Thursday, November 9, 2017


Celebrations come in all shapes and sizes and are most enjoyable, memorable occasions. Celebrations can be collective e.g. a sports team winning a championship or they can be for individuals e.g. birthdays, graduations or personal successes. I wonder what it is that most of us remember about our ‘best birthdays’? Was it the gift we got that we always wanted? Was it the friends who came? Was it the effort that others put into it that made it so special? Was it a total surprise birthday? Was it a trip somewhere?

One thing that will make personal celebration especially meaningful for a person is to celebrate it in a way that is cool for them. I know for a fact that my two children have completely different ideas about celebrations. One child wanted a big 21st birthday with every friend there, while the other didn’t want a 21st birthday at all. One wanted to walk on graduation day and the other didn’t. One cannot stand surprises while the other revels in them. The question should be, “What is going to make this celebration most memorable for this person?”

Many parents feel the pressure of having to be extravagant with their celebrations. This is often fueled by advertising, perceived expectations of others (keeping up with the Joneses) and pressure from indulged children. Our kids tell us that the most memorable times they have had, have been times when we didn’t spend any money at all, or very little. We just had great fun together. I recall a time when we first came to the States. We had absolutely no spare money and my son’s birthday was coming up. I went to the dollar shop and bought a number of silly little plastic gifts and hid them all round the property, creating a treasure hunt. We stood inside the house while our 22 year-old ran around the garden with a funny smile on his face, retrieving all the hidden gifts. We then gave him a lovely birthday cake. He won’t forget that one.

Celebrations create wonderful memories so we should celebrate often. It doesn’t have to be just birthdays and Christmas. There is a saying that everyone needs to have their 15 minutes of fame. I think everyone needs to feel valued all the time. This can be achieved in many ways. We advocate that each person in a family needs to be celebrated regularly (apart from birthdays and Christmas). Once a month each person should be selected to be ‘king’ or ‘queen’ for the day. This means they do not have to do the usual chores and get to choose fun things they would like to do.

People can be celebrated and appreciated daily in a way you may not have thought about. Compliments are a great gift to give one another, yet many people don’t know how to give, let alone receive one. There is a misguided idea that compliments will make a person bigheaded. I bet you never forget the praise you are given! If you love to receive praise, then give praise.

It really is simple. Instead of just saying, “Thank you”, say, “Thank you for taking the time to help me. I really appreciate your kindness.” “I always know the day will go well when you are working with me.” “You did a great job of mowing and tidying the yard. It really looks great.” To receive a compliment you may say, “Thanks so much for telling me you liked my baking. It was a new recipe and I am glad you enjoyed it.” “I am really glad my training session helped you. Thanks for telling me.”

Celebrate life. Celebrate achievement. Celebrate often. Celebrate your wife. Celebrate your husband and give him a call. Celebrate long and for no reason at all!


It is very difficult in this day and age to be totally satisfied with what we have at any given time. This is predominantly brought about by the enormous amount of advertising that hits us from every side – “You should have this.” “You deserve that.” “Upgrade now.” “You are not cool if you don’t wear this.” It is easy to become dissatisfied when we are constantly comparing ourselves with what others have.


When we are surrounded by ‘stuff’ we tend to want more. Just think about it. If we had no stuff, then any stuff would be fabulous. As I look back on the times I have felt overwhelmingly grateful, it has often been in situations where someone has helped me when I could not help myself. Two such occasions spring to mind. We were traveling a long distance trying to reach our destination before dark. We had just updated our car and I must confess I was pretty proud of it. Wandering cows are no respecter of vehicles and our car was almost totaled in a split second. We could have been killed, but God spared us. A friend came to our rescue by lending us his rattling old bomb of a car. Suddenly my perspective about keeping up appearances changed and I was truly touched by his generosity.

There was another time when we were in ‘full time’ Christian ministry raising our own support and had completely run out of money. We had $5 left. I visited a lovely old man whose back yard was bulging with vegetables. I gave him my $5 and he gave me more vegetables than I could carry. I shared them with my neighbor who was in similar dire straits. We were all very blessed by that man’s care of us at that time.


It is not only when people unexpectedly give us money or share their possessions that we need to feel grateful. Didn’t Jesus tell us that the birds of the air don’t think about where their next meal will come from? They are just happy to be alive. When we have a positive attitude towards life, we are more likely to see the goodness around us and be grateful just to be where we are.


The more they have, the less value they place on it. It creates an expectation that they will always have stuff, and this does not prepare them for potentially rough times ahead. By giving them a small amount of money to buy their own toys, they learn to manage their finances and value what they save for. By encouraging them to give some of their toys away on a regular basis it keeps their own play stuff to a minimum, but also teaches them the value in sharing with those who have less than them. It is a wonderful idea to sponsor an overseas child or to have your kids fill a shoe box with gifts to give away to a needy child each Christmas using their pocket money. Teach them to show kindness to needy families by having the kids bake cookies for others or to treat them to the movies. When we do the above we are creating in our children an awareness of the needs of others. You literally have to train your kids not to think about themselves first. Gratitude and generosity are wonderful attributes. Thanksgiving and Christmas are perfect times to demonstrate that we care. Teach your kids how. They deserve it!


In an era of ‘must-haves’, how can we teach our children what it means to be grateful? We believe that a successful family is  God-centered,
                                           Parent- directed
Children need to learn that it is not all about them. Part of being outwardly focused is in being concerned about the needs of others. When we show benevolence by giving our possessions and our time to voluntary organizations, to our neighbors and friends, our kids see first-hand what effect generosity has on others. It also shows them how little it takes to be happy with a few things rather than a lot.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Saturday, November 4, 2017


I found this very interesting information on intelligence other than the usual IQ test that indicates how brainy or not we are.  I am including it with the link in hopes that it might be of as much interest to the rest of you as it was to me.  You will have to use the url below to get links indicated in red.

How smart are you?
Your answer to that question probably depends pretty heavily on your grades in school or, if you've ever taken one, the results of an IQ test. But are those a fair basis to assess a person's mental capabilities?

Everyday language suggests maybe not. We speak of street smarts and EQ, for instance. Both terms suggest that there are abilities that deserve to be considered as forms of intelligence but that fall well beyond the scope of traditional academic measures. Does science go along with common sense in seeing that intelligence and IQ are far from the same thing?

More than you probably imagine. According to Harvard's Howard Gardner, intelligence actually comes in an incredible eight flavors. In a recent video for Big Think the developmental psychologist outlined not just the two kinds of intelligence he believes IQ tests capture -- language and logical (other academics break IQ into different components) -- but also listed another six types of intelligence these tests fail to measure at all.


1. Musical intelligence.

"People say, well, music is a talent. It's not an intelligence. And I say why, if you're good with words, is that an intelligence, but if you're good with tones and rhythms and timbres, it's not. And nobody's ever given me a good answer, which is why it makes sense to talk about musical intelligence," Gardner points out. 

2. Spatial intelligence.

This is the easy grasp of how things lay in space that allows a chess master to win or a surgeon to perform near miracles. It's also "what an airplane pilot or a sea captain would have. How do you find your way around large territory and large space," Gardner notes.

3. Bodily kinesthetic Intelligence

Forget the cliché of the dumb jock. Coordinating your body actually takes a great deal of intelligence -- just not the kind measured by IQ tests. This type of smarts "comes in two flavors. One flavor is the ability to use your whole body to solve problems or to make things, and athletes and dancers would have that kind of bodily kinesthetic intelligence. But another variety is being able to use your hands or other parts of your body to solve problems or make things. A craftsperson would have bodily kinesthetic intelligence" too, according to Gardner.


4. Interpersonal intelligence.

This one seems a bit similar to the popular concept of EQ. "Interpersonal intelligence is how you understand other people, how you motivate them, how you lead them, how you work with them, how you cooperate with them," says Gardner, who adds that it's a particularly important type of intelligence for leaders to have.


5. Intrapersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal intelligence, or self-knowledge, is both very hard to assess and very important, Gardner says, particularly in today's fast-changing world. "Nowadays, especially in developed society, people lead their own lives. We follow our own careers. We often switch careers. We don't necessarily live at home as we get older. And if you don't have a good understanding of yourself, you are in big trouble," he explains.

6. Naturalist intelligence.

This one is "the capacity to make important, relevant discriminations in the world of nature between one plant and another, between one animal and another. It's the intelligence of the naturalist, the intelligence of Charles Darwin," Gardner says.

And before you argue that you live in Detroit or Manhattan and so have no need for this type of smarts, he adds that "everything we do in the commercial world uses our naturalist intelligence. Why do I buy this jacket rather than another one? This sweater rather than another one?" Those fine distinctions are made by the part of the brain that used to discern a tasty small animal from a poisonous one. "When an old use of a brain center no longer is relevant, it gets hijacked for something new. So we're all using our naturalist intelligence even if we never walk out into the woods," Gardner concludes.

If this sounds like a long list of intelligences, then be warned -- even more may be on the way. In the complete video, Gardner goes on to note their are two other possible intelligences that he is currently investigating.

The bottom line? If you've been thinking of your mental horsepower solely in terms of high school report cards or a single number from an IQ test, you're probably selling yourself short. And if you're focusing your energies only on boosting your book learning, you may be wasting efforts that could be better focused on other strengths.

Do you recognize any of these six additional intelligences in yourself?

There is a great deal to think about in the above article by


Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


Every parent has one or many of those days when everything, but everything goes wrong!  You feel yourself becoming unraveled yet the waves keep coming in, piling one on top of the other.  If only we could run and hide somewhere for an hour, or better still, RUN AWAY!


a) Have a plan for the day.  Make sure you give yourself enough time to do everything on your list
    including receiving unexpected phone calls that soak up time.
b) Expect that things will go to plan, but run a scenario or two on what to do if xxx goes wrong.
c) Let those involved in your plans know times, places and expectations e.g. I will pick you up at
    9.30 a.m. outside your house and don't forget to bring .....
d) If you are taking a child make sure he is fed, watered, changed and that you have enough supplies
    to last the outing.
e) If your child is old enough to understand, explain your expectations to them e.g. "We are going to
    buy groceries but I am not buying you a .... today. " "We are going to Aunt Peggy's place for lunch
    and I would like you to sit up like a big boy/girl at the table and not to ask her for a present."
f) Make sure you have enough gas in the car, enough money in your purse, you are   wearing matching shoes and that you have your car keys.    
 g) Stick to your plan.


a) Stop and take deep breaths.  Ask yourself, 'Is anyone bleeding'? If the answer is 'No', as it most
    often is, then decide which of the things you scheduled for the day can be done tomorrow or at a
    later date.
b) If your child is crying, ask yourself - is he tired, hungry or become totally over-stimulated?  If so,
    then stop, give him what he needs and see if he settles.  If not, you have pushed him beyond his
    endurance.  Go home.
c) If the person you were meeting makes you late, do NOT make allowances next time and do not
    accept lame excuses like, "Oh, I am always late." Tell them you are on a time limit so, if they wish
    to come with you again, kindly be on time.


a) If everything worked to plan, congratulate yourself.  Well done!  Thank those who helped it all go
    smoothly. By thanking them, you are letting them know they have helped you meet your
b) Understand you are not solely in control of your day.  Anything can happen and it usually does.
    If you find YOU have a time commitment issue, then deal with it and don't get mad with others
    because you have let yourself down.  If necessary, get help so you manage your time more

Sanity is a most valuable thing.  So do all you can to preserve it!!


I couldn’t help notice in our Mothers’ Day church service in May a 14 year-old boy being affectionate to his mom as the pastor spoke in superlatives about mothers. After the service I went up to the boy and told him to never give up on showing affection to his parents. He and his dad both smiled in acknowledgement. “Even if your mother brings something to you at school, be prepared to hug her in front of your friends,” I said to yet more smiles.



Affection is essential to the development of any human being. Everyone in the world needs the outward show of affection - children and adults, boys and girls all desire to be held, patted, kissed, hugged or spoken to in an affectionate way and often. It makes them feel valued and secure, knowing that someone not only says they care, but demonstrates it.   

It could be an arm around a grieving soul, a pat on the back or a ruffle of the hair for a job well done, high fives, the gentle hold of another person's hand, a handshake of recognition and respect, a kiss on the cheek, a good bear hug...they all say more than words could ever tell. 

During the ‘Cold War’ in Eastern Europe many parents couldn’t afford to keep some of their children. These children were often sent to orphanages where the staff was usually told to look after the children’s basic needs only. They were not to offer affection as that might create bonds that were too hard to break. The results were shocking. When Communism in Eastern Europe fell and news got out about the orphanages, journalists photographed and wrote about the affection-starved children. The children rocked back and forth, could hardly speak and their eyes showed little or no expression.


a) Maybe the parents, or one of them, grew up in an affection-sterile home. We had a friend like
    that. Hugging her was reminiscent of trying to hug an ironing board. She was just plain
    uncomfortable in such close proximity to another, and even now she finds the close proximity of
    a hug very uncomfortable and we have been good friends for years.

b) Some dads who raised a ‘daddy’s girl’, sometimes back off showing affection to their daughters
    once they reach puberty for fear of being accused of molestation. This fear is real, but
    unnecessary. Sure, some of the things you used to do like tickling and smooching would have to
    be curtailed, but hugging, holding, quick kissing and affectionate words should never cease.

c) Some think it is sissy to show affection.  It goes along with 'boys don't cry' and 'sticks and stones
    may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!'  We all know those sayings just stifle the
    need to show emotion under difficult circumstances.

d) In the case of someone we do not know well, we may need to ask permission to hug or touch
    them.  I have never found one who refused such an offer, but it is appropriate to ask first.


In many homes in America there are affection-starved children who are deprived of so many things that make up a healthy personality. Research shows that such children look elsewhere for affection if they don’t get it at home. Many equate sex with affection and that may lead to promiscuity. For many boys it can lead to joining gangs where a different form of affection and loyalty is exhibited.

Affection is absolutely free. Affection is God-given (God so loved the world) and needs to be part of our behavior if we value wholeness. If we have come from an dis-affectionate background it is still possible to practice being affectionate. You need it and your children desire it and deserve it!

Showing affection can transform your whole home environment and tells your children in a tangible way they are loved.

Written by Brian and Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. It is only when it causes detrimental outbursts that it becomes a problem. Tantrums in teens are usually the result of not having learned how to successfully manage anger and frustration while in early childhood. There are many reasons why teens become frustrated and ‘boil over’. Many times it is because they can’t get their own way, but the cause may also relate to a number of other factors. When a child sees a parent losing his/her temper by lashing out, slamming doors, using bad language and throwing things they think this is normal and repeat what they see.

Teen tantrums may also stem from over-controlling parents, being treated unfairly, inconsistent parenting, impossibly high expectations, or repeated put-downs making the teen feel worthless. It may be due to the negative influence of friends. Frustration also comes from not coping at school, being stressed out or from physical conditions such as being in pain. There are many, many children who are angry because of home break-ups.


If your child is throwing uncontrollable tantrums -

a) Consider the causes before just jumping in with some disciplinary measure. Ask yourself a
    few hard questions. Do you have an anger management problem? If so, admit it, own it and
    get some professional help - fast.
b) Are you and your spouse on the same page regarding your family values? Have you agreed
    on AND explained and demonstrated to your children what respect and self-control should
    look like in your home?
c) Have you taught your children how to recognize their frustration early and self regulate their
    own anger?
d) Are you favoring one child over another or putting them down.
e) Are you trying to live your life vicariously through theirs - putting unfair expectations on them?
f) Are you monitoring the atmosphere in the home to look for early signs of frustration in your
g) Is your home a safe and calm place?

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the above questions, then adjust your parenting behaviors and gauge the results. If necessary, get help.


At a time when your child is NOT angry, ask him/her why they lose their temper. You might be surprised at their response. They need to know they can talk to you without fearing consequences. If they will not tell you, then encourage them to talk to the school counselor or another trusted adult.

Teach your child or get help to show them how to recognize the signs of anger and how to deal with it. If the cause is a marriage break-up, then you all need to attend counseling sessions to deal with the grief and move forward.


a) Do not retaliate. You cannot fight fire with fire as this only escalates the situation.
b) If your children are angry at each other, then separate them and deal with the matter when, and
    only when, they have cooled off.
c) If your child is angry with you, then act calm and exercise self-control. If necessary, turn and
    walk out of the room. Count a slow 25. When they are ready to talk, get them to start at the
    beginning and only allow one to talk at a time - no interruptions. You will often find that they
    are angry about something completely different than you thought and that you or another child
    did or said was just the last straw.
d) Explain how this situation could have been averted.
e) Tell the child how you expect them to behave next time and praise your children when you see
     them managing their anger well. Parents, encourage each other when you see that your own
     behavior is changing your kid’s negative responses.

NOTE: If all your attempts are failing to make a difference then get professional help.

Explain to your child that their whole life will be dictated by how they manage their emotions. It will affect their relationships with others, their careers, their play as well as their children’s lives. Anger is a positive emotion when directed appropriately.

Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families