Tag Archive for priorities

Benefits of Family Celebration

Healthy families celebrate. They need to celebrate. Celebration creates even healthier families. How does celebration build a healthier family? “Let me count the ways.”

  1. Celebration fosters an abundant family life filled with joy. It’s just plain fun! And fun adds abundance and vitality to life.
  2. Celebration helps families balance their approach to one another and life. Celebrating families learn to not take themselves or one another too seriously. It frees them to experiment with new activities, to explore the world around them and learn about themselves and one another.
  3. Celebration enhances and restores intimacy in your family. Celebration helps us set aside disagreements for a time. It lets us have an experience of joy with the one who disagreed with us. Those who disagreed find themselves in harmony as they celebrate together. They discover a basis on which to restore the intimacy of their relationship, even though they might disagree. Plato reportedly said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in an hour of conversation.” I think it’s true for celebration as well as play.  Try it out and see if you agree.
  4. Celebration refreshes our perspective of other family members. While we will likely encounter frustrating interactions with family members, celebration teaches us that the same person can laugh. They have an inner playfulness. We learn a whole new side of the people with whom we celebrate. We learn that we celebrate similar things even though we might have disagreements in other areas. We can disagree and celebrate. We can disagree and live at peace. We can disagree and love.
  5. Celebration will energize your family. It culminates in a renewed vitality for life. When we celebrate accomplishments, relationships, or effort, we encourage continued effort. The celebration of effort and achievements revitalizes the desire to keep trying and do more. Why? We all enjoy being recognized and acknowledged.
  6. Celebration reveals and strengthens your family’s priorities and values. We celebrate those things we value. And, we engage in those things we celebrate most often. Celebration will increase behaviors that match your priorities.
  7. Celebration creates an upward spiral of positive experiences and joy for your family. It reinforces the priorities, encourages repeating the priorities, and increases the joy of celebrating those priorities. Celebration will help drive your family toward a future of more success and joy. Who wouldn’t want to do the right thing when you know it will be acknowledged and celebrated?

Yes, healthy families celebrate. Celebration creates an even healthier family. Why not start celebrating your family today?

With An Eye to the Future

One of my daughter’s dearest friends (and a close family friend as well) got married in September. They arranged a beautiful wedding and reception. There were two unique aspects of their wedding that revealed their hearts and the direction of their life together. First, they invited all of us to not only witness their marriage but to join with them in worship during the ceremony. We sang praise to the God of Love. It was a time to remember that the love they share is a gift from the Giver and Sustainer of Love.

 

Second, they shared in the Lord’s Supper with one another after exchanging their vows. In essence, their first act as a married couple was to share in the memory of the One who “gave Himself” for His Bride, to make her holy and blameless.

 

These two acts, worship and sharing the Lord’s Supper, not only represent a moment in their ceremony but, I pray, set the direction for their marriage as well. I hope they engaged in these two acts with an eye to the future. Marriage is beautiful, a wonderful glimpse of heaven. In those times when marriage is good, I hope they remember to worship the One who gives the gift of love. But, marriage can prove difficult at times. It is not always easy to “give ourselves” to our spouse, to sacrifice our own desires in order to bring our spouses into a closer relationship with us. I pray that during those times they will remember the Lord’s Supper and how He gave Himself for His Bride, sacrificing Himself to bring His Bride closer in relationship to Him. With these thoughts in mind, I offer this pray for you, Anthony and Alyssa, a blessing for your marriage.

 

May your way, when it is easy,

Be filled with humble praise;

But when it’s rocky or obstructed

Or trying or just plain tough

Let your strength be found in worship

Of the One who feeds your love;

The One who gave Himself to make 

His True Love’s charms shine forth.

 

May you, as well, give of your selves

And so release the seed of

Love to blossom in full sight 

So all her charms are known.

Then, turn again to worship

And offer humble praise

To Him who nurtures your true love

In times of joy and pain.     

 

Anthony and Alyssa, I pray you find the joy of your lifetime in one another and in the God you chose to worship and remember during your wedding ceremony, the God who gave you this wonderful gift of love.

“Kingdom Family”-Another Great Family Camp Weekend

Just came home from the 2017 family camp weekend at Camp Christian. If you weren’t there, you missed a great weekend of fun, fellowship, and learning of God’s will for our family lives. Ken and Laurie Muller honored us with practical teaching focused on becoming part of the “Kingdom Family.” Using Psalm 128:1 as the primary verse, they described our “one job:” to walk and obey. We also learned about the importance of balance in our lives as we had the chance to walk a “tightrope” that was simply drawn on the ground. Although walking the tightrope drawn on the ground proved nearly impossible, the balance in our lives and our families can be found through the three P’s of prayer to God, provision from God, and peace by God. We then had the opportunity to ride a “bicycle built for two” (really, we got the chance to ride a tandem bike) and learn how communication helps us keep our balance as a couple. We also learned how the three R’s (respect one another, respond to one another, and react to problems with love) help our family run like a well-trained team…with an honoring voice and attitude proving an important aspect of precision teamwork. We even had a visiting knight, William, who encouraged us to be strong in our faith by wearing the full armor of God.

You can see we learned a lot…and we had a lot of fun. I love to see families smiling, laughing, sharing, and worshipping together. And I observed of all four this weekend. As the weekend came to an end, Ken and Laurie gave us “carry out orders” to go. (How often do you get to leave camp with a Chinese takeout container?)  This “carry out order” is a great tool to help us “carry out the orders” of our King, making us stronger kingdom families! Like a said, if you didn’t get to be with us this weekend you missed a great weekend of fun, fellowship, and learning how to live as a “Kingdom Family.”

Jim and Terry, thanks for organizing another great weekend. Ken and Laurie, thank you for sharing God’s wisdom in such a practical and meaningful way this weekend. And, thanks to “Bald Greg and the Dirty Pirates” (the name given our worship leaders by one of “bald Greg’s” students) for leading us in wonderful times of worship. I’m already looking forward to next year.

The Most Important Questions Your Children Never Asked

Remember the age when your children started asking questions? I don’t mean when they asked one or two questions. I’m talking about the age in which they did nothing but ask questions every waking hour of every day. They asked about everything. They even asked questions about the questions! It was a constant barrage of never ending questions. Even in the midst of all those questions your children probably never asked the questions listed below…not out loud anyway. Sure, they wanted the answers to these questions, they even needed the answers, but they didn’t ask them out loud. They asked these questions through behaviors like hanging around your legs, getting under your feet, pushing limits, and even disobeying a request while looking you straight in the eye. What questions were they asking without using their words? The truly important questions like:

  1. Will you set clear and fair rules and limits? Will you enforce those limits consistently or can I make you give in? Your consistency answers another question I have…will you really keep me safe? Am I safe to explore the world under your watchful, loving eye?
  2. Do you delight in me? When I walk in the room, do your eyes light up with joy or do you look bothered and annoyed? Am I lovable and delightful in your eyes…or am I a nuisance?
  3. Do you realize I’m still a kid? I don’t have the knowledge or experience you have. Will you match your expectations match with my ability or will you expect me to do things I don’t have the ability or knowledge to do yet? Will you teach me and help me experience success so I can grow more confident?
  4. I hear you and see you. I’m listening to you and watching you very closely every day. I learn from everything you say and do. What will I learn from you?
  5. Can you hear me? Can you respect my ideas, even if they’re different than your ideas? Can I be my own person or am I trapped being the person you want me to be?
  6. Do you see me or just my grades? My character or just my sporting ability? My dreams or my achievements?
  7. Can we play together? I talk best when we’re having fun. So, can we have fun together?
  8. Will you accept me even when I make mistakes, clumsily spill a drink, act like a 5-year-old, or have a different opinion than you?
  9. Will you ever give up on me? Will I ever do something so bad that you just get rid of me?
  10. Do you really love me?

Our children need to know the answers to these questions even though they may never ask them out loud. It doesn’t really matter if they ask out loud because we answer these questions whether we know it or not. Our children discover the answers to these questions in how you look at them, how we talk to them, how we act toward them, and how we interact with them.  They hear the answers in our speech and see the answers in our deeds. The answers they receive will shape their identity, their confidence, their desire to learn, their character, their self-concept.  So, let me ask one final question: what answers do your children hear from you in response to these questions?

The Family Conundrum We All Face

The Journal of Consumer Research recently published a series of studies exploring the connection between leisure time, busyness, and status (Lack of Leisure: Is Busyness the New Status Symbol). The authors found busyness associated with a perception of high status in the United States. In other words, the busier a person’s life, the more important his he is in the eyes of his peers. In addition, using products and services that “showcase one’s busyness” (like online shopping and grocery deliver) made people appear more important, more in demand, and thus of higher status. So, if you want people to see you as important, keep busy.

The World Leisure Journal, on the other hand, published a study suggesting leisure time spent with family at home was a significant “predictor of happiness for families” (Pleasant Family Leisure at Home May Satisfy Families More Than Fun Together Elsewhere, Study Finds). Taken together, these two studies raise an interesting conundrum for many families. Success and status are associated with busyness; but family joy and intimacy is associated with leisure time spent as a family. And, if you haven’t noticed, our families are caught right in the middle of this dilemma. Children and teens live busy lives. They rush from one activity to another, participating in one program after another program so they can build a resume with enough “status” to impress any university of their choosing. They become so busy that parents rush through the drive-thru to order dinner on their way to the next activity. Parents are not immune from their own busyness either. They not only rush the children around; they also take on more assignments at work to increase their status and reputation in hopes of getting the promotion and the raise that will fund their family’s hectic lifestyle. Status for children pursued through involvement in multiple activities. Status for parents rests on busy children and is further pursued through busyness at work and community involvement. The whole family achieves the status of importance and “in demand” but forfeits family joy and intimacy. Family joy and intimacy requires leisure time spent together as a family. Family happiness grows slowly in the soil of leisure time spent talking, laughing, and sharing together.

These two studies really do present a conundrum for the average family. Finding the balance is not simple. I guess we have to ask ourselves a question: “What is more important to me and my family, status or family happiness?” Then choose your lifestyle accordingly…for “what does it profit a man if he gains reputation and status but loses his own family along the way.”

A Modest Proposal with Revolutionary Consequences

I’m not very political. In fact, I tend to avoid most political debates. That being said, who can miss the tumultuous political struggle going on right now? Our nation is in an uproar. Division seems to be at an all-time high. Our nation’s struggle intrudes into our daily life on the news, in the streets, and on our social media. Many of the voices are loud, angry, defensive, accusatory, and even offensive. Somehow we have to find a way to create change, a way to build the kind of nation we all desire. So, I’m going to dip my toe in the pond…and hopefully not stick my foot in my mouth. I have a suggestion, a modest proposal with revolutionary consequences. Under this proposal, every man, woman, and child can become actively engaged, on a daily basis, in creating the nation we all desire. We can all become agents of change, creating an environment in which our communities and our nation can thrive. My modest proposal: Elevate Family and Marriage! Every day do something to strengthen your family and your marriage…and encourage those around you to do the same. Empower one another to build healthy families.

I can hear the skeptics now. “What? That’s it? Where are the revolutionary consequences? How can elevating the family create a thriving nation? We need healthcare. We need a better economy. We need equal rights. We need more than just a happy home.” I told you it was a modest proposal. But, hear me out. Elevating the family does have revolutionary consequences.

  • Elevating the family and marriage will result in greater health. Happily married men and women live longer, healthier lives. They recover more quickly from illnesses and surgeries. They spend less time in hospitals than those who are unmarried or unhappily married. Married people exhibit the lowest rates of mental illness (California Healthy Marriage Coalition). Do you hear it? A consequence of greater health that will decrease health care costs. I know this won’t end the healthcare crisis, but it’s a start. Yet we spend more money on our wedding and honeymoon than we do on learning what it takes to have a healthy marriage. We need to elevate the family.
  • Elevating the family and marriage will result in healthier children, too. Children who live in healthy families are more likely to do well in school and graduate from high school and college. Children from divorced families receive mental health treatment about twice as often as those in healthy families. “The rate of virginity among teenagers at all ages is highly correlated with the presence or absence of married parents.” They are less likely to parent a child as a teen. Living with biological parents reduces the risk of child abuse, too. Children who live in an intact family also exhibit the lowest rate of drug use. They commit significantly fewer crimes. Once again, this won’t alleviate the problems, but it’s a tremendous start. But we invest more money in response to problems than we do in elevating the family that will help prevent the problem in the first place (California Healthy Marriage Coalition).
  • Elevating family and marriage reduces the number of people living in poverty. Economists estimate that individuals within a married couple each have a net worth about twice as great as never-married individuals and divorced individuals. “When it comes to building wealth or avoiding poverty, a stable marriage may be your most important asset” (The Case for Marriage).
  • Healthy families raise girls who become stronger women. Girls who grow up in a healthy, intact family achieve better in school, are less likely to experience teen pregnancy, and experience positive marriages themselves. A father who is present and active in the home broadens a daughter’s perceived career options, aka-helps create an environment in which women will “break the glass ceiling” (The Top 6 Reasons for Men to Help Around the House).
  • Strong families that promote healthy attachments produce more tolerant people. In fact, one study found that simply priming someone with the name of a person with whom they had a strong attachment led to more tolerant and generous behavior toward a long-standing enemy (Hot Sauce vs. the Power of Relationship).

I think you get the idea. Elevating healthy families and marriages can lead to greater health, more financial stability and less poverty, greater tolerance and acceptance of others, less teen pregnancy, less drug abuse, less abortion, stronger women…. It may not fix all the problems tomorrow. But, it is a great start. Any investment in family is ultimately an investment in our community and our nation. Elevate the family and marriage. It truly is a modest proposal with revolutionary consequences. An amazing aspect of this proposal: you can become engaged in the change right where you stand; and, you can become involved today! So, write your congressman. March in the protests. Vote your values. But, in the process don’t forget to LOVE your spouse. NURTURE your children. ENJOY your extended family. SUPPORT your neighbors’ family and marriage. ENCOURAGE those thinking of marriage to take a premarital class. Read a book to strengthen your own marriage and parenting skills. ELEVATE FAMILY!

The Top 12 Duties of a Mother

Mothers have one of the most influential and important jobs in the world…and one of the most difficult. Just consider some of the duties a mother carries out on a daily basis.

  • Party kids and their motherChef: A mother cooks 2-3 meals a day. Sometimes, their children will love the meals you prepare. Sometimes, they will hate them. Most of the time, they simply wolf down the food you prepare and run to their next activity. Occasionally you will receive the cherished “thank you.” Hearing those two words will make every meal you prepared worthwhile.
  • Housekeeper: As a mother you will have the opportunity to clean all kinds of messes—clothes left on the floor, cups left in the living room, spilled food, dirty diapers, vomit, the list goes on. But, one day your child may help clean the kitchen and…well, here’s for wishful thinking.
  • Resolve Conflicts: Children have conflict with friends, siblings, and even their parents. You will have the joy of helping your children learn the skills of listening, negotiation, compromise, and problem-solving, skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.
  • Event Planner: Mothers schedule. What else can I say? From play dates to doctor’s appointments to school events to after school activities to vacations to any number of other events, mothers schedule…a lot!
  • Teacher: Mothers teach their children everything…and I mean everything. When cooking they not only teach their children how to cook, but some basic math. They teach their children about relationships, problem resolution, and dating skills. Even more, they teach their children how to think! Mothers teach these things without even knowing they do it. Then there are all the things they teach on purpose…things like math, reading, how to clean, how to do laundry, how to keep house, etc.
  • Chauffeur: Mothers take their children to school, the doctor, and the dentist. They take their children to sporting activities, dance, gymnastics, and music lessons. They drive their children to play dates and to the store. And, they turn each drive into an opportunity to talk, grow closer, and learn. (See duty labeled “Teacher.”)
  • Laundry: Mothers do laundry. They get out the stains and keep the bright colors. Life needs a clean start!
  • Counselor: Children come to their mothers when they fail a test and when their heart is broken. Mothers comfort and advise. They kiss skinned knees and mend broken hearts. They heal broken spirits and teach children how to shape a joyous future.
  • Finance Manager: Mothers often help to manage the finances, teaching their children to do so as well. Balance the costs of groceries, school activities, and clothes as well as the utilities and other household expenses.
  • Health Care Provider: As previously noted, mother’s kiss skinned knees. They also check their children’s fevers, cook them chicken noodle soup, make them comfortable, and many other “doctoring” duties. In the long run, mothers probably do much more than your average physician and for a lot less pay!
  • Activities Director: When children are bored, mothers come up with ideas. They encourage their children to play. They teach their children nursery rhymes, games, and fun activities like cooking. In so doing, they teach their children how to manage their time in productive, effective ways
  • World Changer: Perhaps the most underrated task a mother fulfills is that of world-changer. Society is a mere 20 years from anarchy or continued civilization. It takes 20 years to raise a child, 20 years to “civilize them” or let them fall into anarchy, 20 years to raise children of character, integrity, and compassion or children of deceit, selfishness, and indifference. A mother plays a great role in this training. Mothers change the world with every child they raise.

Let’s all send out a big “thank you” to all our Moms, the real life impactors…the world changers of our society!

A Husband’s Manifesto

A married man needs to decide what kind of husband he will be. What character will he reveal in his marriage? How does he want to interact with his wife and family? What is his purpose as a husband? With this in mind, I designed a “Husband Manifesto.” Look it over. See if you agree with the actions on this manifesto…and, consider what you might add to it?  Then, if you want more on becoming a great husband, check out our e-book, For His Eyes Only: A Devotional Workbook and Prayer Guide for Husbands. One reader commented on For His Eyes Only by saying, “If you are looking for a devotional to read that is Biblically based, short for each day’s reading, yet at the same time enlightening and challenging, I HIGHLY encourage you to give this one a try!”

husbandManifesto

An Amazing Parenting Insight Learned in Three Parts

I love research with infants. I find research it amazing and so very informative…and funny at times. One of my favorite studies is unpublished and came in three parts. I heard a conference speaker describe it. Let me share it with you.


vater und tochter haben spaßPart 1.
An infant is seated in an appropriate chair at a table on which two toys rest. An adult enters the room and sits at the table across from the infant. He makes eye contact with the infant. He interacts and connects with the infant. After the relationship is established, the researcher picks up a toy and engages the infant in play with that toy. Then he puts the toy back in its spot and leaves. A second adult enters the room. He, too, makes eye contact with the infant. He engages the infant in an interaction. After the connection is established, he looks quizzically at the two toys and then at the infant. The infant turns to and reaches for the toy the first adult had play with. Together, the infant and second adult enjoy playing with that toy. Part one, in and of itself, is not surprising so far, but…

Part 2. Again, an infant is seated in an appropriate chair at a table on which two toys rest. An adult enters the room and sits at the table across from the infant. He does NOT make eye contact with the infant. He does NOT engage the infant in an interaction. He does NOT connect in any way with the infant. He simply picks up a toy and plays for a short time, returns the toy to its spot, and leaves. A second adult enters the room. He makes eye contact with the infant, engages the infant in an interaction, and enjoys a connection with the infant. He then looks quizzically at the two toys and the infant. The infant does not respond by pointing out a toy. The infant does not seem to know which toy to pick. Without a connection, the infant did not learn which toy was best. He did not learn which toy to pick and has nothing to share with the second adult. We learn best from those with whom we have a relationship, not strangers. But, there is another, even more intriguing twist ahead in…

Part 3 (my favorite part). Same scenario—an infant sits at a table that has two toys on it. An adult sits across the table, makes eye contact with the infant and engages the infant in an interaction. Once the connection is established, the adult picks up a toy and begins to play with it. But he looks bored with the toy. He does not enjoy the toy. It was a poor choice for him. He puts the toy back in its spot and leaves. A second adult comes in and established contact with the infant. Once the connection is established, he looks from toy to toy and then to the infant. The infant picks a toy for the adult…but NOT the one the first adult was bored with. He picks the other toy! The infant recognized the first adult’s boredom and corrected for his choice when helping the second adult.

 

Think about what this means for our parenting practices. Our children need us to interact with them and connect with them before they learn from us. They learn out of relationship. When we have a relationship with our children, they even learn from our mistakes and can correct for that mistake in the future. You might ask, “So what?” If I were only concerned with toys, I would ask the same thing. However, if this is true for toys it is likely true for behaviors like hard work and kindness as well. It is probably true for attitudes like politeness and generosity. It is likely needed to pass on values like love and compassion. Our children need us to connect with them and form relationships with them so they can learn the important behaviors, attitudes, and values of life. In other words, our relationship with our children will shape the tomorrow in which we grow old. What kind of tomorrow will your relationship with your children create?

Give It Away for Family Fun

This family fun night is such a positive experience you might choose to make it a way of life in your family. I know several families who enjoyed this activity so much they decided to Village-it takesmake it a regular part of their lives. And why not? It gave them a sense of accomplishment. It even enhanced each family member’s self-confidence and boosted their happiness. This family fun night also had a positive effect on everyone’s physical and emotional health. Over time, it improved the children’s social skills. Oh, and one more thing: it gave the whole family a greater sense of purpose and identity. Sound too good to be true? Well, you will have to try it to find out! Oh wait. I haven’t told you what this family fun night is… or how to have it. Sorry about that. Let me briefly explain this family fun night.

 

You can experience all these benefits and more by volunteering together as a family. Volunteering as a family creates a wonderful night of family joy.  It’s true. You can volunteer to work with your church, your community, or another organization. You will have fun and experience all the benefits above. Whether you volunteer through an organization like Habitat for Humanity, your local humane society, a local nursing home, or your church you will finish your time of volunteering feeling good. Your family will grow more intimate, empathetic, and appreciative as you work together to help other people. Once again, I have to offer a word of caution. When you give it away for family fun you may find you enjoy it so much that it becomes a regular part of your family life. But then again, that’s the goal—to have fun as a family on a regular basis. Now get out there and give it away for some family fun.

 

PS–If you are not sure where to volunteer or how to begin, take a jaunt to Volunteer Match for some great ideas.

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