The First Lady of Broadmoor

Originally published in the Broadmoor Baptist Church magazine Pursuit, in 2015.


Jeremiah 18:1-6
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”

In the spring of 1958, a young pastor and his wife came to a small, but growing, church in the bustling city of Jackson. Called from a pastorate in the Delta town of Drew, Dr. David Grant and his wife, Lukie, had big dreams. One was that the church they helped nurture would grow, and spread the gospel all over Planet Earth. Nearly six decades later, that dream is a reality. And though the Broadmoor of 2014 might look a lot different than the Broadmoor of 1958, the basics have not changed: actions built on Scripture and coupled with big, “God-sized” ideas, a commitment to missions, faith, perseverance and love for each other.

Lucille Elizabeth Gardner Grant, known fondly as “Mrs. Lukie”, just celebrated her 90th birthday on Christmas Eve. Her wisdom and counsel has been invaluable to church staff, spouses and members through the years. With humility and grace, she has served as a constant, a reminder of that foundation laid so many years ago. Now, she’s a great-grandmother, who proudly shows off pictures of her family to guests. Sitting back in her comfortable chair, she remembers clearly how things were in that spring of 1958.

When the couple arrived at Broadmoor that spring, they found a congregation full of young families, just building their lives. The postwar baby boom had turned parts of north Jackson into a thriving community with lots of children and big dreams. Businesses were bringing new families, and the young church responded. Meeting first in an old bottling plant, then a store, Broadmoor had recently established its first presence on that busy corner of northeast Jackson when they called the Grants.

“At that point, the church was on the corner [of Manhattan and Northside Drive], and then it was just woods, all the way to North State Street,” she recounts. “They laughingly told David that his job was to clean up that lot.” And, over the years, that’s just what they did. Broadmoor built slowly, but deliberately. As the church’s membership grew, so did its commitment to missions, and to loving each other.

“They were very loving, and kind, and responsive,” she remembers. That Broadmoor has remained, growing stronger as a body. One thing that has never wavered has been the church’s commitment to missions, which Lukie notes was strong even during the church’s early days. Groups were at that time going to places like Anaconda, Montana. Broadmoor’s groups ranged far and wide doing missions work, often combining things like music programs with missions travel.

Born in Gulfport, Lukie had moved with her family to Hattiesburg when she was four years old, then to McComb four years later. After graduating high school in McComb, she went to the “W” – then Mississippi State College for Women. While attending summer school classes at Mississippi College, she was approached by a confident young student from Plantersville named David Ruff Grant. He was immediately smitten, and asked the pretty young coed if he could carry her books.

“I wasn’t really very impressed,” she recalls. “I said, ‘no, thank you.’ But later, I found out what a treasure he was.”

The couple was married at the end of their junior year, on June 28, 1944. Life was a whirlwind during those first years of marriage, she remembers, as David was preaching at several churches in north-central Mississippi. “Communication was hard and courting was difficult,” David wrote in his autobiography To God Be the Glory: An Autobiography. David noted in the book that they had little money at the time, and when Lukie’s mother asked her how would they would get by, she replied, “Love and the congregation.”

Inside the towering figure of Dr. Grant, she notes, was a loving husband and father — and a sensitive soul. “He was a very caring, loving person,” she says of Dr. Grant. “He loved everybody and wanted everybody to love him. That wasn’t always true, and it made him very sad, because he was very sensitive to the desires that he had that didn’t meet, maybe, some people’s opinions.”

Moving to Kentucky to continue their education, the couple’s family began to grow. Sarah was born in 1950, about the time Lukie got her Master’s Degree. Sarah was followed by Olivia in 1953 and David in 1956. The Grants found their children loved by their new family at Broadmoor, a trait which Lukie counts as one of Broadmoor’s great strengths. “Broadmoor has always been blessed with children,” she notes.

At Broadmoor, the Grants went about their work with dignity and purpose, never wavering in their call to leadership of the Broadmoor flock. Often, his visionary ideas for the church were new and different. “He had a marvelous ability of having such foresight,” she remembers. “Broadmoor was the first to have a bowling alley and a gym. I don’t know of any other church that had it, probably not in Mississippi.”

Under his leadership, and by bringing in talented and visionary staff members, Broadmoor went on to establish ministries which are credited with bringing in many who might not otherwise have been reached by a church. Broadmoor’s athletic, music and childcare programs were all instrumental in helping Broadmoor grow into the church it is today. David’s grand vision included things which sometimes were subject to vigorous debate, such as the grand pipe organ which characterized Broadmoor’s Northside Drive location.

Always during the 26 years of their ministry at Broadmoor, Lukie notes, there were strong men in the church helping guide it. “David said one of the secrets of Brodmoor was the leadership; that there were men who led…that were strong, and following through on ideas,” she recounts.

In his autobiography, David went to great lengths to praise Lukie and her role as Christian wife and mother, referring to her as “…chief counselor, constant companion, friend, and wife. Lukie has been a first lady, magna cum laude, in the churches where I have served as pastor. We have labored beside each other in our Lord’s Kingdom for a half-century, and there have been few ladies that have filled such a role with the small amount of criticism that she has had.”

In the years after their children were grown, Lukie went to work at the Mississippi Disability Determination Services, where she retired. She and Dr. Grant continued to serve until his retirement in December, 1984, and traveled and saw much of the world. The Grants welcomed Broadmoor’s new pastoral family, Dr. Jim Futral and his wife Shirley, soon afterwards. Their three children included Broadmoor’s future pastor Rob, who now leads Broadmoor with his own wife Kimandria and their family.

Lukie now lives a quiet life at her northeast Jackson home. After Dr. Grant’s death in 1991, the family published the autobiography, on which he had been working at the time of his death. She can frequently been seen at Broadmoor, and attends faithfully, still involved in missions service. She does this because she believes that a church member should support the pastor. “I am a great admirer of our pastor, and support him in everything he wants to do, because I believe in him, and I think as long as he’s there, that we’re going to just keep on going,” she explains. “He is one fine man, who wants to do what the Lord wants the church to do.”

In the years after David’s retirement, Lukie began to be called upon to counsel the “first ladies” of the church. They keep her as a close confidant, and she has some advice for a pastor’s wife: be genuine. “Be yourself. I think that women who find themselves in the role of a pastor’s wife, and who pretend, it’s miserable,” she explains. “You really have to have a heart for the church and its people, and the Lord himself.”

Kimandria has been the recipient of Lukie’s wisdom all her life, having grown up with her at Broadmoor under Dr. Grant’s pastorate. “I just remember seeing Lukie and her children, and looking up to the whole family,” she recalls. “Seeing the children being involved in ministry and missions has been an inspiration. She has been a true role model.”

Kimandria got to know Lukie better when she and Rob came to Broadmoor in 2003, and the two joined two others in an intergenerational women’s group called Circle of Friends. “We gleaned great wisdom from those ladies at the luncheons. How valuable those times were!” she remembers. “Jill [Ford] and I began to ask questions about marriage and what she would do the same and would do differently. I remember laughing around the table and having lunch. One valuable piece of information was that she wished she had sat down and watched more football with her husband. She was so busy doing chores and ministry, and just wished that she had more relaxation time with him.”

But among the great gifts of wisdom Kimandria gained was Lukie’s advice about being a pastor’s wife. “I’ve learned that the greatest gift I can give to my church family is to share my husband, his time and his energy, with the church without any resentment, and to make those sacrifices without harboring any bitterness because that is your husband’s service and calling.”

Lukie has continued her involvement in missions, and Kimandria notes how she accompanied Broadmoor groups to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when she was 81. “So many people would make excuses, but she does not use her age as an excuse.” And a few years ago, she traveled to France on another one of Broadmoor’s mission trips.

As a birthday present last year, Kimandria and Rob presented Lukie with a one-of-a-kind “Jeremiah Pot”, based on Jeremiah 18:1-6. “It illustrates how God continues to mold and shape us throughout life,” she notes. “Lukie wants to please the lord until her last breath.”


Building Hope in Ukraine


via ISSUU – Pursuit Magazine – Issue 1 by Broadmoor Baptist Church.

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, cold and dreary. But there’s warmth in the quiet Madison home of Gray and Trey Pace, as they attempt to explain why they would go halfway around the world to help teenage girls they hardly know.

Holding her study Bible open to the book of Haggai, Gray quotes from the verse that started it all, in a short book whose pearls of wisdom are often overlooked like a small town that’s been bypassed by the Interstate. “This is what the Lord God Almighty says:” she reads. “‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord.” Looking up, she says matter-of-factly, “God told me to go into the mountains and build the house.”

Gray sits across from her husband Trey, a homebuilder and former coach. The Paces’ story starts as many do: the pair met and fell in love in college, started a family and careers. Moving to Madison, the Paces — by now having been joined by Kathleene (now 13) and Kinsman (11) — were living contentedly.

Gray was working as a physical therapist and Trey had started a homebuilding business after years of coaching kids’ sports. Trey had just built them a dream home when the bottom fell out of the housing industry – – along with the rest of the economy.

Uncertainty followed, as the couple realized they might not be able to afford to stay in the home. “…I am sure that God is providing for us and his plan for our home will be revealed in his time,” she wrote in a personal journal in January, 2010.

But it was the next challenge that rocked their world. Gray, a native of the Delta town of Morgan City, had grown up in a Christian home, steeped in the Bible. Trey’s upbringing provided little exposure to God or the church, but prodding from college friends helped lead him to church and to professing his faith in Christ.

Perhaps Gray’s work was part of God preparing her for what would come next. “I just want people to feel good about themselves; I want them to have a chance at leading a good life. Being a P.T. helps me do that,” she explains.

Those goals are largely unreachable by many young people in Ukraine, a nation of 45 million people sandwiched between Russia and the Black Sea. Having emerged from the shadow of the Iron Curtain in the 1990’s, Ukraine has struggled to bring its people the lifestyle promised by its beautiful topography, hard-working people and rick black soil.

The nation has been torn lately between a desire to spread its wings and embrace its European neighbors and the huge gravitational pull of its traditional ally — and often cruel master — Russia. Part of Ukraine’s challenges lie in protecting its own citizens from the greed of others. The nation has become a hive of international crime, perhaps most notoriously the spread of “human trafficking”. This appalling crime involves enticing or kidnapping young people and sending them throughout the world to be used as forced labor or to work as prostitutes. Some girls seek opportunities to leave for other parts of Europe, Asia or the United States, signing up with agencies who will place them as brides or as workers. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities are scams, and the girls end up on the streets.

Sadly, this is the way the dream ends for many a young Ukrainian girl who finds herself without friend or ally, facing the mean streets alone. Tragically, even the orphanages themselves are sometimes subject to corruption, with money changing hands to help channel kids into the human trafficking system. But God loves these kids and has a plan for their lives, as he does for all his children. Sometimes, it involves people just trying to live their everyday lives in Madison, Mississippi.

After seeing the movie The Blind Side, which reminded her that God cares for all his children, Gray started to feel the tug of a call. She believes it wasn’t an accident that she read a book called “3 Cups of Tea”, about how a man named Greg Mortensen decided to build a school for kids in the region of Himalayan Pakistan. Mortensen’s journey began after an ascent to the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest peak. He noticed that the village’s kids were living in squalid conditions, so he decided to act, and a school was born.

Gray’s takeaway? “One person can make a difference. She had been asked to consider going on the Ukraine trip, but she wasn’t sure why she was going. But during a visit to an orphanage in the town of Nicolayevka, she began to understand. “There were two girls there I met, and I wondered what kind of future would they have? That summer, God gave me a breaking heart for them. His spirit spoke to me and said clearly, ‘Build homes for these kids.’”

Her research told her the cold, hard facts of the orphanages. At 16, kids must leave, to face alone an uncertain future. She was told that these children leave the relative safety of the orphanage, only to either be kidnapped or enticed to locations where they are then abused and enslaved. In Ukraine, according to the Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration, thousands of Ukrainians each year are enslaved overseas, with many girls vulnerable to exploitation as prostitutes.

Estimates vary, but it’s commonly believed that more than 120,000 Ukrainian girls have been sold into slavery since the collapse of the Iron Curtain. “60 percent of the girls end up in prostitution and 70 percent of the boys end up committing crimes,” Gray wrote in her journal, after studying up on the situation. After these revelations, she was convinced God had her on a mission. She still wasn’t sure what it was to be, but it involved those girls.

Meeting with a local pastor named Pastor Sergey, she asked lots of questions and found that God had already been moving through local Christians and others around the world. They had started a ministry called Hope House, where girls could move in and live, under the guidance of a housemother. There, they would learn life skills and continue their educations in a safe environment.

The organization had grand plans, but they needed money and support. “I promise you I am going to pray about this,” Gray reassured Pastor Sergey. Coming home, she found the task before her was daunting. She needed help. Trey had still not been called to this task, so she spoke to God about it. “I told God, he’s not helping me, so you need to send me somebody to support this mission.”

But God was way ahead of her. “I was in church, not listening to the sermon,” Trey recalls with a wry smile. “All of a sudden, I heard God’s voice. He told me I needed to come alongside her; I heard his voice telling me I had to over there and get engaged in it. He said, ‘Go, and go now.’ He shared 5 names with me. When I talked to each of those people, they said it had been on their hearts too.”

Afterwards, things began to come together. “I had never been good at asking people for money,” recounts Gray. But the money began to pour in anyway. “We honestly cannot tell you how the money has come, it has just come. People will tell me about a fundraising idea, and these have just broken even. But the real money can only be coming from God laying this on their hearts. There were times we prayed because we didn’t have any money for the next step. The next day, there would be a check in the mailbox, or someone gave us a name.”

Now, Hope House has not only met its goals, it’s exceeded them. A second location has been started near the first location. Several of the girls have gotten married, obtained good jobs and some now have children of their own. “But most importantly, they get to know the Father,” says Trey with a satisfied smile.

Now that Hope House has become a success, the word has spread. Kids in the orphanages know about Hope House, and they beg to be let in. But there is just not enough space. Going back has fortified the family’s relationship with the girls and their mission.

Sometimes, Trey admits, it’s heartbreaking to have to leave. “When we went to the orphanage the last time, I had to go back and sit in the car, I just couldn’t take it. How do you tell a kid that she’s not going to be able to go back with you?” But despite the pain, it’s worth getting to know the kids. “They don’t know what a Christian man looks like; I try to model that for them. It takes them a little while to trust me, a lot of the men in their lives to that point have not been trustworthy.”

The success stories have names like Leanna, who was found living in a culvert, and malnourished. Now, thanks to Hope House, she’s gotten an education, and is now married with a baby. The girls work through their issues with the motto Heal, Trust, Forgive. That’s often difficult, when so many have been mistreated. But God’s grace shines through when a girl can move on with her life.

“Those girls are strong and tough in so many ways,” Trey notes. “Girls their age here are strong, but they have lived lives of privilege and haven’t had to face adversity. But these girls will take on just about anything. What 13-year-old girl could be trusted to take the subway across town to work?”

Ultimately, the Paces have learned a valuable lesson about God, his plans and his provision. “God has given us a love for these girls, and he has worked out all the details. Our story is that God has been so good to us. That’s God’s plan.”

Profile of Jaime and Ta’Boris Fisher

Originally published in BOOM! Jackson on March 24, 2013.


When Jaime Burns met Ta’Boris Fisher at Ole Miss in 1999, she had no idea he was a star football player. “Everyone thinks I hounded him for his number,” she explains with a laugh. The real story involves a party for the Ole Miss Volleyball Team, her roommates and his Mitsubishi 3000GT. “That was my dream car forever. He said I could drive it. From there, we ended up talking for hours.”

These two highly-competitive athletes work together both as colleagues and as a married couple. Jaime (pronounced like Jamie) is a Colorado native who had never been to Mississippi before falling in love with Ole Miss and the state. She also fell in love with  Jackson native Ta’Boris, a standout wide receiver at Ole Miss from 1993-1996. Now, the couple seems relaxed and happy as they talk about their life together.

At Millsaps, Jaime coaches the Women’s Volleyball Team, while Ta’Boris coaches the Majors’ defensive backs in football. He also runs the Ta’Boris Fisher Speed and Agility Camp, helping teach football fundamentals to young people. But what is being taught is much more than just athletic skills; character and values emanate from both as they teach the sports they love.

For now, the couple is set on enjoying their careers and home in Fondren. Tennis is a shared outlet for their competitiveness, and Jaime feels compelled to help stray or abandoned animals. Both share a commitment to helping young people reach their potential through coaching. “We are so excited to be able to work with athletes; it’s our passion,” says Ta’Boris.


Thai House couple serves authentic Thai food in Jackson

Originally published in BOOM Jackson on March 12, 2013.


Buranee (Tim) Bunniran is adamant that a real Thai cook would never use regular milk in soup as a substitute for coconut milk. She and her husband Prawat (Watt) should know: for 20 years, the couple has been providing an authentic Thai eating experience at their Jackson restaurant called Thai House, on Old Square Road in Jackson.

The couple met while working on their master’s degrees at Jackson State, his in business and hers in education. After a few years and with a growing family, they parlayed their love of cooking into their first restaurant in south Jackson, operating there 15 years before moving to the current location. “When we moved, our customers who knew us, followed us from South Jackson,” says Watt with a smile. “Now, they come more often.”

The restaurant is a family affair: the Bunnirans’ three grown children grew up in the restaurant business. And while all three are successful and on their own, all three pitch in automatically when they come home.

The couple supports the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, as well as local soup kitchens. Tim’s real passion is to introduce Americans to what real Thais would eat at home. Many of the ingredients, such as fresh lemongrass, are grown right in the Bunnirans’ back yard.

Perhaps the best recipe, however, is one for success. “Be honest and friendly,” Tim explains, adding that good food, authentic cooking and hospitality will keep customers coming back. “If they come here, it will be just like if they were to come to my house.”


Gifted Education in Mississippi: A Path to a Brighter Future?

via Gifted Education in Mississippi: A Path to a Brighter Future?, Parents & Kids, 2/19/2013

PDF: Parents&Kids Gifted

The children are all dressed in medieval clothing, standing at attention awaiting the trumpet fanfare. With a flourish, each one grabs a serving dish and begins to serve food to the guests. Each child beams with pride in the fact that they have made their own outfits and will soon be able to demonstrate their carefully-rehearsed talents.

This may have looked like a scene out of a Hollywood movie about medieval knights, but it actually occurred in 2011 at the Castle of Raymond. The players: fourth graders in Mrs. Kacey Ginn’s Pathways class at Madison Avenue Elementary School.

So what do would-be knights and ladies have to do with education? They’re a demonstration of how learning can be challenging and fun at the same time. This particular program is the culmination of a months-long curriculum in which the students learned about life in the Middle Ages. This is just one example of how some Mississippi schools and teachers are taking up the challenge of helping the best and brightest of our youth reach their full potential.

“Mississippi’s gifted children are a great source of pride,” says Carol Paola, executive director of the Mississippi Association for Gifted Children. “As adults, they are professionals in every field—doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, scientists, artists, musicians, and business people. They grow to be leaders in their fields. They enhance life in Mississippi, and they have proven to be a worthy investment.”

The state of Mississippi defines “gifted” as children who have an “exceptionally high degree of intellect, and/or academic, creative, or artistic ability. These include more than 36,000 students from the 2010-2011 school year who were identified as fitting this definition. Gifted students participate in specialized curriculum alongside their standard classroom, exposing them to advanced skills in critical thinking, logic, and creativity.

Serving the specialized needs of gifted children takes time, talent…and money. Education experts have repeatedly complained that gifted children are often left bored and unchallenged—perhaps leaving bright minds to wither on the vine—while federal mandates require that schools place most of the attention on kids who are more immediately at risk of failure.

But the stakes are high. As education programs fight for a piece of a shrinking budget pie, pressures mount to cut all but the barest-bones program.

Nationally, support for gifted education is a mixed bag. Although there are federal programs in place to ensure that schools are providing programs to identify and serve gifted children, the states are free to develop their own approaches. Often, that means that gifted programs are left unfunded or under-funded.

But Mississippians who are tired of national polls that place the Magnolia State on the bottom can take some pride in where we stand when it comes to gifted children.

“Mississippi has long been recognized nationally as a leader in providing programs for gifted students with well-established regulations and standards,” notes Paola. “What our Mississippi legislators have helped to provide for gifted children in Mississippi is far above the norm.” Paola, a longtime gifted teacher at Long Beach’s Quarles Elementary School, notes that this is one national ranking of which Mississippians can be proud.

“In fact, Mississippi is one of only five states in the nation which mandate and fund programs for gifted children,” Paola points out.

The Mississippi Gifted Education Act of 1989 (amended in 1993) mandates that each public school district within the state provide gifted education programs for intellectually gifted students in grades 2-6. All local public school districts may have gifted education programs for intellectually gifted students in grades 7-12, artistically gifted students in grades 2-12, creatively gifted students in grades 2-12, and/or academically gifted students in grades 9-12, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education if local funding can support the programs.

More than 900 teachers, certified by the Mississippi Department of Education, teach gifted programs across the state. Budget issues have continuously threatened gifted education, but thanks to the mandate, gifted programs have been safe—for now.

“In 2009, the State of Mississippi allocated approximately $43,000,000 for gifted education,” Paola says. “In 2011, funds for existing gifted classes in school districts were included in allocations for MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program), but not specifically designated for gifted education. As a result of budget constraints, some districts chose to serve students in mandated grades-intellectually gifted 2nd through 6th.”

As budget pressures increase, the best allies of gifted programs are parents. Often, the MAGC holds events at the state capitol to remind legislators of the importance of keeping these programs alive. Paola acknowledges that preservation of the progress made so far is never certain. “We know that we face economic challenges in Mississippi and that there will be great stress to meet the fiscal responsibilities of our state,” she says. “We hope our Mississippi legislators find it within their power to protect the programs for gifted children. The future of Mississippi may well depend on these kids who have learned to solve problems and ‘think outside of the box’.”

Giving for the Sake of Giving: Teaching Your Kids the Joy of Helping Others

via Giving for the Sake of Giving: Teaching Your Kids the Joy of Helping Others, Parents & Kids, 2/19/2013.

In January 2010, Charlie Simpson was living his life happily as would any seven-year-old. But when he saw the devastation brought by the Haiti earthquake, Charlie was moved to do something more than just watch. The London youngster posted an appeal on a charity fundraising site, and offers began to pour in to sponsor him as he rode his bike around a London park. His efforts netted nearly $500,000 in donations.

Charlie has a lot of company. While the explosion of worldwide media has highlighted needs around the globe, the Internet has empowered kids to get more involved. So how can you teach your kids to be like Charlie? Well, experts say that while some kids may be more generous than others, most kids learn from what they see their parents do.

There are many possible motivations for giving. Some people are motivated to give for selfish reasons—perhaps to gain prestige or a tax write-off. Others have begun giving because their lives have been positively impacted by a particular cause, or they have been blessed with a lot and they want to give back. Still others give because they were “brought up that way.” Whatever the motivation, giving is something that runs counter to our society’s demand for instant gratification and a “what’s in it for me” mentality.

The opposite of this mentality is altruism, defined as “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others” ( In other words, altruism is the act of giving without regard for the personal benefits you may gain from doing so.

Instilling the value of giving to our kids isn’t easy, because there is a lot of competition for their time and attention. Schoolwork, sports, and other extracurricular activities tend to consume most of our kids’ available time. Also, many organizations find that while there is often plenty of help around the holidays, they face day-to-day challenges for survival in tough economic times.

In times of disaster, the floodgates of generosity usually open wide, even in a tough economy. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, people in the Deep South experienced firsthand the generosity of strangers from around the world. And many kids mobilized to help, sending everything from spare change to bottled water and helping clean up neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast.

“We encourage people to get their families or children involved in giving themselves to the missions experience,” says Tommy Jarrett, care and missions pastor at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison. Through its G3 (Grow, Go, Give) campaign started this year, Broadmoor has encouraged its members to get beyond the walls of the church to help in taking care of the community.

Often, he says, families will participate together in various missions activities, helping in places ranging from the metro Jackson area to countries around the world. These include everything from cleaning up local schools and feeding the homeless to setting up backyard Vacation Bible Schools for disadvantaged youth. In his years as a pastor and parent, Jarrett notes that he has witnessed a shift in churches becoming more missions-minded. “That’s what Jesus taught us to do,” he notes.

Jarrett notes that instilling a habit of giving—rather than concentrating on infrequent or one-time acts of service—is what makes the idea of giving “stick” in the minds of kids, as they see their parents emphasize the act of giving.

“I think what you do is get your children involved in practicing it on a regular basis,” he says. “Just once or twice every so often is not going to make it happen. When your family does it on a regular basis, it’s significant.” He points to several families who have adopted local families throughout the year, spending their Christmas money on others, rather than on accumulating gifts for themselves.

“It’s really important to maintain a consistency,” he adds. “In the living of life, you don’t always pay attention to that kind of thing. There is a joy that comes with giving.”

Here are a few points to remember about teaching charity to our kids:

  • Charity doesn’t always mean money. Things like cutting the lawn for an elderly neighbor or volunteering at a local animal shelter can reap big benefits for both the giver and the recipient.
  • Children model what they see at home. If kids see their parents giving, they will want to help, too. Make sure your kids “catch” you in acts of kindness. Every once in a while, pay the tab for the person behind you in the drive-through, or buy a cup of coffee for a homeless person. You don’t have to make a big show of it, but your kids will see and observe.
  • Don’t assume that kids won’t want to help, just because they don’t have taxes to worry about or don’t have vast sums to donate. Many kids are naturally empathetic to others; this quality is worth nurturing.
  • Remind your kids how lucky and blessed they are. If you volunteer in places where people need help or are disadvantaged, take your kids with you. Remind them that they are blessed to be living in a place where things such as clean drinking water and basic sanitation are taken for granted. People in much of the world do not enjoy those things, and we tend to ignore them.
  • Even small things make a big difference. For example, setting up a change jar designated for a local charity will bring a big smile to your kid’s face when he delivers it personally.


Network for Good: Kids’ Guide to Giving:

10 Great Kid Philanthropists:


Why Your Family Needs Routines

Originally published in Parents & Kids, October 2012.

PDF: P&KRoutines

You’re ready to scream. It’s the first day of school after the holidays, and your kids are running rampant around the house. It’s a chore just to get everybody out the door, and when you finally get the last child dropped off, you just want to crawl back in bed. Unfortunately, you have to get yourself ready for work, so off you go, only to slog through the day and repeat the whole thing tomorrow.

Every home experiences its share of these mornings, but many homemakers have found that their homes are happier and less frantic with scheduled routines.

“Research indicates that family routines are vital to the healthy development and success of families with children,” says Tashmia Prowell-Turner, area extension agent with the MSU Extension Service. “Mealtime, bath-time, and bed time are the most commonly practiced occurrences in families where routines prove to be very helpful. Having a consistent practice or ritual revolving around these events could provide for family functioning to operate like a well-oiled machine.”

This may sound like a no-brainer. After all, Ward and June Cleaver never had these problems, did they? Well, although the idyllic family setting of Leave it to Beaver was largely a fantasy even then, it seems that many of us have forgotten how to function as a family. And with everybody’s attention on some screen or other constantly, the challenge seems bigger than ever.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (, children “do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.” They should know. Much recent research has helped bolster the notion that if our kids are to be happier and healthier, it all starts at home. Structured activities can lead to kids who are better able to handle transitions, and may help in cases where children may have special needs.

“Routines provide the structure needed to establish a firm foundation for success in the lives of the children in families that practice them,” Prowell-Turner notes. “This foundation secures the healthy development of children in all areas of their lives, including social and emotional. They also give children the sense of safety and security that they need to assist in their development of trust—a vital milestone to reach in their developing a healthy sense of self (identity).”

In other words, you can get a lot of mileage from establishing a family habit. So how do you begin? Start small, say the experts, and don’t get discouraged when it seems to fall apart. Something as simple as sitting down together around the dinner table can facilitate communication, provide a peaceful forum for discussions, and help create treasured family memories. From there, set up special times each day for each activity. Then build on that success, and don’t make it all about work. Setting up special opportunities for fun is crucial to the success of a family routine.

Prowell-Turner notes that, although everybody has difficulty cramming their lives into a predictable framework, with patience and time, you can establish routines. “As with instilling any belief or habit in a child, practice and consistency will be the keys in implementing a successful routine,” she says. “Recognizing the importance of prioritizing and establishing a schedule to complete the most important tasks will be of utmost significance to contest the issue of limited time.”

She urges parents to be persistent and firm, and to practice often. “The rewards after the initial hard work will prove innumerable,” she says. “No matter how often children may gripe or complain of structure, rules, and routine, it’s really what they all want, need, and deserve.”

  • Put as many things in order as possible the night before.
  • Keep wake-up routines cheerful and positive.
  • Be sure your child eats breakfast.
  • Even if she is not hungry in the morning, have her get some food in her system to start the day.
  • Finally, round out each morning by saying goodbye to your youngster. A simple hug and a wave as she heads out the front door or slides out of the car are extremely important. They will give her a positive feeling with which to begin the day’s activities.