Monday, November 25, 2013


My daughter sent me this gorgeous photograph of her 2 year-old-son and his little friend walking along the sidewalk together, holding hands in the sunshine. As I looked at it, many thoughts ran through my mind as to what this scene suggested. Here are some of them.

a) It is always comforting to walk through life closely linked to a trusted friend. What makes a trusted
    friend? Someone who loves us warts and all! Someone who will always think the best of us and
    want the best for us.  To be a trusted friend, we need to be that person to them.

    We need to help our children find friends who have a positive influence on their lives. We also
    need to make sure that our children learn how to be good friends.

b) There are so many happy memories to share as friends … all those ‘remember when’ stories around
     a shared BBQ in the back yard.

     It is important that we create happy memories for ourselves and our kids. It may take a little effort
     to go camping, exploring, hiking or being silly on the beach. Believe me, those are the times our
     kids remember most and it doesn't have to cost a lot.

c) One of the little boys in the picture is looking back and the other is looking forward. How great it is
    to walk confidently through life, looking excitedly forward to the future! Are we cultivating
    enthusiasm and hope in our children?

    Do WE feel positive about the future? Sure, the economy is tending to rattle our cages at the
    present time, but pessimism doesn’t help create a positive atmosphere at home. Sometimes, as
    parents, we need to check the home temperature just to see how the ‘happy barometer’ is faring.
    Stress leads to tension and fear, and with those feelings it is difficult to be positive.

    So, what do we do about it? How about thinking what we have rather than what we don’t have.
    A sense of joy does not require money or material things, but being thankful for what we do have.
    That is each other, along with good friends. 

d) The other little boy in the picture is looking back at the shadows they are casting on the sidewalk.

    We can ALL leave long shadows behind us. How about shadows of the things that helped us to be
    successful? Definitely, being a great role model to our kids. Totally, making a determined and
    positive difference to those around us and, most of all leaving a spiritual heritage that lasts for

Written by Sally Burgess

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Fall is a most beautiful time of year here in Nashville, TN.  The trees are breathtaking as their leaves turn to the most stunning colors in the fall.  Once there are no leaves left, it starts looking very gaunt around here - ghostly even.

Seasons create variety.  If it was always summer we would get sick of the heat; always winter and we would yearn for being able to get out and enjoy the sunshine.  Changes of season are necessary for our planet to evolve and rejuvenate.

All the experiences we go through are necessary for the healthy growth and development as a family.  Sometimes we feel the excitement and anticipation of new things ahead. Sometimes we feel frustrated or sad.  Many times, the most difficult times, in hindsight, created the greatest opportunity to prove that we are stronger than we think we are and we actually made it to the other side! 

So, how can we take advantage of the 'seasons' in our families?
In the winter:
We can stop, rest and contemplate where our family is going e.g. Who are we?  What do we
represent?  Where are we going?  We can create goals for ourselves, evaluate how we spend
our time, decide who our friends really are, or what the atmosphere is like in our home -
positive or negative.  We can take the time to make adjustments for the better physical, spiritual,
emotional and social health in our homes.

In the spring:
We can take the time to learn new skills, develop new hobbies, learn to play an instrument or play a
new sport and plan vacations.  Just look at all the new growth around you and ask what you can do
to rejuvenate yourself, activities you could do and words you might say that might bring new
personal growth to your family.

In the summer:
We can just jump out of bed and make the most of each day - just 'do it'.  We might use our, 'out there,
go ahead' times to encourage others to join us.  The days are longer and you can achieve more in one
day than you can in the short days of winter.  We can get involved in voluntary activities as a family
and spend more time having fun with our children. 

In the fall:
For those living in the northern hemisphere it's back to school for your children and college students. 
It's a time for intellectual renewal.  It's a time when you can take stock of your own personal growth. 
Maybe it's time for you to start some retraining for the workforce once your children are at school or
the last child leaves home for those parents who made the choice to be stay-at-home moms/dads.  It's
a time to be talking to your children about careers even if they are in lower grade school.  It's never too
early to talk about what the jobs are, the requirements, benefits and choices there are in the work force. 
The Internet can be very helpful in this regard.

In the seasons where we struggle, we need to know we are never alone.  When we cannot always find the answers and when situations are beyond us, there is always help available.  We needn't get stuck in one place.  It is important to take the courage to say, "I need help", and reach out to the experts.

The great thing about seasons is that they do change and we know that before long spring, full of new life, is around the corner.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

Friday, November 15, 2013


Parenting reminds me very much of this picture!  You are the horse carrying your family, navigating your way through varied terrain.  Sometimes it is easy.  Sometimes it feels like you are laboring up hills or skidding down  slopes.  Sometimes obstacles get in the way or you feel too exhausted and frazzled to keep going.  Sometimes you are afraid that if you make a mistake and fall off the path you will lose your way back.  Sometimes you feel alone with no-one to share the ride.  Many times the path seems to go on and on and ON like it is never going to end.

Take another look at this picture.  It struck me as a beautiful shot.  I think it tells its own story.  It is the beginning of a new adventure, full of promise.  The path has been well trodden by others, even if you have not been there before. The grass is soft providing you a soft cushion to land when you fall.

It is easy for parents who have grown children to agree that the parenting adventure was well worth setting out on.  We forget the struggles and the insecurity we felt in being parents for the first time.  We all say we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

I encourage you to remember this picture and enjoy all the positives and possibilities of parenting.  If you need help when you feel you are losing your way, there are many resources around you that can help carry you through.  Grab them and keep going.  The end is worth more than we can say.

Photo used with permission of Karen Cafe

Written by Sally Burgess

Monday, November 11, 2013


We are always very grateful when people tell us what great children we have.  Even though they have just clocked over 38 and 40 years old and have families of their own, we still think of them as our 'kids'.  Some have told us we are just lucky that they didn't cause us any grief in their teen years.  Our response to that was that there was no luck involved and that it was a lot of hard work!

On reflection I must say that we did not always make the best parenting decisions.  We did make mistakes.  We were not always consistent and I confess to letting my frustration turn into some pretty unfair discipline at times.  But our kids survived it all and fortunately they do not seem to remember the mistakes we made as readily as they recall the fun holidays, projects, hobbies, friends, trips, studies, goals, aspirations and successes that have turned them into the fine individuals and parents they are today.

Sometimes we chastise ourselves too much.  All I can say is that, in our case, our positive actions must have outweighed the negative ones, because our kids have turned out to be great parents to their own children.

If we had our time over again there are some things we would have put in place when we first had children that would have avoided some of those inconsistencies I mentioned.

1. Even though we had strong values in our heads, we should have written them down and agreed
    together what priority we would have made each one.
2. To prevent inconsistencies in disciplinary decisions, we would decide and stand together on the
    type and level of consequence for particular infringements.
3. I would be more aware of potential squabbles the children had and divert their attention before the
    arguments escalated.
4. I would instill the 'count to 25' rule before responding to an issue with the kids.  That way I would
    be in better control of my frustration.
5. I would admit my mistake to my kids when my response was inappropriate and apologize to them.
    (It is not a sign of weakness to say you are sorry to your children.  It shows them that we all make
    mistakes and that apologizing is the right, fair and mature thing to do.  Of course, being sorry is
    evidenced in the fact that we change our behavior).

Take heart!  Kids are robust!  We don't get to practice parenting until we have kids and we often
make decisions 'on the fly' that are not particularly fair.  This is where we are likely to make the wrong
response.  With preparation, practice, acknowledging our lack of good judgement and repairing the
damage, we can be pretty confident that the smudges do come out of the clothes.  In other words, it
will come out in the wash.

Written by Sally Burgess


Thursday, November 7, 2013


It is National Adoption Month!

When I read this post from a young adoptive mother, it touched me so much I thought I would share it.

"Adoption has changed my life for the better in so many ways!

I didn't know it was possible to love another human being as much as I love my son. I wholeheartedly love my husband, my parents, and all my family; but the love between a mother and her child is something special.

From the moment I brought him home, I had this instinct to protect this little one from all the dangers of life. That protective instinct has grown into a love and bond that just cannot be put into words.

It matters not that he (my son) wasn't born of my flesh. He was born in my heart, and our bond is spiritual.

I am in wonder as I realize that this is how our Heavenly Father must feel about us. We are not literally born of His flesh, but born from His heart, His creative nature. He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Adoption is a wonderful picture of God's plan for mankind."

Posted by Sally Burgess

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday night CHAT SESSION

Thanks to all those who joined us this evening for our parenting chat session. We had some great questions and look forward to hearing from more of you next month. We will be doing these sessions on the first Monday of each month, for an hour, starting at 8pm U.S. Central Standard Time. So our next one will be Monday Dec 2nd. But if you want it more often, we are open to that. Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks again everyone!!