Episode 173: Celebrating the New Year and Setting Goals

In this episode we look at how to help our kids set goals and some funny books about the topic. We also have a free download/worksheet to help you have fun setting goals with your children.

Show Notes with Links:

(00:10): Welcome!

(00:52): Trying

(02:00): Big Plans

(03:00): Shh! We Have a Plan

Building Character through Picture Books

(03:40): Checking with God first

(04:47): God’s plans are good

(05:25): Teaching our children that we have limitations

(07:16): Doing hard things

(08:00): When I’m Feeling Disappointed

(09:00): Plans change

(11:52): No experience is lost

(13:30): “Get Back Up”

(14:23): Free Download – Goal Setting Worksheet for Children with Parent Notes

(14:40): Closing

Books Discussed in This Episode:


Welcome to “Books That Spark” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship, every day sparking important conversations with our children. Since this is the new year, I wanted to take some time to talk about how to help our children plan, make plans, set goals, and have objectives that they can see they are reaching in their lives. As we begin each new year, we often talk about resolutions and wanting to make changes in our own lives; but how do we help our kids do this in a real way that they can measure and see success and also examine their failures and learn to accept that failure and disappointment is a part of life?

So I looked for some books along these topics and I found some really good ones, and one of them I want to talk about is called Trying by Kobe Yamada. Now many of his books you may have read and they’re very much positive thinking and they’re really good, but they do go a little too far into the “name it claim it” kind of an attitude. This one, however, I don’t feel like it does. It talks about trying, It talks about failure, it talks about disappointment, but it talks about getting back up again when we do. And it’s wonderful. It’s just such a great story. It’s about a man who’s a sculptor and a boy who sees the sculptor and wishes he could make sculptures. And the man says, well, you should try. And he’s like, but I’ll fail. So the man teaches him how to fail forward, how to learn from his mistakes and how his mistakes can be wonderful lessons and a blessing in his life. And he even shows the boy his failures and how he keeps them around because they show how far he’s come. So I just love the messages in this story. It’s really, really wonderful. Highly, highly recommend this book. So that’s called Trying by Kobe Yamada.

A second book that is so funny, so silly, and should really spark some good conversations is called Big Plans by Bob Shea. This story is, like I said, very silly, and through the entire book, this little boy is saying, I have big plans. I tell you, big, big plans. Yet he does nothing. It shows how we can make big plans, we can have big dreams, but if you’re just sitting in your room thinking about them, nothing happens. In the story it’s absurd. Some of the things he says are going to have, and he’s talking in the future tense through the whole thing. There are so many good literature and grammar lessons in this book as well, but we won’t go there today. We’ll just talk about the message of plans. It talks about how he makes his big plans, but he does nothing. And so the story ends with him sitting in his room and nothing has happened because he’s just dreaming about the future and about making big plans. So there’s lots of room for talking, lots of room for laughing. It’s such a great book. I am so glad that Bob Shea wrote this book. It’s really good.

Then a third one, I’ve mentioned this book before because I just think it’s adorable. It’s called Shh! We have a Plan written by Chris Houghton, and I featured this book in my devotional book Building Character through Picture Books. And on page 67 in my book is The Devotional about this book. I just love it because these four friends are trying to catch a bird and the little guy is trying to tell him what he would do and they’re like, “Shh, we have a plan.” And of course their plans keep failing. But in the devotional, I bring in the scripture from Proverbs 19:21, people might make many plans, but what the Lord says is what will happen? And I think that is so important for us to help our children understand that when we start making a plan, when we start setting goals, the first thing we have to do is make sure that this is okay with God. That this is his plan for my life as well. That I’m not just making decisions and going on my own in my own strength and trying to do things, but that I’m seeking God’s plan for my life and I’m seeking what God wants me to do. And I like how Henry Blackaby says it in experiencing God, that God is always at work in us and around us. We just need to join him in his work. So where are you at work? God, how do you want me to join in with your plan and be a part of that that gives our life meaning and purpose.

Those are goals and desires that we should have to help our children also have those kinds of goals and desires, and we can try to reach those with God’s help and God’s leadership. In Psalms 33:11 it says, but the Lord’s decisions are good forever. His plans are good for generation after generation. We can understand and we can accept that whatever God has planned is good. It is for a purpose and it gives our lives meaning and purpose. So we want to start there with our children and help them to understand that yeah, we may have plans, but we need to make sure that we know what God’s plan is and what God’s will is in every situation that we aren’t planning something that goes against his word or goes against what he has planned for our lives. We want to encourage our children. We want them to reach for tall dreams, to make big plans and to be all that they can be.

But we also need to help them understand that we have limitations. Some of us were born with disabilities, some of us have other limitations in our lives. We don’t have to let those stop us, but we also need to acknowledge that some things we just are physically not able to do or financially we’re not able to do some things. Unless God is calling us to do them, then he will give us the ability to do anything. That I have no doubt of. But if we’re just trying to do something in our own strength, that is not honoring to God. Helping our children to come to grips with that and to truly embrace that and understand it is so vital, it’s so important. Building them up. For us as parents, the tightrope we walk is building up our children and helping them to see the possibilities that God has a plan for them and that nothing is impossible with God and helping them to embrace whatever God calls them to, no matter how scary that may seem.

But at the same time, understanding that when we try to set goals in our own strength and in our own ways, that we can go away from what God has when everything we’re doing is self-focused. For instance, instead of helping our children see that our goals can be bigger than ourselves, can be goals that would help change our community, change our world, change our home. We can have goals that will benefit others instead of just being so self-focused and we can look at what we’ve accomplished, not because we are so wonderful, but because God empowered us to do something beyond what we could do on our own. That’s what I hope our children understand and trying to help them get that is not easy. Trying to help ourselves get that is not easy. We have so many times that we let our fears get in the way or our own excuses of our limitations get in the way.

And understanding that if we are trying to overcome something in our lives, it is a battle and it is difficult and that it’s not going to be overcome in one try and it may not be overcome in a million tries. We just have to keep getting back up and trying again and trying again and how to help our children understand that without being discouraged is not easy. How to help ourselves do that without being discouraged is not easy. So for a child you can understand it’s even harder. So that’s something I want as we come into this new year to be able to help our children to do, is to grasp these important concepts and to keep reiterating them to our children.

One of the last books I want to talk about is When I’m Feeling Disappointed by Trace Maroney and this one is such a beautiful book and it talks about how those feelings of disappointment and failure can affect us and what we can do about it and how we can handle that. It really opens up a door for us to discuss these feelings with our kids. We talk so often about how they can appropriately handle their anger, but we may not often talk about how they can handle their disappointment well, how they can handle it in a grace-filled faith-filled way that doesn’t give up but keeps going. And also helping them to say, I failed. Why did I fail? Did I fail because I didn’t try hard enough? Did I fail because this is just not God’s will? Did I fail because I did the wrong thing, or did I have the wrong attitude? What was it that caused me to fail? So when we evaluate that in our own lives as well, then we can regroup and figure out a plan to solve the problem, to overcome the obstacle, and to turn the corner if that’s not the way we want to go.

And that’s another thing I want us too to help our kids understand that when we set goals, when we have priorities and plans, sometimes those plans change. Maybe they change because of something that happens that’s beyond our control. And sometimes they change because we’ve realized this isn’t what God wants me to do. It’s this. For instance, originally when I went to college, I knew that I knew God was calling me to social ministries and I was a social work major. I got my degree in sociology and psychology with an emphasis in social work and was so happy with that. And two of my roommates were education majors. Well then next thing I know, a few years down the road, a person asks me to come teach in her preschool. And I had enough ECE credits that I could and I jumped in. The very first day I stepped into the classroom, I knew that was my calling. I knew that’s where I needed to be. And now I’ve been a teacher for more than 20 years. I have never regretted one day of not going into social work and going into teaching instead. And I’ve used what I learned in social work over and over and over again, of course, but I love teaching. So, I got my master’s in teaching in education, and I’ve never looked back, but I was so sure when I first had that goal of getting my bachelor’s degree in social work, that that’s where God was leading me. And I did do that kind of ministry for quite a long time, and I have used that knowledge in our ministry for these past 30 some years. But that goal was not the exact way I thought it was going to come about. What I saw as my future career never did happen the way I saw it. It sort of did for a while, but it wasn’t very long lived. So when I left that I had to reevaluate and there was a short time where I could not find work and just wasn’t sure what God wanted me to do. So I spent a lot of time praying during that time and seeking God and what he wanted me to do. I kept applying for jobs and I was either overqualified or underqualified for every single one. I couldn’t get a job. It was the first time in my life I couldn’t find a job. And I’m like, what in the world am I supposed to do? That’s when I became a teacher. And that just was the funniest thing. Because I was at church one Sunday night and this lady just came up to me and said, “You’re supposed to teach at my school.” And I went, I don’t think so. But as I prayed about it, I knew I was supposed to say yes. So I did. And after that, it just never stopped. I knew this was where God wanted me. So our goals change, and the direction we’re going changes according to God’s plan. I still believe God wanted me to get that degree in social work. I have no doubt in my mind that was originally what He told me to do. I was obedient in that. But His career goal for me was not social work; it was teaching. And I did not know that at the time. And if I had known that at the time, I would’ve majored in teaching rather than social work. And I know He wanted me to have that degree for some reason.

We can help our children understand that with God, nothing is lost. Every lesson we learn, He uses in our lives. And when we mess up, even if we choose to be rebellious and make a mistake, if we repent and we come back to Him with genuine, humble hearts that want to follow Him, He will even use those mistakes in our lives. In the Bible, it tells us that He even uses our difficulties we’ve gone through and our mistakes so that we can encourage others as they are walking through the same difficulties. So God will use everything. What a blessing we give our children when we help them to understand that nothing they do is going to keep them as long as they keep their hearts right with God and keep their minds on him and seek his forgiveness when they fail, there’s nothing out of his reach for making it a good thing in their lives. That was really bad grammar. But you get the idea, that we can put everything in God’s hands and he can redeem it if we will just be obedient to him. If we will just seek his heart, seek his face his will and be in his word, he can do anything. He can bring about wonderful results, wonderful blessings in our lives as we seek him. So I think if we can help our children understand that nothing is hopeless, everything is in his hands. I mean, even when we’re facing the most scary thing in our lives, which for most people is death, but for some is public speaking. But for most people, the worst thing we can think of is if we died. And yet as Christians, we know even in death, we have hope because we will close our eyes here and open our eyes there with him.

There is nothing lost in this life. So our goals, our fears, everything we have, we put in his hands and let him bring about his goals for our lives, his plan for our lives. And I think we empower our children when we’re honest with them that life is not easy. It’s going to be hard, but we don’t give up. We fall down, we get back up again and we don’t stay down. There are so many great songs about that, but I like Toby Mac’s song about that. And there’s the scripture that says, we have not yet suffered to the point of bloodshed, and especially not here in our lives that we have had things happen. We’ve had hard times, but we keep getting up and we keep moving on. And helping our children to be resilient people helps them to be powerful people, who can be amazing servants of God in their lives and see wonderful results in their lives.

Well, I’ve made a handout for you. If you’re interested in it, you can download it for free on my website about helping our children set goals and these things we want to teach them, these truths we want them to embrace. So if you would like that, it’s free for you to download and I hope it blesses your family.

Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” where we encourage each other to grasp those teachable moments sparked by great books and to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we are here or leave comments on one of the podcast host sites. We truly appreciate you. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We love to hear from you and we respond to every comment and question. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Free Goal-Setting Worksheet Download

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

2 thoughts on “Episode 173: Celebrating the New Year and Setting Goals”

    1. Amen! I love that about God. It’s something I hope every child (and every adult) grows to learn. I’ve always found it comforting to know that God can use anything. I have a whole story of how God drove that home to me when I was a summer missionary. It’s kind of a cool story. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime. 🙂

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