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To Love No Matter What


Love is

Joey & Carla Link

February 7, 2018


To love, honor and cherish… On your wedding day as you spoke these words they seemed simple enough. But are they? To love our spouses unconditionally means to love them no matter what.


Joey likes to cook. He doesn’t clean as he goes or after the meal. He doesn’t close the cupboard doors he uses either. I nagged, I whined and I am sure I yelled but to no avail. I decided this was not going to be a deal breaker in our marriage so I cleaned and I closed doors. To slam them in his face or let him know how much longer it took me to clean up his cooking mess than it would have if he had rinsed stuff as he went was not showing love to him.  Cleaning the kitchen and shutting cabinet doors with a smile on my face, thanking him for cooking supper is showing love, no matter what.


When I make a list of “no matter what’s” where Joey is concerned, I remind myself that his list of my “no matter what’s” is most likely longer. I jot down a way next to each of them how I will show him love when they happen. The best way to do this is to be thankful for what your spouse does do instead of focusing on what he/she doesn’t do.


What are the “no matter what’s” you need to love your spouse in spite of? By showing you love your spouse no matter what, you are showing your children how to love their siblings and others no matter what, which will help them love their future spouses no matter what. Loving no matter what –  isn’t that the greatest love of all?


Action point: Make a list for your spouse and each of your kids to remind you how to love them no matter what.


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Head Knowledge vs. Heart Knowledge

How Think

Head Knowledge


 Heart Knowledge

Joey & Carla Link

January 27, 2018

You have told your 6 yr. old son he has to be kind to his 4 yr. old sister no matter what. God said to be kind to each other and so that is what you all were going to do. (Ephesians 4:32) Yet time and time again he is hitting his sister when he gets mad at her. Never mind she broke apart the Lego© set he had been working on putting together for days.
What do you do when he hits his sister again? Do you just tell him he has to be kind to her no matter what one more time? When you “tell” your kids the way it is supposed to be, you are just giving them information. He probably does remember what you have told him when he hit his sister, but how is he supposed to be kind when she broke apart his Legos©? Have you told him that? Have you shown him how by your example, or is he remembering you shouting unkind things at a car that cut you off when you pulled into school that morning? Have you opened your Bible to this verse and talked to him about why God thinks showing kindness is so important?
Telling your kids to be kind is not training them to be kind. That is Step 1 of the training process, to give them information. If you are telling your children what to think instead of working through with them HOW to think, you become a lecturing, reminding, threatening, demanding parent. Step 2 is telling/showing them how to do it. Tell him how hard it would be for you to be kind to him if he walked across your clean floor with muddy shoes. Tell him what you would do to convince yourself to be kind to him instead of letting him have it. For you, being kind doesn’t mean taking away a consequence, since he was told to take his shoes off before he came into the house, it means not yelling at him first. Ask him to come up with a way he can stop himself before he hits her and come to you to ask you to intervene instead. For him, not hitting her is being kind.
Okay, you have told him why he needs to be kind, talked with him about what it looks like to be kind, so why is he still not kind? Where does the want to come from? Good or bad, it comes from the heart.Unless Step 1 and Step 2 get to the heart it won’t stick.
There’s one more step. Step 3 has two different looks. One is to give your son praise and encouragement when you see him showing his sister kindness. When you do this, make sure you let your husband know too, so he can praise your son when he gets home from work. The other thing to do is to give him a consequence when he isn’t kind to his sister. Once ALL 3 of these steps are in place, you will see what you tell your children go into their hearts.
If you would like to learn how to teach your kids to think for themselves, you will want to read our book “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think“.

Are you Hitting the Mark in Your Parenting?

Are you Hitting the Mark in Your Parenting?


Joey & Carla Link

January 2018


Have you ever tried to play darts? If so, have you ever hit the bullseye dead center? What a feeling of satisfaction that gives when you hit the mark dead on! Are you hitting the mark in your parenting? What is your goal in raising your kids? Do you have a defined target so that once your kids are raised you can look back and say, “We did it! We hit the bullseye!”, or will you say “We missed the mark totally and the dart is barely on the board. How did that happen?” It is one thing to hit the target, but it’s another to hit the bullseye!


What bullseye are you aiming for in your parenting? What is your goal(s) in parenting? It is interesting how different each family is and how many different standards families can have when it comes to setting goals and fulfilling them and that is okay. The worship and ministry style in different churches and denominations can be very different, yet they still believe in the same God, worship the same Jesus and all evangelical churches are encouraging people to be saved from their sins in the name of Jesus and are encouraging them to live a Holy Spirit guided life.


But in the end, what is your target? When your kids leave your responsibility (which is different from leaving your home) will you be able to say the same thing Jesus said when his work on earth was done, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)


Are you bringing glory to God through the life your kids live by how you raised them? While they are in your home you may only see glimpses of their maturity as they grow. But when they leave your home the fruit of your labor is apparent to all. So again, we will ask you, what is your goal? What is your target? Here were some of ours:


  1. They choose to follow God and live their lives for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  2. They seek to love others just as much as they loved themselves and forgive others.
  3. They read their bibles and pray regularly.
  4. They attend a church of their choosing.
  5. They seek opportunities to serve the Lord in their church.
  6. They share their faith with people who don’t know Christ.
  7. They know what their spiritual armor is and how to use it to fight Satan when he tempts them.


Now, these are what the goals we strived for in our parenting were, meaning they were our end results. We could write a book on how we achieved them and we are thankful to say our kids are living them as young adults. We encourage you to write one way you can work on your goals next to them and evaluate them monthly to see what progress has been made.


In the Mom’s Notes presentations we go deeper in how we put these into practice. You can hear our 3 kids answer questions when they were teens about how they were making their faith their own in the Mom’s Notes presentation “The Family Forum” . You will find the presentation “Using the Bible in the Instruction and Training of Your Children” helpful too.


Our kids are grown now and have their own families. They do some things differently as they have the influence of other people (spouse/friends/small groups) and the churches they attend. But do they love the Lord and serve Him with all their hearts? YES! Which we think is the most important goal of all.


The way we treat our kids, and the way they respond to us profoundly reflects how our kids will view their relationship with their Heavenly Father!

One of the primary jobs of a parent is to transfer ownership and responsibility from them to their Heavenly Father. They need to move away from going to church because you said they have to so their relationship with God is personal and real to them and they choose to serve God because He loves them and laid down His life for them.


So do you have goals you would like to see accomplished in your children before they leave your home, goals you and your spouse have intentionally decided to work towards as you train your kids, not abstract things you hope will happen. The start of a new year is often seen as a time of new beginnings, so if you haven’t thought about setting goals in your parenting before, this would be a great time to do it! Bullseye!

Christmas through the Eyes of a Child

Christmas through the Eyes of a Child


Joey & Carla Link

December 2017


Have you looked at Christmas through your child’s eyes? For the toddler it’s new shiny objects to pull off a tree or bows and paper to tear off presents, not that they know what presents even are.


Then there is the child who wonders what the joy of cutting down a tree is, and to have to pick up needles and keep it watered. And why do we bring a dead tree in our house and don’t even burn it in the fireplace?


For a young elementary school child, it’s the excitement of Santa coming and bringing them presents and depending on where they live, play in the snow over their school holiday.


For the older elementary kids it’s the excitement of a new expensive toy they wouldn’t get otherwise.


Kids in middle school are glad for the holiday from school and want to kick back and do what pleases them 24/7. When asked if they have their presents for their siblings ready, they look at Mom like she has grown an extra head. Spend money on siblings?!


Remember when you wished your toddler would sleep in so you could? Well, they are teens now and sleeping in means most of the day. Asking them to watch their younger siblings so you can get last minute shopping done or to help with extra housework before their grandparents arrive is like making them do menial labor.


How do your kids see Christmas in your home? There often is so much hustle and bustle for all the events after Thanksgiving it’s difficult to actually see the celebration of Christ’s birth in any of the above. If we truly want to pass our faith on to our kids, making the reason for the season our focal point in our kids’ eyes should be paramount.


Here are a few suggestions you might consider:

  1. Ask your kids if they would like to have a party to celebrate Jesus birthday? If so, ask them what they could do to make the party about Jesus.
  2. Ask your kids what they are learning in church about the birth of Jesus and what part do they like the best.
  3. Play Christmas songs in the car and house and ask them one night at dinner to share one song that made them really think differently about Jesus birth and Christmas.
  4. Make it special when you take your kids shopping for a gift for a sibling or friend and ask them why they want to give that gift to them. Ask them how that helps them celebrate Jesus birth.
  5. Go look at Christmas lights and rate the best ones that reflect the birth of Jesus.
  6. Ask your kids to look at the ornaments on your tree and share with the family the one that they think best depicts Christ’s birth to them.
  7. Set up Advent candles and read Advent stories every night or at least once a week.
  8. Ask them how they think the family can BEST celebrate our Lord’s birthday.
  9. Look for ways in the community people celebrate Jesus birthday.
  10. Read the Christmas story and possibly act it out as a family. Go see a Christmas play to remind you of our Lord’s birth.


While it can be a cliché to say we all get busy during the Christmas season, it should be about honoring and celebrating Jesus birth! What are you doing to pass your faith on about our Lord and Savior’s birth to your kids?




Joey & Carla Link

November 15, 2017



There were many times in our parenting journey when we were discouraged and wondered how we could teach on parenting. I specifically remember the time we walked into our host’s home before we were teaching in their church and one of the first things I asked was, “Do you have a room my daughter could sit in to get her attitude straight?”


It took them by surprise but they took me to a bedroom where she could sit in private until she was willing to apologize for her bad attitude. Embarrassing? Yes. Our daughter whined we were embarrassing her. We told her that her sin was embarrassing her and we had nothing to do with it because while still in the van before we reached our destination she had all the time in the world to get her attitude straightened out. It never occurred to her she was embarrassing her family with her sin.


The times we felt like failures as parents were tough, but we trusted in the Biblical principles and the practical insight God had given us because we had seen how they truly changed our kids behavior but we wanted more, we wanted their hearts.


Recently I came across a quote by a famous athlete that encouraged me. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan, 10 time NBA scoring champ and 6 championship titles with the Chicago Bulls


What Michael Jordan was saying is failure teaches us about life and shows us where we can do better. There isn’t a part of life this doesn’t apply to, and parenting is certainly included in that. We fail as parents to do our best when training our children and they fail at listening and positively responding to our direction. Learning from failure and working through it is called perseverance.


Many of you know we were in a horrific car accident 13 ago that has left me (Carla) in a wheelchair. I deal with pain from a nerve injury sustained in the accident every single day. Persevering through pain gives me hope. Why? Because I know with God’s help and sustaining grace I can endure it, and I am stronger mentally for it.


If you are going through a difficult time in your life’s circumstances or parenting, do not ever forget there is always hope. You may have to buckle down and weather the storm as many do physically through wild fires, hurricanes and tornadoes.


When it is time to buckle down the hatches or evacuate, when you’ve gotten through the crisis point, unfortunately things are not the same and you have to regroup and rebuild whether that means finding a new house to replace the one burned or to re-train your kids.


Where is hope in all of this? God always surrounds you with the resources you need to give you a helping hand. In parenting, you can turn to parents who have gone through similar crises and are stronger for it. You can take a parenting class that will encourage and inspire you. Growing Families Int’l has the best parenting curriculum around. We are available to help parents figure out the next step in their parenting or direct you to someone who can.


If you ever feel like a failure in your parenting, be encouraged because every parent has been there and will be again! We have 42 Mom’s Notes presentations that give you practical help in your parenting specific to a certain topic. They are based on our failures as parents and how we learned to train our children through them. We are taping a new one on self-control this fall!


When you have fully recovered from a period of testing, I guarantee you God will bring someone into your life who needs to learn from your experience because they are struggling with something similar. Be ready to be the resource God has ready for them.


Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Blessed be the God…and Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…”


Going back to our illustration of Michael Jordan’s career, we see his accomplishments, but we didn’t see the hours he spent in the gym shooting the same shots over and over and over again. Hang in there. Your kids are willing to wait you out until you give in. It’s time to be the one waiting them out until they give in.


“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28