• Christmas Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus
    faith

    Worthy: An Advent Devotional

    I’ve spent the past 25 years coaching storytellers. I’ve heard them all – family history stories, cultural stories, retellings of fairytales, stories of personal tragedies and celebrations. But it’s the story of Christmas that is the greatest story of all. The story of Christmas is a story of Love coming to live with us. Jesus, Emmanuel, is the source of all Love, born into this world. There is no story more worthy of telling than this. It’s my motivation for empowering extraordinary storytellers…. Because the best story deserves the best telling. In 1885, British writer Christina Georgina Rossetti published a poem called “Christmastide.” It later was adapted into a beautiful…

  • white star light among bushes outside
    faith

    Wonder: An Advent Devotional

    There’s nothing like a toddler at Christmas time. Last Christmas, my then almost-two-year-old grandson came to visit after we had decorated the yard with Christmas lights. It was like someone had plopped him into a true wonderland. As soon as he got out of the car, he ran up the yard to the nearest adorned tree. Tentatively, he reached out his little hand to touch the glowing lights. I could see the awe and wonder reflecting in his big, sparkling eyes. Then, he ran up the yard as fast as his little legs could carry him to touch another tree. Again and again, he bolted from one lit-up tree to…

  • Advent Wise Men Figurines near a Christmas Tree
    faith

    Wisdom: An Advent Devotional

    When my children were young, we used to host a “birthday party” for Jesus each December. A common practice in Sunday School and Christian School settings. We’d sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and eat cake in His honor in hopes that it would help us – especially our children – to focus on the reason for the season. Then we would rush off to the next activity, meeting, or gathering in an effort to get to everything we packed into the holiday season. I think of some other people who long ago celebrated the birth of Jesus, bringing him what we might think of as “birthday presents.” In the old…

  • Woman Sipping Hot Drink by Window with Snow Outside
    faith

    Waiting: An Advent Devotional

    I don’t like to wait. For anything. And since I rarely practice it, I’m not very good at it. You won’t find me waiting in long lines to get into a popular restaurant or camped out for the release of a new tech device or a movie premiere. Simply put, I’m impatient, and waiting feels like a waste of time. And I’m not alone. It’s hard for people in contemporary culture to wait for things. Like me, people are busy checking off to-do lists, cramming in meetings and appointments, rushing through experiences to get to the next thing. We are bombarded with messages telling us to hurry so we don’t…

  • Woman and Child Looking at Laptop Screen Together
    communication

    How to Make the Most of an Online Event, Class, and More!

    As I write this, online meetings are becoming an increasingly common part of our regular routine. Kids participating in online classrooms. Parents working from home. Church services livestreamed. Medical consults, therapy sessions, and business meetings offered via video conferencing platforms. During the past 8 years, my team and I have learned online events and meetings can be just as transformational as in-person experiences – even moreso, if you come in properly prepared. My organization, the Institute for Cultural Communicators, has conducted dozens of live local and global events through our online platforms. Countless families around the world have been touched by these events, participating and interacting to experience genuine, life-giving…

  • Family of all ages preparing dinner in kitchen
    communication,  education

    Everyday Ways to Practice Communication

    Communication at home can be hard. This struggle has been a hot topic among parents throughout the pandemic, and with a new school year and new routines looming, tensions and old habits often sneak back in. My organization conducted a survey of parents which showed us that communication at home is harder now than ever – and in many cases not happening at all. After months of sharing the same space with family (and for a good while, only family), teens generally turned inward and struggled to find anything to talk about. Grief and loss felt heavy, and otherwise tiny frustrations mounted. When we see our students pulling away and…

  • Pink and White Sherbet in a glass cup
    communication,  education,  leadership

    Sherbet, Speech, and Skills for Success

    This story is an excerpt from my book Vital Signs: Five Essential Skills Every Student Needs for Success in Education and in Life. Enjoy! I remember my first time meeting Janai. The shy little girl was gripping her mother’s skirt, hiding behind her back as we chatted. She only peeked out to say a quick “Hi” when prompted. Then she was right back in her hiding spot. When I first announced that I was starting a public speaking class, Janai’s parents signed her right up — to their daughter’s horror. I coached the timid girl for a year, watching her grow and grow and grow as she learned the foundational…

  • Woman Walking Outside
    communication,  education

    Getting Your Steps In

    As my two boys got older, they developed this amazing sixth sense about when to disappear. They could anticipate when my SUV would pull up the long driveway stocked with food and household supplies, and suddenly they were nowhere to be found. Getting groceries from the car into the kitchen begins with 2 flights of stairs. Sometimes putting items away means 2 flights up, then 2 flights down, then 2 flights back up. I used to get so frustrated. It was physically taxing, tedious work and foot travel between the car and the kitchen. And even when my boys grew up and moved out, I’d keep finding myself in that…