John Fuller: Well, I wonder if you’ve ever wished that you could change something about yourself, maybe your height or your hair color or your skill set, um, that’s probably something all of us struggle with at some point in time. Dr. Kathy Koch will share a really unique perspective on how you can appreciate your God-given attributes on this episode of Focus on the Family, and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, we’re celebrating the sanctity of human life throughout the month of January. And today we’re highlighting the fact that our creator, God, has a purpose for every life. Dr. Kathy opened her message, quoting Genesis Chapter 1, which says God created man in his own image. She pointed out that God is a personal, intentional creator and he doesn’t use an assembly line to build his human beings. He deliberately chooses each attribute that he gives us and that idea it should blow our mind, right?
John: Oh, it should, yeah. Let’s go ahead now and hear from Dr. Kathy Koch as she spoke to our staff just about a year ago on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.
Dr. Kathy Koch: We read in the book of Isaiah that Isaiah understood God’s personal intentionality. In Isaiah, chapter 64, verse eight, we read, Oh, Lord, you are our father. We are all the clay and you are our potter. We are all the work of your hand to say the word all everyone you’ll ever meet and everyone you’ll never meet created by God’s hand. He wanted them and he wanted them made the way that they are. I picture God the creator at the potter’s wheel, and there’s this lump of clay. I think I’ll give them a girl this time. I think I’ll give her very long fingers so she can play the piano really well like her mom. I think I’ll make her very analytic like her dad, that will drive her mom nuts. I mean, I don’t know, but I know he was strategic and intentional and planned. We all have worth because we were wanted, created on purpose, with purpose, for purpose. He decided and we are here. We were wanted. We are wanted. We are here. God created every person conceived. He is never surprised for God. There is no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy. We may be surprised, and I understand that, but to God, they’re all planned, I’m pro-life. I’m pro-eternal life. I’m pro-abundant life, and I’m pro-living. How many of you know people barely alive, not living? Do you know what I mean by that? They’re going through the motions, they’re breathing, they’re taking up space, but they’ve chosen to step back and disengage, how tragic. I want us to live intentionally. I want us to live intentionally because God created us intentionally on purpose. Why were you created for such a time as this? So exciting to think about. And the dream I have for kids is that they would live long enough to find out. You don’t know everything is when you’re a child, you’re a child. Childhood comes before adulthood, and it might make sense one day, no matter what our specific purposes are, I do know that we were created to leave the world a better place, to be pro-living and to live long and leave the world a better place through who we are and through what we do in the choose life. To model that in our actions and in our beliefs, who are you becoming? I don’t know what your stories are, but I was created to be a Chatty Cathy. I was given that nickname when I was about three years old by my mom’s mom. Oh, you’re such a Chatty Cathy. My parents chose to see all the words in me as a strength to develop, not a problem to eliminate. And that’s the power of the parent. Praise God for my parents, they were imperfect, but they saw something in me that needed to come out, all these words in me. My brother Dave is also extremely grateful for our parents. My brother is a clinical chemist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the past president of the American Association of Clinical Chemists. My brother credits the beginning of the passion he has for chemistry to a chemistry set our grandparents gave him at his 10th birthday. We believe that our grandparents must have seen something in my brother that caused them to believe that there was something in him that would be brought forth through investigation and experimentation and making messes at the kitchen table, which our parents allowed him to do. And as a result of that, my brother now is changing lives through the discovery in clinical chemistry. Back to my Chatty Cathy story, what did God use for me? When I was about 10 years old, mum and dad enrolled me in children’s theater. They said, go talk there a while.
Dr. Koch: Yeah, true story. I was in the library reading awards every summer of my junior high years reading more books than any other kid. I joined the forensics team in high school and gave speeches and earned ribbons doing so, and what am I doing today? We are who we are supposed to be, our childhood matters as we age. Created on purpose, for purpose, with purpose, to the glory of God, and I obviously do not do what I do for the money, I do it for the impact and influence. Money just helps pay the bills. I have a low voice. How many of you have heard it today? Have you said, “Man, she sounds like a guy.”? Yeah, I do. I know that. Like, it’s not a surprise. People will sometimes say that as if I’m oblivious to my own self. I’m called “sir” often. Awkward. At the drive thru restaurant, which, by the way, should not be called a drive thru restaurant. If you’re 16 learning to drive, I really hope you understand that. And when you go to the drive through restaurant and order your food, you can see the menu in the microphone, but they cannot see you. So, they’ll say back to me, “Thank you for your order. That’ll be $6.82 at the window, sir.” My voice is lower, amplified by a microphone, I don’t get mad. It’s not their fault. And it’s really going to be funny when I get up there and I’m not a guy.
Dr. Koch: The kid working there is looking at the receipt, looking up.
Dr. Koch: And I know what he’s thinking. He’s thinking that there is supposed to be a guy in this car, and I don’t get mad, it’s not their fault. I have a low voice, I get it. It’s who I am. So, I take it and say thank you usually and drive off. You know, I learned a long time ago to persevere, to believe in the believing, in my believing that there would be reasons that it would make sense. And it has. I don’t need a microphone. I’m not going to turn it off to prove it. But low voices go further in a room than high voices. And my creator, God knew exactly what he was doing when he’d chose in his love to make me me because he knew exactly who I would become for His glory. I’ve been to 30 countries overseas. I’ve been to many places without sound systems, and it does not matter. I could be at a high school gym across town to do an assembly and have the sound system buzz so bad that it could be turned off and my voice will carry to the back row of the highest bleachers. Because God is good, because God is a good creator.
Dr. Koch: Yeah, and God is an intentional personal creator. And I grieve for the children who don’t yet believe that who come to confusion naturally, because the culture is chaotic, and people are messy. I pray that all of us would, in our humility, choose to change our attitude toward the things we cannot change. Change what we can and leave the rest alone and change our attitudes because it honors God. If I walk wounded through my days, angry at my voice, then I’m angry at my creator and I say I dismiss you. And before long, I’ll begin to dismiss more of myself. And then I’m not here. And I think that grieves God, because when I was that lump of clay and he made me, He knew. When I was a kid, it made no sense. I praise God for parents and grandparents and teachers and pastors and my brother Dave and others who came alongside and were the boundaries that were the blessings that allowed me to become.
John: You’re listening to Kathy Koch on Focus on the Family and this content directly relates to her book, 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences. Get your copy for gift of any amount to the ministry when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459 or donate and request the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and return now to Dr. Kathy Koch.
Dr. Koch: David writes In Psalm 139 in 13 and 14 verses that are very well known. Many moms admit that they memorize these verses before they even conceive their first child. David writes for you; God formed my inward parts. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well. Knitting requires careful attention. The knitter chooses the size of the stitch and the color of the yarn before ever getting started. And the knitter better know in advance if she’s making a scarf or a sweater. God knows what he’s doing. And I know that sometimes that’s hard to believe because things just don’t go the way that we hoped. I respect the grief that’s embedded there, but it doesn’t take away the truth that God is intentional, and He trusts us to become. It says in the scripture that we’re fearfully made. It’s the same fear as the fear God in the Old Testament, which doesn’t mean we ought to be afraid of him, but it means, as you know, that we should honor Him and and be in awe of Him. God wants us and our children to fearfully respect who he’s chosen us to be. Ladies and gentlemen, when I trusted Christ and realized the truth here. Oh, I praise God that the spirit allowed that verse to transform my beliefs about myself and it changed everything. We’re wonderfully made. You’re unique, there’s no one like you, which is maybe good, I don’t know you, but it might be very good. One is enough.
Dr. Koch: You know that if you ever get in trouble with the law, they can find you because nobody has been created and nobody will ever be created with your fingerprints. That is how creative God is. I love to tell middle schoolers that if they ever get lost, a bloodhound can smell something that is theirs and go find them because nobody smells like them. I mean, that might be good too I don’t know, but nobody smells like you and nobody has your fingerprints, and more important than that nobody has your brain cells. Nobody has your exact passion, pursuit, intellect, birth, order, you’re the unique package that you are. And to get unwrapped. The people who love you to discover why it is and that my soul knows that very well. Do you know, the difference it makes when a child, teen or adult knows in the soul very well that they were fearfully and wonderfully made? It changes everything. I was tall as a child, thought I was too tall, walked home from the elementary school I attended, sat down in the middle of my mom and dad’s big double bed and declared to my mom, I did not want to be tall anymore. I’m here today. Largely because my mother did not say, well, get over it, you’re going to be tall. Which is, frankly, what a lot of children tell me their parents appear to do to them, which is to dismiss their pain. Sometimes it’s because of our own pain. Sometimes there’s a busyness and an isolation and there’s just a mess that enters in. Hello, ladies and gentlemen, my mom heard my heart cry, told my dad, her husband, we’ve got a daughter at the perceived problem that can’t be changed. She’s going to be tall. What can we do? They problem solved to all of you who are solution- focused parents and grandparents and teachers, I applaud you. When somebody, a spouse, or an aging parent or a child shares their heart with us, that we would honor them. By looking for the solution, by the end of the week, I was enrolled in a tap dance class, but what’s really cool about tap and ballet was that I got to be the center of the back row, which I decided was the position of high honor because I was the only one allowed to be there. And so, I went from being too tall to being cool, tall. I was at an elementary assembly a while back and I was telling my story to try to help the kids believe in themselves. And a little boy came up to me at the end. He says, “Hey, lady, I just wanted you to know I don’t think you’re too tall. I think you’re very cool, tall.”
Dr. Koch: I love that. I mean, is there something about you that you need to change your attitude toward and maybe you can’t do it on your own. Maybe there’s someone in your world who would inspire you to greatness because you have chosen to be vulnerable and transparent. When I taught second graders, I had no trouble hanging things from the ceiling because of my height. Other teachers would borrow me, it was easier than grabbing the ladder and dragging it down the hall. When I travel overseas, I have no trouble putting the suitcases into the overhead bin and getting them down when we land. And now you can see me. Like I could be four feet ten and be a public speaker, but you’d be like, “Where’d that lady go?”
Dr. Koch: You know, my height does not make me effective. It just adds to the ease of it all. I was in Thailand and many years ago and during my message that I used that four foot ten line and when I was all finished up, came to me a four foot ten Thai women, like in my personal space, almost ran to me. I was frightened. She’s right here. I am four feet ten and I didn’t know if I was supposed to apologize, and then she said, “This past summer I was in a car accident and the jaws of life had to be used to cut the car open. And I was told by the paramedics if I was one inch taller, I’d be brain damaged or dead.” And then she said, “I am who I am supposed to be.” To arrive at a conclusion that trusts God is a beautiful thing. Change what we can change. Like, if I hung out with NBA basketball players, I’d be short. No, I’d just feel short. Change your attitude toward the things that cannot be changed. Oh, I want children to live long and be strong and find out why they are who they are. Ephesians 2:10 in the New Testament, such a beautiful passage. For we are God’s workmanship, his masterpiece. Fearfully and wonderfully made, set apart for His purposes. We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. He has created all of us, everyone you’ll ever meet, everyone you’ll never meet. He has created all of us with good gifts inside beforehand that we would walk in them. We would use them to change the world for good and not ugly. We’re created on purpose, with purpose. There’s something there to bring forth. There’s hope there. Another element of my story is that spelling does not come naturally to me. The English language makes no sense. Could I just put that out there?
Dr. Koch: Now, not only does the English language makes absolutely no sense, but spelling slays me. I mean, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. Like the letter “C”, we don’t need it. Like it’s in the word science. “S,” “C,” “I” – isn’t the “S” doing its job just fine?
Dr. Koch: I had a kid say, but Dr. Kathy what about “cha” like the ” C” “H” – cha like in “change?” I’d rather have a twenty seventh letter for that sound than the letter “C”.
Dr. Koch: So, here’s the thing ladies and gentlemen. I did not say spelling is hard. That’s a lie. There’s a lot of words that are easy to spell. I did not say I cannot spell, that’s a lie. Don’t lie to yourself, if you lie to yourself, you will never become who God intended for you to be. What I said was spelling does not come naturally to me. Don’t ever let your weaknesses win. Always lead with your strength. It’s almost like I heard the voice of God suggest that I write a book and I’m like, but spelling. (Laughs) Gods like, I don’t care. Audience: Laughter.
Dr. Koch: You know, spell check, which doesn’t always work, but I knew I had ideas that more people would be able to be influenced by through the written word than they ever was through the spoken voice. And so, I humbled myself. I surround myself with a support system and I’ve written six books. Why? Because God is a good creator and I’m not going to let a challenge win. Please lead with your strengths, know what they are, if you’re not sure, ask someone to help you. I traveled with the misspellers dictionary. No joke. It’s no different than a calculator for a kid who struggles with math facts. In a misspellers dictionary, you look up the word “knowledge” the way it should be spelled, which is “nowlege”, and you will find it there and then they tell you the correct way. Ha!
Dr. Koch: So, don’t quit living when life is hard. Don’t quit being or becoming when something is a challenge. Find the strength. Why do I still write books with a thesaurus? Because I can look up an easy word to find the harder word, because if you don’t know how to spell out, you can’t find it in the dictionary. Amen?
Dr. Koch: So, to all of you parents who say to your children, “go look it up,” stop that.
Dr. Koch: Mhm. Yeah. You’re laughing. It is not funny.
Dr. Koch: What story are your kids living? Better question, what story is God writing for them to live? I could not have been a jockey on a horse. Frightening. I’m six-one. Can you picture me on a horse trying to be a jockey? Like I’m eating my knees. It’s bad, bad, bad. One of the most damaging lies you’ll ever tell a child is you can be whatever you want. You can only be what God intended for you to be when he chose in his love to make you you. When he sat at the potter’s wheel and we need you gather. Knowing who you are. Allows you to become that agent of change for God’s glory. Help children grieve what they wish were true. The power you have as a ministry, the power you have as pastors and parents to help children grieve, what never will be. To accept what is. Sweetheart, I’ve heard your heart, I, I recognize the pain, I share your sorrow. Sweetheart, it is what it is, and we still declare in our family that God is good. And trust me that the longer you live, the more that will be made clear to you somehow have the conversation to spin it. I was in a group with a group of young children and I was sharing again my story because part of the passion we have at Celebrate Kids is that children would become, and their children would believe. The suicide rate in our country is frightening, the second leading cause of death for 10 to 14-year olds is suicide. It has tripled in the last 10 years. We have got to help them be not just pro-life, but pro-eternal life, pro-life and pro- living. It is worth living. It is worth it. Life is worth living. The future can be bright. And I was trying to say to these kids that when I was your age, I didn’t get it. I was a too tall chatty Cathy who got in trouble for talking some time, and now look what God has done. Well it was a public school so – look what my creator has done. And I received a bunch of thank you notes slipped out of the hotel room door because the person who hired me knew where I was staying. Trent wrote, “Thank you for motivating me to the next chapter of my story”. Michaela wrote. “I will find my true story when I’m older. I don’t know now because my story is just starting”. But I love knowing that she knows there’s a story starting. Hunter wrote, “I did not know I had a story, but now that I do know, I can’t wait to find out what my story is”. Those of us who love children and teens get to partner with God to help the creative intent continue. God creates us in the womb knit together. Fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful are His works, so my soul knows it very well. I hope that’s true of you. And I believe God’s creative intent continues in the interactions and relationships and encounters and opportunities that he allows children to have. That’s you. Don’t ever take lightly the conversations you have with children. Don’t ever take lightly the field trips and the games you play and the walks you go on. Because in those conversations, life happens, we have got to make sure we know why we’re alive and help our kids know it, too. Why are you there, who you are? My package of a Chatty Cathy with a lower voice where spelling is a challenge and I’m too tall. Perfect package for this. What’s your story? What story do you dream your children and teenagers will live out? Father God, we thank you for your creative intent. Father God I thank you that you chose to make us because of the love you have, that you chose to make us us. And would you help us become. We want to be more like you. We want to serve You well with the gifts that You’ve provided with the perfect package we are. Help us. Surround us with Your goodness, Your people and Your systems that we can walk forth. And do good work for Your glory, and I pray I’m with a lot of optimism in the name of Jesus. Amen. Amen. Thank you so much.
Dr. Koch: Thank you.
John: We really enjoy it when Dr. Kathy Koch comes to our campus here at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, and we’ve been listening to a great presentation she gave to our staff just about a year ago.
Jim: It was a great message, wasn’t it? And I so appreciate Dr. Kathy’s willingness to share her areas of vulnerability and how the Lord has been able to use those for His glory. And I think she did a great job of illustrating the fact that children really need to hear that God has a purpose for their lives. Tragically, it’s become too easy for kids to give up even to the point of ending their life because they don’t see any purpose to it. And Dr. Kathy was a big contributor to a collection of resources we’ve developed called Alive to Thrive, which is designed to help adults proactively address issues that can lead to suicide. And we want to get this information out to as many parents, teachers and youth leaders as we can. So, we’re offering it for free. We don’t want there to be any barriers. So, if you’d like to help us prevent teen suicide, please make a donation today to support this work. And when you make that donation of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of Dr. Kathy Koch’s book, 8 Great Smarts, as our way of saying thank you.
John: Yeah, this book really is going to help you identify and then affirm your child’s areas of intelligence, multiple areas. What Dr. Kathy Koch calls their smarts so that they can feel a little bit more empowered to tackle some other areas that maybe they aren’t so strong in. It really is an excellent resource. I keep referring to it. I hope you will as well when you get your copy of 8 Great Smarts from us here at Focus on the Family. It begins with a phone call, 800-A-FAMILY. Or you can donate online and get the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Also, when you’re online be sure to look for the link to our suicide prevention resources Alive to Thrive. This is a pretty rich curriculum. It’s got a lot of heart and passion, a lot of practical help and it’s all free for you. It’s all online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time we’ll hear from Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory as they encourage you to embrace who you are in order to live your life well.
Amy Carroll: God doesn’t reject the foolish, the lowly and the weak. He chooses them. He chooses us. And he takes those weaknesses and redeems us into things that we can love.