New Year’s Resolutions for Families

It is believed the idea of New Year’s resolutions began in ancient Babylon.  At the beginning of a new year the Babylonians as well as the Romans, would make promises to their gods.   Knights of the Medieval period were known to take the ‘peacock vow’ which reaffirmed their commitment to chivalry.   During the celebration of their new year, the Jewish people reflected on their behavior and sought forgiveness for wrongdoing.  It has also been a part of the Christian tradition during the season of Lent.

According to the AMA, approximately 40- 50% of Americans participate in this tradition.  Regardless of the period or group involved, it appears the idea is self-improvement.  I’m sure many of you, as have I, made New Year’s resolutions.  It seems like a great idea, but unfortunately, they don’t seem to last very long.  However, any commitment, anytime toward self-improvement is beneficial if taken seriously.

Perhaps the best way to develop new behaviors is to concentrate on making the action a habit.  Habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns of humans become imprinted in neural pathways, but it is possible to change old and form new through repetition.  It has been suggested that a new habit can be formed after about 21 days of repetition.  The more difficult the action, the longer it may take to master.  The idea, However, is to repeat the action until it becomes automatic.

There are many different reasons and methods associated with the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.  Perhaps the most popular is associated with losing weight or overcoming negative habits.  I challenge you to use the month of January 2018 as an opportunity to make positive, long-lasting improvements in your family relations.   Things we all know are important but never seem to have the time to develop.

Every family is unique, and no size fits all. However, the following could be an option.

  1. Weekly family conference. – Predetermined time and place free of judgment and criticism where individuals may express personal opinions, concerns and suggestions relating to the family without the fear of reprisal.
  2. Consider something similar to the ‘Roberts Rule of Order’ as the standard for facilitating discussions and group decision-making.
  1. All have equal rights
  2. Full and free discussion of all matters introduced
  3. Only one person speaks at a time
  4. No interruptions
  5. Before a new topic is presented – current speaker must voluntarily yield the floor
  6. Remarks unrelated to the subject under discussion are out of order
  7. Attitudes not allowed
  8. A 100% vote required to adopt change
  9. A 100% vote of those present needed to open or close the meeting.

A 30-day investment in January can produce a much healthier and happier family for 2018.

Happy New Year!

The Normal Day

The  redundancey of daily tasks in our normal every day lives tend to lull us into a sense of complacency.    Lost in the demands of the moment and giving little thought to the possibility of change.  A few years ago I lost my husband of fifty-two years  and suddenly  what is written in the quote below became a glaring reality to me.  I went about my day doing familiar things,  then overnight my life fell apart.  No time to talk or adjust.  I just went to sleep and awoke in a different world.

During those first weeks I searched franticaly for something to anchor my life.   Gradually over the months that followed, I clawed my way through the maze and found solid footing.    I don’t know how many others might experience what I did.  I guess it would depend on a lot of variables, however, for those of you who might, I have included some material that struck a cord with me.

We all choose what we will entertain in our conscious mind.  The things we attach importance to while others are discarded with little thought.  Some of you who read this post may take it to heart making it a part of your daily life.  Others will toss it aside as not relating to them.  However, the chances are very high that one day in the future it will come back to haunt you when you like others before you scream silently into your pillow wishing for a chance to return to a normal day.

Quote taken from ‘Defeat & Despair’ blog.

“Wherever you are right now, stop and listen; look around you.  Whatever you see or hear — the voices of your loved ones, the bustle of your workplace, the quiet of your home after others have left, your well-tended garden and your beloved pets and handmade decorations — all the minutiae of your present surroundings will one day belong to a vanished past.  The magazines and books lying around now, if they survive at all, will soon seem passé, then eventually become quaint collector’s items.   The photographs on your walls will fade and appear dated, the hairstyles and clothes hinting of bygone eras.” ~ Unknown author

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”

— Mary Jean Irion

What does  your normal day look like?  How might you redeem the time and live it to the fullest?  Share your ideas with other bloggers.

Secrets of Christmas

It’s that time of year again when most people take a detour from the daily grind and celebrate the season.  Not everyone does so in the same way.  Some travel, others may go on a wild shopping spree, while many take part in religious activities.  Some see Christmas as a time when Santa Claus delivers presents to children around the world.  Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.  Jews celebrate Hanukkah (feast of dedication) commemorating the rededication of the second Jewish temple around 167 BCE.

There are many pagan (nature-worshiping) traditions associated with the season of Christmas.  These include the Christmas tree, carols, Christmas cards, and stockings, giving gifts even Christmas cookies.  The use of greenery, mistletoe, and Santa Claus are also pagan traditions.  Other celebrations taking place during this same time of year were the Roman festival of Saturnalia and the beginning of the winter solstice.

Considering the abundance of anti-Christian activities taking place in December, one might wonder why it was chosen as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Since there is nothing in scripture that gives the birth date of Christ, surely some other time would have been better suited.  Over the years as well as in our day, there are Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas for this reason.

I love the Christmas season.  It is a time when most people turn their thoughts to making others happy by showing their love and appreciation.  Regardless of who chose them, the decorations are beautiful.  Probably the most common decoration is the use of lights. Judaism, the religion of Christianity’s roots, celebrates this time with a festival of lights.  The lights remind me that Christ is the light of the world.  Red and green splash across store windows, street lights, doorways, inside and outside homes just about everywhere you look.  Just the sight is exciting.  The red reminds me that Jesus shed His blood for the sins of the world and the green speaks to everlasting life promised for those who follow Him.

It is unfortunate the idea of giving gifts has become so commercialized for it commemorates the greatest gift ever given – our Savior.  Honestly, the value in the gift is found in the attitude of the heart, not the monetary value.  This genuinely beautiful idea can be distorted due to jealousy, envy, selfishness, and greed.  As a result, many dread the Christmas season.  Instead of coming together in love and celebrating the reason for the season, many families are divided allowing the lusts of the flesh to dominate their attitudes.

Another tradition that has morphed into something disdainful to many is the idea of a generous individual who travels the world to bring the joy of the season to children everywhere.  He has been called a lot of things over the centuries, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, to mention a few.  In America today he is most commonly known as Santa Claus.

Different cultures and various countries over the centuries have ascribed their ideas as to how this Christmas visitor looked and behaved.  Today he is pictured as plump and jolly, wearing a red suit trimmed with white fur and black boots.   On his head, a red hat decorated in white and his beard long and white also. Down through the ages others have worn long robes and hats with the appearance of greenery growing on top.

This mystical creature has been a source of controversy over the years, especially in the religious realm. However, most have continued to acknowledge this Christmas tradition.  There is much about the story of Santa that can be used in a negative sense. However, I believe it can also be used to teach children about the heart of the season.  Love, generosity, unselfishness, and how attitude and behavior can affect the experiences you have in life.  Everything God made is good; it is the work of  Satan that defames and distorts.

My fondest memory of childhood is sitting on my father’s lap in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve.  Like all children, I wanted to stay up but was afraid if I did there would be nothing under the tree the next morning.  Everyone must respond to the dictates of their conscience in everything they embrace including Christmas.  However, it is sad to allow the manipulation of Satan to steal the joy, beauty and real reason for this season of celebration.

I know I need to study scripture but it just doesn’t make any sense to me.

“Through a diligent study of God’s Word, under the guidance of His Spirit, you’ll drop a strong anchor that will hold in the storms of life.  You will know your God.  And when you know your God, not only will you be strong, but you will do great exploits for Him.”        Daniel 11:32           ~ Kay Arthur

Many times believers give up on studying their Bible citing an inability to comprehend the message of scripture.  This can lead to the belief that something is wrong with them spiritually.  This is not at all true.  Studding  scripture is a lifelong process. It’s not possible for the human mind to comprehend the truths of scripture all at once.  It’s a process and must take place over a period of time – precept upon precept.

“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”  Isaiah 28:10 (KJV)

While acquired knowledge of the Bible is an ongoing process, there are various study methods that have been developed to improve and enhance comprehension.  Years ago I visited the campus of Precepts International in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While there I learned the Inductive Bible Study method. Using the tools of Inductive study,  opened up the Word of God and completely changed the way I view scripture.

Inductive study doesn’t tell you what the Bible means or what you should believe.  Instead, it teaches you a method of studying that can be applied to any portion of Scripture at any time for the rest of your life.  It’s not difficult and can keep you out of the swamp.

If you long to know God and the truths of His Word, you must do more than merely read the Bible or accept what someone else has said about it.  You must interact with God’s Word personally, absorbing its message and letting God engrave His truth on your heart and mind and life.  That is the very heart of inductive study: seeing the truth for yourself, discerning what it means, and applying that truth to your life.

For more information on the Inductive study method get Kay Arthur’s Book on how to study your Bible. Available on Amazon through the link below.

How to Study Your Bible

Nothing goes unseen!

You may not realize it but you are writing a book, a book about your life. Every thought, word, or deed is recorded good or bad.  Your book is being read as you write it.  By your children, spouse, neighbors, friends, and everyone you come in contact with.  What are you saying?  At the end of the day are those who crossed your path stronger?  Do they look forward to your uplifting smile, attitude of thankfulness or the warmth of your presence?

We are born and we die.  That fact alone is hardly significant, it is what happens between those two dates that will change the world. That’s right everyone’s story will change their world for better or worse.

It’s not possible to re-write yesterday.  What messages did you send to the people around you?  You may not have a tomorrow – who knows the length of a lifetime?  Over today only do you have control – write well for life only moves in one direction.

James 4:14

Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.

The Dash by Linda Ellis

A poem by Linda Ellis called ‘The Dash’ speaks volumes concerning the book we are all writing.  Follow above link to read copyrighted poem.

Know What You Believe and Why You Believe it!

What’s so important about studying Scripture?

The ability to skillfully use God’s Word is vital to making sound decisions. Decisions that not only affect you but those who look to you for guidance. God seeks to reveal Himself to his creation through the scriptures.  Both the Old and New Testaments were written by holy men instructed by the Holy Spirit.  It is amazing that a book thousands of years old has been and still is, relevant to all generations.  It contains  God’s plan of redemption and constant guidance to the redeemed.

Over the years, many have struggled with reconciling the teachings of the Old Testament with the new.     God never contradicts himself.  What was true in the Old Testament is still true in the New.   A good method for studying the scriptures is the “analogy of faith.” It is a Reformed Hermeneutical principle which states that, since all scriptures are harmoniously united with no essential contradictions, therefore, every proposed interpretation of any passage must be compared with what the other parts of the Bible teach.

“The New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old is revealed in the New”  St. Augustine

God has preserved his message down through thousands of years, many translations, languages, and peoples.  So why aren’t more people interested in studying this personal message from God?  For the same reason, Adam sinned in the garden.  The same reason Christ was crucified.  The same reason the Israelites rebelled against God.  Satan, the enemy of God, has been and still is fighting against God to usurp his power and authority.

It will never be easy to study God’s Word.  It will require commitment, dedication, and perseverance. However as a believer, you will never do anything in this life that is more important.  We are foreigners traveling through a hostile land.  The only reliable compass made available to us is God’s Word.  You can rest assured Satan will do any and everything in his power to keep you from this vital information.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine(teaching) is not mine, but his that sent me (God).  If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.   Genesis 2:16-17  

 

 

Women’s Ministry or Misery

I have been in women’s ministry for 20 plus years. During that time I have listened to numerous speakers, read many books and attended a wide variety of functions. I almost always came away with the feeling I had been cheated. The excitement would be high, well known speakers, great music and a healthy ticket price.  However, I  usually left disappointed.

I finally accepted the fact that I was the piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit.  Everyone else seemed content with the way things were so it must be me.  Then I ran across this quote on Facebook by Sarah Bessey.

“I’m here tonight because I want what the world cannot give me.  We are chocking on cutesy things and crafty bits, safe lady topics and if one more person says that modest is hottest with a straight face, I may throw up.  We are hungry for authenticity and vulnerability.  Not ‘churchified’ life hacks from lady magazines.  Some of us are drowning, suffocating, dying of thirst for want of the cold water of  real community.  We’re trying really hard, – after all we keep showing up to your lady events and we leave feeling just a bit empty.

We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travelers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus – not to the sale at the mall.” ~Sarah Bessey

Thank you, Sarah!  Perhaps I’m not crazy after all.

Visit Sarah at  Sarah Bessey

Are there others out there that feel the same?

Know What You Believe and Why You Believe it!

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