I Love Valentine’s Day! by William Summey


One of my favorite parts of Valentine’s Day is helping the boys pick out their Valentine cards for school. They are not that much different than the cards I picked out as a young boy, except for the characters on the front of the cards (although I think Scooby-Doo® has remained popular across all these years). And this year? My sons both picked out NASCAR® cards to give to their friends!

Although Valentine’s Day is about more than giving chocolate and flowers, these tokens of love still remind us of the source of unconditional love — God. Perhaps our greatest task in parenting is to show our children unconditional love on a regular basis. If you are like me, when I am tired, frustrated, or angry, I realize that I can only love my children unconditionally with God’s help. So as you open your cards and eat candy hearts, remember to give thanks to God for sending Jesus — His greatest gift of love!

What do you plan to do this year with your kids on Valentine’s Day? What are your Valentine’s Day traditions?

Originally published February 12, 2009. 

Resolution Baby Steps by Jessie Weaver

Resolution Baby Steps

source: Emily Price

I went to see my chiropractor today. He asked me how I was feeling, I guess wanting to gauge how things have been and where to start.

“I actually feel great, ” I told him. “No lower back pain at all.”

For me to be able to say that is enormous. Over the last 4 years, I have struggled through immense pain; numerous episodes of my back being thrown out, spasming, and being unable to get out of bed; and who knows how many chiro, doctor, physical therapy, and spine specialist appointments. During my last pregnancy, my disc herniated, leaving me with sciatica that didn’t dissipate after the baby was born. (So a newborn and constant pain in the calf – woohoo!)

As I talked to my doctor, I realized the baby steps I’ve made toward healthier living and taking care of my back and myself. I started with physical therapy exercises. In September, I joined the YMCA and have been going faithfully to work on the elliptical or take water aerobics or Zumba classes. And then last week, I decided it was time to tackle diet. I made a fairly drastic change in my diet, but have taken so many baby steps toward healthier eating in the last few years that I know what to do and how to eat for health. I just haven’t always done it.

It’s not how most resolutions work, is it? We like to jump in, erase the drawing board, get results as fast as we can get a Big Mac at McDonald’s (which of course we would never do anymore … until January 20 or so rolls around, and we are hungry and tired of salads).

Whatever your resolution this year, may I suggest you take the whole year to establish it? Break it down into 12 baby steps to implement over the year. It may not be as fun or drastic. But I am guessing it will be a whole lot more feasible for you. And yes, parents, this may involve taking time for yourself. I know it’s hard! But we want our kids to see us as people … not just as their mom or dad, who gives them whatever they want and caters to their every demand.

Read a chapter of the Bible … exercise for 10 minutes … drink one glass of water. Just do something! And gradually, change will come.


Giveaway: Dear Son by Dave Bruskas

DearSonToday’s culture doesn’t encourage men to grow up. Everyone from pastors to op-ed columnists have described a crisis of masculinity, fostered by a media culture that uniformly make men the butts of jokes. Men are much more likely to give up on life than women. One indicator of this is the large gender difference in suicide rates — men are four times more likely than women to drop out of life. This points to a profound lack of effective mentoring of men, especially in the church.

Dave Bruskas seeks to fill in this gap with his book Dear Son. Two decades ago, Dave lost his only infant son to a congenital heart defect. That devastating loss fueled his desire to provide effective mentoring to young men. Dear Son contains the guidance and insights Dave would have given his son if he had lived through the milestones of growing up: from first dates to first jobs, from weddings to births, from friendships to funerals. Dear Son contains heartfelt wisdom for life’s journey, especially for guys — and for those who want to strengthen them.

ParentLife has five copies of Dear Son to give away! To enter, simply leave a comment below. But hurry … this giveaway ends on Friday, June 27th!

Raising a P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S.

RaisingAPrincess_CVRWith the success of the movie “Frozen” princesses are back in the spotlight, and much is made about raising daughters to be a princesses, but what does that really mean? Former Alabama defensive back John Croyle, and founder of child safe-haven Big Oak Ranch, believes the answer lies in Proverbs 31: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in her gates” (vv. 28-31).

In his new book, Raising a Princess (B&H Books, May 2014), Croyle walks through the importance of raising young women in a biblical, strong, and compassionate manner. Touching on themes of unconditional love, failure, and trust, Croyle offers nearly four decades of wisdom in raising a godly woman from a dad’s perspective.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove, or how much money we had in the bank,” says Croyle, author of The Two Minute Drill to Manhood, which looks at what it means to raise godly young men. “But the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child.”

In The Two Minute Drill to Manhood, he tackles the necessities of equipping young men in the most pivotal moments of their adolescence. However, in Raising a Princess Croyle writes with a different end in mind: womanhood. The end is a Proverbs 31 woman and Croyle provides parenting techniques to help the reader raise their princess to someday be a queen. Croyle’s specific approach to raising young women is spelled out through the acronym P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S:

Praiseworthiness – A princess understands she is worthy of praise simply because she is made in the image of God.

Righteousness – She lives according to God’s normal, not the world’s normal.

Initiative – A princess makes good things happen.

Nurture – God built into girls and women an instinct to nurture that boys and men simply don’t have in the same way.

Character – A girl of character knows what her deepest desires are and chooses accordingly.

Empowerment – Your princess needs to understand life isn’t just something that happens to her. She has the power to choose.

Servant-Heartedness – A princess finds purpose not in being served, but in serving others.

Stability – As stability is provided for daughters, they will grow into the kind of people who help create stability for others.

John Croyle was an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during apic_administration4 renowned title run under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Croyle declined a career in the National Football League and instead went on to found and develop the Big Oak Ranch for Boys. Over the next few decades they worked to start the Girls’ Ranch as well as the Westbrook Christian School. He and his wife, Tee, together have raised hundreds of young men and women, including their daughter and Big Oak child care director, Reagan Croyle Phillips, as well as their son and former NFL quarterback Brodie Croyle. For more information, please visit www.bigoak.org.

Reconnect With Your Spouse

It’s important for new moms to remember that new dads have their own share of stress, most keeping full-time jobs in addition to helping with the new baby at home. Both parents should attempt be sympathetic to the other’s needs. One vital need: Time with each other! Consider the following ways to keep your marriage strong.

1. Make time for just the two of you- Finding time to spend together alone is always harder than in seems. Strive to make a date at least once a week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate- in every way possible. Schedule a time to talk about subjects other than the baby. Speak on the phone, and send text messages and emails throughout the day.

3. Play! Take up a new hobby together. Always wanted to go antiquing or learn to play golf? Whether you bring the baby along, or utilize caregivers, do it together.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q: My sister tells me I am too uptight about getting my toddler to sleep every night. She allows her three-year-old to stay up late, sleep in the next day and take naps if he is tired. She does not have him on any sleep routine. What do you think of this?

A: When you talk to sleep experts, they will tell you that a consistent sleep routine is important for a toddler. Sleep actually helps a baby’s brain grow! A study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that inconsistent sleep may contribute to obesity later in life. The study also noted that napping does not replace the benefits of nighttime sleep. According to the CDC, three to five-year-olds need 11-13 hours of nighttime sleep. So, yes, a toddler needs a regular bedtime. Since a lack of sleep can create problems opt for the regular bedtime routine and be patience. A toddler may need help to wind down by reading a book, taking a warm bath or doing something quiet before bedtime. Of course, parents need to avoid chocolate, sodas and even juices before bedtime. A warm cup of milk is calming. Then, make sure there is a consistent wake up time as well, as oversleeping and prolonged napping can create sleep problems. The atmosphere should be quiet and peaceful. Some toddlers like a little music to relax them as well. Even small things like keeping the room temperature comfortable and the house quiet can aid a good night’s sleep. And you are setting habits for the future. Most of us do best with a regular sleep routine as well.

Resource: Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens by Owens and Midell (Marlowe & Company, 2005.

Real Life Solutions With Dr. Linda Mintle

Q. I am a new mom and love to be out in the sun during this time of year. A friend of mine told me to be more careful and cover up my baby from the sun. Is this really a big deal?

A. Absolutely. Most sun damage occurs in childhood. Sun exposure builds over the years and can create problems later in life. Babies can get sunburned and their tender skin can’t handle the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. A baby under the age of six months should not be exposed to direct sunlight. And even though it is hot, cover your baby with light cotton clothing to protect her skin. Limit her exposure to the sun during the peak hours of ultraviolet rays—10:00a.m to 4:00p.m. Shade her whenever possible. Most baby carriers have sunshades built in, car shades can be use when she is in her car seat and umbrellas, baby tents and other shading devices can be used as added protection. Use sunscreen designed for infants with at least an SPF of 15, even on hazy days. Apply the sunscreen at least an hour before going out and reapply it often. Hats are also a good way to protect the face and they look really cute! Keep in mind that if you live in a high altitude, sun exposure is greater. If your baby gets sunburned and is showing blisters, fever, chills headache or appears ill, contact your pediatrician immediately. Sunburn can lead to dehydration and is treated like a serious burn. So yes, your friend was right. It is a big deal!

Resource: Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields & Ari Brown M.D. Windsor Peak Press; Fifth Edition, Revised, 5th ed. edition (September 1, 2011)

Richard’s Surprise by Carey Casey

A son makes a simple yet meaningful gesture, and it impacts his father for eternity…

The dad’s name is Richard. He had always been an active and committed father. He poured his time and his energy into his kids; he was very devoted to them. But he had never truly embraced God as his heavenly Father. He attended church and he would tell you that faith is very important, but he was never fully committed as a believer.

Richard’s son, 23 years old at the time, played pro baseball for a minor-league team. As he worked his way up the ranks Richard naturally followed him as best he can. He traveled to some games and went online to keep up with what happened when he couldn’t be there.

One evening Richard was checking out the results on his computer, and he found a highlight clip of his son making a great play. What a thrill to be able to see that online! Then, after the play, his boy stood still just for a moment, took off his cap, bowed his head for a short prayer, and then pointed to the sky.

It’s what you see players do sometimes, right? Well, for Richard it was no ordinary thing. He was moved almost to tears. He had no clue that his son’s faith was that important to him.

Richard felt some regret to a degree, because he knew that equipping his kids in their faith was an area where he had fallen short. At the same time, he was humbled that in spite of all that, God still worked in his son’s life to bring about the kind of faith where he could openly give honor and glory to God for his own success.

That experience has had a long-lasting influence on Richard. Today, he is taking his own walk with Christ much more seriously, and he’s paying more attention to the spiritual lives of all his children. What do they believe, and how much does it matter to them? How can they bring glory to God with their lives? Best of all, he’s become a better example of a sold-out, fully devoted disciple of Christ.

Dad, if you’re like Richard used to be, you might be comforted in knowing that God can get through to your children in spite of your weaknesses. But then, why take that chance? Get close to God, and lead your children there as well.

careycaseycasual2007Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

Be a Father by Carey Casey

In ParentLife this month, I wrote about dads who deserve to be honored, and the idea of making “sacrifices” for our children. It occurs to me that another great point to make is that there are dads out there who pretty much define that word “sacrifice.” So I want to add a salute to dads who are committed to meeting the needs of their kids—no matter what.

This is expressed by dads in many different challenging situations, but I have one group in mind specifically.

Some years ago, my bride Melanie and I came face-to-face with the difficult truth that our son had a mild learning challenge. It wasn’t anything major, and he has nearly overcome it in the years since. But at the time it set me back for a while. Our family is not perfect by any means. Still, it seemed like the kind of thing that just didn’t happen to us. My three other children have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but they didn’t have this specific challenge.

So I started asking questions I’m sure are normal for these kinds of situations: What caused this? Was it something I did—or didn’t do? Did we miss something that could have made a difference?

But it wasn’t long before those more self-centered thoughts turned to love and concern for my son. No matter what happened in the past, what can I do now to help him? My consuming thought was, Hey, this is my time to step up. I have to be a father. I need to be there for my son.

If any of you dads listening today have children with even more challenging issues—like autism, Down’s Syndrome, or something else—I know you’re very familiar with those thoughts and emotions. It’s often dads like you who set the mark and help us to define what it means to be a committed dad. When the needs of your child required some extra sacrifices, you stepped up. You put your child’s needs before your own, and you’ve never regretted it.

Those dads deserve more recognition for what they do.

And this message may be more for the rest of us who face the routine rigors of being a dad, but aren’t facing the overwhelming exhaustion of raising a child with extreme disabilities. I would say, “Dad, take a page from the playbook of the most committed dads you know. Make the radical decision to sacrifice your own desires and goals for the sake of your children.”

And then my other thought would be this: no matter what your children’s gifts, abilities, and weaknesses may be, cherish them for who they are. Be flexible, and grow with them. Let them teach you what it means to be a committed father.


careycaseycasual2007Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

When Everyone Isn’t Happy In Your Re-Marriage

My friend Denise was a beautiful bride. She was in her early thirties when she married Matt and took on the challenges of stepparenting Rylee, his 10-year-old daughter. To others, it seemed like a seamless transition. Denise had been an assistant leader in Rylee’s Girl Scout troop. She had taken special care to make sure that Rylee was often included on her dates with Matt, and she had even spent many “girl days” with Rylee for some one-on-one time. Even Rylee’s biological mom had a good relationship with both Denise and Matt.

But sometime between the wedding kiss and the limousine ride to the reception, Rylee had a meltdown. Running to Denise, she buried her face in her new stepmom’s arms and burst into tears—loud, heaving sobs. Everyone was baffled and wondering, Why? What’s wrong?

A newly married couple is floating on the high of marital bliss, excited to have finally found the right person. Unfortunately, many parents assume that their biological children are as happy as they are about this new marriage. “When divorced parents remarry, they see it as a gain, but a child sees it as another loss,” Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom, explains. “The reason stepfamilies are so complicated is because whether death or divorce has occurred, there has been loss. With loss come grief, fear, depression, and discouragement.” Families take those emotions with them into new relationships. While Mom or Dad may think they have had time to heal, they don’t realize that children tend to be about two years behind adults in the grieving process.

Years later, as a young adult, Rylee explained the emotions behind the tears on that wedding day. Once her daddy was officially remarried, she realized there was no way that he would ever go back to her mother. Sure, she liked Denise, in fact, she really loved her. But as a child, she had long been fantasizing that one day her father and mother would marry each other again, and her home would be put back in place.

“It’s wise for a stepparent to recognize that they need to move very slowly into the life of the step child,” urges Laura. “It takes approximately seven years for a step family to bond. The mistake is when a new couple thinks that since they are happy, the children should be equally as happy.”

Rebecca Ingram Powell is a wife, mother, author, and national conference speaker. Connect online at www.momseriously.com