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.

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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?

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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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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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