Adjusting My Perspective to Understand My Kids: Seeing Their Logo

It had been a long day and it was time for bed… not for me, but for the kids. They were little at the time, maybe 6 and 4. Quite different than the towering scaled-down teenagers that they are today. Baths were done and teeth were brushed. The finish line had almost been reached and I was so ready to tuck those little dudes in, grab a bowl of ice cream, and relax. I think we’ve all been there.

But instead of settling in neatly under their covers, they both started to randomly jump up on me, pounce at me, and grab a hold me. It was sort of strange and out of place, because the routine at that time of our night is to wind things down, not up. They must’ve forgotten that time. They continued to laughingly poke and physically prod me. I then realized what was happening, so I responded. I snatched onto their cute little bodies and turned our tuck-in routine into a rolling, giggling, twisting wrestling match all over the floor. It was a sweaty bit of mess after some clean-smelling baths.

After ending the match by pinning their mini kid-frames together, we called a truce for the night and got things back under control. The tucking commenced and they went to sleep.

As I went to get my ice cream that night, I recognized something about my kids. They are not mature, grown, or fully capable of expressing what they need, so they sometimes have a funny way of letting me know their desires. On that evening, when they were physically jabbing, digging, and pushing at me, I understood that what they were telling me was “We want to be close to you. We want physical touch from you.” On an evening after work, the natural thing to do is to look right past that and miss what they are trying to tell me. My perspective as a parent needs to be fixed on what my kids’ still-growing brains and bodies are trying to express, even though that may come out in interesting ways.

We’ve all seen this logo….

FedEx has one of the most recognizable emblems ever and has won more than 40 design awards with it. Lindon Leader created it in 1994 and there is probably not a day that we don’t drive down the road near a truck, building, or billboard bearing the brand.

With all kudos this logo has received, my favorite part of it is the arrow. You may say, “What arrow???” If you look between the “E” and the “X”, there is a forward-motion white arrow subtly slipped in.

Since FedEx is a delivery company, this arrow represents sending items on and moving them ahead. It tells the entire story of what that company is about in a single hidden arrow. It’s genius and thought-provoking.

What are my kids doing and saying that I am not seeing or paying attention to? Am I looking for their subtle “white arrows” that tell me what their needs are? They sometimes have unique ways of sharing hurts, asking for affection, expressing joy, and conveying disappointment. I can be so much more helpful and understanding to them if I adjust my perspective and look for what is really present in the delicate logo that is my kids’ lives.

Oh, and who’s that mysterious third person in the picture at the top? That’s my nephew… and yes, he’s chewing on Bauer.

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Managing a Crisis: The Word I Never Wanted to Hear

Brian Compton is husband to Andrea, dad to two great kids, and pastor of Hillcrest Church. In 2007, he received the news that changed his family forever. In this post by Brian, he shares how he and his wife navigated family life after hearing what no one wants to hear.

I’ll never forget the moment I heard the worst news of my life.  

It was big—bigger than I could handle at the moment.  

It was daunting—things felt like they would never be the same.  

And if I’m honest, it was scary—the future felt extremely uncertain and the outlook was dim. 

It was a Friday back in 2007 when my doctor told me I had cancer.  

Cancer is a dreadful word that none of us take lightly and it had intruded into our happy lives and home.  My wife Andrea and I were parents to an 18 month old boy at the time and he was our world.  But parenting through that season of uncertainty would suddenly begin to look much different than the previous 18 months.  We made it through the cancer diagnosis and treatments with our family intact, healthy, and happy.  Not only that… four months after I left the hospital for the last time we welcomed a healthy baby girl into our family! 

My family learned a few things through our journey of parenting through crisis that I’d love to share with you.  My crisis sounds extreme, but these things are not cancer specific.  Your crisis might look like a layoff, car accident, house fire, rebellious child or financial struggle.  

When crisis strikes there’s a feeling that everything has changed and we tend to react.  That’s normal.  But I want to remind you to stay the course.  Remember who you were the day before the crisis.  Keep in mind your goals and dreams, because you and your family can use those as handles of hope as you navigate the crisis.  Andrea and I still talked about trips we wanted to take, things we wanted to do, and we somehow found time to go on dates here and there. 

Our greatest parenting strength comes from the depth of our family relationships.

Our greatest parenting strength comes from the depth of our family relationships.  A crisis will be stressful and test the mettle of those bonds, but it will also reveal the beauty and strength of them.  Let it reveal what it reveals and fall back on your strengths as a family.  Parent and live from those qualities, for I believe they’re God-given.

During a crisis, find a way to parent in a way that doesn’t put children into the world of “adult problems.”  My son struggled to understand why I wasn’t around as much.  He didn’t see me as often and that upturned his whole world for a time.  So when I was with him, even though I was plagued by anxiety, I did my best to make things seem normal for him, and my wife was a huge stabilizing factor in that.  We played, we watched shows, we went to the park, we ate as a family.  I remember being super sick but still going to a fall kids festival with him, because he wanted the fun and I wanted the memory.  Even though this is your crisis, it’s still your kid’s life and they need to live it.  They need to see you find courage in a scary time.  They need to see you love your spouse though hardship.  They need to see you laugh despite pain.  They need to see what it really looks like to trust Jesus in the difficult moments so they can appreciate the happy ones.   

Through whatever situation you’re facing, or will soon face… you can do this! There is hope on the other side- stay strong and focus on the things that keep you encouraged.

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Exposing Our Kids to Great People: The Gift From Mrs. Keys

I didn’t think that a gift from Reese’s teacher would touch MY heart so much. Although, it wasn’t the gift itself, but the message that came with it. To start this sixth grade year, Mrs. Keys held a special ceremony in which she told her class the significance of her favorite book, the Bible. She shared about different Bibles she had owned in her life and the special people who had given them to her. She revealed times when passages in her Bible had guided her through dark, difficult, and painful places. She talked about when verses in God’s Word built her up and gave her inspiration to succeed.

Then she presented each of her students with their own leather bound Bible, complete with their name imprinted neatly on the front. Each student came to the front and she presented it to them, encouraging them to use it as a roadmap for life.

The kids all left school that day THRILLED about the gift and Reese came home with hers. She showed it to me and it was beautiful. I looked at it, opened the front cover and saw life. Life being given from Mrs. Keys to my daughter. She wrote to my daughter, “Reese, You are loved, redeemed and made for a great purpose. I cannot wait to see all the amazing things God will do in your life. Love, Mrs. Keys” STAWP. IT. NOW!

There is something so very special when someone you respect breathes inspiration and words of affirmation into your kids. It feels as if you’re pulling on this rope called parenting, which is heavy and hard to pull. Then another supportive hand grabs on with you, tells you to keep going, and starts to pull as well. Every single parent knows the way this goes… we speak to our kids and tell them all about how things should go, meanwhile wondering if they even hear us. But, sometimes it takes another respected voice to say the same exact thing in order to penetrate their heart and reach them deeply.

For this reason, we believe in our home that we MUST expose our kids to “high impact people and high impact events.” Looking back on my childhood, my parents provided a steady and loving home. They were wise in the things they told me and taught me. But, being the goof I was, I didn’t usually take much note. I mean, they were just my parents. So they put me in the path of Bret, Barb & Doug, and others who guided me in the same direction. Those were high impact people who simply supported what my family was doing at home. Without this, I would be a different person today.

As a parent, I’m grateful for the Mrs. Keys’, Mrs. Friesen’s, Apollo’s, Karlo’s, Kevin’s, and others who are in essential places in my children’s lives. I can’t give my kids everything they need as they grow, and even if I could, they wouldn’t listen to it all from me. The truth is that kids will talk to someone in their life at some point, and the last thing they need is to get consequential advice from a peer. With this in mind, we can give them places to go (besides us) when they need to confide, celebrate, or think.

Let’s release control and find some high impact people to help speak life into our kids. We can’t do it alone!

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Using Affirmations to Build a Strong Inner Voice

At the start of each week, you can go into the first grade classroom at my school and find the inspiration and optimism you need to tackle whatever is ahead of you. In the corner of the white board are two phrases that are new every Monday. They’re meant for the children to memorize, but they are true for all of us. The teacher calls them “affirmations.”

One of the posted affirmations said, “I believe in myself and my abilities.” Another read “I give and accept compliments.” This week, one of the affirmations is “God has a great plan for my life.”

During the week, the students practice these affirmations, commit them to memory, and discuss how they apply in life. I recently asked the teacher the purpose of this weekly habit. Her response inspired me and caused me to think about how I build confidence in my own kids. She said, “Affirmations can be a truth that we need to remind ourselves of when we are in a difficult situation, or they can serve as a reminder of a goal or something we hope to achieve.”

The time is coming fairly soon when my kids won’t be around me everyday. They won’t always have nonstop daily access to my guidance, advice, and encouragement… or my refrigerator. They won’t live under my roof, be tucked in each night, and asked about the details of their day. For this future that’s ahead of them, I want one thing: I want them to know who they are and what they can do.

The world that awaits them will tell them things like, “You’re NOT good enough,” “You’re too big/small/skinny/fat/loud/quiet/etc.,” and “You are not worth being loved.” At that moment, each of our kids will look to their inner voice and lean on what they believe about themselves, which largely comes from us. They may become shell-shocked, depressed, or incapable of overcoming what’s coming at them. They may not have an inner voice that gives them confidence. But… we can build that inner voice in them now! We can tell them, “You matter,” “You are strong and you were born for a reason,” and “God loves you and sees great things in you.” If we do this, our kids will have a reservoir of strength to draw on when times get tough. They will know who they are and whose they are. They will be able to look at situations they face and remind themselves, “God made me for a reason,” “I am confident, loyal, and strong,” and “My BEST is SUCCESS.”

I want my kids to know who they are and what they can do.

Tonight, when I tuck those two sweet kids of mine into bed, I will be sure to look them in their eyes and fill them with affirmations. I will then go into first grade tomorrow and remind myself that those are true for me as well!

NOTE: For more excellent affirmations for your child, take a look at these from Priscilla Shirer.

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Is it Okay for Our Kids to Be Bored? Building Motivation and Creativity

You can already smell it in the air… pollen? Well, yes. But, I’m talking about summer. Children everywhere rejoice at the free horizons ahead of them! Parents, however, see right through this and know that by June 10, their sweet little ones will be whispering those seven letters that can make the summer screech to a halt- “I’m bored.”

All of us have heard this from our kids. My parents heard this from me during my childhood. They typically responded with, “Go outside.” Ugh, how could they?! Some parents today kick swiftly into gear at the mention of this phrase. IPads appear, Netflix is switched on, iPhones are handed out- anything to avoid the guilt associated with torturing a child with boredom.

As summer quickly approaches, it’s important to understand that “boredom” is not a curse word, especially relating to our kids. Actually, it can be of great benefit to them if we will just back away and let it happen sometimes.

  1. Boredom helps them practice for life. Our kids will grow up and stand in line, sit in doctors offices, drive in traffic, and endure tedious work meetings. Hopefully, they are used to managing this by then.
  2. Boredom builds creativity. Parenting author Nancy Blakey says, “I cannot plant imagination into my children. I can, however, provide an environment where their creativity is not just another mess to clean up, but welcome evidence of grappling successfully with boredom.” Yes!
  3. Boredom builds motivation. When I’m not setting up everything for my kids, they are forced to self-motivate and think. This too will be another skill that’s useful down the road. As child psychologist, Lyn Fry said, “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.
  4. Boredom builds contentment. This applies to adults too… we GO too much! Some of us can hardly sit in quiet without wanting to hop up and do something. Contentment is strengthened when we bring calm and peace to our homes, teaching our kids that life is not just a series of activities that we jump one to the next.
  5. Boredom creates contributors, not consumers. If we allow it, our children will naturally slip into constantly “taking.” That’s how we’re all born! Allowing them to experience a little boredom gives them a chance to build and contribute, rather than simply wait for someone to do that for them.

“Preempt the time spent on television and organized activities and have them spend it instead on claiming their imaginations.” ~ Nancy Blakey

I can hear you asking, does this mean I just sit in a chaise lounge with my lemonade all summer?! Well, part of the time, but we are in this to train future adults, not toss them into the yard and hope for the best. With that in mind, here are a few ways to guide our kids through the boredom:

  1. FIRST, love on them. Cuddle them, eat breakfast with them, share regular and meaningful conversation with them. Parenting is a balance between making these deposits and building independence in them.
  2. Get them outside. The outdoors is somehow fertile for a child’s imagination. Things come to life out there that don’t in the house. Let them sweat, get dirty, and create out there… without your help.
  3. Create a no-screen zone. Give yourself permission to say YES to screens during the summer, but also to say NO sometimes. Screens will provide relief from the immediate boredom issue, but they will not shape creativity or encourage motivation. What they may do (as most parents know) is start an argument of some kind;)

This summer, be reminded and encouraged that you are doing a great job. Even during the “boring” days, there are chances to help our kids grow in character and life-skills. We can guide them to be creative, learn contentment, and gain motivation. This may not be glamorous, but it IS what counts!

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Trusting God With Our Kids: Advice From a Mom Who’s Been There

“Life does not always align with our well thought-out plans.  As a mom, this drove me crazy and left me feeling out of control.”  Read on as Barb Berglund, mother to four grown kids and grandma to one adorable little one, shares her perspective on finding strength as we parent.

The best advice I ever received on parenting (and really on anything) came from my oldest sister.  She told me to get a good pair of jeans!  I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same thing.  What!?!?

Don’t get me wrong.  I like a new pair of jeans as much as the next person- dark wash, light wash, whatever.  But what does that have to do with anything?

Let me back up a bit.  I’m a planner.  I LOVE a good schedule and organization.  As I raised my four kids through each stage of childhood, it made me feel calm and in control.  In parenting (and life) this can be both good and bad.  Organization gave order to my busy life and helped me be productive.  It brought a sense of calm to the fast pace of our days.  I organized play dates, athletic events, school functions, meals, homework, family time, etc.  However, I quickly came to realize that kids don’t always follow the schedules we set out for them.  Life does not always align with our well thought-out plans.  As a mom, this drove me crazy and left me feeling out of control.

During one of these many moments, my sister, who knew me better than she even realized, gave me her advice about the jeans.  As any annoying baby sister would do, I asked “Why?”  Her answer?  “Because with your kids, the best thing you can do is be on your knees praying for them.”  Humbled?  Yup.  I was never in control.  God was and is in control, I just sometimes wouldn’t take the time to notice it.  He loves our children even more than we do and He has our back.  We can go to Him always about everything, knowing His plan is greater than ours!

What a relief, God has a plan.  By no means have I finished this parenting journey- I’m on to the grandkids, the fun part!  But at this point in my path, my suggestion for all parents is to go to Him with everything.  Thank Him for your kids health, their accomplishments, their joy.  Ask Him to provide for your needs and dreams.  If you’re like me, sometimes “Help!” is all you can speak .  If words fail me, I often speak the Lord’s Prayer or read Scripture aloud.  He meets me there and gives me the strength to put one foot in front of the other.  He loves us and our family and wants to hear from us.

So, I give you permission… go buy yourself a good pair of jeans!

Barb Berglund

Mother of 4

Gone through more jeans than I can count.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with ALL kinds of prayers and requests.”  ~Ephesians 6:18a

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The Value of Standardized Tests: There’s More to Our Kids

This is it. That time of year around our country when pencils hit the paper and the stress gets real. Numbers are burning through brains and forms are being filled out in mass. Tax time? No- it’s standardized testing time! Kids everywhere are furiously filling out bubbles in silent classrooms as their teachers anxiously hope that those sweeties choose correctly. After all, every ounce of teacher-worth could be created by what the percentiles of those tests come out to be.

Each year, when this time rolls around, I must remember that I am the head of an academic institution, while holding the personal belief that these tests hold only minimal value. With that in mind, I send some form of the following letter to our families before their kids enter the assessment gauntlet…

Hello Parents:

In the next couple of weeks, our students will be taking the standardized test in math, reading and other subjects. I want to share a few thoughts with you as we head into a week that can often cause students stress (we don’t want that:).

  1. The scores from the testing will tell us something about your child, but they will not tell us everything. A completed scoresheet does not know these wonderful kids the way we do, and it definitely does not know them the special way that you parents do. It won’t measure their creativity, their drive to finish things and the heart that produces that huge smile.
  2. We always want you to have tools and information to help you as a parent. Hopefully, these scores are another tool to indicate academic areas in which we all may be able to help your student grow. We must remember, though, this is not the only tool. We use it, gain from it, and put it away.
  3. Our staff will use these scores to find trends that will help us better serve your kids both now and in the future. We want each part of what they show us to contribute to how we make school (and life) successful for them!

I hope that this year’s testing is pressure-free and stress-free for your children. When they arrive, we will make certain to greet them with big smiles and treat them the same way we do every other week- like the sweet kids that they are!

When I was in grade-school, I had a few things going against me when I sat down to take tests. #1- I wasn’t too brilliant. Maybe that came once I got married, because I sure chose well there. Anyhow, #2- I could not have cared less about the tests! I made characters and shapes out of my bubbles and I’m sure if any teacher looked over my shoulder at my answer sheet, their inner thought bubble said, “What is he DOING?!”

Today, the pressure for students to score perfectly and begin “building a college resume” can be so intense. Kids as early as sixth grade are joining clubs, volunteering, and meeting with coaches to find out how they can one day get into the best colleges. Both college and high school students are trying to find any advantage they can and many schools report Adderall as their biggest drug problem. This “study drug” is prescribed for attention deficit disorder, but often students sell it to one another since it helps a person stay alert and awake for extra studying.

Meanwhile, there is little emphasis put on genuinely developing the character of our kids as they grow. The boxes, bubbles, essays, and percentiles are just a tiny part of that full child. Each of them is so much more than that, as good parents and teachers are fully aware. God made them each so uniquely and there is just no box that we can put them into. There are kids with courage, honesty, creativity, and ingenuity who will score low and change the world. There are also kids who will score at the top and struggle in life because of character issues.

Soon, your child will get their standardized test scores back. Use them as a tool- learn something from them, and find some ways that you can help your child grow academically. Then put the tool away and move on. There are many other great tools to use to help our kids and there are millions of things that make our kids amazing… much more than any dots they color in on a test.

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