087: You Were Born For The Lake, Not The Pond [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

Most people live the ‘safe’ life. They never take risks and venture out and miss the beauty of the lake for the safety of the pond. Here are three steps to taking your life to the next level.


ON THIS EPISODE:

“You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.” -Jim Rohn

Spring in the midwest is a magical thing. Every moment is a new expression of life. Every beam of a morning sunrise reminds me of the ducks on the freeway that lives in born on the swamp in the treacherous journey to the lake – but it is a much better place.

Spring in the midwest is a magical thing. Every moment is a new expression of life. Every beam of a morning sunrise reminds me of the ducks on the freeway that lives in born on the swamp in the treacherous journey to the lake – but it is a much better place.

Most people live their life in a pond in an on-ramp of a freeway. 

It’s comfortable.  It’s predictable.  It’s safe.  But that isn’t what life is about.  You were born for the lake, not the pond.  

3 Keys To The Next Level Life:

  1. The next level life takes vision.  Vision is seeing something better.  It is a picture of a preferred and greater future for your life.  Right now, fill in this statement, “The part of my life I wish were better is ___________.”  Finances. Relationships.  Describe to yourself what you dream it could be.  That is vision.  For the goose, the mom has been there.  She knows it’s so much better on the lake and peaceful on the lake.  It is that vision that drives you to overcome obstacles and take risks.  
  2. The next level life takes risk.  Not uncalculated, ‘college’ risk.  But decisive action that drives you toward your vision.  It means stepping out of your comfort zone.  Doing something that hurts now for greater reward later.
  3. The next level life takes leadership (mamma goose).   The mamma goose has been to the lake.  She has taken the risks. She’s seen (vision) what it could be.  Going to the next level in your life takes a team or a coach.  Someone to help you keep on track.  I have many coaches in my life for different areas.  Some I know personally, others are coaches from afar.  But each one helps me keep on track and accomplish what I need and want to accomplish.

Ultimately, the next level life is so worth it. 

Here’s my challenge for you.  Go to toddstocker.com/087 and download the free Graph of Life.  When you find out which area of your life has the greatest gap, send me an email.  I’d love to pray about that for you and maybe I could help you work through that issue to take you from the pond to the lake.  


RESOURCES:

057: Who Is Driving Your Life? [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

who is driving your life.001Have you ever felt like your life was going in circles? Have you ever wanted to take control and make positive changes in your life?  Today, I’ll give you some advice that will help you take back your life.


ON THIS EPISODE:

Who is driving your life?  Is it you or someone else?

Invictus Poem:

“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

– William Ernest Henley

Problem:

You and I allow other people or even situations to drive our lives. 

Dan Miller talks about creating a transition plan.

Solution:

  1. Identify where you want to go.
  2. Figure out where you are now.
  3. What are the obstacles in your way
  4. What is the first step that you need to take to get there

Remember, you have more control than you think!

This is where life-coaching comes in. Coaching is different from counseling.  Click here to find out more about Coaching.

Counseling is outside in. Coaching is inside out.


RESOURCES:

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Make Your Life Count – Todd Stocker.com

make_life_count.001[In light of the political drama currently playing out, I thought I’d repost a writing that helps shed light on character and greatness].

A few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a man who had poured out his life into the lives of others.  His passion was focused on helping organizations and Christian educational institutions provide excellence in the teaching of students.  A tall man with a  gentle smile, he would often be seen stooping down to meet the gaze of a 7 year old, trying to figure out if going to school was ok.  One Wednesday, as he was golfing, he was gripped with the pains of a heart-attack and went home to heaven.

David lived his life as if everyday were his last.  He loved deeply and served graciously.  He talked gently and loved abundantly.  In short, he made his life count.

What about your life?  When the etchers chip your epitaph into the gravestone of your life, what will they write?

Many of us put wealth, status and power at the top of our list as indicators of success.  In the grand scheme of the universe, these things are fleeting.  So how can you live a life that is defined by true success?  Here are 3 pointers.

1.  Make it about others and not yourself.  We are all born with glasses turned backward.  We see ourselves as the center of the universe.  But making your life count means to flip the glasses and put others first.  Someone once said,

“The value of a man’s life is in the counting of his positive influence on others.”

2.  Make it about giving and not getting.  In our country, we have more than most people in the world.  Health, wealth and resources more than provide a quality of life that most on the globe only dream of.  Making your life count means filling the needs of those around you based on a heart of love.  That kind of heart does not expect anything in return.

3.  Make it about serving rather than self-seeking.  Today, ask yourself, “How can I serve people around me?”  “What is it that I can do for someone that is unexpected and will add value to their lives?”  Even these simple questions can make people feel loved and, in return, you are fulfilled in serving.

If you seek to make your life count, you will have the kind of life that true success defines – please God by serving others.  God even says that He sees what you do when you strive to make your life count.  (see Hebrews 6:10)

Peace!

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73 Seconds. Live Every Moment. – Todd Stocker.com

73-seconds-challengerI lived in Houston for a few wonderful yet short years.  Specifically, I served a ministry that was right across the street for the Johnson Space Center near Nassau Bay and fell in love with the community and people who worked for NASA.  Many of their astronauts, engineers and support personal attended our church and through their witness, I was privy to a bit of their tight knit family. 

As a result, I was especially drawn to the 30th anniversary of the death of the crew on the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded 73 seconds after lift-off.  I watched the video again and while I wasn’t there then, I felt the weight of the loss that surprised the world. I heard the spectators and announcers trying to make sense of a ‘mission-turned-tragic’ and the loss of friends they experienced in that moment. 

73 seconds from now. 

These anniversaries cause me pause.  They reset my thinking about the brevity of life.  Without being too drab, the truth holds — your life, my life, the life of anyone you know on this planet could finish within the next 73 seconds.  (Truth be told, your life never ends, it simply transitions to either something far greater or something far worse). 

73 seconds from now.

It puts a new perspective on life now, when you think about it.  It has for me.  I tend to live in the future.  I tend to think I’m guaranteed the next year, the next month the next minute.  While God encourages planning, more so he encourages perspective.  Perspective that opens the world of the ‘now’.  Perspective that shows the beauty of the moment in which you now breath.  Perspective that encourages you and me to live every moment rightly and helps you recognize the gems in the seconds. 

Life is a beautiful mess, but it is still beautiful and your next 73 seconds could be your best ever.

Peace!

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This Beautifully Messy Life – Todd Stocker.com

messy life.001I’ve seen a lot.  Some of what I’ve seen you wouldn’t want to see.  Some of what I’ve experienced in other people’s lives, you’ve experienced as well.

Working in a ministry setting affords you a backstage pass to other people’s stories in a way that is deep and ugly and rich. 

Most recently, a miscarriage of a little girl just 16 weeks along.  Parents crushed.  Family devastated.  Before that, the dissolution of a once thriving marriage and before that, the ugly politics in a workplace that resulted in a nasty pink-slip firing with precious few opportunities for re-employment.

It is a messy life.

Yet in that mess (which can sometimes look like the table top of a 2 year old’s dinnertime) is where God is.  In the messy anger, grief and shame is where God shows up.  Where we see chaos and confusion, he points out opportunity and hope.  Where we feel empty and sad, he shouts  “potential and joy!”

He makes all things — even the messes — new.  He takes brokenness and turns it into art (click for a related post). 

Because of that, the messes of life become beautiful.  The ugly becomes gorgeous and the dim becomes radiant.  He does new things in you through this beautifully messy life. 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Peace!

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One Purpose Of Your Pain – Todd Stocker.com

sadness_purposeI don’t think I knew him.  Maybe I did.  Maybe he was just starting at Concordia University, St. Paul when I was finishing my stint as Campus Pastor.  Many in my circles tell me that he was a great person of life, fun, purpose and humor.  That’s what makes his drowning in a pond this weekend even more tragic.  Too young.  Too much potential.  Gone on.

Details are still emerging.  What happened is still a question.  The tragedy is close enough to me that I hurt for my friends who are left empty by his home-going.  This is where I want to help.  This is where my past informs the present.  That’s one of the purposes of tragedy in your life — to help others bump along the dark tunnel of pain just like you did, to show others that the hopelessness of the now fades into the hopefulness of the not yet.  Your loss shines perspective’s light on others going through the same thing.  

2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

So I want God to use that dark chapter in my story to help give light to those just writing theirs.  When needed, I will use what God taught me in any way I can.  

Life always squashes death.  Love always soothes sadness.  In it all, God is still a loving dad, calling home those whom he pleases and walking with those whom he loves.

[Download the resource: “How To Help Those Who’ve Lost A Loved One.”]

Peace!

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LIFE IMPACT: MAKENZIE AND QUINN

Makenzie_hatThey didn’t know each other and we didn’t know her.  Yet last Friday, we all connected.

I opened up my email and saw one sent from, “Quinn.”  I don’t know any one bearing that name.  Spam had spammed me I thought.  As is my habit on these junky occasions, I hovered my cursor and right clicked – ready to send it to that folder for the abyss.  Yet, in my spirit, I was prompted not to hit ‘delete’ but ‘open’.

These were the words staring back from the screen:

“We have never met before or spoken, but I just thought I would let you know how your blog, or I guess how Makenzie changed my life. You see, this weekend I am getting baptized and the reason is because of your daughter. I came across your blog and found myself very intrigued by your family’s story. After reading about Makenzie and her love for Jesus, I found myself wanting to give my life to Jesus. I just want to thank you for putting her story out there. I know it changed my life for the better and I am sure it has done that for many others.”

Once again, God used my daughter’s short-well-lived life to change someone else’s for eternity.  Once again, I as the dictator of the story feel immensely humbled by it all.  Once again, I thank my Lord for Hope-lived-out and His eternity breaking into Quinn’s history.

Thank you, Quinn, for letting me use your email and for following the calling of Jesus!

(Update:  Quinn was baptized this past Saturday!)

Peace!

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The Secret to a Happy Life

lggEveryone’s looking for that one secret or plan for a fulfilling life. Just do an Amazon book search on the word ‘purpose’ and the results land in the millions.  Walk through a Google search on the word ‘happiness’ and the outcome is infinite.

So is there a formula for feeling fulfilled and successful in life?

The more I study, observe, think and pray, the more I see that the answer is yes.  Yes you can be happy.  Yes you can feel fulfilled.  Yes you can rest well at night, knowing your day had meaning if you can formulate your life’s activities around what I believe is a God-given daily formula I simply call Learn-Grow-Give.

2007-04-waterThere are two large bodies of water in the middle east.  The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.  One is beautiful and full of life.  The other is desolate and stagnant.  They are connected by the Jordan River.  The Sea of Galilee is a luxurious vacation spot for many.  The Dead Sea is a day trip for those who are curious.  Here’s why.

The Sea of Galilee is fed partly by an underground spring, partly by the Jordan River and partly by waters flowing from the surrounding hills.  Teams of fish and plant life make it their home.  This sea empties down the Jordan into the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea is what its name indicates – dead.  Because of it’s high salt content, nothing lives in it.  Why?  This sea has no exit point.  The water simply stops there, collecting minerals and debris carried into it by the Jordan.  The disparity of these two water-bodies illustrates the Learn-Grow-Give principle of life.

To be happy and healthy, you should always have new resources (incoming water or learning), always process and apply what those resources provide (life-activity or growing), and always be seeking opportunities to contribute back into other people (water flowing out or giving).

Learn:  I was at a meeting in which there was a post-retirement aged leader.  He had put in his time and had been successful leading his organization.  I thought he was at the meeting simply because of the camaraderie of his colleagues but as soon as the presenter started, he pulled out a yellow legal pad and began taking notes.  He was in learning mode!  No matter what stage of life you’re in, leaders are learners.  What have you read or investigated lately?  How are you going to intentionally learn new concepts and ideas?  Are you in learning mode?

Grow:  As a kid, we used to buy these plants called “Resurrection Plants.”  I don’t know what species they are but they can be dried up for 50 years or more and yet when you put them in water, they spring to life. They use the water to replenish their green leaves and unfold into a beautiful desktop foliage.  When you have intake (Learning), you then choose to grown from it and spring to life.  Whatever you’re observing or learning, ask yourself what lessons can you learn.  Process how this can be important or helpful.  Figure out ways to apply what you’ve learned to make life better for you and others around you.  What have you learned recently that has helped you?  How can you grow from your experiences, learnings and observations?

Give:  The human body was design around the Learn-Grow-Give model.  When you eat and drink, you are taking in new items into your body (Learn).  Then your body process the food and water to supply what your body needs to grow and/or be healthy (Grow).  But if there is not exiting of the food and water, toxins build up and you become sick very quickly.  (Remember the Dead Sea).  Your life, like your body, needs to have a giving strategy for a health.  Where are you serving in your church, community or workplace?  Into whom are you pouring your wisdom, experience and life?

How has this been helpful?  Comment below.

Peace!

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Your Choices Have Outcomes

choose-your-pathI was standing in the store, eavesdropping on a mom and her son’s conversation.  He was trying to decide on which toy to buy his littler sister. He held in one hand some sort of over-accesorized doll and in the other, a storybook.  After several moments, of lifting up one over the other, he placed the doll back on the shelf and clutched the book to his chest stating, “I’m choosing this one because we can read it together.”

Wise choice.

You hold in your hand the incredible power of choice.  Every moment of your life, you are making decisions that affect not only your immediate moments, but your longer term future.  Your choices affect the quality and quantity of your life and of those around you.  When you make a choice, they have consequences (or outcomes) and they can have a dramatic positive or negative affect.

If we choose only that which is beneficial to us, that leads to a kind of death.  Death in relationships.  Death in our peace.  Death in our confidence. Death in our lives.   But if we choose to follow the right and wise way – that leads to life.  Life in our relationships.  Life in our world.  Life inside of you.

So ask yourself.  When I make my daily decisions, who is the beneficiary?  Are my decisions helping others?  Are they inline with my God-given life purpose? Do they add value to people in my world?

Choose well – Live well.

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16 NLT)

Peace!

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Feeling Small – Lessons from the Lake

I was at a cabin, working on my next book project when outside, I heard what sounded to me like thunder.  I thought that was strange since it wasn’t in the forecast.

I continued working but soon, I heard it again.  The sound thundered loudly to a point that it shook the windows of the cabin. So I went outside and looked around and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was clear.

As I looked across the lake, I watched a flock of birds suddenly fly off of the ice followed by the thunder sound.  I couldn’t figure it out.  Then, it happened again.  It was then that I realized the thundering sound was the cracking of the ice that happens as the temperature changed.  It expands and contracts which causes the “thunder.”  Right at my feet, the ice-thundering erupted and spread across the entire lake.  The ground on which I stood shook and I felt very powerless and very small.

It reminded me of when God had a conversation with Job.  Job was questioning God about his life and why he was experiencing loss and struggle.   God responds to Job and says, “Job, were you there when I sent the foundations of the world in place?  Were you there when I started the cosmos or when I created the very environments in which you walk?”  At that moment, I felt like Job.

Sometimes I think too big of myself.  Sometimes I want to completely control my life and that I have the power to do so.  But then I realize that ultimately, power and strength comes only from God.

The Bible says that the earth is the Lords everything in it.  He created the sky.  He created the mountains.  He created the ice that operates on the surface of the lake and causes the ground to shake.

The next time I try to control everything in my life, I’ll remember the lesson of the lake.

Peace!

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Un-Comfort Your Comfort Zone

Your Comfort Zone.  Defined as a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress, most of us live for our comfort zones.  The problem with only living in our comfort zone is that we never grow.  Think about it, if you only did what was comfortable, you would never get married, never work, never explore, never experience other people in need of your love!

When-Our-Comfort-Zone-Becomes-A-Danger-ZoneMaf Berg, a women from our church, recently returned from a mission trip to Roatán.  Maf has been on many trips before and is a warrior for helping people and spreading the message of Jesus but this time, she went to a place that pushed her out of her comfort zone.  Maf writes,

“While I had been to Roatán before, this time, the women did something we’d never done before that was WAY out of our comfort zone.  We made sandwiches and brought them and Kool-Aid to the local jail!  (In Honduras, the inmates don’t eat unless family members bring them food; and, when you live on less that $1 a day, there isn’t much to spend on food for an incarcerated brother or father).  The jail was like a medieval dungeon – pitch dark, no windows or lights in the cells, and a bucket in the middle of the floor for urinating.  The cells are small that when its at capacity (which is only 8 people and is often full) the men have to sleep standing up!   The smell was so bad we literally didn’t know if we were going to faint or throw up!  But when we gave the men/boys Bibles, several already had New Testaments and pulled them out of their pockets and read along with us!”

God is constantly calling us to venture out of our comfort zones and add value to the lives of others.  It may be tough talking to that person in the office about hope.  It may be tiring to give up an hour or two to serve at a food shelf or at a ministry like We Do Feet.  God may even bring you to a foreign country in order that you may share about this amazing concept called Grace.

I think that this quote captures God’s design for a life surrendered to Him:

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at eternity safely and soft from comfort, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Yee Haw! What a ride!'”

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy1:7

How can you step out of your comfort zone today to add value to someone else’s life?

Peace!

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That Kind of Love

I am sitting at a coffee shop next to Lego land in the Mall of America.  It overlooks the amusement park called Nickelodeon Universe.  What I notice are the large number of elderly couples walking through the park and filling the coffee shop around me.  But what really catches my attention is how happy they look.  Elderly couple walking across footbridge Photo GETTY

At the table in front of me is a grey-haired pair sitting next to each other, not across from each other, but chair to chair, hip-replacement to hip-replacement and very close.. Uncomfortably close.  Just shy of 80 years old, I’d say, these two love birds are whispering things in each others ears. First her, then him.  I’m guessing something naughty because she blushes and they both giggled.  Get a room I’m thinking to myself and then I smile.

There’s another elderly couple. They are holding hands and looking at the toys displayed in the toy store window.  A drop of vanilla ice cream from the women’s cone plops on the ground and they laugh.   They too, look happy.  They too, look content.

I think to myself, I want that for me and my bride.  That when we get to that age, we too can be naughty and giggle and walk through an amusement park holding hands and stop for ice cream together.

Marriage is not dead as some would think.  Longevity in this relationship is still possible and real and desirable.   For some, it hasn’t happened.   For some it won’t.  For others it has happened and then un-happened, leaving the scars that remind them of what could have been and might yet still be.

Now there’s another ancient man, pushing his wife of a gazillion years in a wheel chair.  Most likely, she has become unable to communicate as confirmed by the blank look on her face and the bib around her neck.  No matter.  He still pushes her into a Christmas shop that she no doubt used to love but now can’t remember.  He still pushes.  That’s love.

I am reminded that that kind of Love is not lost.  That kind of Love is not weakened.  That kind of Love is not retired or growing old or evidenced only in our grandparents.   Because now I see a young couple with a little bambino strapped to dads back.  The couple acts like the elderly couples, minus the wrinkles.  They are still in love.  Still holding hands.  Still looking at toys through the window.  Still whispering naughty things to each other and giggling.  And that is that kind of love.

Peace!

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3 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE COUNT

A few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a man who had poured out his life into the lives of others.  His passion was focused on helping organizations and Christian educational institutions provide excellence in the teaching of students.  A tall man with a  gentle smile, he would often be seen stooping down to meet the gaze of a 7 year old, trying to figure out if going to school was ok.  One Wednesday, as he was golfing, he was gripped with the pains of a heart-attack and went home to heaven.

David lived his life as if everyday were his last.  He loved deeply and served graciously.  He talked gently and loved abundantly.  In short, he made his life count.

What about your life?  When the etchers chip your epitaph into the gravestone of your life, what will they write?

Many of us put wealth, status and power at the top of our list as indicators of success.  In the grand scheme of the universe, these things are fleeting.  So how can you live a life that is defined by true success?  Here are 3 pointers.

1.  Make it about others and not yourself.  We are all born with glasses turned backward.  We see ourselves as the center of the universe.  But making your life count means to flip the glasses and put others first.  Someone once said,

“The value of a man’s life is in the counting of his positive influence on others.”

2.  Make it about giving and not getting.  In our country, we have more than most people in the world.  Health, wealth and resources more than provide a quality of life that most on the globe only dream of.  Making your life count means filling the needs of those around you based on a heart of love.  That kind of heart does not expect anything in return.

3.  Make it about serving rather than self-seeking.  Today, ask yourself, “How can I serve people around me?”  “What is it that I can do for someone that is unexpected and will add value to their lives?”  Even these simple questions can make people feel loved and, in return, you are fulfilled in serving.

If you seek to make your life count, you will have the kind of life that true success defines – please God by serving others.  God even says that He sees what you do when you strive to make your life count.  (see Hebrews 6:10)

Question:  How else can you make your life count today?

Peace!

LIFE, LIBERTY AND HAPPINESS?

I love the documents of our country.  The statements of separation from tyranny, the proclamations of the design of our government, they are all brilliant and timeless.  As I was studying the document for the 4th of July – The Declaration of Independence – the little phrase that stuck out was

“We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Life? Yes.  Liberty? Absolutely!  Happiness? uh, nope.  We are not guaranteed happiness in this or any other country around the world.  Our declaration states that we are endowed with (or should be endowed with) the PURSUIT of happiness.

Too many in our world feel that it is their right to be happy, that we are entitled to be happy and that our governments should guarantee that we are, happy.  For me, true happiness is not something that is handed to me on a platter.  I find happiness in honoring God through personal productivity, adding value and leadership to others, and reaching the personal goals toward which I strive.

My opinion is that the world’s governments can provide opportunities and environments in which I can choose to pursue happiness, but they cannot provide happiness itself.  History shows that happiness is simply a choice found in personal responsibility and pursuit.

I’d love to hear what you think on this!  Please comment below…

Peace!

WHY OUR CHILDREN HAVE LOST RESPECT FOR OUR ELDERS

Now, I’m probably going to offend some of you but what Kellie and I saw made me sick. We watched the recent news report on Karen Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother of eight who was verbally bullied by 7th grade kids. The verbal feces that spewed from the forked tongues of these hellions was simply shocking. The whole scene caused me to ask “What has caused our society to allow our children to treat someone so horrifically?”

(Her Story)

I believe it comes down to a few things.

We’ve sent God a-packin. We have pushed God right out the door of our institutional systems. Government, Education and the private sector decided it was easier to succumb to the petty whining of the few rather than stand up and declare the truth that our nation was founded on God’s principles.

We’ve crucified the traditional parent. Why is it that the media outlets seem to think that it’s ok to make fun of and minimize Dads and Moms? Why is it ok to show and lift up non-traditional family situations as ‘normal’ when statistics reveal traditional family situations as being the healthiest in which to raise children?

We’ve devalued LIFE. If we can kill babies and call it ‘health-care’, why not bully our elders and call it ‘fun’? If we can blowup people in our movies, TV shows and games and call it ‘entertainment’, why not round up the elderly, herd them into gas-chambers and call it ‘population cleansing’?

We’ve allowed our kids to be our Kings. If you’re reading this last one and you’re a parent, I want you to repeat after me. “I am their PARENT, not their FRIEND.” If you give Johnny and Susie whatever they want because they cry for it, you are not their parent, you are their vending machine and they will take over. Please, please, please! Discipline your kids! My advise – be strong and courageous. That’s what your kids want and need from you.

Question: What can you do to help your kids see that people matter? Write a comment below …

Peace!