This year the month of March includes Easter. What does Easter mean to you? Does Jesus play the dominant role in your family's Easter plans? Yes, I agree, colored eggs and chocolate bunnies are fun to enjoy but don't miss the opportunity to fill your hearts and homes with the story of Jesus. It's that important. Because He went to Calvary's cross, and took our sins upon Himself, we are made right with God. That's a BIG deal! There is no greater gift in all the world than to choose Him as Savior and receive the promise of eternal life. So many blessings await those who say "Yes" to the Lord.
John 17:3-4 NIV "Now this is eternal life: tha they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." (Jesus)
February is a month to think about heart connections. There is no stronger "heart" bond than that of a parent and child. God intends us to cherish, to place great value on, family relationships in ways that relay love to others. Sometimes love is tender but at other times love must be tough enough to protect or push someone to a needed goal. Pray about your heart connections. It's okay to admit some are easier to come alongside than others. But all are uniquely special people. Ask the Lord to reveal those hidden places in your own heart that could use a bit more Jesus kind-of-love to come onboard and grow into a blessing to give away.
Galatians 6:9 NKJV And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Families can benefit from creating goals to reach for throughout the year. Like mile markers along our highways, goals achieved represent progress made and teach those we love how to live a disciplined life that reaps rewards. What goals will you set this year? Remember to make some short term ones as well as some long term goals, too. Variety allows for appreciating what's important to all family members and for celebrating successes more often.
Psalms 19:14 NIV -May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord...
Have you ever wondered where thankfulness come from? November is the perfect month for families to explore what it means to have a thankful spirit. Gather around the kitchen table. Discuss the importance of being thankful. What does it mean to give thanks? Why should we be thankful? How is it possible to be thankful when things go bad, too? Give some practical examples like turning on the faucet and being thankful for running water. Or, give thanks for having the ability to play soccer, read a book, or sing a song. We do our children a great disservice if we give all manner of material possessions but do not teach them the value of a thankful heart.
Psalm 105:1 Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.
Millions of Americans are severely lacking in financial basics, and this shortcoming played a major role in the housing bubble and the resulting economic collapse.[i]
Statistics verify that financial problems multiply stresses at home and result in added bouts of depression, domestic violence, neighborhood crime, and suicides. Don’t choose desperate behaviors because you feel trapped and vulnerable. Instead pray. Ask for help. The best way to keep health and finances in proper balance is to have a plan that will limit negative stressors and increase positive solutions.
Many experts say our problems will not go away any time soon.
- 1.Additional banks will close—and always on a Friday afternoon so panic doesn’t erupt and bank regulators have the weekend to close things down and offload the failing bank to a viable one. On Monday morning the doors open under a new name (Washington Mutual became Chase).
- 2.Unemployment will remain a problem for the indefinite future. 150,000 new jobs are needed every month just to keep up with population growth. And there’s a dire need to get over 14,800,000 people who’ve already lost jobs back to work!
- 3.Millions of manufacturing jobs will never return.
Too many smart people delayed correcting financial problems until a serious wakeup call (i.e. loss of a job, foreclosure, health crisis ... ) grabbed their attention. Money worries and uncertain economic times birth anxiety about what will happen tomorrow.
Prepare for the long haul. Take charge of your money and your health. You are smart enough to develop a good financial plan, have less headaches and lots more peace of mind. Paying no attention to what’s being spent becomes the pastime of fools.
 Bob Sullivan, “Why American Consumers Can't Add,” Red Tape Chronicles, 12-20-09
January 1st . . . again. A new year is much like opening a gift and finding twelve mysterious months tucked inside. Ours is to decide what to do with this gift of days. One way or another, months will pass and individual stories about 2012 will be written. A few tips: 1) Set down goals early in January. 2) Make room for the unexpected. 3) Keep a sense of humor in tough times. 4) Embrace a genuine confidence that God is never surprised at anything that happens to us. 5) Find time to pray, knowing this is the secret to having a life that maintains balance day-to-day 6) Live a life of integrity in the smallest of choices. 7) Work hard but take time to relax; time to promote inner peace and no-regrets. My hope is that our 2012 stories will be the kind that our children will one day want to tell their children.
2 Thessalonians 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fall colors and families have a whole lot in common. Our personalities make us "colorful" people; no two alike. Sometimes that fact rubs us the wrong way. But it doesn't have to. God's plan is for us to find ways to get along with one another in spite of our differences. That's the November challenge: for each one of us to do what it takes to either find ways to agree, or figure out how to give space to disagree, in ways that don't put others down. Nobody wants to feel unloved or foolish. That tears at self esteem. Remember, harmony pleases the Lord so much that he promises to bless those who make it a goal to keep the bond of unity intact. This is one great way to promote happiness in the home.
Psalms 133:1-3 NIV How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! ...like precious oil ...like dew ... there the LORD bestows His blessing.
Fall colors always draw me into the greatness of God and the mystery of life. Why does a leaf get prettier as it ages? Green gives way to amber, yellow, red, and golden browns. So many shades of pretty splash across the landscape. Just as grand a list of changes happen in families, too? A child who learns to read has added beauty to their days. A parent who kisses a skinned knee, or shows up to watch a soccer game or piano recital, grows more lovely to their son or daughter. A spouse who shares the ups and downs with a grace-filled spirit is more beautiful than the rarest ruby. Would you take time in October to see and talk about the changes taking place at home? When you do, think of the pretty leaves and capture the moments in your hearts. These days will soon be gone; and the cycle of change will carry you forward.
Psalm 136:26 NIV Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Fall is a great time to "fall" into something new. For the kids, it's a new grade level at school. They could even be a little anxious about being in middle school rather than grade school. A very natural way to feel going into the unknown. But success comes when we try; when we conquer the fears and give it our best. Most often we'll feel good about how we've grown a new skill and even new friendships. Challenge yourself to a "something new" this season. For me, it's been the launch of a new blog talk radio station called "The River" at www.blogtalkradio.com/krvr. The first program aired on Labor Day. What will your new thing be?
Isaiah 43:18-19 I will do something new; now it will spring forth (the Lord)
Curiosity got the best of me. A few years ago I decided to find out why people get into fights and quarrels and end up not liking each other or, worse yet, causing great emotional or physical harm. The best answer I found was in the Bible. That's right. James 4 reveals the root of heated arguments. It's because there are desires battling within us. We want something we don't have or cannot have what we want. The chapter goes on to say our motives are not right. They are set on satisfying self and do not take into consideration if what we want pleases God or helps others. This month is a hot one for most of us but our tempers do not have to flare up. We can choose to examine those motives and not insist on having our own way. Let's bless our families and avoid unnecessary arguments.
James 4:1-3 NIV What causes fights and quarrels among you? . . . you ask with wrong motives (selfish motives) that you may spend what you get on selfish pleasures.
Summer is a fun time full of vacations, swimming, bicycle rides, friends to enjoy, picnics, and so much more. Parents still need to work and children need both supervision and activities to fill the hours. Despite the summer days, life has to be kept in balance? Church sponsored vacation Bible schools and age-appropriate summer camps are highly recommended. Fun combined with faith sets lifetime values in place and develops Christian friendships. Community sponsored activities: sports, libraries, movies in the park are another wonderful way to fill those hours with fun.
Hebrews 3:13a NIV "Encourage one another daily. . ."
Someone once penned: Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have. How content are you? When is the last time you made a list of your blessings? We are a consumer nation; a people who often chase after more excitement, entertainment and stuff. And still, we aren't happier. Instead, those wants might pile on more money woes. This year's summer challenge is to embrace the practice of contentment. Can you find new ways to recycle something you already have? Or, make a batch of ice cream or cookies and invite friends in.
Philippians 4:12b NIV "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
We live in a noisy world. Some noises we create and some we don't. We can sing "Happy Birthday" or cheer for our favorite team. We can also honk horns, shout angry words and make others feel bad. Then there is the lawnmower, weedblower, television, and kitchen and bathroom fan. Noise is part of life's experience. Peace and quiet are harder to find. With that in mind, this month I'd like to challenge you to think about the kind of noises going on at your house. Are they positive noises that make people smile or do they come off sharp and annoying? The goal is to find out if your family is able to relax at home and feel home is a great place to be. If not, take some time to figure out what can change to turn angry or sad conversations into happier talk?
Psalm 89:1 NIV I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
An approprpiate word, spoken at just the right time, is like giving a bouquet of flowers to a thirsty soul. Look around you. It's April. Daffodils, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and all sorts of flowering trees are putting on a show. How do you feel when you look at them. For me, they make me feel good, uplifted, and like God is giving me a precious gift. Now think of all the words you could use this month. Liken them to giving away a handful of April flowers by speaking forth encouragement, compassion, love, and hope by carefuly choosing each word before it is allowed to leave your mouth.
Proverbs 15:4 NIV The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.
No matter how smart, educated, beautiful, eloquent, or generous a person is, without love as the underlying motive of the heart, our actions aren't worth much. In fact, the Bible tells us we'll be like a clanging cymbal; noise that hurts the ears. The first and best place love should show up is in the home. In this place, where life is lived out, it's the easiest to let childish behaviors win out and become a clanging cymbal. Love trumps all other actions and attitudes. Love felt adds heaps of happy to our homes. Instead of a cymbal, we'll be sounding more like a beautiful harp.
1 Cor 13:1-2 NKJV . . . but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. . . .I am nothing.
So many storms have blanketed the country this winter. But winter is still a great time to play outdoors; enjoy the fresh air; get some exercise. Don't let rain and snow stop you. Stay safe, however. Plan some sledding days. Rent some skis or snowshoes, put on rubber boots and splash in some mud puddles. Take a nature walk. Whatever you choose, enjoy this season with your family. God has given it to us, fashioned from His hand.
Psalm 19:1 NIV The heavens declare the gloryof God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Those of you reading this Building Block have reason to rejoice. God has given you and me a brand new year! Most of the days that lie before us in 2011 have yet to be written into the chapters of our lives. Let's challenge ourselves to "on purpose" shape a happy, amazing year. Yes, that's possible when we believe many things that make us happy or miserable are choices we make day-by-day, hour-by-hour. And when trials come, and come they will, we can purpose to have faith and courage to meet those difficult times, too. With God on our side, we can trust that all things will work for our good and His glory.
Happy New Year!
Romans 8:28 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him...
The last month of the year seems to be a time when many of us look for peace in greater measure. Where can that coveted gift be found? In Jesus. He is the reason Christmas is celebrated and the only One who can give to us true peace.
John 14:27 I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don't let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
Christmas is the perfect time to share Max Lucado's words, taken from his book, A Gentle Thunder, with you: If only you knew that I came to help and not condemn. If only you knew that tomorrow will be better than today. If only you knew the gift I have brought: eternal life. If only you knew I want you safely home. If only you knew. What wistful words to come from the lips of God. How kind that he would let us hear them. How crucial that we pause to hear them. If only we knew to trust. Trust that God is in our corner. Trust that God wants what is best...If only we could learn to trust him.
Football, basketball, hockey, karate, cheerleading, and so many more sporting activities fill a family's calendar this time of year and keeping those kids active is a good thing. a family to maintain a proper balance between the activities and a healthy home life. A few suggestions might help: First, limit the number of sporting activities per person. Second, plan meals in advance so eating healthy is not compromised. This might mean cooking more rice or taco meat on Saturday to freeze for quick midweek meals. Keep plenty of prewashed fruits and veggies on hand. Third, appreciate rest. Try to include at least two quiet evenings at home week. This will help keep energy levels, attitudes, and immune systems from becoming overwhelmed.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
The month of October is already reminding us that Halloween is on the way. In fact, it was announced that Portland, OR is considered one of the most haunted cities. I'm told there are underground tunnels that have earned this beautiful city the right to be labeled "haunted". As the fun unfolds at your house this October, will you consider those things that really do haunt your life? Are they bad choices from the past, a broken relationship, not speaking up when it really would have made a difference, not offering help when you had the resources to do so, not saying "yes" to a career opportunity? The haunt is for you to name. But the One who heals every haunt is Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
God's understanding is perfect and without limit. Ours is not. School is designed to develop understanding and mastery of multiple subjects. But don't forget the importance of life lessons along the way. As our lives cross paths with others, there are countless lessons the Lord would want us to grab hold of. They'll come in the form of good sportsmanship, mercy, work ethics, parenting with respect, healthy lifestyles, the blessing of prayer and so much more. This month will you focus on one or two areas where greater understanding can make life a whole lot better?
Psalm 147:5 NIV Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
The month of August and school shopping go hand-in-hand. This is a perfect opportunity to teach money management skills to your children. Some tips to get you started: Predetermine the amount of money that can be spent. Ask your student to make a list of the items needed. Next, allow him or her to set aside a portion of the money for the pair of jeans, the shoes, the T-shirts, etc. Look at the local ads and begin to shape a shopping adventure that honors their input. Don't forget thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to find bargains on barely-used clothing. And, don't bust the budget. The lesson needed is to learn to stay within the monetary constraints. Preparing children to handle money equips them for life.
Proverbs 22:6 NIV Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
I love the 4th of July! Not just for the fireworks, parades, music, watermelon, and barbecue picnics, but because this is a great country. Do your children appreciate the United States of America? Do they know who shaped this nation or why? They should. This month will you take time to tell your kids about some of our country's founding fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and so many more? Let's not ignore our roots or lose the courage to stand strong as Americans. Happy 234th birthday USA!
While ferrying between Lopez Island, Orcas Island, and Friday Harbor in the days leading up to Memorial Day, I was reminded of how much effort it takes to see new places and reconnect with old friends. It's impossible to drive from one island to the other but the ferry system transported us and our car just fine.
Who have you lost touch with over the years? Do you struggle to stay connected with someone or is there a close relationship that feels as separated as these islands are from one another? Life is short. Begin to bridge those far apart spaces. June is the perfect month to find a fresh way to establish contact with people you have not seen in a very long time. Plan a personal visit, Skype, make a phone call, send a photo, buy that ferry boat ticket, or agree to meet in a neutral location. Like us, you just might find friendly faces and fresh splashes of joy are waiting.
Psalm 4:7 NIV You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
Think of May, its sights and sounds. Flowers in bloom, blossoming trees, birds singing, baseball games, and a time for planting all come to mind. Compare these signs to our families. This month plant something new. Have a "spring-fresh" attitude. Plant a thankyou, leave a love note, innitiate a truce, or try a new adventure. Dig up those plants that no longer beautify the yard. For us, the Irish Bell Pine showed lots of brown needles. Last week we dug it up and replaced that bush with a lilac. In a similar way, choose to uproot what doesn't pretty up the family. Don't let anger, jealousy, or selfishness sour the soil. Dig them up. Choose to laugh, dance, lend a helping hand, and speak kindly.
Song of Songs 2:11-12 NIV See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
Why did people begin pulling pranks on April 1st? My curiosity led me to the first reference to April Fool's Day found in a 1539 Flemish poem. "It described a man who sent his servant on a series of wild goose chases on April 1," says Alex Boese, author and curator of Museum of Hoaxes. "Eventually, the servant caught on and complained that he'd been sent on a 'fools' errand today.'" The rest is history.
People get a giggle out of playing tricks on someone else. And even the Bible says laughter is good medicine. Who are we to argue? Fun and jokes are most amusing but remember they stop being funny when someone is cruelly poked fun at or suffers harm. Good jokes make people feel the playful intent bbehind them.
Proverbs 17:22 NKJV A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
Spring cleaning, whether in the yard or the house, is a welcome thing to do. But what if we decided to do some spring cleaning in our personal lives as well? Throwing out a bad habit makes us feel better about ourselves. It also increases our likeability factor with others. What if cursing was sent to the dumpster? What if the urge to buy a lottery ticket was sent packing? Take a few minutes to examine those troublesome habits that don't bring real joy and clean them out for good.
Proverbs 18:37-38 NIV I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise...
I've just returned from a few days with my 94 year-old auntie. Since my dad has already passed on, her stories about our family's history will be lost forever if I don't take time to sit and hear them. Over the last century her life's been full of experiences, and world events, from horse and buggy days, famines, survival, the Great Depression, WWII, the Dust bowl days, priceless childhood stories, and fun family memories. This is how I discover the character, and the characters, who've been a part of our family tree.
Your families are no different. Wiill you slow down and make it a point to spend time with those elders while there's time and memory left to allow the stories to come forth? What a great way to honor those who came before us and keep those interesting stories moving forward to bless the next generation.
Psalm 105:43 The Message: Remember this! He led his people out singing for joy...
Something old, something new...both are part of a new year. January is the perfect month to set out new goals and family plans. Envision the year ahead as a blank slate waiting to be written on. Some things we know will happen, like a high school or college graduation. Other things will catch us by surprise. What will the celebrations look like? Will a new pet be added to the family? If so, what responsibilities will that require? Will there be a career move? Talk. Dream together. Ask each family member to come up with one or two things they are looking forward to doing or having in 2010. Create a wall chart to track the progress of each idea.
Isaiah 43:19 NIV See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up...
This month is full of activities. Most people have an expectation of what Christmas should look llike, feel like, smell like. Often those expectations fall short; especially for families who have been fractured or suffered loss. Memories can bring tears instead of smiles. Let's challenge one another to be compassionate and cooperative during this time.
The season is not so much about the "stuff" but really all about the Christ child who came so long ago and will one day return. Children need to hear this story, believe Jesus is a faithful friend and Savior, and reach out to others in need. December is the perfect month to slow down long enough to be loving and demonstrate giving, no matter how busy we are.
Luke 2:11 NIV Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
When I heard my mother say, "Thank you," I learned the importance of being thankful. When a neighbor thanked my dad for the loan of his livestock trailer, I was able to learn what it meant to give and receive appreciation.
Children learn by example to both give thanks and receive thanks. It is important for them to be told "thank you" on a regular basis. This habit focuses on positive qualities and personal worth. Even on the occasion when chores are not done to perfection there can still be enough good to warrant a "thank you." Sometimes that's all the encouragement needed to bring a smile and prompt a reason to try harder next time.
November is the perfect month to focus on the uplifting attribute of a thankful heart.
Philippians 1:3 NIV I thank my God every time I remember you.
Most of us can relate to a child's curiosity about all kinds of things. While at the beach a few weeks ago our five-year-old granddaughter was busily digging in the sand, ever deeper and deeper. "Gracie," I asked, "Why are you digging such a deep hole?" Her reply still makes me smile. "I'm digging to China. How long does it take to dig to China?"
Do we really understand how literally our children grab onto our words? I don't think so until we come alongside their natural curiosity to act them out. I then had to tell her how far away China was and when I visited China two years ago, I took an airplane ride way across the great big ocean.
Will you make it a point to embrace your child's curiosity this month? Part of learning is exploring the world around us. There is no better way to see life than through the eyes of a child. Smile together. And remember responding with a put down will cause their open curiosity to become suppressed.
Jude verse 2 NIV: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Boys and girls can use a little help getting back on a school friendly schedule. Six things a parent might do to help children adjust:
1) Express excitement about learning; be a learner yourself because boys and girls easiily pick up on parental attitudes.
2) Have a consistant bedtime that allows for 8-10 hours of rest
3) Strategize a morning wake up system (alarm clock; knock on the door; tickle on the arm) a child can depend on that includes time to eat a healthy breakfast.
4) Decide what to wear the night before to keep early morning decisions to a minimum.
5) Create a safe after school plan complete with emergency numbers.
6) Keep enough time free during the week to honor the completion of homework assignments; a key ingredient to success in the classroom.
Proverbs 4:13 NIV Hold onto instsruction, do not let it go...
End summer on a playful note. Play is a great way to gather feelings of well-being. Both children and adults benefit from playing outside. The fresh air dissolves tension and boosts our metabolism. Be inclusive. Get on those bicycles, hike around the lake, have a fishing derby, or find a favorite swimming hole. The choices are endless. The memories are priceless. Don't forget the camera!
Psalms 133:1, 3b NIV How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! For there the Lord bestows his blessing...
July is a special month for the United States of America. July 4, 1776 is our national birthday. What a great month to do some family bonding and have a lot of fun, too. Ask family members to participate in a scavanger hunt to uncover facts about America. Questions might include: What is so important about the Liberty Bell? What is the nickname of the USS Constitution that rests in Boston harbor? Who was Paul Revere? Who created the first American Flag?
Can we also remember to pray for America this month? The freedom we have is worthy of prayer.
Psalm 141:2 NLT Accept my prayer as incense offered to you...
Children of all ages are ready for the freedom of summer. What will fill their days? The answer might depend on what's available in your neighborhood and the cost involved. This is where grandparents, aunts, and uncles can add value. Instead of wrapped up birthday gifts why not give a couple weeks of swim lessons, a week at church camp, or several days of zoo or science camp? Or plan a craft day once a week. I would have loved the adventure and I think your boys and girls will too.
Proverbs 8:30-31 NIV Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.
As parents, it's easy to become frustrated with a child's apparent inability to understand what we are saying or asking him to do. There could be a lack of attention to detail, an absence of interest, or a distraction taking place across the room. What is a parent to do? Can we get a little more creative than doling out one more timeout? Why not tell a few stories?
While reading a Bible passage this week, I was reminded that even Jesus found it necessary to explain things more than once to make sure his disciples really grasped what was being said. Matthew 13 is a chapter where Jesus tells five short parables. All five stories are different, but they drive home a single point. Jesus used stories because he knew people enjoy stories. They communicate well. Then, just to make sure he didn't waste his breath, Jesus asked for verbal verification. In Matthew 13:51 he said: "Have you understood all these things?" "Yes," they replied.
If you are not able to create stories, there are plenty to be found to illustrate your point. Keep them short. Remember to use more than one. Then verify if what's been said has been understood
Who doesn't like an Oreo cookie? The chocolate wafers and ooey-gooey frosting center are so much fun to eat. It's hard to stop at just one or two. This month I'm suggesting you think of problem solving within the family from an Oreo cookie example. In fact, buy a package of Oreos and place them on a plate as a visual aid.
The two chocolate wafers represent affirmation; added value. The ooey-gooey in the middle is the issue needing to be resolved. With the wafer of "I like you" and the wafer of "You are special to me," on both sides of the ooey-gooey, the stuff needing attention (a fight at school, talking back, not getting homework done, etc.) are not heard as a personal afront. Individual feelings of worth are better able to remain intact. This is one way to show by example what it means to confront a serious problem in a loving way. Then eat the cookies!
Proverbs 3:17 NIV Her ways [wisdom] are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace.
This month begins on Super Bowl Sunday. Millions of people huddle around TV sets all across America cheering for their favorite team to win. There will be touchdowns and fumbles. For sure each player gives his best effort. Each side wants to win but only one team, Steelers or Cardinals, will become the 2009 Super Bowl Champions. Still, no matter what, good sportsmanship prevails. The team going home with a loss is still second best in the league. That's a far cry from being a loser.
What could happen at your house if the game of family was played with Super Bowl passion? Your family is also a team. Win or lose, success depends on how the game is played. Are you passing the ball well? This month's challenge is to put forth a team effort. Get passionate enough to score a touchdown. That could mean helping with household chores or not overspending. Guard against those fumbles (critical words, anger, name calling, not keeping your word). And always be gracious to those who don't feel like winners. They might just surprise you one day.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
We all pursue happiness. But happy is an elusive word; we can't quite hang onto it's promise because happy or unhappy is a state of mind. Circumstances tend to control our personal happy meters. Happy families are those who understand choosing to be happy in the new year is really a decision and not a feeling. Feelings can be fickle.
As a coach, I suggest planning ahead to stay happy. Strategize how you will react to the loss of a job or a teen who breaks curfew before either event really happens; kind of like a dress rehearsal. As a parenting team be on the same page. Be consistent with discipline and grace in the home. Children do best when mom and dad guard similiar values.
The loss of a job is tough but it is also a good opportunity to look at a new career path. Change isn't easy, and disrepect isn't appropriate behavior, but it is possible to choose to be happy in the midst of life's challenges. This is an important truth for children to learn at a young age.
Psalms 112: 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and the righteous man.
Gift giving, and the hustle that accompanies the task, tops personal priority lists around the world this month. But is the stuff Christmas has come to represent really the reason we celebrate? Of course it isn't. Only because of Jesus birth is Christmas even on the calendar. We honor Him on December 25th. This year why not give the same gifts Jesus passed out? He was the true gift giver of mercy, grace, patience, and love without strings attached. Jesus didn't slander others; even those who had done him wrong. He forgave. Challenge yourself to pass out at least one true gift this Christmas season.
Luke 1:31-32 NIV You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
Children know a whole lot about promises. Promises are meant to be kept; a cross-your-heart kind of trust not to be broken. Yet many kids learn young that Mommy or Daddy might say one thing and not keep their word. A trip to the zoo didn't materialize; a stated intent to attend a school function was missed. These hurts will long be remembered. Too many accumulated disappointments begin to harden a child's heart. Their reality is one of broken promises.
Boys and girls learn to keep their word from adults who set first set a good example. Apologize if you've not kept a promise. Recognize how important it is to always say what you will do and follow through. I promise trust will grow between you and your child.
Hebrews 11:11b NIV ...he considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Falling leaves are a great way to remember to put self aside and participate to the best of your ability in family life. At times this might mean an inconvenience, a sacrifice of time or money, or missing a favorite NFL game on TV, but falling into family should top the list of priorities. Value the opportunity to see each child in action. They grow up so fast.
And, if you are in a stepfamily, learn to be cooperative with the ex for the sake of your shared chidren. A little consideration goes a long way. Inform the other biological parent of upcoming school programs—ball games, concerts, and parent-teacher meetings. This gesture allows boys and girls to feel okay loving both mom and dad.
Titus 2:2 NIV ...be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men [people].
Parenting is both a great privilege and an enormous challenge. Why? Because parents love their children with all their heart and kids can push buttons you didn't know you had, when you least expect it. In those moments, hurtful words can fly. How can you rise above and employ grace in parenting? A few lines taken from a poem writen by Michael J. Easley, and reprinted in Raising Children in Blended Families, reminds parents to keep a proper perspective.
May I not erxasperate them.
May I not ignore them.
May I not wirhdraw from them.
May I not be worn down by them.
May I not retreat ferom the battle for their hearts.
May I not be on them too hard or too long.
May I not ridicule or mock their forming hearts.
May I not dismiss or break their hopes.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them..." Matthew 19:14 NIV
School shopping is a great opportunity to sharpen your kid's math and money management skills. First, determine the amount of money available for this year's school wardrobe. Get cash. Divide the dollars among the children. Younger ones might not need as much as teens. Ask your sons and daughters to make a list. Look over the department store ads to compare prices.
Only three rules: 1) Less can be spent; but not more. If a teen decides to spend most of her money on a designer pair of jeans, or his money on rad sport shoes, that means old clothes or thrift shops might have to provide the rest of their wardrobe this season. 2) Parents will not kick in extra money. 3) Parents can and should veto an inappropropriate purchase.
Titus 2:7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; NKJ
In this hurry up culture, a whole bunch of us don't know how to slow down long enough to enjoy a lazy day, or two or three. Give stress a holiday. Take a deep breath and carve out some downtime. Summer is the peak season to hang with family, friends, or in solitude. Read a good book. Play. Pray. Give rest to your inner self. Get it done while the weather cooperates and outdoor activities are easy to find. Being lazy for a short time is an excellent way to bring a happier you back to your family.
The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14 NIV
Every one searches for love. June is an opportune time to take note of the vows a bride and groom pledge to one another—vows of undying love: For better or worse, in sickness and health, to honor and cherish.
The June challenge is to vow an unfailing love to your family. Problems come and go, people will not always do what we think they should, but love should endure forever. Love sets confidence in place and gives wings to accomplishing better choices.
Proverbs 19:22 NIV What a man [man, woman, child] desires is unfailing love...
Don't always believe the rhymes you hear: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me, is simply a bold faced lie. The truth is that words often do more damage to a person's self image than physical blows. Neither are good for building up family. Choose to speak "life-giving" phrases like: You make me smile; you're the best; you're as pretty as a rainbow, as smart as a tack, the apple of my eye, the center of my world; you are a gift from God and the whip cream in my cup. See what happens as those you call family embrace such delightful words of "life."
Ephesians 4:29 NKJV Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Cherry blossoms line tender branches. Soft magnolias shout, "Look at me! I'm back." Tulips in red, pink, yellow, white and orange can't help but be noticed among the rocks in the garden. There is something magical about spring. Perhaps it's so noticeable because it possesses such a big contrast to the winter I've just experienced. April is definitely a wake up call in the Pacific Northwest.
Did you know your family can find important lessons from what's happening in spring? All the pretty flowers need good soil, sunshine, and gentle showers to reach their best potential. Families do too. Spring is a great time for families to bloom with new kinds of beauty. Try setting aside one afternoon a week to discover some new blossoms to appreciate. Remember the unique colors are put among you to make life interesting and adventurous.
Isaiah 35:1 The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom.
It's so important for families to talk about money. Money is the number one reason people argue. Most families no longer live within their means. Overspending on credit cards, big mortgages, and auto debt has brought financial stress to the kitchen table. Instead of getting mad the next time a family member asks for cash, take time to talk about why there is a need to cut back household spending. Children are able to understand. Together you can brainstorm ideas to stretch dollars and reduce expenses.
Philippians 2:14 Do everything withoutcomplaining or arguing.
Take time to really see your children. They are God's handiwork given to you. What does your son or daughter enjoy doing? Each child is born a designer original. As a parent it is your responsibility to develop their uniqueness. If music is her bent, find a way to get lessons or enjoy a concert. If sports or microscopes are his thing, get him on a team; visit a science museum. There are lots of ways to encourage your children. Begin by observing. Ask them to tell you about their likes and dislikes.
Know what breaks your child's heart. Is it seeing a parent argue, yell, abuse alcohol or drugs? A child's heart is a tender thing and easily bruised. Be a parent who parents with fair discipline and good modeling.
Isaiah 28:23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will...stand in awe of the God of Israel.
Printed April 2007 - Single Parent Family Magazine-Focus on the Family
Whatever your divorce situation, it’s up to you to shield your children, represent their best interests and create stability for them.
If you’re currently going through or have gone through a divorce, you have the responsibility of ensuring that your child’s needs are fully met in spite of the turmoil between you and your ex-spouse. Parents are called to become advocates during a divorce, but the legal forum can be intimidating and emotionally overwhelming. It’s important to navigate through the process well because the quality of your child’s life is affected by your decisions and actions.
Are you sensitive to your child’s needs? Can you speak up on her behalf? Are you afraid of a former spouse? Do you trust your attorney? All these concerns need to be resolved if you are going to effectively advocate for your child.
One stroke after midnight and 2007 resigns itself to pages in history. "Happy New Year!" is spoken all over the globe. We love to celebrate "happy" for the sake of being happy. But what will it take to keep "happy" in our hearts this year? Remember a resolution without action to back it up is merely a passing thought that becomes a broken promise. What if we asked someone to gently hold us accountable to our new resolution? Would there be more "happy" for our families, less shouting, prayers at mealtime, bedtime stories, a spending plan, a neighbor helped, or a vacation on the calendar?
We can't predict if our troops will come home from Iraq or who the next president will be, but we can know the author of our days, Jesus Christ. In our "New Year," He is still the Good Shepherd and the Bread of Life.
John 6:35 ..."I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
In the frenzy of days leading up to Christmas, we can feel overwhelmed to the point of stress with gift buying. All is calm, as the song suggests, isn't what's happening at our house. The rush to get good gifts for everyone on our list becomes the bullseye we focus on. Take time to be still.
Sometimes the best gifts are those we are able to give year round, priceless gifts that don't always cost money, like the gift of a smile; a helping hand; a listening ear; a visit to someone in a nursing home or a gift to the poor. When we give these gifts away we are passing along an even greater gift to our children. Our giving sets an example of giving into their young lives. They learn it's fun to brighten up someone else's day. Our living example reflects the essence of Christmas.
After the birth of Jesus, wise men traveled great distances to present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child. Their example still speaks loudly to our generation.
In every community there are ways for us to share with others. Find a giving tree with names hanging on its branches. Involve the children in buying a gift for a child in need. Adopt a family this month. Above all, appreciate the good and perfect gifts God has already given to each of us. Thank Him for those gifts that are eternal because they keep on giving.
James 1:17 NIV Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights...
November 1, 2007
November officially kicks off this year's holiday season. Along with the hoopla, it is also the beginning of a season where domestic abuse escalates. What a contrast between joy and pain. Wouldn't it be good to be ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas with the message that all of us can choose not to let unmet expectations with family and friends get the best of us? If this is a tough time of the year for you, if holidays usher in troubled, unhappy memories, or they bring flashbacks of past failure, remember these special days are not about you. Kick yesterday's pain out. You have the power. The calendar holds these dates for no other reason than to praise God for his goodness. Take the focus off yourself. Look for ways to give thanks and heap blessings on others; even strangers. Watch your joy grow.
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
October 2, 2007
Dramatic changes are taking place all over my neighborhood right now. I imagine a lot of you know what I mean. What was green only a week ago has morphed into a stunning palette of red, amber, gold, yellow and every shade possible for a leaf to turn after the nights have cooled. October is nature's exclamation point. Visible change is announcing itself to the world.
This month let these transformed leaves represent God's desire for us to change—to let go of what is hindering and to lay hold of our untapped potential—to turn a new leaf with one ungodly stinky behavior (bitterness, jealousy, stealing, lying, ...whatever) and let the beauty of godliness come forth for others to see (love, forgiveness, honesty, laughter,...).
2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same any more. A new life has begun!
September 1, 2007
Labor Day weekend always ushers in a fresh focus for me. Summer fun gives way to September's activities. For many families this means school is back in session, sporting events are once again in motion for our boys and girls, and the pace of life takes on an exciting freshness. This month's goal is to bless our families with a realistic schedule and not a calendar that resembles a runaway train that is hard to keep up with. Parents, you set the tone. Apply a fresh focus to co-parenting the children in and between their homes. Consider comparing calendars with your ex before the school year begins, keeping fairness in mind, so no surprise activities cause a big problem later.
May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion. Psalm 134:2
August 3, 2007
August is a great time to get in that last bit of summer travel before school starts. The goal is to make travel a fun time. You don't have to go far away. Some of my best travels have been a day trip to the mountains, a ride to play at the ocean, or exploring a trail within our community. Pack up a picnic lunch, take a frisbee, bring along the camera, and capture the moments with your family. The days pass quickly. Make beautiful memories.
Colossians 4:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Gary Chapman Interviews Maxine...
Dr. Gary Chapman's (he's the well-known author of the popular Five Love Languages, and host of the Moody Broadcast's radio show, The Gary Chapman Program) interview with Maxine Marsolini aired this past Saturday, December 1, 2007. This exciting, just-in-time for the holidays broadcast can be heard online (the program is divided into 4 segments) by following the website link below and opening the Podcast segment links available under the Downloads section on that page for the December 1, 2007 Broadcast: Blended Holidays.
TV Series with Better Life TV
Well equiped parents are able to nurture positive attitudes and confront tough subjects on the home front. These TV programs will encourage every family. Access them on the internet by going to www.betterlifetv.tv.
July 3, 2007
July is a month when allegiance is honored. Allegiance means a deep-seated commitment, a loyalty, to someone or something. We pledge allegiance to our flag, hold celebrations to esteem the birthday of our country, and fight for our freedom with all our might. This month I would like to challenge you to pledge that same kind of allegiance to your family. Write a family pledge of allegiance. Make this an activity the whole family can share in. Here's a sample: "I pledge allegiance to the Marsolini family, one family who lives forgiven in full acceptance of God's amazing grace, indivisible, bound by love, with liberty and justice fairly given to all. "
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 NIV
June 20, 2007
Welcome to the day after yesterday! That's right. Today is a new gift yet to be opened, a new dollar yet to be spent, a new smile yet to be given. This day is full of fresh promise. Yesterday is gone. What's done is done. But today is a brand new page of paper yet to be written. Will you cherish today as if it were the only day? What would you do different if you did? Would you awaken with a happy heart, choose your words more carefully, or change the places where you'd spend your time?
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24NIV
Celebration is a good thing. It's not intended just for birthdays, but to also lighten life's load. There are many ways to celebrate. Celebrate being together, celebrate your children, your spouse, your parents and grandparents, springtime and summer, fall and winter. Celebrate because it's Thursday!
Celebrate with words, give a hug, throw a party, write a card, make a phone call or send an e-mail. Whatever the method, take time today to celebrate someone in your circle of family and friends. Affirmation benefits both the giver and the one who receives.
...let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show t by our actions (1John 3:18 TLB)
May 13, 2007
To honor is to pronounce gladness and goodness upon yourself and others.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Honor what God has so carefully knit together. That's you, your children, your stepchildren, your spouse, your ex, the list goes on! People are God's handiwork knit together by the King of Kings as Designer originals. What a thought! That just makes me want to appreciate me, and my family, a whole lot more. There is no space for disrespect when we choose to bestow honor. If God calls every person He's ever knit together wonderful, shouldn't we do our best to attach that same value to ourselves and others? Try it and see what happens.
April 23, 2007
Harmony happens when each person in the family chooses to do their part in order to get along with one another. Harmony is not often accomplished by accident. Blocks of harmony are formed from purposeful actions and words. In other words, we are doing our best to find ways to get along with people. Are you willing to deliberately put aside trying to get your own way for the sake of family agreement? If so, you are a harmony builder.
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8 NIV)
April 16, 2007
Acceptance comes naturally for some and is not so easy for others. The problem is we all long to be accepted and rightfully should be. Our differences don’t make us right or wrong. Our DNA doesn’t make one better than the other. Every one of us is a Designer Original with personality differences, different abilities, and awesome potential. How strange the world would be if God made all of us from only three molds: a 5 foot 7 inch persistent gardener, a six foot six inch courageous athlete, or five foot two inch cool as a cucumber bookworm? Variety amongst us is God’s idea. Acceptance is a foundational building block for every family.
Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. (Romans 14:13 NIV)
April 11, 2007
When a family has experienced brokenness, or loss, the thought of being thankful might seem crazy. But being thankful is essential for healing from yesterday’s hurts and for living well today. We cannot be down-in-the-dumps grumbling and be thankful at the same time. These are opposite mindsets. Thankfulness is a heart attitude that takes shape despite our circumstances. In gratitude, our focus is placed on who and what is happening today. We are no longer driven by yesterday’s dreams. They are now sweet, or not so sweet, memories. Being thankful for all we have is a very important building block.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
Author and speaker, Maxine Marsolini, knows from twenty-two years experience that blended families aren't always easy to live in. She also knows that with the right tools, which can be found in her books—Blended Families and the Blended Families Workbook—blended families can create harmony in the new home.
|Do you want a happy ending? The outcome depends on the choices you make today.|
Midday Connection Interview
January 2007 - Blended families face the daunting task of building new lives together while sorting through a rapid river of struggles. Maxine Marsolini joined us to help steer parents through the rocky waters of stepparenting. Listen to interview (7.6MB, 54 minutes)