with Frankie.) There’s plenty to encourage us all from a strong and joyful woman who gets it.

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Sandwich Generation: Tips for Making Elders Feel at Home with Robin Boyd

 

CathyKrafve.comSandwich Generations can span four generations now, as we all live longer. All the generations can interweave to answer the question: how do we make Mom (or Dad) feel at home?

At my house, it’s kinda comical, trying to schedule Mom’s doctor’s appointments around my own! Plus, I don’t want to miss the first joyful pediatrician visits with our newest grand! Responsibilities are shifting as we settle in.

Robin's Good Advice

Passing 50’s Robin Boyd joined me recently on Fireside Talk Radio and wow-ed me with more practical ideas for making my mom feel comfortable in the home we now share.

“It’s important to remember they called the shots for 70 years,” she says. Robin is one of the few people addressing Sandwich Generation issues on the air waves and the internet. I am supremely grateful for the terrific advice she’s given me over the last year. I keep circling back to her for more.

Sandwich Generation

Are you are a Sandwicher, like me? Is sandwicher even a word? You probably get how many decisions have to be made to keep the family transitioning smoothly as needs evolve constantly. Maybe you’re presenting your parents with grandkids, while they care for their parents. (By the way, great job on giving them grandkids!)

Yep, the great grandparents of your children are pretty special people. They offer a lifetime of wisdom, often condensed into profound soundbites. They deserve our respect expressed in tender, loving care. Sometimes, care is easier said than done.

Here are the latest tips Robin gave me on a recent episode (Ripple Effects of Respecting Elders) of Camp Krafve’s new show Fireside Talk Radio.

Robin BoydRobin’s Tips

Tip #1 Create a Team. For many families, the greatest challenge can be finding ways to finance the care an elder needs. Together, Robin and my cohost Ellen Trant both endorse reaching out to all potential team members, for example like Alzheimers Alliance or Veteran’s groups, to create a team of resource people. Robin suggests case workers at the hospital are also full of information and help.

Tip #2 Ask Good Questions. Robin points out that families often hesitate to ask about the cost. However, she says asking about cost right up front increases the scope of your best options. Mom and I love good questions and often finish each other’s sentences in our eagerness to get good info.

Tip #3 Take Good Notes. When your network gels, that can be a lot of care providers working together. Robin makes suggestions for keeping communication on track. Just one of her practical examples, she kept a notebook handy in her mom’s room and insisted that each expert record the treatments they provided as they came and went.

There’s more from Robin by clicking on Passing 50. I want to thank her for launching Fireside Talk Radio with such a depth of wisdom.

What’s Next on Fireside Talk Radio

After our “Care Giving” series, we have a “Taboo Topics” series planned. Then, up next, Mental Health, early in the Spring. We hope you will listen in as people share their most tender stories. Maybe you and your friends can talk about stuff. Maybe even your own family. Our goal is to spark conversational adventures that create opportunities for families (and communities) to connect in respectful unity and fellowship.

Just a quick note of thanks to all my listening friends. On a Google search, Fireside Talk Radio pops up #4, right after Franklin D. Roosevelt. Not bad for a small town gal exploring the internet universe, right? Look out, Mr. President, I’m aiming for #1! I’m pretty sure Mr. Rosevelt is not worried. Anyway, thanks for listening!

Fireside Talk Radio is quickly turning into an unexpected, but joyful adventure. I’m grateful for the companionship and compadres discovered in the process. We hope you will stayed tuned and share our guest’s amazing stories with your friends!

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, You command us to honor our parents, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. Yet, You give us energy and joy when we look to You. You create refreshing, tender moments in each day as we trust You in all our relationships. I pray now that You bless the family of this dear one. Provide the strength, courage, and energy to kindly and respectfully care for needs. Give us wisdom, O Lord, so we faithfully do what we need to and let the rest go. Teach us to prioritize wisely. Surround us with wise and capable help in the care-giving process. In Jesus name. Amen.

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Host, focusing on fellowship in Christian Marriage and Family, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

 

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Fireside Talk Radio Sparks Up

Fireside Talk Radio Sparks Up

We all have stuff that is just plain too tough to talk about. Never in a million years did I think it was a good idea to talk about that stuff in public, on air no less! Yet, this month we start a new adventure of epic proportions. Okay, maybe epic is a bit hyperbolic.

Let’s just say we surprised the heck out of me and launched Fireside Talk Radio. Not without roadblocks.

Far starters, one radio station backed out when they heard our promo for an upcoming episode about recovering from abortion. Apparently anything associated with abortion is controversial. Seriously? Everyone I know, no matter their political persuasion, hates the idea of abortion. We all agree it’s a terrible choice. Plus, everyone really wants families wounded by the lingering after affects of abortion to get help. There’s tons for folks to agree on when it comes to abortion. But, no one knows it if we don’t talk honestly and compassionately.

Sparking Up Compassionate Conversations

Consequently, we launched Fireside Talk Radio to spark up conversations in families. Our goal? Open family conversations that lead to compassion and fellowship. In order to make it easier for families to talk, we take on the hardest topics. Not to create controversy at all. Instead, we hope to spark conversations that ferment unity, understanding, and mutual respect.

Conversations don’t have to disintegrate into arguments and name calling. Although, if you tune in to the national news sources, you might assume journalism has devolved into one long, rude shouting match.

Personal Stories and Hard-won Wisdom

At Fireside Talk Radio, we invite guests to tell their deeply personal stories, then share what they learned in their struggles. We hope this opens up conversations at your house, as it already has at ours.

Having conversations about how to age with dignity tops my personal list right now. Upcoming shows also address living with chronic pain, sexual assault, abortion recovery, sex after breast cancer, and more. You name it, we talk about it.

I feel honored to bring the best my friends have to offer. Their stories bring tears to our eyes when we consider the courage and power of these inspiring individuals.

Their reason for sharing such personal information is their hope that our pain will be eased in the hearing.

Stories Foster Fellowship

Stories are like that. They have the power to comfort. Fellowship is created when we drop our guard and expose the tenderest places in our hearts.

For our first episode, the amazing Robyn Boyd shares about discovering her mother was unconscious with a stroke. She offers tips for other women on how to balance Sandwich Generation issues, like how to be a working mom and the care-taking daughter simultaneously. I want to thank Robin here for her generosity in sharing her story. She is my go-to gal for wisdom as Mom made the decision to join Dave and I in our home. I salute her work for our military heroes, too.

Robin’s impressive resume is too long for here, but you can find out more about her by downloading this episode or going to Passing50.com.

Please join in prayer for families.

Dear Father, You are the perfect Parent, always compassionate and unending in mercy and love. We are not perfect, not even close. What we need is energy to get through today without totally blowing it. We pray now for families, which are stretched thin in our modern world. For those dear friends who are caring for their elders while simultaneously raising a young family and working, we pray now that You would bless them with peace and energy to be loving and faithful today. Allow us to wake up tomorrow refreshed and full of wisdom for the challenges we face in raising fellowship-based, multi-generational families. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Thank Heavens for Teamwork!

Nothing happens in life without teamwork. In this case, the talented (and oh-so-patient) Roy Bryan designed our beautiful FiresideTalk Radio logo and my sweet daughter, Ellen Trant, served as my delightful co-host to get me past the jitters. Thank you to both of them and the whole team at Toginet. And a special thanks to Sandra Beck for always being awesome as usual, like it’s just another day in the life of a friend.

You can sign up for my Newsletter by clicking here. Be blessed today, dear one!

 

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Connect with Cathy


A Semi-retired Mom, Queen of Fun, and Coffee Cup Philosopher Cathy Krafve pulls in exciting guests from all walks of life who rejoice in deeply spiritual truths.

Warning: You may feel guilty pleasure for listening in on these sparky conversational adventures.

With her never-met-a-stranger attitude, Cathy asks "Why learn stuff the hard way, when experts want to share wisdom with us for free."

A columnist, speaker, writer, small business owner, education connoisseur, and middle class philanthropist, Cathy brings all her experience together to ask the questions we all want to know.

Like a friend you met for coffee, Cathy's guests share practical strategies for marriage, family, community, and life.

Why? Because all women deserve a break. By a break, we mean a minute alone with a strong cup of coffee and good podcast. For more great shows go to CathyKrafve.com.



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