Monday, December 20, 2021

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers!

Every year, I eagerly anticipate a Christmas bundle of books from the Christian publisher Zonderkidz. Like the Christ star, these books help us find Jesus. In exchange for my honest review, I pass along the treasures I find through their pages.

I wanted a devotional to share with my preteen boys at the breakfast table. Rule: Devotions have to be fast and snappy to avoid eye rolls. Surprise! New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ: Devotions for Kids looks promising. 

If you have a preteen daughter who likes to journal, I recommend Margaret Feinberg's God's Power in Me: 52 Declarations and Devotions for Kids. Each devotion is tied to a strength-building truth while engaging the reader's creativity in each lesson.

My two-year-old enjoys Caroline B. Cooney's I'm Going to Give You a Polar Bear Hug! Every animal in the books hugs a different way, which is fun to imagine and mimic. This fun-loving book is now available in a board book version and heading straight to my newborn nephew!

I'll keep The Berenstain Bears' Values and Virtues Treasury for our shelves. It's eight books in one and will be fun to flip through for character-building bedtime story options. Plus, it's fun to share characters from my childhood with my children. (You still got it, mama!)

Watch my Twitter feed for other shout outs, @NoelleKirchner! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

How to Help Your Kids with Grief After the Loss of a Pet

Child grief dog loss


The holidays are a time of love and joy, but some feel lingering sadness when precious memories resurface too. We lost our beloved cat of almost 17 years last fall. As a mom of three, parenting writer, and former chaplain, I’m writing this article to equip you with practical tips to help your family through pet loss and grief.

Looking back, I knew the day was quickly approaching when we would have to put our cat down. His health conditions were mounting. He was growing increasingly lethargic as his body was failing. None of us wanted him to suffer.

When the day arrived, I walked with my two older sons into our vet’s office. My youngest son was a toddler; because he was too little to understand, he stayed back with my husband. The vet was surprised to see my two older sons with me, however. They were grade and middle school aged at the time. As she looked at their tear-streaked faces, she asked me if I really wanted them to remain in the room. 

I told her yes, and my sons agreed. I had prepared them for this visit. We had talked through what would be happening, and I had given them the choice to be present.

The Gift of a Good Goodbye

While my sons’ decision might not be what every child would choose, here are five reasons why I encouraged them to stay:

1. There is a gift in a good goodbye. As a hospital chaplain, I’ve seen grief compound in situations of sudden loss. Standing with a loved one in the end is never easy, but it can assist in your healing and bring the one you love comfort. The opportunity to vocalize or demonstrate the importance of a loved one (pet or person) firsthand is a precious and fleeting opportunity.

2. I knew this would be a formative experience. I knew my sons would always remember the passing of their first pet. Therefore, I wanted the experience to be as helpful as possible and serve as a touchpoint. When they encountered future loss, I wanted them to remember what they learned beside me that day.

3. I wanted to empower them. Feeling pain is uncomfortable. I welcomed my sons’ tears, words, and gestures (as I expressed my own) in that moment of loss. But I also wanted to let them know that they could use their pain to help another. Our kitty would be comforted by their voices and tender hugs as his last memory. They could make a difference through their presence and bravery in that moment.

4. I wanted to model strength. Having my children stay in the room took strength, for I was mourning too. I chose to model what I hoped to see from them. I didn’t want them to see me as someone who was too fragile for their pain; rather, I wanted them to see what we could do together.

5. Confronting death is sad, but important. While acknowledging the reality of death is sad, it can also call us to action. I learned firsthand the gift of each day while working beside hospital beds. I was inspired to live wisely and fully, or to number my days, just as scripture encourages (Psalm 90:12). This is a powerful message for all of us, including children.

My goal is to raise children who are brave in the face of loss, empowered to make a difference through their life experience, and comfortable expressing hard emotion with the support of others. This isn’t an easy goal. For one, popular culture celebrates and esteems youth, not aging. Second, death and loss are challenging topics to bridge in everyday conversation.

Continue reading about loss on Crosswalk & learn practical tips you won't want to miss—they're the difference between healing well or holding onto hurt...

It's been a while since I've posted! I have been quiet, but not idle—I've been working on things for you! Stayed tuned for new shows in the new year, a new *look* for the website this spring, and more writing news. In the meantime, my devotions have been featured recently on iBelieve and Crosswalk. Check out this one on shining God's light this Christmas or this one on God's strength available to you.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Popular Parenting Advice You Should Ignore

Happy Fall! I am excited to share my recent article, which was inspired by many of my Chaos to Calm show guests. Read as I bust 6 popular parenting myths.

Popular Parenting Advice You Should Ignore

Parenting is an exhilarating, exhausting, and sacred task. Author Jodi Picoult beautifully describes the gift of a child: “Sometimes when you pick up your child, you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands or smell the scent of your skin in the nap of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood. Finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.”

While it’s often easy to fall in love with our children, raising them is not so easy. The fear of getting it right is real, and children do not come with a manual. Thankfully, God wants to partner with us as we parent. What follows are six popular parenting myths. Learn why they’re problematic and how faith offers a different vantage point that can help your family soar.

1. I must be perfect.

True, there is a push in modern blogging to portray parenting imperfections that were formerly kept behind closed doors. Writers portray the messiness of family life, humorous moments, and parenting fails that often come with the territory. At the same time, however, social media continues to cast an unrealistic portrait. Facebook and Instagram encourage comparison as users scroll (messy stories or not), and already overburdened parents feel pressure to be Pinterest-ready.

Popular blogger, teacher, and New York Times bestselling author Rachel Macy Stafford is quick to admit her struggles to her children. Instead of finding strength in the illusion of perfection, she lets her children into her inner life in an age-appropriate fashion. By sharing her struggles and strategies to surmount them, she hopes to encourage understanding and competence in her daughters as they face challenges of their own.

One step that we can take as parents is to be willing to apologize to our children. Perfection is not reality—though we do try our best. Our children often see us as perfect, however, especially when they’re little. Their eyes are constantly monitoring and learning from our behavior. Imagine the freedom found when we cast off the air of perfection, personally drink in God’s mercy, and model life-giving grace and growth in our home.

2. Keep children busy—it keeps them out of trouble.

It’s easy to live in a culture of rush. The tendency to schedule more and more for our children often comes from a good place. We want them to enjoy and advance in their talents. Further, we fear boredom might lead to trouble. The problem is when good things inadvertently choke out time for better things. Better things are family dinner time, parent-child conversation, and regular downtime. Each serve as a powerful grounding force for children, and unfortunately all were on a statistical decline pre-COVID.

Our need to honor and protect a rhythm of activity and rest in our families stems from God’s example in scripture. In the first creation story, God models good work and then the importance of stepping back to enjoy it. Further, the concept of Sabbath rest is later a biblical command found in the Ten Commandments.

Just as God models Sabbath, we need to model it in our families. God calls us to live in a rhythm of not being stretched too thin so that our children learn how to recharge and we all have a reserve for life’s challenges. As a mother of three children who range in age from two to twelve, I can attest to the fact that balance isn’t always easy and I don’t always get it right. Regardless, God’s command couldn’t be more applicable today.

Read on as I debunk myths 3–6:

Read the Full Article Here

Interested in learning more? You can watch former Chaos to Calm episodes on-demand. Don't forget to share them with friends!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

5 Ways to Be Good Stewards of the Earth

I hope you have had a restful summer. I have been enjoying time with my children, who start school early next month. Summer is always a slower time on the blog for that reason. This summer, we were blessed to take two long-awaited family trips. My newest article tells the tale of our first one. We traveled to Wyoming, which I can only describe as God's country. I wrote about my experience and how God spoke to me through the beautiful creation there:

5 Ways to Be Good Stewards of the Earth

When my oldest son was in the third grade, one of his school projects was to adopt a US state and learn about it. My husband and I promised to take him to the state that he chose. He picked Wyoming. Though our family trip was delayed partially due to COVID, it brought several surprises. First, it turned out to be our youngest son’s first flight; I had not even been pregnant with him when my oldest son chose the state. Second, while we expected to encounter beauty, my family of five was startled by Wyoming’s majesty. My two-year-old kept looking out the window saying, “Wow.” Third, the trip inspired us to consider our commitment to the Earth. Experiences that bring us to our knees change us. In the wake of that holy awe, here are five ways that we can be better stewards.

#1 Make time to retreat.

My oldest son will tell you from his report that Wyoming is the least populated state in the union. I live in a suburb of New York City and can witness to the energy and excitement of being surrounded by others. But there is also something medicinal about being in an expanse of beautiful land where the animals outnumber the people. You can breathe freely when it is just you and the open sky; it is almost as if the mountains cradling you are lifting their praise. Getting away and getting quiet is a discipline that Jesus himself practiced (Mark 1:35). Doing it in nature is that much more inspiring. Scripture reminds us about the genesis of strength: “In quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

#2 Discover nature as a biblical teacher.

As a female pastor, I have enjoyed mining the diverse scriptural names for God. The Bible gives us so many that stretch beyond gender and serve as powerful teaching tools. Many of these names come from the natural world for ease in understanding. The Psalmist describes God as a mighty Rock (Psalm 18:2), the Samaritan woman discovers that Jesus is the Living Water (John 4:10), and my favorite metaphor for Christ is the Vine (John 15:5). I learn about what it means to stay connected and grow in Christ by taking time to observe actual growth around me. I marvel at the splendid work of our Creator. Whether I witness the climbing of a vine, the flit of a butterfly, the bright red burst of a cardinal wing, or the glorious hush of a waterfall, God’s spirit is there to teach me, delight me, and remind me of his glory. The agrarian society of biblical times might have been more in touch with natural metaphors by necessity, but the lifeline they provide is only an observation away today. “Be still and know that I am God,” the Lord tells us (Psalm 46:10).

For more ways that we can become better stewards, visit Crosswalk.com and continue reading HERE

For pictures from our trip, visit me on Instagram (@noellekirchner). Stay tuned for more happenings here this fall! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

8 Key Things to Tell Teens Who Are Going into High School

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Mama

Based upon my recent parenting episode with the Hands Free Mama and guest podcast appearance, I wanted to pass along my newest Crosswalk article. I am grateful for the insights of my show guests, whose work has influenced these tips. Propel your children or grandchildren forward with these 8 talking points, designed to hone their purpose and usher in God's best.

Tip #1: Ask them if there is something that they feel God has called them to do. Does it unexpectedly keep coming to their mind? Encourage them to make time for introspection and honest conversations with the Author of their heart.

Read the ARTICLE HERE

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Add This Podcast to Your Queue!


Creating your summer podcast must-listen list? Add my appearance on the podcast Theodora Speaks to your queue! My new friend Gayle, a former Microsoft exec, left her job to spend more time with her two young daughters during the pandemic. Her exit was also a response to a heart pull to help equip fellow women to follow their passion by using hers for speaking and writing.

I was honored to be a part of her launch by sharing my story and hard-fought wisdom from my book, How to Live Your Life Purpose: The Six-Step Journey to God's Best. I encourage you to listen, explore my book, and hop over to my Facebook and Instagram this week for some inspiring memes from the interview.


Miss my recent interview? Tune in to the latest Chaos to Calm episode with New York Times bestselling author Rachel Macy Stafford. Her message is so beautiful and powerful—it made me teary on air! Watch the full interview here.

TODAY Video Clip