Interview: Duck Dynasty’s Chrys Howard on
“Duck Commander Devotions for Kids”
Chrys Howard, the mother of Duck Dynasty’s Korie Robertson, has a passion and a mission: to see children taught in the ways of the Lord. She just completed “Duck Commander Devotions for Kids” — which releases today, Feb. 10th — with her daughter Korie Robertson (of “Duck Dynasty” television show fame) who was a co-author.
But this isn’t something that she just decided to write one day. For her, it’s a natural culmination of experience, love, and devotion to teaching kids and teens. That’s a part of the magic of this devotional book. (And, hey, anyone who has led a teen Bible study in their home for 35 years is going to have some amazing wisdom that I want to know!)
From the book’s press release:
Chrys Howard, the mother of Duck Dynasty’s, Korie Robertson, claims she really did have a life before Duck Dynasty; sometimes it’s just hard to remember what it was. She holds a degree in elementary education and spent 10 years teaching children with learning differences. After teaching, she joined the family-owned business, Howard Publishing, where she served as senior editor and creative director. She has authored a number of books, including the best-selling Hugs for Daughters and Motivationals for Moms, and she co-authored the New York Times bestseller Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Cookbook, Everything’s Better with a Beard, D is for Duck Calls and The Faith Commander church curriculum. Chrys has spent more than 30 years working with Christian youth camps; speaking to women’s groups; teaching Bible classes to children, teens, and young adults; and traveling overseas for mission efforts. She is married to John Howard, has three grown children and 13 adorable grandchildren and lives next door to Korie and Willie in West Monroe, Louisiana.
I had the privilege to speak with Chrys Howard over the phone recently to glean some wisdom and learn more about her latest project.
One of the standouts in the book is your decision to include a “Duck Commander in action” at the end of each devotion. James in the Bible says that faith without works is dead. Do you feel that we underestimate kids in their faith walk sometimes by not encouraging this?
I think we underestimate kids in lots of areas of life. I think kids are capable of doing way more than sometimes we give them credit for. In our faith walk, I do think that it’s always good to encourage our kids to do the activities that reinforce whatever we’re trying to get them to do. That’s just how you model good behavior in any area that you’re working on with your children. Our job as parents is to lead and guide and train and to teach, and how you teach is by showing and then doing. We thought this was an important step in the book, how can you walk this out in the ways that God would want you to.
A lot of the verses are from the International Children’s Bible. What prompted you to use that translation?
That’s the translation that our publisher uses — that may even be their Bible. That’s the one they publish so that’s what they like to work with, and that was fine with us. It’s just a great translation, and it seemed to work real well with this particular book.
You have been on both sides of the publishing world as an editor, creative director, and author. Which is your favorite?
I have been on both sides of it, and I don’t know that I actually have a favorite. Even when we were with the publishing company I spent a lot of time writing so I probably wrote eight books while I was still on the publishing side. But I think having both experiences is a huge benefit in writing because I know the other side. I know what it takes to get a book out, so I know how important deadlines are. Then, when I was on the other side, I was the one pushing authors: “Hey, this is your deadline, please have it here by this day. If you don’t have it we’re not going to have what we need for marketing and we’re not going to have it for the book.” So I know both sides, and I think that’s helpful to the publishers.
What role does the Bible play in your life?
The Bible is our whole life. When Korie started the TV show they did not deliberately set out for the show to be a Christian-based show. That is just who they are, so it came out naturally. Even the prayer at the end of show, at the beginning they said to them, “What would you guys normally do now?” and they said, “Well, we would have a prayer.” So they said, “Okay, let’s do that.” There would be no other way we would eat a meal without having a prayer first. The Bible is the basis for every decision that we make in life. It’s rooted in what God would want us to do.
You’ve been involved in educational ministry for many years. What encouragement can you pass on to parents?
Oh my. I have been involved in children’s ministry in some type for many many years. Korie was the children’s minister at our church family, and I have been the director of our summer camp for over 30 years now and still am. I’ll be out there this summer for six to seven weeks with kids all summer long. That’s just a big, huge part of our life.
The thing that I would say to parents and grandparents and anyone who works with children in any way is just — and we ask children, and I tell parents this all the time — the biggest thing in the child’s life is just to be consistent. Kids strive on consistency in just about every area of their life. If they can see a consistent adult who performs consistently under every type of situation, that is huge for them.
We started a teen church at our house 35 years ago. I think Korie was — I don’t remember how old she was when we started, probably 5 or so — it was before our children were teens. But we saw the need for there to be something consistent in the teenagers’ lives, that they knew every Sunday night [our home] is where they would go and not bounce around to home to home to home. Other churches do that and it’s a great thing too, but we felt like that was consistent. And we continue to have that 35 years later in our home. The teenagers at our church know that every Sunday night this is where they’re going to go, and they see consistent adults working in their lives, and I believe that’s a huge thing in their development.
I noticed an overarching theme in the book seems to be “pay attention to how God is working in your life.” Besides teaching their children the ways of the Lord, parents can show their kids they are “paying attention to God” in their own life by being consistent in their own life.
Exactly. I think one of the things — of course, my kids tease me about this, because I love life lessons and just looking for those everyday things that you can learn in life. When they were growing up, in their teenage years, they were all, “Okay, here’s life lesson number 489,000 that mama has.” Then through my time with the publishing company and working writing devotional messages, devotional thoughts, every Monday at our publishing company I would send out what I called a “Monday Hug” to everybody, where I would take a life lesson from the week before and turn it into a motivational message. It’s really like how these are written in this book.
Korie and I had so much fun brainstorming and thinking back at things that the kids had done and we had to pull out our diaries and calendars to come up with a hundred of these that would teach life lessons. I think that it is important for people to see how in your own life you can look at what’s happening and see, “Oh, wow, I just saw my child do this and that reminds me of this verse, or it lets me see.” I talk about Sadie being the point guard on her basketball team, and when you watch that, as she dribbles down, she’s got to be alert to everything and everybody around her. Then you think, “Well, that’s how I need to be in life.” I’ve got to be alert, I have to listen to the coach, which is God. I’ve got to pay attention to those people around me, I’ve got to pull the team together and fight for a goal. So I do think it’s important for parents and all of us to start looking at how God is teaching us everyday, aside from what we read in Scripture — just in our everyday life, how can we learn the message from God.
It’s like “Be still and know that I am God” but in kid-speak.
Right. Just be still and He’s there and He’s going to show you.
I so enjoyed the illustrations in the book from Holli Conger; they are so whimsical and fun. How involved were you in picking an illustrator?
Well, we were not involved in picking an illustrator too much other than they sent us samples and asked us to choose. When we saw these we just fell in love with them. Like you said, they’re whimsical and fun. They are adorable. Whoever did the layout of the book, the graphic artist, did such an amazing job. We are just so pleased with this book. Can I just say, I’ve done a lot of books and have seen a lot of books, and I just love it. I think the colors are so cute, and it’s just going to draw kids in to want to read the message.
I agree with that. I have a two-year old daughter and she just loves looking through the book and all the pictures. She even wants me to read it to her, and that’s just two-years old!
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. It just kind of draws you in. Someone asked me the other day, being from the publishing standpoint, what do I think about e-books and will that ever completely take over. I don’t know that anyone knows the answer to that; it’s like how we didn’t even know what the Internet was 20 years ago. I don’t know that we can know that, but I do know this: there is something about holding a book and turning the pages and the feel of that, that I don’t know will ever go away. Right now we love just seeing it, we love seeing that printed page.
As you mentioned, you’ve worked on a lot of books in your career. What was special to you about this one?
I really have such a heart for this book, and I have worked on a lot of books. I think number one, because it’s for children and we have such a heart for children and for teaching them the right way and all our children are going to be adults one day. Sometimes I think it’s hard for us as parents to look at that two-year-old and say, “Okay, wow this person is going to be 25 soon. What am I doing and putting in this little person so that when she’s 25 she’s the person I want her to be?” So this book, for me, is one of those things that can help us. There are no guarantees, we know that as parents. No guarantees. But just because our children might not do the things we put in them doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put those things in them. We are called to do that. This is just one of those tools that parents can use to help our children find the right path to walk on. I love that. I love the illustrations. I love the colors. I love the feel of it. It’s fun and a great book. We are very proud of it and proud of the publisher who put it out for us.