Ahh, Summertime!

Summer fun

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I have loved summer since I was a kid. Back then, summer was for playing outside, attending special church camps and events, vacationing, working in our garden, staying up late, laboring on our farm, and playing baseball.

My kids don’t have quite the same agenda, but there is still lots of playing, staying up late, church events, vacation, and baseball.

Pick up our July issue of ParentLife this Sunday and see all the great content about summer for families.

  • Moving or preparing a child to enter school for the first time? Check out Kristen White’s “Smooth Moves” (pp. 36-37).
  • Planning to spend lots of time outdoors? Then don’t forget these summer safety tips in “Super Summer Outdoor Safety” (pp. 24-25).
  • Looking for great summer activities? Dig in to “Create and Play” (pp. 30-31) and “Fast, Fun, and Free!” (pp. 32-33) for some great summer fun ideas.
  • Wanting a new twist on celebrating Independence Day? See “A Celebration of Heritage” (pp. 42-43) and find ways to celebrate Independence Day and explore history with your kids.
  • Make studying the Bible fun this summer. Check out “The Rizers” (pp. 20-23) to find out how they make Scripture memorization rock for kids (and adults — their catchy tunes will have you jamming to Scripture when you least expect it).

We offer lots of activities to help fill your schedule but let me recommend something often overlooked to supplement your summer fun: nothing. A day full of planned activities doesn’t give kids the opportunity to be bored and use their imaginations. Take some time to do nothing together. In fact, mark it on your schedule so you’re sure to keep your appointment with your kids for a day filled with kid-directed play.
Let us know what fun you are planning this summer!

Photo Source: vastateparksstaff


Peace in the Midst of Parenting by William Summey


Do you ever just need a break? Boy, I sure do, and I can tell I have passed it down to my kids. Christopher, always inquisitive, commonly asks, “How long until Spring Break? How long until Easter? How long until the end of the school year?” He wants to get those breaks all straight in his head! I must admit, he learned all of that from me!

Breaks are so nice. They reorient our thinking, helping us get a fresh start and perspective. Christians can find real rest in God, no matter where we are, even with the world around us descending into chaos. If you work in the business world, you know there is turnover and change. If you think of time with your kids, you know that chaos can break out any minute (usually right after you clean up or get to sleep)!

As parents, we all need time to rest in God. He helps us gain perspective on what is truly important in life. Being centered in Him helps us be better parents.

So next time Jonathan tells me, “Dad, I have a test today and forgot to study” or Christopher says, “Dad, I forgot that this is wear-my-favorite-shirt day, and my favorite shirt is dirty,” I will try to remember to rest in God.

The challenge is to find that peace in the midst of chaos. That’s why God’s supernatural strength and peace is a must for Christians to depend upon. I think of the passage: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. … you will find rest for yourselves” (Matthew 11:28-29). What helps you put life in perspective? Let us hear from you!

Parenting by grace,

William Summey

Transforming Mistakes Into Success

It was just a couple weeks ago when Christopher had a really bad day. He had an argument with Mom, lost his temper, and spent some time in his room calming down. All seemed well by dinnertime until Christopher dropped his plate on the way to serve his food. His plate shattered, and he burst into tears. All he could say was, "I had a terrible day!"

I reflected that I did not learn how to deal with mistakes well growing up. I tended to internalize the mistake, blaming myself and feeling ashamed, usually dwelling on the mistake rather than facing the problem and moving on. That was not a very healthy approach especially when I, like most people, made some of the same mistakes over and over again.

That’s why a love a fresh start: second chances, a new week, or even a new year. We are trained to make resolutions, start a fresh semester in school, and to start the year off right in many areas of life. But is it easy to do that as a parent, especially in the face of mistakes? Does one setback throw you completely off track?

I think the answer to successful change is all about the vision for success. The problem is that we are too busy to develop a clear vision and often to listen to God’s voice about what He would have us do.

So the challenge is to take time now before the hectic pace of life sweeps you away to seek that vision: vision for your family, what you want your children to be like at age 18, and where you want to be in your relationship with God.

Each month the ParentLife team wants to equip you to be the parent your children need you to be. Please let us know how we can better partner with you in your parenting journey!


Are You Ratings Ready? by Mike Nappa, Trends & Truths Online

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Every wonder how film & TV ratings are determined? Here’s the first in a two-part blog series to help you easily interpret those ratings systems for your family.

First, for any movie, I’d recommend you always look up the “Reason for the Rating” at www.filmratings.com. That’ll give you a clearer idea of a film’s content and whether it’s appropriate for your family. 

G—General Audiences
According to the Ratings Board of the Motion Picture Association of America (www.mpaa.org), a film with this rating “contains nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence or other matters” that parents accompanied by young children would find offensive. Generally speaking, if you trust the MPAA this rating should be fine for your family.

PG—Parental Guidance Suggested
In a PG movie no drug use is allowed, but “there may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity.” This most often shows up as mild swear words or mild violence. Parents should be aware, however, that PG-rated films released before 1984 more closely reflect the standards present in today’s PG-13 rating. You’ve been warned.


PG-13—Parents Strongly Cautioned
A PG-13 movie has more frequent, or more intense, depictions in regard to “theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements”—but those depictions not as graphic or pervasive as in an R-rated film.

Drug use is allowed in a PG-13 movie. Brief nudity can appear too (usually a bare behind), as long as the MPAA doesn’t view it as “sexually oriented.” Violence is allowed if the Ratings Board sees it as “generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent.”

Most general profanities are to be expected in a PG-13 film, including a single use of “one of the harsher sexually-derived words.” So practice this mantra with your kids: “Just because you hear it doesn’t mean you have to repeat it.”

This film “may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements.”

The Ratings Board applies the R rating broadly, resulting in wide variance between individual motion pictures. For instance, rare “hard language” will receive the same R rating as torture-porn or graphic sex. The “reason for the rating” is the best indicator of content here.

NC-17—No One Under 17 Admitted
The age of admittance for NC-17 seems arbitrary and out of touch with American families. (Why would this content be appropriate for high school kids?) Nevertheless, according to the MPAA: “An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits.”

Next Month: Ratings-Ready Part 2: TV Ratings

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truth? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.


Check Out CentriKid Camps: Enter to Win The Official OMC Game!

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ParentLife Online is excited to announce a new partnership each month with LifeWay’s CentriKid Camps (centrikidblog.com). Each month we will feature a guest post from the CentriKid team filled with great insights about the older children and preteens they work with every summer. We hope you will be inspired and encouraged through this new partnership!


To kick off our new partnership, we are giving away 5 copies of Organized Mass Chaos: The Official OMC Game. If you have ever been to camp, you know how amazing this game is! OMC is an action packed, large group activity perfect for any occasion with a large group of kids. Designed for kids in grades 1-6, it can be played with up to 200 kids at one time. Comes with a complete instructional DVD and 300 task cards for your VBS, Discipleship times, Summer Children’s activities, or Backyard Bible Clubs.

Here’s how to enter: for a chance to win post on our site or on our FaceBook page about this new partnership with CentriKid. If you have been to CentriKID camps, tell us why you love the CentriKID experience! If you have not, tell us what you look for from a camp experience for your kids.

Want to win a free subscription to ParentLife? While you are online, check out the CentriKid blog today. They will tell you how to enter a giveaway today to win a free one year subcription to ParentLife!




You can find great info anytime about CentriKid by visiting their FaceBook page too!

So post today about camp and enter to win OMC!


Back to Sports

 I really thought that I had reached the end of the line when it came to sports for our boys this past year. The school year is so long, and both boys played baseball last fall, basketball in winter, and baseball again in the spring. They had fun, but both boys happened to be on teams with the worst records for their age groups in spring baseball … yikes! So the season felt longer than usual. We were all ready for a summer break.

As always, summer went by so quickly too. It was difficult enough to get geared up for school, nonetheless another sports season. I was late getting Christopher registered for his fall baseball. Jonathan was running for his new school, so we were excited for him to start his season but all a little nervous at the new undertaking.

Jonathan had his first cross country meet on Thursday, and it was amazing! There is nothing like the start of a race. The excitement is amazing. Approximately 170 competitors all starting at once. Check out the photo just before the start! (Isn’t that about what the troops looked like in Braveheart before the beginning of a battle?)


Jonathan was a little nervous, and it was hot. Evidently it was just under the heat index max that they will even let students run. The race started downhill, which meant a lot of the kids went out too fast–Jonathan included. But we were so proud! And it doesn’t hurt that the entire race is over in under 20 minutes!

Christopher had the first game of his baseball season tonight, so it has felt like double duty this week. Got to love those 7:00 game times on a school night! The game was fun. Christopher’s team won in the last at bat –always a fun way to win!

So the sports bug has hit me again! It is always so much fun to watch and play. I’m sure around May you will hear me wishing it all to end again, but the Fall sports season has got me hooked for now!

I would love to hear how you manage sports, school, and church this time of year. I could use all the help I can get! How do you guys manage it all?

Why Pets Pull Our Heartstrings

I grew up on a dairy farm. We had cows, cows, and more cows. All Jersey. All brown. Except for a couple Black Angus we were told not to get too attached to! Cows do a lot of fun tricks or anything so I moved my affections toward the smaller creatures. We also had chickens and dogs and cats. The chickens were scary, especially after I had to pluck one once after seeing him beheaded. Yikes! The dogs were our pets, our real friends. The cats basically hung around to drink milk. They weren’t pets. They did their own thing. I probably would have told you as a kid I was a dog person. Who needed cats?

Then about a year into married life a little black cat walked into our lives, Samantha. Talk about changing our thoughts about cats! We even smuggled her into seminary housing … she was our little renegade cat. Seventeen years later I will tell you that I was always a cat person and just didn’t know it. Not that I don’t like dogs, but our cats have really been part of our family, and the kids have loved them.

Unfortunately we have had our share of pet losses too. Samantha died as mature 15-year-old of cancer. This week our young Orange Tabby, Charlie, died of an apparent heart attack 4 months after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The boys were so sad. I really spent a long time digging in the dry ground, thinking about what to say at our funeral service. My prayer at the end of the service went something like this:

"Dear God, we are sad today because of the loss of our dear pet, Charlie. After everything you created, you said that your creation was good. We know that you thought Charlie was good. He was such a good and faithful pet to us. We know that you knew all about Charlie because you know even when a sparrow falls from the sky. Even though it makes us sad, it reminds us of how much you love us to send your only Son to die for us. We are reminded of how precious life is. Thank You for your goodness to us even on a day like this. We love you. Amen."

Our pets are members of our family, and it does hurt when they die. Children need to be allowed to grieve and celebrate the life and memory of a pet. It does teach valuable lessons about life and death and think about the things that are most important in life. There is no one size fits all plan to talk to a child about death and loss, but you know best how to communicate in a way your child can understand. 

How have you dealt with the death of a pet in your family? What are some tips you would offer to parents in helping children deal with the loss of a pet?

Reflecting on Father’s Day

58.Fathersongame.jpgI have to admit I enjoyed every bit of attention I received on Father’s Day this year! From the first wishes of "Happy Father’s Day!" before church to the great lunch to a few presents, it did make me feel special as a Dad. I am so thankful to have talked to my Dad on Father’s Day too, catching up via long distance without having to rush to some other appointment or responsibility.

We talked about Dads in our adult Sunday School class too. In fact, I introduced the topic by asking folks to reflect on those things they do, whether consciously or not, that they inherited from their parents and the way they were raised. This is always an interesting discussion!

I told the class Sunday that it was no accident that I have a love for baseball and that my kids seem to play baseball constantly. My Dad used to lie awake at night listening to games on the radio, read the box scores every morning, and watch and play baseball with my brother and me on Saturdays. There was no surprise on Father’s Day when we started talking about the College World Series and the Vanderbilt-North Carolina game. I had to chuckle about that tonight as I kept the score book at Christopher’s game and missed 4 phone calls from home to check the score. You might say I was distracted!

As I grow older and begin to understand a little bit more of what my parents were like at my age, I can’t help but think of the iconic movie, Field of Dreams. The mysterious baseball diamond in the cornfield becomes the setting where Kevin Costner’s character comes face to face with his deceased father as a young man, full of the hopes and dreams of youth. It reminds me that there is something so bonding about just playing with our kids whether it is sitting in the floor rolling a ball back and forth with your toddler, teaching your kindergartner to play checkers, or one of my favorites, a game of catch in the yard.

I still am moved as an adult when I hear a clip of my childhood coaching hero, Jim Valvano, deliver a famous speech at the ESPY Awards, establishing his V Foundation to find a cure for cancer. It was a mere 8 weeks before he died from cancer. Valvano said that he believed you should do three things every day to be fully alive: laugh, think, and cry.

As a Dad, I would add play to that list. To me, play is the love language my boys speak! It literally shows them that I love them and puts my words into action. Someday I hope they think fondly of those times together really living life … whether laughing, thinking, crying, or playing. Wishing you fond memories of your Dad and great memory-making moments with your kids!


Milestones for Boys

Passport2Purity.jpgThis month it seems we have just been clicking off the milestones for my 12-year-old son, Jonathan. Jonathan has been in the same school, St. Paul Christian Academy, since Kindergarten and is graduating tomorrow night. So we have been doing the last of everything: last Field Day, last day of classes, last field trip, last tests, etc. But there have been so many other milestones that hit at the age of 12: his last year in Bible drill, his last year playing Cal Ripken baseball, and all the other milestones of being a last-year preteen.

I have been thinking for quite a while how to help Jonathan mark this transition into becoming a teenager. I am leaning toward a road trip this summer and going through the Passport2Purity study with him as part of that trip. Passport2Purity is produced by FamilyLife.

I would love to know what you have done to help your preteen mark this transition into the teenage years. What worked well and what does not? Thanks for your help!

Huge Steps of Faith


224603_10150161133712635_603497634_6785775_5522887_n.jpgSunday was a special time for our family apart from the normal Easter festivities. Our 7-year-old, Christopher, was baptized. The pastor did a beautiful job, not only explaining to visitors why we baptize by immersion and what it symbolizes, but also in endearing each child’s story to the congregation and reading a verse  parents picked out for their child.

We asked our pastor to read Christopher’s life verse that we chose for his baby dedication: "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). We have told Christopher that this verse is important for all Christians because we always represent Christ in everything we do, but that the name Christopher literally means "Christ follower or Christ bearer." He literally represents Christ with his name!

The pastor also mentioned Christopher and the courage he showed on the day of his baptism. Christopher had been very nervous! In fact, our pastor used Christopher as an example at the invitation time, encouraging adults to come forward with courage and accept Christ. It reminded me of what Jesus did when He called a little child to stand with and be an example of faith (Matthew 18:1-5).

Children have a remarkable ability to believe, love, and trust—as well as show courage—that we as adults could learn to follow as we all grow together in faith.  It takes a lot of courage as an adult to face fears, stress, conflict, and failures. Sometimes I wish I could say time out and call a "do over" like we used to do as kids playing games. But it takes courage to face all these difficulties, to parent, to say "I’m sorry," to admit mistakes, and even to share the gospel of Christ with others. That’s a big part of why Jesus used a child as an example of great faith.

We want to partner with you in helping your kids take huge steps of faith. Let us know other ways we can partner with you to raise godly kids!