Reading "The Great Brain" to My Kids

Yesterday at the gas station I look to see a small farm truck parked a few pumps away. An older man with a cowboy hat was filling some gas cans in the back of the pickup. A feeling of gratitude sparked in me as I recognized him as my 3rd grade teacher. I walked over to him as my vehicle was filling up, and he recognized me after almost 25 years. “I’ve been reading The Great Brain to my kids” I proudly said to him. He smiled and we shared a brief conversation, and I hope he felt the gratitude I have for him having read to us rowdy 3rd graders. The Great Brain books by John D Fitzgerald were about a boy who grew up in a fictitious town near Cedar City, UT around 1896. The older brother, Tom, is known as “The Great Brain” and he uses his brain and his “money loving heart” to swindle almost anyone he can, but mostly his own little brother. Despite the series of stories of a possible crook in the making, Tom, often uses his brain to help others. The books always teach a lesson, and give you a few good laughs along the way.

So, last night, I read to my 3 girls in one of The Great Brain books that we picked up at the local library. We read how Tom used his brain to help an uneducated and untamed 12 year old tomboy of a girl named Dotty to learn to read, write, and get along with the other kids. Dotty’s mother died when she was young, and her father (like many of us men) had a hard time communicating with Dotty in a way that matched his love for her.[images style="2" image="" width="541" caption="I%20love%20Mercer%20Mayer's%20illustrations!" align="center" top_margin="0" full_width="Y"]

Then came the part when Dotty receives a gift from her father.   It represented a significant sacrifice for a man down on his luck and even lower on his confidence. More so, it represented the love that he always had for his daughter, and somehow until then, wasn’t able to clearly share it. I lost it. My girls asked why I was crying, and I just told them that I understood what it means for a Dad to love his little girls. Then they all tackled me and smothered me in hugs and kisses.

What a blessing it is to be entrusted to raise these precious angels from heaven!  No matter the level of confidence. No matter our financial, social, or physical resources, we make all difference by loving them as best as we can.

So, if you’re reading to your kids already, consider The Great Brain in the line-up, and if you’re not reading to them, now is always a great time to start.

Jimmy Coray is the founder of Every Mountaintop, an addiction recovery support program that helps individuals and families overcome  the limiting beliefs and behaviors that are keeping them from blissful recovery.  Jimmy has felt the devastating effects of addiction in his own life, and is driven to reach out to strengthen and support others by connecting them with the most effective resources for success.  Jimmy is also the founder of 26 Peaks in 26 Weeks, a weekly hiking club that has hiked the tallest peaks in the Wasatch Mountains as a way of getting out of the world where the air and your mind are clear.  Jimmy shares his tips and thoughts on positive recovery on his youtube channel


What Goggles Are You Wearing?

I grew up loving to serve those around me more than anything else in the world.  My parents taught us by example to help the neighbors with projects, take dinner to those who were sick, and share the bounties from our garden with friends.  It always brought me so much joy to join my dad on a walk down the street and notice how many people he stopped to talk to, just to let them know someone cared.  I spent my high school years on committees and in clubs whose core focus was service and it brought me much satisfaction.  Even during my college years all of my extracurricular activities were centered on giving to others. Once I became a mom, I struggled to serve on the same level I had become accustomed to.  I used the excuse (and I truly believed it) that I didn't have as many opportunities to serve.  Soon, my lack of service turned to apathy, and eventually selfishness until I was drowning in an ocean created by my own self-centeredness.  I felt that my cup was always empty so I had nothing left to give to others.  Many times over the years I have stopped to reevaluate myself and wonder where the “real” Shelly went.  The girl who loved service more than anything else. As I started to question my own happiness and ability to love others, I realized that I had become so consumed with my own circumstances that I had done a 180 degree turn until I was only worried about myself.  Many of my actions towards my children, husband, and neighbors were out of duty and necessity, not love.  I had developed what I like to call and “inward mindset.”  I only focused on what was best for me, and even when I did something for someone else my motives were often not pure.

After many prayers and searching for myself I cam to the painful conclusion that I wasn’t really missing the opportunities to serve, I was lacking the outward mindset and desire to serve, and that was something that I had control over.  I needed to replace my selfish it's-all-about-me goggles with “Godly Goggles.”  

When wearing these goggles I view other people around me as God would see them.  I see them as people with fears, hopes, dreams, feelings, desires, imperfections and strengths.  When I look at them with my Godly Goggles I see them for who God created them to be and I see their heart.  I am filled with understanding and love for them and wonder what I can do that would be best for them without any thought of what’s in it for me.  Once I started putting my Godly Goggles on more often I was bombarded with ample opportunities to serve His children which filled my cup to overflowing so there was more than enough to share.

I soon found that while the service I rendered when wearing my Godly Goggles was often the answer to someone's prayer, it was also an answer to my own.

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Booger Songs

I feel so blessed. Last night I drove to the dollar store with my 9 yr old and 5 yr old. All of us in our jammies and me grossing them out by singing made-up songs about boogers. Then my 9 yr old started singing some old songs from musicals I don’t think I’ve seen, but she knows them by heart. Silliness was abundant. Smiles all around. It was a rare occasion for me. Most of the last 5 years I’ve been too busy with our family run business. If one of our kids told me at bed-time that they needed poster-board for a report due the next day, I would have been upset, grumpy, and disagreeable or worse. More likely, I wouldn’t have even been around. Too busy to give them the time and attention they desperately wanted from their dad.

I’m not trying to paint a pity-party picture, just a reference so you know I can relate to all of us parents trying to do too much of the wrong things. Also, just like you, I’m not as bad as I tell myself. My kids love me to pieces, and even with all the mistakes, I know that I’m a good dad.

Even being a good dad, it seemed that my kids would rarely do what I asked of them until I raised my voice or pestered them all along the path of dirty clothes and crayons on the floor. Many times I asked myself why they were so good at blatantly ignoring me. Don’t I have authority to tell them what to do? Aren’t I teaching them what is good for them?

So why am I telling you about our trip to the dollar store in jammies with booger songs?

The last few years, Shelly and I have been to scores of business trainings, read truckloads of business and personal development books, and participated in hours and hours of business coaching and consulting. One thing that we learned from Brenden Buchard is a secret to drawing in customers. The formula he gives is that you give, give give, then you ask. You give your customer good information that they can use, teach them about your product and how it will help them, and be genuinely interested in helping them first, then you ask them if they are interested in buying a product or service. Make it about helping them and not how you can use them.

How many of you have been to a tradeshow where there were certain booths you avoided like your kids’ stinky stocks? Last year we hosted a booth at the Pinners Conference in Sandy, UT and 3-4 booths down from us was a company that had their salesforce pouncing on people. They treated the attendees more like mice to catch than a person to build a relationship with. We watched as people would very visibly steer clear of this booth like opposing magnets. Even though I’d been there for two days and had already rejected the offer from every salesperson there, I still walked down a different aisle to stay away from the uncomfortable presence they held.

So, are we treating our kids the same way?...I realized that’s what I was doing with my kids. All I ever did in their minds was ask them to clean up after themselves, ask them to eat their dinner (that they didn’t like because I snuck healthy things into it), ask them to go to sleep, NOW! In fact, it went beyond asking, and it was really just demanding. What was I giving them? Was I demanding that they obey because I wanted them to learn the lessons of life, or because I thought I was in charge and they should obey without question?

Yes, certainly there are times when we need to take charge because they don’t understand lasting consequences, but even in those times, I believe we can lead them to safety in love, not in tyrannical dominion.

I believe we can act in love by giving them time, giving them real loving attention, giving them part of your sillier side and have a little fun so they know that life isn’t all about taxes and death. If we do this, in love more consistently, I have been greatly amazed to see them respond back by respecting me more, listening better, and overall less fighting all around.

So, maybe you can make up your own song about boogers, read them a story that they choose, climb a tree with them, chase them and tickle them “just a little bit longer, pppplllleeeeease?” Give them what their soul desires from a loving and interested parent. Then when you tuck them in at night, and they hug you much too tight, you won’t mind if they hold on a little bit longer.

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Are you a Dream Killer?

I am the first to admit that I used to be a dream killer.  In my defense, I thought I was protecting my kids from disappointment.  But I have since repented and changed mymom-431087_1280 ways.  And thank goodness, or I would never have had this touching and insightful experience with my cute daughter. My oldest daughter is the spitting image of me...not just on the outside, but on the inside too.  We both struggled learning to read, sucked our thumbs until an embarrassing age, are very sensitive to the world around us, and at times struggle to keep our confidence up.  One day we were sitting at the kitchen table when she looked up at me and say “Mom, I want to have a really big house.”  My first internal thought was, “ya, me too, but not in this lifetime.”  But luckily I listened to a little voice inside me that said “SHHHH!  Ask her why.”  She told me that she really wanted to have a home with an art studio in the basement and a riding stable in the yard.  I like those things too, so I thought it sounded fun, but what she said next broke me down to tears.

“Mom, I just really want there to be a place where kids like me can go and be loved and important.  Where they can do the things they enjoy and and feel like they are good enough.”  You see, my daughter is very creative and gets distracted easily, so she often doesn't get her school work done very quickly.  She is a very smart girl, but learns very visually, which she doesn’t get a lot of a school.  When she started kindergarten she was well above average.  But by the end of the year, she was almost failing and the kids had started calling her “slow” and “stupid” because she was often the last one to get her work done.  Her confidence plummeted and she couldn’t see herself as smart or talented.  It broke my heart.  Since then our family has worked really hard to find her strengths, work on her weaknesses, help her see her worth and show her the love she deserves.  Now 4 years later, she is wanting to provide that for other kids who need it just like she did.  I am amazed at how kindhearted and sensitive she is to other’s needs.  But I wouldn’t have had that insight if I had not stopped for a moment, let her dream, and asked more questions.

Do we take time daily to show our kids the love they really need?  Are we a safe place for them to come with problems and concerns, heartaches, mistakes, and dreams?  I know growing up I was always scared to share my inner feelings with others, especially those who loved me the most.  I am not exactly sure why that is, but I have prayed that I could be open with my kids and be that place they turn for strength, comfort, and a soft place to land when they fall.  That one moment with my daughter taught me a lot.  It taught me to value her ideas instead of shutting her down.  It taught me that I need to let her dream, even if is doesn’t seem possible.  I learned that there is so much down deep in her heart that she would share if I only took the time to listen and ask.  I also learned that she is deeper and more aware of the world around her than I ever realized.  So my challenge to you (and myself) is:

  1. Take more time to listen
  2. Ask more questions
  3. Act in Love!

2015-02-11 Shelly (Glamour Portfolio)-0008 (1)Shelly Coray is an inspiring speaker, trainer, coach, and mom. She has helped hundreds of youth and adults gain greater control over their thoughts and actions and achieve higher levels of success through her workshops, speeches and training programs. Find out more about her HERE.