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Avoiding Parenting Clichés

October 24, 2014

Whenever I’m called on to give instruction to budding songwriters, we inevitably address the use of cliché. I  encourage them to think of a cliché as a missed opportunity to tell the truth – which is a nice way of saying, “Words matter. Don’t be lazy.”

When writing, clichés are often the first phrases that come to mind. Good writers do the work of skipping over those clichés and finding memorable details that capture their audience. As a parent, my audience is often my children, and that same brain work is important when communicating with them.

When a child hands me a blob of unrecognizable scribble and calls it a robot, I can say “That’s nice” or “great job,” and that works fine the first few times. But eventually, kids will hear the laziness behind the words, and they will recognize a hidden meaning: “This is not important to me.” (Which can feel like: “You are not important to me.”)

I don’t necessarily take their “artwork” seriously, but I always try to take my kid seriously. If they are proud, I’m proud too. You can always complement their imagination or the color choice, or, did they work hard on it? If so, it always pays to comment on their effort.

I ran across a great article in Parents Magazine on How To Praise Your Kids that addresses that in some detail. I really like a lot of this stuff… How To Praise Your Kids.


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How Jesus Is Teaching Me Today

October 21, 2014


This morning I didn’t have time for prayer and bible reading. In other words, I woke up in my hotel room in Columbia, SC and watched Sportscenter for 45 minutes before posting a few tweets and taking the stairs down for breakfast.

I didn’t turn to the Lord until my 90 minute drive to the airport. I spent the first 20 minutes replaying conversations from the weekend in my mind. Second-guessing certain choices, and imagining others.

Years of the daily struggle of a life of faith have taught me this. Indulging in imaginary conversations is sure evidence of spiritual neglect.

Thankfully, I was convicted about it, and it humbled me (finally), and I began to pray.

Soon, the Lord brought a verse into my head – in the voice of my friend Sally from the Scripture CD.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 4:4-8

 In other words, don’t talk to yourself. Talk to Jesus.

That’s how Jesus is teaching me today.


Order the new all-Scripture CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs (click here)

Subscribe to our mailing list (and get free Slugs & Bugs coloring pages!) (click here)

The Three Pillars of Slugs & Bugs

October 7, 2014
As I travel around the country, I’m often asked what Slugs & Bugs is all about. For tonight’s Twitter Party, I thought I’d lay out a short outline to help our discussion!
The Three Pillars of Slugs & Bugs
1. Who is he/what’s the big deal
2. Why he matters in my everyday life – getting dressed, making coffee, taking out the trash, working, etc.
3. How a family lives together, with Jesus.


1. Silliness meets kids where they are, while simultaneously reminding parents who THEY are in Christ (little children).
2. Silliness presumes humility – you can’t look down on anyone when you’re being silly. It requires you to make yourself low – just like the gospel.
3. Silliness causes laughter :-) Who doesn’t need more of that?
1. Discipleship demands it (Be Excellent – Romans 16:19)
2. Kids deserve it – we should soak our children in excellent artistry – whatever the sort.
3. Parents deserve it – if their kids enjoy the music, parents are going to have to listen to it A LOT.  Parenting is hard enough without having to endure repeated listenings of bad music. Talk about adding insult to injury! Rather, they should enjoy it so much that they are glad to hear it again.
Briefly… The inspiration for Slugs & Bugs came from having my own children, and always feeling like a hypocrite whenever I talked about the gospel with them. Nobody knows you like your kids, and whenever I would talk about Jesus and holiness and honoring God with your life, I could hardly do it because I felt like such a fraud. Lord knows I dishonor the Lord with my behavior in many ways every day.
And then… I realized that I was going about it all wrong. Instead of trying to teach them about how Jesus wanted them to act, I began teaching them what a life walking with Jesus is like for me. And that changed everything.
Slugs & Bugs was born out of a desire to help other parents connect with their kids in the same way.  Singing silly songs right next to spiritual songs puts the gospel in its proper context, right along side every other aspect of life.
(Please pardon the formatting… wordpress is giving me fits tonight)

Parents! A “Sing the Bible” Blog Series.

October 1, 2014

S&B Loves Fams

Earlier this year, I started a blog series for Slugs & Bugs families that want to go deeper. The Bible verses inside Sing the Bible can begin beautiful and inspiring conversations about the gospel, and this series explores some of the conversations these verses inspired with my own kids.

All three of my children sang on the record, though none of them yet fully grasp the depth of what Jesus has done for them. (Come to think of it, I’m sure I don’t either.) But all of them are old enough to begin wrestling with God’s word and finding their faith within.

There are a few recurring themes, and the series isn’t over yet, but if you’d like to talk to your kids about the Bible verses they are learning on Sing the Bible, this is a great place to start.

The link below puts all the posts in the series on one place, so you can read some now and come back to it later.

(brilliant illustration by the one and only Joe Sutphin)

To hear clips of Sing the BibleListen HERE

To get the music: Purchase HERE


Chalk Talk

September 29, 2014

As our kids grow, our mantras change.

“Use your fork, not your fingers,” morphs into “don’t talk with your mouth full” before we know it. As they continue to grow, the messages often pertain to how they treat one another.

“Treat her like you want to be treated.’

“Respect your brother.”

” You are not the family policeman.”

Las year, Amy bought a a chalkboard for our kitchen, so she could point to a message instead of having to say it over and over.

This new one was born out of trying to find a new way to say an old thing. Our kids can be hard on each other. “Please, give him a break,” is a constant refrain and reminder for extending grace. Then, the other day I was telling my son that whoever crosses your path, your first job is to love them. Those two thoughts merged and became our newest chalkboard message.  I thought I’d share it with you guys, since it seems to be helping.


If you see someone, love them. If they frustrate you, give them a break.

Talking To Your Kids about “What Love Is”

September 25, 2014

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters.  – 1 John 3:16

This post is the 11th in a series on our new CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs. All the lyrics to Sing the Bible are word-for-word Scripture. I hope this series helps parents talk with their kids about each passage on the CD.


1 John 3:16 is a great conversation starter with kids. At first glance, it seems like a simple and efficiently packaged lesson.

1. This is how you know what Love is…

2. See what Jesus did?

3. Now go and do the same.

However, we only need to remember our own horrific record of personal obedience to abandon that notion. This is no “one and done” lesson. I am still learning, so I must allow my kids the freedom to absorb and understand (and transform) at the Lord’s pace. You could start by asking them what is so special about this verse.

They’ll probably miss it, but in this passage John detonates an atomic bomb of knowledge and insight. In one short sentence, the “disciple Jesus loved” reveals one of the greatest biggest mysteries of the human race.

John lifts up the crucifixion as the definition of Love. He is also saying, “This is how to know whether or not you have love: if you lay down your life for others without regard for your own pleasure or comfort.”

This definition of love really hits home with those of us old enough to multiply and divide. Those kids (and parents) realize how impossible it really is to forget about ourselves and our wants. This is how Oswald Chambers puts it (in today’s Utmost).

Our Lord’s teaching can be summed up in this: the relationship that He demands for us is an impossible one unless He has done a super-natural work in us.

So, this verse provides a great opportunity for kids (and adults) to pray. “Lord? Have you done a supernatural work in me? Please show me by helping me love my brother and sister when I don’t want to.”

Parents, this verse gives us a great chance to level the gospel playing field between us and our children. They need to see us needing Jesus. Tell them how you struggle with this verse, and how the Lord loves others through you. You may start a conversation that lasts a lifetime.

Why Are We Donating To Restore Academy?

September 23, 2014

RIchard, Bob and KidsWe are donating 100% of our September profits from Sing the Bible to Restore Academy. Why are we doing that?

In the Fall of 2012, I traveled to Uganda with a small team headed up by my friend Bob Goff. Bob is the founder and “chief balloon blower” of Restore Academy – a K-through-12 school in Gulu, Uganda, one of the most war-torn areas of the country. While we were preparing for our trip, Bob’s book Love Does was quickly becoming a national phenomenon. By the time we hit Kampala, Love Does had become a New York Times best seller. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and be inspired to live a life of adventure, filled with love.

It was love that inspired Bob to start a school in a city with a huge population of children orphaned by the ravaging of the LRA in Northern Uganda. And it is love and grit that keeps these amazing kids going.  I spent only one day with the students there, and it was all I needed to see the strength and passion and kindness they carry with them wherever they go. (Read more about them here).

That’s why we are raising money with 100% of Sing the Bible sales in September. The world needs these young people. They have overcome so much.  Unfortunately, many graduates from Restore can not afford higher education. Even though it is cheap by Western standards, tuition costs for these future leaders can push University study out of reach. Now, with your help, more students will attend college and bring more hope to their country’s future.

I’m quite honored to partner with Restore Academy, and you will be too. Pick up a copy of Sing the Bible today, and let’s see how many kids we can get through their first year of college. Consider buying 5 or 10 and giving them to friends. All the songs are word-for-word Scripture, so you could give them out to church members, or your sunday school class! They also make GREAT Christmas gifts.

Finally, if you’re wondering if you’d like this music, check it out and decide for yourself. Here’s a page where you can listen. Even with 30 second clips, you can get the gist… (for full songs, click through past blog posts like this one). If you’ve heard the music and you love it - share in the comments below! What is special to you about this music? Help me encourage others to pick up a copy while they still count for the young people of Restore Academy.

Our Website:

Restore Academy’s parent organization:

(btw: I took that picture, Bob is holding the enormous balloon, and his son Richard is holding the camera. The students are Restore Academy students)


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