September 17th, 2024

6pm – 8:30pm

The Signal
Chattanooga, TN

Join us for this invite-only event with New York Times Best-Selling author and Grammy award-winning artist – LECRAE. Proceeds from this event will directly provide access to resources and programming that strengthen relationships for low-income and at-risk families from First Things First.

Cost: FREE!

(Donations collected at the event.)


  • 5:40

    Doors open

  • 6:00 - 7:10

    Food & Drink and Discussion with LECRAE

    6:00 - 7:10

  • 7:10 - 7:30


  • 7:30 - 8:15

    LECRAE Performance

    7:30 - 8:15

  • 8:15 - 8:30

    Closing Remarks


Reserve Your Spot for Free

– OR –

Cover The Cost of Your Experience

(Donations collected at the event.)


Growing up, Lecrae didn’t really know his father. While he was close with his mom and extended family, the grip of poverty took a toll. Lecrae endured some unfortunate decisions, and while grappling with his identity, he found his way through faith and reconciliation. Hear his amazing story and enjoy a LIVE performance while supporting the vision of First Things First – for every family to have healthy relationship skills to pass down from generation to generation.

Get excited for his performance with this curated playlist:

coming soon

Stories from First Things First Participants

Last week, an adult told my son they didn’t believe him.

In short, my son did something he shouldn’t have, and he called it “an accident.” It wasn’t a big deal, but he didn’t want to get in trouble. Instead of admitting he did it, he lied. The adult didn’t buy his story and wanted him to know they didn’t like being lied to.

A few hours later, my son told me all about what happened. He started the conversation by asking, “Mom, am I a bad kid?” And ended it with the statement, “I guess some people love me and some people never will.” (Insert shocked emoji here.)

How did this situation create an existential and relational crisis in my five-year-old?

As parents, we want our children to be honest and trustworthy. But it’s normal for kids to lie sometimes. Research by Kang Lee, a developmental psychologist at the University of Toronto, suggests that lying is developmentally appropriate and children will begin experimenting with it between the ages of two and three. Lying doesn’t mean they’re bad kids, but they need our help.

Let me give a simple example: If you bring home a puppy, you know accidents will happen. It’s normal. Trainers say the best way to teach a puppy is by taking them out frequently and giving them over-the-top praise when they go outside. If they have an accident inside, you shouldn’t shame or yell at them. Otherwise, they’ll probably keep having accidents, but they will do it secretly and hide from you.

Likewise, when teaching kids not to lie, we have to show them how to tell the truth and encourage them. Shaming or yelling will make them feel like they have to hide a lie from you. And the cycle continues. Thankfully, there are many good ways to guide kids positively.

Here are some tips:

  1. Build a strong bond through a secure attachment. A warm and supportive relationship makes kids feel safe to tell the truth. Research conducted by Bowlby and Ainsworth in attachment theory shows how a secure attachment provides a foundation of trust and emotional security, which encourages honesty and open communication between parent and child. This doesn’t mean they’ll never lie, but it does mean they’ll feel better about telling you the truth when asked.
  2. Talk about feelings and how to process them. Kids might lie to avoid feeling bad. Teach them how to handle emotions in healthy ways. Research by Gross and Thompson highlights the importance of emotion regulation skills in promoting honesty and moral development in children.
  3. Teach empathy. Research by Hoffman and Eisenberg demonstrates that fostering empathy helps children understand the impact of their actions on others, reducing the likelihood of deceptive behavior. Help your child understand how their lies affect others and model compassionate behavior in your interactions.
  4. Solve problems together. Involve your child in finding solutions to why they lie. By collaborating with your child to identify alternative ways to handle challenging situations, you empower them to make honest choices and take responsibility for their actions.
  5. Respond, don’t react. If your child lies, stay calm and ask why. Ask why they didn’t feel like they could tell the truth, and let them know it’s okay to tell the truth. Remember, children tend to internalize between the ages of three and seven, meaning the words you use could have a lasting impact on your relationship with them and the way they see themselves.
  6. Get help if needed. If lying continues, seek advice from a doctor or counselor. Professional support can offer additional insights and strategies tailored to your child’s specific needs.

Lying is part of growing up. But how we handle it matters most. Remember to be patient, caring, and curious as you help your child learn honesty.

6:00pm – 8:00pm

First Things First

1427 Williams St. Chattanooga TN 37408


You and your love are invited to an exclusive date night experience on February 10th, 2024 – the perfect Valentine’s Day celebration! Our new Heart to Heart Date Nights are designed to strengthen your relationship while also strengthening the mission of First Things First.

Proceeds from each ticket go directly to providing a low-income or at-risk couple access to relationship-strengthening resources from First Things First.


❤️ A four-course meal for 2

❤️ Live music by local Harpist

❤️ An intimate marriage experience led by speaker, author, and Psychologist Dr. David Banks

❤️ A personalized Valentine’s Day gift!

Space is limited to 20 couples. Doors will open at 5:30pm.



Proceeds from each ticket go directly to providing a low-income or at-risk couple access to relationship-strengthening resources from First Things First. By purchasing a ticket, you are giving more people access to the tools they need for their relationships to thrive.

A pillar of the Chattanooga community, Dr. David Banks is the President of Noble Success Strategic Group and a certified speaker, author, and professional coach specializing in relationship development, motivation and purpose discovery. He conducts training on topics such as personal growth and professional development on a national and international scale – from India to Australia to Pakistan. With a Doctorate in Psychology, Dr. Banks has authored two marriage books, two children’s books, and a leadership book. He and his wife, Sylvia, reside in Chattanooga, TN with their three children.

There is street parking on all of the roads surrounding our building, as well as paid lots at the corner of W. Main and Williams St. as well as W. 14th and Market St.

We are happy to do what we can to accommodate! Please list your food needs when filling out your ticket information, or email [email protected] if you would like to talk further about how we can accommodate.

Absolutely! Please share this event link with anyone you think would enjoy it so they can also purchase tickets.

Due to the nature of this event, there will be no refunds available. Feel free to gift tickets you are unable to use to a friend or family member who would enjoy the event. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

There’s a story about an older fish crossing currents with two younger fish. The older fish makes small talk by asking, “How’s the water today, fellas?” Almost in unison, the younger fish reply, “Fine,” as they continue on their way. Then one of the younger fish turns to the other and asks, “What the heck is water?” 

Of course, the moral of the story is that the younger fish have been so busy doing fish things that they’ve never noticed the most obvious element of their environment.

We’re reaching a saturation point in our environment where digital technology is standard and so deeply embedded that we barely even notice it, let alone question it. We’re busy doing our human things. 

A question like why there is a screen in the gas pump showing highlights from a late-night talk show hardly seems worth asking. Exploring how all of this technology affects us, our families, and society can seem like a quirky curiosity. Just enjoy it, right?

It’s become difficult to think of an aspect of everyday life that doesn’t run on ones and zeros zipping through a server in some far-off, climate-controlled room. As much as I could live without commercials while I’m pumping gas, I can’t imagine life without today’s remarkable technologies. 

I’ve become absolutely dependent on my smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, and laptop. And streaming music and movies. And my car navigating as its sensors help keep me safe. And Alexa turning on my lights. And Google answering my questions in a nanosecond. And artificial intelligence anticipating when I’ll be low on coffee. 

It goes on and on. You get the point. But we can’t just swim around in this stuff without asking sensible questions. Sure, I love what technology has given me, but what is it taking? Should I be concerned that the smartphone in my pocket is apparently not convenient enough? Wearable technology is expected to grow to 489.1 million devices globally this year.

There are legitimate concerns about the effects of screen time and social media, particularly for children and teens. About half of teens report feeling overwhelmed by the daily notifications they receive. Teenagers who spend five hours a day on electronic devices are 71% more likely to have suicide risk factors than those with one-hour use.

Smartphones, laptops, and Wi-Fi allow many of us to collaborate with our co-workers from home. That’s awesome. But research indicates that most infidelity occurs between co-workers and begins via text and email– avenues of communication that lend themselves to secrecy and allow intimacy to escalate quickly. That’s tragic.

The average American adult reportedly checks their phone 344 times a day. 35% admit to using or looking at their phone while driving, causing 26% of car accidents and killing 11 people per day. 

There are genuine catastrophes associated with our infatuation with technology. And there’s some plain puzzling stuff. 61% of Americans reported that they had recently texted someone in the same room. Over half say their smartphone is their most valued possession. According to multiple surveys, a third of Americans indicated they would rather give up sex than their smartphone. Um, what?

Does. Any. Of. This. Sound. Healthy? Can we talk about our culture’s relationship with technology and take an honest look at our own? Can we learn how to enjoy the benefits of technology for ourselves and our families while avoiding these hazards?

Over the next few weeks, this space will engage the question, “What the heck is water?” I hope to see you here.

I just turned 33 years old. I married my husband when I was 23, which means we’re approaching our 10-year anniversary. My husband was 30 when we married, which means he’s approaching the big 4-0 in just a few short months. (If you know him, please remind him of this. He loves it.)

I won’t bore you with all the details of how we met, but it started with a college research project I was working on. My goal was to write a journalistic research paper on why the average age of marriage was quickly on the rise. In 1990, the average age to marry was 20 for women and 23 for men. By 2010, the average age had risen to 29 for women and 30 for men. My project guidelines required me to find three unbiased interviewees. So, I asked a 29-year-old barista from Starbucks, whom I barely knew, if I could ask him a few questions about his views on romantic relationships and marriage. 

What I Learned About My Husband

During that interview my husband really admired marriage and saw it as a future goal. He had a history of mismatched relationships that consisted of rivaling ideals and misaligned commitments. However, he revered marriage and was consistently in pursuit of finding “the right person.” This surprised me. He drove a motorcycle, had tattoos, played guitar, and categorized himself as an artist. I made an unfair assumption that he was probably just “playing the field” or “having fun.” To my surprise, we were married 16 months later.

According to a Pew Research study released this June, America has reached the highest number of never-married individuals on record. Currently, 25% of 40-year-olds or older have never been married. This is a significant increase from 20% in 2010, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. With the rise in cohabitation, it’s tempting to assume the majority of these individuals are living with someone. However, only 22% reported they are currently cohabitating. 

While these findings alone may lead us to believe that marriage is dead in our country, there’s another side to the story. This 2023 study also revealed 63% of Americans believe it is important for couples to get married if they intend to spend the rest of their lives together. A similar study released by Pew in 2014 reported only 53% of Americans felt this way, revealing a marked increase in this viewpoint over the last decade. 

Here’s Why This Matters

While fewer people are getting married overall, it’s not because they don’t have the desire to do so or, like my husband, revere marriage itself as a major step in commitment. In general, individuals want to be more cautious with making commitments and “test their relationship” by living together or staying together for longer lengths of time before saying, “I do.” Not to mention the cultural trend to obtain a degree and build a career before considering marriage at all. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it does play a major role in establishing priorities for how we measure “success” and “fulfillment” in life.

This theory holds true across race, ethnicity, and socio-economic divides as well. A 2021 study published by the National Library of Medicine found that low-income individuals desired marriage for themselves and saw it as a standard for living a fulfilling life. However, a multitude of factors kept them from pursuing and committing to relationships, including money problems, substance abuse, and generational trauma.

Marriage Rate

While the marriage rate is certainly decreasing across our nation, I’d like to propose a different interpretation. It’s not because we don’t desire it; it’s because we’ve slowly shifted its priority. While the reasons why are myriad, and every situation and relationship has its own story to tell, marriage isn’t dead. 

(But it has become the houseplant in the corner we forget to care for. We know having the houseplant has many benefits for our overall health, including better air quality in our home and an overall mental health boost. But there are a million other things on our to-do lists that can keep us from prioritizing those sad, drooping leaves).

What can we do to help marriage become more of a priority again in our nation? Does it matter in the long run? In next week’s column, we’ll take a look at building a better understanding of commitment and the key elements of healthy relationships. We’ll also take a fresh look at the influence of generational cycles.


Karney. (2020). Socioeconomic Status and Intimate Relationships

First Things First is sharing tips on creating quiet time for the fam, celebrating Earth day, regrouping from bad days, & forgiving yourself!

First Things First is sharing tips on porn affecting relationships, managing your future finances, communicating better, & forgiving yourself!

First Things First is sharing tips on porn affecting marriage, managing the finances, communicating better, & forgiving yourself!

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