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Back to Normal?!

Joey & Carla Link

August 19, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and kids going back to school in classrooms practicing social distancing and having to wear masks, the big question is, “What exactly is normal?” While schools may have been out for the past several months, did your kids ever stop learning? What have they been learning?

  • from siblings
  • from watching you handle life’s stress
  • from news on TV or what they read or hear on the internet
  • from friends

 You have probably heard more than once that “more is caught than taught“. With summer coming to an end and school starting in one way or another, it’s a good time to stop and take inventory of what your kids have been learning the past several months. With all that has happened in our world with the pandemic, the protesting, rioting, and killing the last couple months in the United States, some kids could be developing fears or anxiety, especially those with the Melancholy and Sanguine temperaments. But God says, 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplicationwith thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“Philippians 4:6-7
This verse tells us:

  1. You don’t need to be fearful or anxious about anything, including COVID and riots.
  2. Pray about everything (no exceptions).
  3. Ask humbly (supplication) when you pray.
  4. Tell God you will be thankful for however He chooses to answer you when you pray.
  5. You will have peace and calm which you can’t understand.
  6. Through the Holy Spirit this peace will overcome your heart and your mind, keeping it focused on what God wants it to be.

 What a great verse to break down and teach your kids who get stressed and anxious. Please don’t let your other kids mock the ones who struggle with anxiety. It is not fair to them and will only make matters much, much worse. What have your kids been seeing at home during this time the world is in upheaval? Are you and your spouse enjoying each other? Or are you short-tempered and arguing all the time? If your kids do not see you and your spouse communicate positively with each other and give your stresses to God at home, where will they learn what a good marriage and a life lived God’s way should look like?

  • Are you still using kind and encouraging words with each other?
  • Are you having dates, like having dessert by candlelight after the kids go to bed?
  • Do you tell your kids things you pray about? Do you keep a record of family prayer time to record when God answers your prayers?

 If you are a single parent, are you keeping your friend relationships up, albeit digitally?  With the kids being home for so many months, have you become child-centeredUltimately, our kids never left school. They are always learning from watching you, what you do, how you react and how you handle life’s ups and downs. And ultimately, your kids’ lives are as normal as they were a year ago. They know that you will take care of them, that you will never stop loving them. They know that you will protect them from harm and they can feel secure in their home and with their family. They know that you will encourage them in right behavior and correct them for wrong. They know you love God and they should learn to also. That’s what we hope and pray is “normal” for your family. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:19

Do You Think You Are a Bad Parent?

Do You Think You Are a Bad Parent?

Joey & Carla Link

July 29, 2020

When kids are arguing and fighting over what seems like silly and ridiculous things, it is hard to remain calm when you have to intervene for the umpteenth time. At that point you don’t care who started it and who said what to whom. You just want peace and quiet and if they have to sit on a chair the rest of the day with no freedom to speak for you to get it, so be it. You have to go to the grocery store. When you get there, before you get out of the car you review the “Store Rules”. No running, no touching anything on the shelves or each other, no arguing or fighting, inside voices only and obedience is not optional. (We are talking about kids 5 years and up here. Toddlers and preschoolers have the same rules, but mom knows she has to work with them, teaching them how to obey them.) I remember when a mom told me she holds her breath and starts counting when they get out of the car and she never gets to 25 before most of these rules have been broken, especially the one about “no touching each other”. She went on to tell me she doesn’t even try anymore and she is a complete failure as a parent. I am sure Jacob felt the same way when his twelve kids didn’t get along. Ten of them sold Joseph to be a slave in Egypt (Genesis 37). Ten years later Joseph became the #2 ruler in Egypt and he could go anywhere he wanted, but he didn’t go to see his family. God brought them to him for reconciliation. Read the story for yourself. It gives you a clear picture of how God intervenes to accomplish His will for our lives. Even when parents do a great job in parenting their kids, some kids, using the free will God gave each of us, make bad choices that often cost them dearly, especially in the teen and young adult years. One of the worst things a parent can do is to rag on them causing even more guilt and resentment, making them feel even worse. How can parents encourage a stubborn or wayward child? 

  • Love them. Wise King Solomon said “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12). Parents should hate the sin but love their child through it. One of our kids made a very bad choice in his teen years and God prompted us to catch him at it. We could have grounded this child for weeks and no one would have faulted us for it. We chose grace and love instead. He was apologetic because he knew he was wrong and that he had abused a freedom we had given him and when we asked him what consequence would be appropriate he chose one we agreed with and he was gracious the entire time he served his “time”.
  • Insist on your standard in your home. Joshua said “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14) Joshua was talking to his family and the children of Israel and he was saying to them, “If you don’t want to follow and serve the Lord that is fine, make a choice, don’t just sit on the fence. If you are going to live in my home, you will live for Jesus, because that is what I am choosing” (Our wording). Does that mean those who choose to follow God will be perfect and not sin? NO! You sin and I sin. It does mean we will choose to pursue a Godly lifestyle and we have the right to insist our kids do too while they live in our home.

 On Sunday’s going to church was not an option for our family. When we were traveling or on vacation we found a church to attend. We talked about God and shared with each other what God was teaching us in our personal quiet times. We read the Bible together and talked about what it was saying to us and how to make that work in our lives. There were many words our kids heard from their friends that were not allowed to be spoken in our home. Even today as adults, our kids are not characterized by using foul language. Did our kids argue? Yes they did. It is to be expected that no two people living together are always going to have the same opinion. They had to work it out because that is what the family of God does. Teaching your kids and especially teens to work out their differences with each other will help them know how to work on differences with their friends and future spouses, employers and co-workers. 

  • Encourage your kids to do what is right. Some parents have allowed bad behavior to go on because they get tired of dealing with it. Or they say, “That is just how they are going to be. They won’t change.” Just as God didn’t let Joseph get away with not dealing with his siblings, God works with parents to keep working on a stubborn child’s heart to become what He wants it to be. Loving your kids in spite of their sin doesn’t mean you don’t need to deal with the sin. Deal with it and be consistent about it and your kids will change.

So are you curious to know what I (Carla) said to that mom who thought she was a failure as a parent? I told her that was exactly what Satan wanted her to believe. God doesn’t see us as failures. God always sees us “in process”. I told her the next time she goes to the grocery store to ask the kids what the store rules were. When they told her, she was to ask them if she could trust them to obey them. I told her they would say “yes”. She then was to ask them what she should do when they didn’t obey her. She was to sit in the car with them until they got beyond the “I don’t know” responses and answered her. When they came up with a realistic response that she could do, she was to repeat it back to her kids and say, “So if I have to do that, I am not being unfair?” What could they say? She called me after their next store visit and said by the time she got to the check-out all of her 4 kids (ages 6-13) had lost the freedom to speak and had their hands in the pockets of their jeans and they couldn’t take them out. She did get her shopping done in record time and was delighted she had found a way to get her kids to obey.  “Above all, love each other deeply,because love covers over a multitude of sins.”I Peter 4:8


The Mom’s Notes presentation “Building a Relationship of Trust with a Rebellious Teen” is on SALE through August 2, 2020 using code Aug2 at checkout.

Giving Dad His Grade

Giving Dad His Grade

Joey Link
June 17, 2020
When it is all said and done, what do you want your kids to see when they look back at your parenting?I think if they were asked to give a grade on our parenting, we would all hope for an A+, but that is not realistic as we all made or are making plenty of mistakes, as well as many successes.
Four months ago my children gave me my “father grade”. It was 3 pm in the afternoon and I had a strange bout of indigestion. When I told my wife I felt pressure in my chest, she said it was time to go to the Emergency Room. My blood pressure was 211 and I was taken back to a room for further evaluation. I told Carla not to contact the kids until we knew more. She went into the bathroom for privacy and googled “How long can you live with a blood pressure of 211?” When the response was “minutes”, she immediately contacted our children, who live in Chicago, Nashville and Dallas.
When the angiogram showed I had 3 blocked arteries and 2 were double-blocked, I was scheduled for emergency surgery in a larger hospital a couple hours away. Our son lives about 4 hours away from us in Chicago. When Carla talked to him, he and his wife put their 4 kids in the car and drove overnight to be with us, which was a huge blessing as he is very good in a crisis and he helped Carla with making the many decisions that were necessary.
Both of our girls arrived the next day and I was thankful to be surrounded by my family. There is no better feeling than to be surrounded by those you love most when facing a traumatic situation out of your control. There are not words to explain what it felt like to hold hands with my family as they circled my bed and we prayed together as they were preparing to take me in for surgery. Amy’s husband didn’t come as he was sick, but he joined us for this special time of prayer on facetime.
How is this situation indicative of my “father grade”? My 3 kids stopped their lives and rearranged their work schedules to jump on the first flights they could to see me before I underwent emergency open heart quadruple bypass surgery.
It is during these times people tend to reminisce. My kids talked about how I loved them even when they were disobedient. They talked about how I cared for them when they were sick or ran to the store in the middle of the night because they had an upset stomach and needed some 7-up©.
They talked about how I arranged my schedule to be there and supported them at their events, cheering them on no matter what and now they wanted to arrange their schedules to be there for me at this most important moment in my life.
I took each of our kids out to lunch once a month when they were growing up. We talked about something that was bothering them or anything they wanted to talk about. These were memory makers for us all.
As were the times I sat in the front seat of the car with each of them when they first learned to drive. I looked and acted like I trusted them when I was actually petrified. But they knew I was there to help them learn, even when I had each of them drive in bad weather and traffic and they were petrified.
There were fun memories of spending a winter weekend in a hotel getting pizza, swimming, playing games and all of us trying to lie on the same bed to watch a movie. Or the times we went bowling and I made up silly things they had to do (like stand on one foot) each time it was their turn to roll the ball down the alleyway.
One daughter remembers the countless doctor visits I went with her to, and how I was there for every needle prick and hospitalization holding her hand, encouraging her and letting her know she was loved no matter what and she would never go through anything alone. She remembers the many times I got up with her in the middle of the night when she needed a respiratory treatment. How I would cuddle with her while she sobbed and trembled until she fell asleep in my arms and I would put her back in bed.
Our son remembers all the times he and I went to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team’s Spring Training Camp, just the two of us. Our other daughter remembers all the bicycle rides she and I took.
Our kids remember Saturday nights because they knew I was going to ask them what they had learned in their devotional times with God that week. What great discussions we had about what God was teaching them and me! But most of all, they remember how intentional I was about teaching them to live their lives God’s way.
Your kids will give you your “father grade” the day when you need them and they are willing to drop everything not only to be there for you, but to encourage you and tell you they love you and how, if necessary they will take care of their mom like you had always taken care of them. Your kids will give you your “father grade” when they come to you asking for advice when they are parenting their own kids. Your kids will give you your “father grade” when they choose to live their life God’s way.
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 11:25
When your kids look back on your parenting, what do you hope they remember about you?

Accepting Others

Accepting Others

Joey & Carla Link
June 10, 2020
What exactly does it mean to accept others? Is it okay to only accept those who agree with you? “To accept” means tounderstand, to choose to receive others as they are without judgement.” It doesn’t mean you have to agree with another’s opinion on something, it means you need to understand how they arrived at that opinion and accept that they see it as truth.
Romans 14:7 says “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” Jesus accepts us with all our warts and ugliness. As we look around our country, we see people who do not feel accepted by others. We have seen protests turn into rioting and looting instead of accepting the opinions of others. The call against racial injustice has overcome our society. Do you remember singing this song in Sunday School?
“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
If Jesus loves people of every race in the world, how are you doing teaching your children to accept and love those that look different than them?
In the movie “42” (the story of Jackie Robinson), he and his wife were traveling for the first time through the South and they saw “Whites Only” bathrooms and water fountains labeled for use by whites or blacks. Jackie’s wife, Rachael just stared at it as she had never seen such a thing before. While we have come a long way from then, we still have a long way to go.
Carla and I grew up in Southern California. We had many African-American and Hispanic friends. When I was growing up I played ball games with my friends on the school playground after school. We didn’t know what prejudice, discrimination or racial injustice was.
Again, accepting others is “choosing to receive others as they are without judgement.” In today’s social media world, getting others to agree with your opinion or the way you believe has become contentious and judgmental. People often preface what they say with a statement similar to “I know many of you aren’t going to agree with me…” A lot of the time I don’t agree with them. Does that mean I can’t or won’t be friends with them anymore? Certainly not!
On the other hand, does this mean we have to accept ungodly thinking or behavior? NO! If this is the case, you need to find a way to accept them because “all are precious in His sight“.
Accepting others starts at home.
  • Parents need to teach their kids to accept their siblings, friends and peers whether they agree with them or not. Why do others have to change? The only person God asks you to change is yourself. Everyone was created by God, uniquely as they are, no matter what race they are, or what their opinions and feelings are. Ultimately, by not accepting others as they are, we are rejecting how God made them. If they need to change, that is God’s job and He will take care of it. God uses parents to work on training/changing their kids.
    • When God crosses your path with other ethnic families who have similar values, set up play dates or go to the park with them so your kids can learn to play together.
  • Accepting others in public. When you take your kids shopping and you walk by a person of a different race, say hi to them, smile at them and teach your kids to do the same. A friendly smile or greeting can brighten someone’s day in ways you will never know.
  • Build friendships with other cultured and diverse people and encourage your kids to as well. We have a family friend who is African-American. He lives 2,000 miles away from us. We have stayed in touch over the years because of our common faith and interests. When our daughter Amy met him, she was about 4 years old. We were all excited to see him as it had been several years since we had connected in person. We all jumped out of the van when we got to his house and the kids were excitedly yelling his name. Amy looked up to hug him, froze and started backing up to me. Our friend remarked that we didn’t have enough “color” in Iowa. As the visit went on, because we trusted him, she began to trust him too. There are a lot of African-Americans you didn’t see on the TV last weekend rioting, looting stores and causing incredible damage and violence. Don’t be afraid of all because of the actions of some.
The real reason we need to accept other cultures is in the rest of Romans 14:7. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” If Christ followers do not accept others, than God will not be praised, and we give God a black eye.
Race should not become a barrier. We all are created by the same God. Just as God forgives you, He forgives them. This is why He tells us to “love our enemies.” We can be God’s hands and feet in reaching across racial barriers to show God has reached across them too.

Friendly Authority

Friendly Authority

Joey & Carla Link
May 27, 2020
In the 70’s the TV Show “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” was very popular and formative for many Dad’s parentingphilosophy. The theme song of the show set the stage for how a new generation of adults that were rebellious towards authority needed to be friends with their kids instead of an authority figure over them.
(Sung by a Dad)
People, let me tell you ’bout my best friend
He’s a warm-hearted person who’ll love me to the end
People let me tell you ’bout my best friend
He’s a one-boy, cuddly toy
My up, my down, my pride and joy
People, let me tell you ’bout him, he’s so much fun
Whether we’re talkin’ man to man
Or whether we’re talkin’ son to son
‘Cuz he’s my best friend
We don’t agree that parents need to be stern, harsh figures of authority over their children either. The ultimate goal of parenting is to be friends with your kids. Being friends with your kids is not the starting point of your parenting or the mid-point. It is the end-point of parenting.
So are we saying you can’t be friends with your kids? Well, to be friends means to be peers, and peers never have authority over one another. We want you to be friendly with your kids, but you cannot and should not be their peers. When your kids think you are their friends, they will pick and choose when they want to obey you.
When your kids are young and need training, you will flip flop between being friendly with your kids all the while holding to a standard of right and wrong. Being friendly and loving with your toddlers and preschoolers is needed and necessary, but so is teaching them what authority looks like.
Police demonstrate this by going out of their way to be friendly to kids when they see them. But if police are called for an infraction, they are the authority and will deal with the kids involved. A police officer will smile and wave to kids riding their bikes in a parking lot or on the side of a street. But if the kids are riding and swerving in the middle of the street, the police will pull the children aside to instruct and warn them not to do that again. If they catch them again, there will not be another warning, they will be taken to their parents expecting them to deal with them. Police try to show kids they can be trusted, but they also show them they will get no mercy if they break a law. This is a picture of what parenting young children looks like.
Today many parents try to talk their kids into obedience instead of being the much-needed authority their kids need. When the parents know their child is deliberately not following their instructions it is time for the parents to use their God given authority to reinforce right and wrong so the child will grow up knowing what they are.
Paul said it this way:
“I am writing this to you now in the hope that I won’t need to scold and punish when I come;
for I want to use the Lord’s authority that he has given me,
not to punish you but to make you strong.”
2 Corinthians 13:10 (LB)
Paul is making the point parents agree with – they want their children to pay attention to their teaching now so the time will come where their training and teaching will no longer be needed.
Every parent wants to have fun with their kids, and they should. But without a common foundation of what is right and what is wrong, fun and fellowship evaporates into kids becoming the authority while frustrated parents are still trying to be their best friend. The real joy of parenting is when like-minded teens or adult children want to be together and look forward to enjoying each other’s company.
None of us will ever forget the year, when finding all our kids spring breaks were on the same week, the 5 of us, our collegiate son and his 2 teenage sisters, spent 7 days together traveling from Iowa to San Francisco and back. We drove all night each way and stayed in a hotel on the wharf. We walked up and down the hilly city streets, rode cable cars, ate at local diners and flew kites on a windy beach under the Golden Gate bridge. We had the time of our lives.
I (Joey) recently had emergency open heart surgery. All of my kids were in my hospital room within 24 hours of hearing I was in the ER, having come from Chicago, Nashville and Dallas. Their support and encouragement was a huge blessing to Carla and I. It was their turn to come and minister to us. We wonder what that would have looked like if we hadn’t learned while they were growing up what “friendly authority” looks like and if we hadn’t held to that standard through thick and thin.
May God Bless You as you figure out what that looks like in your own family.
Friendly authority is only successful if both parents are working off the same page.