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Archive for April, 2014

Gifts to give your child

ImageAffirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.

Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…

Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.

Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, it  is important for your child to be active in helping to level it.

 

Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.

Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.

Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?

Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.

Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.

Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.

Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.

Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.

Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.

Hugs and Kisses. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.

Imagination. Life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.

Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.

Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.

Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.

Love. …it’s the greatest gift

Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.

Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, we frequently ask kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?

Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.

Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.

Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a good place to start.

Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.

Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.

Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.

Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.

Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.

Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.

Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.

Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.

Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.

A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local store.

But, I think that’s the point.

There is power in your words

ImageThere is power on the words you use on a daily basis. As you seek to live your best possible life, it is important to be aware of the power of words in your life – including those you speak, write and consume. Words can enhance your attitude, strengthen your mind, heal relationships, give wisdom in the midst of chaos, communicate ideas and speak peace into a situation. There are so many good possibilities for the words we use. Unfortunately, there are just as many negative possibilities. Words can create confusion, anger, hatred, and tear down in just a few moments what has taken years to build.  

 

Although you may not notice that your words do anything negative in the world around you, I challenge you to consider ways that you can do more good in the world through the power of your words. Consider these questions as you seek to do just that:

 

1. Do I often find myself wishing I could take back something  I’ve said or written?  

The blessing and curse of words is the same: They cannot be easily undone. That’s why it is critical to choose your words carefully. Whether it is the words you use to communicate with your children or handle a conflict in your work environment, once you say something, it’s said, and once you fire off that scathing email, it’s a permanent record. You can do damage or good in a matter of seconds. Make sure your words do the latter.

 

2. When I hear gossip, do I give in to the urge to encourage more conversation or do I change the flow of the conversation to something more positive?  

I know, I know. Some gossip is awfully tempting, but make a decision to steer clear of all of it. When you embrace all that is possible for your life, you become much less concerned with negative conversation. Simply put, when you mind your own business, there isn’t much time to get caught up in personal business of others. Be vigilant about any negative words you allow into your environment – whether through people or media.

 

3. Do I wait until I am angry or frustrated to give people my opinion about their behavior, or do I take time to calm down before speaking about an emotionally-charged topic?
Nine times out of ten, waiting to respond to a situation that has you emotionally charged will result in a much calmer and wiser response. Wait a set period of time (it could be ten minutes, 24 hours or more) before addressing someone about an issue if you think you may say something too harshly or that you may later regret. Your communication will be clearer and more effective when you have time to take the emotion out of your response and think about the words you want to use.

 

4. When I am feeling down about my circumstances, do I speak negatively about myself?
The power of your words not only affects others, but perhaps most significantly, they affect you. Become aware of what you say about yourself – whether speaking to yourself or others. Do you beat yourself up for making a mistake? Do you tell yourself or others that you aren’t smart enough, experienced enough, talented enough, attractive enough or good enough to succeed in your endeavors? Even if your self-esteem leads you to believe these things are true, tell yourself the opposite. “I have everything I need to accomplish my dream. I am a good person. I am getting better day by day. My circumstances, whether positive or negative, do not define who I am.” Use your words to enhance, enrich and empower your life rather than allowing them to tear you down.

5. Do I feel the need to always voice my opinion?
Some of the wisest people in the world speak the least. They are secure enough in who they are that they don’t feel the need to prove their worthiness by expressing their opinion and knowledge at every given opportunity. Instead, they listen without judgment. Through their listening, they learn and gain wisdom. Practice being quiet, even when you feel the urge to let everyone hear your opinion. Of course, there are times when expressing your opinion is critical. Learn to discern the difference between speaking out of insecurity or a need for attention, and speaking out of authenticity and mutual benefit.

Purpose to choose your words wisely!!

Take the focus off yourself.

ImageHave you ever noticed how great it feels to make a difference in someone else’s life? Often, making a difference for someone else can make a meaningful difference in your own life.

 

In many aspects of life, we can become so wrapped up in our own world that we insulate ourselves from the needs of others. Life is about more than us. It is about how we serve others through our gifts, talents, resources and experiences. It is through serving that you fulfill the purpose for which God created you.  If you continually focus on how everything and everyone in your life affects you, without consideration to the bigger scope of life, you will eventually find yourself empty, lonely, depressed or frustrated.

 

Reaching out to those in need helps us to feel that we can make a positive difference in the world. Volunteering and generous giving is one way to shift the focus from our own personal concerns to the needs of others. Helping those in need helps us to put our own lives into perspective. So if you haven’t planned something already, how about doing something to make someone else feel special today. Begin planning now, and you’ll have a more fulfilling life experience.

 

Contact your favorite charity directly, or contact a volunteer center in your area and they can let you know what charities are most in need of help, what type of help they need and the time commitment of each. Begin a new family tradition. Whether you are single, married with no children or have a family, traditions can give more meaning to the holidays.

 

Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Deliver gifts to someone who could use some encouragement and love
  • Give a donation to your favorite charity
  • Choose a child from your church and buy a special gift (or multiple gifts) for that child.
  • If you know someone at work or in your life who could use some financial assistance, do something special for them or give to them anonymously.
  • Create some brand new traditions of your own. Whatever you do, enjoy the privilege of giving. It is one of the greatest gifts we have. 

Identify one way you will positively impact the life of someone in need.

Then take steps to make that impact!

Do not shop till you drop!!

Image“Shop ’til you drop,” might be a clever slogan for advertisers, but it’s also a literal description of what happens when you shop in an attempt to feel happier. A study revealed something that any emotional spender can already tell you: Feeling down can make you go shopping … then shopping ends up leaving you sad again. It’s a vicious cycle and a bad habit. And bad habits lead to stuff you don’t want – like draining your savings, having credit card debt and chama loans equal to a year’s salary.

If you want to be truly happy, shopping is not the path to get you there. It isolates you, focuses you on the pursuit of what you don’t have, and tends to be self-focused – all of which are bad for happiness.

Unlike emotional eating, racking up debt is a secret endeavor. While your budget might get tight from excess debt, your clothes don’t get tight from excess pounds. Instead, you can hide your bad habit behind a façade of fabulous clothes, a nice car, and the latest cool gadget. It’s one bad habit that can win you the admiration of the people around you. “She must be doing so well,” people believe. “I mean, look at the nice house they live in,” they wrongly presume.

But deep down, you know the truth. You feel like a fraud, parading around in stuff you can’t afford, living in a house you don’t have the money to furnish, driving a car with maintenance bills too high for your income. The debt feels like a permanent weight perched on your shoulders. This week, I encourage you to evaluate your spending habits and ask yourself:

-Are my money habits making me happier or sadder?

-A year from now, will I be happy about the financial choices I’m making right now or regretful?

Money is a good thing, when you use it to boost happiness rather than sabotage it. If you’re prone to spend when you’re sad or stressed or frustrated, try this instead:

  • Let the emotions wash through.

Honor your negative emotions by feeling them. Rather than immediately trying to numb the pain, instead say, “I’m sad right now. Maybe I need to cry or journal or talk it out with a friend.” Stuffing your emotions is a temporary fix. They’ll soon bubble back up.

 

  • Find an alternative to shopping to help you decrease your stress.

       Go for a walk in the park, visit a friend or engage in a favorite (inexpensive!) hobby.

  • Have a financial vision.

Knowing where you’re headed is powerful. Write down your financial goals and keep them in front of you. When you have no goal, you can’t see how bad choices are keeping you from what you really want – financial security and freedom. When you feel tempted to spend emotionally, remind yourself of your vision.

Don’t let your emotions rule your finances.

CREATING A HOME OF WARMTH AND GRACE

Image We’ve all heard the familiar phrases ”If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy” and “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. Even though we throw those words around in a fun light-hearted way, there couldn’t be more truth hidden beneath them. We as moms hold an honored position of making or breaking any gloomy mood in our homes.
Maybe you have found yourself getting short-tempered with the kids, when you wished you could have held you tongue or shown more grace in the heat of the moment?
The degrees of joy, peace, and calmness in your home are a direct measure of your own physical, spiritual and mental well being.

Here are things a mom can do to herself to Create A Home of Warmth and Grace.

1. Getting Rest. You need time where no one is asking you to do anything at all. It is a sacred quiet time for you. Scheduled bedtimes for your kids and yourself gives you time to stay up beyond them and still get enough sleep. If you have babies and can’t control your sleep patterns, then give yourself grace and do the best you can. We have all been there and we’re cheering you on!
2. Time with God. Spending time talking to God in prayer and reading the Bible has a strong impact on you as a mom. Maybe you are in a busy season and taking devotional time is next to impossible. Do what you can, when you can. Staying in the presence of God gives you strength to be proactive rather than reactive when there is so much going on in your life.
3. Simplify Schedules. We need to limit outside activities, or at least try to have seasons of off time to keep stress levels lower. Learn to allow margin for rest, for fun, and just being together with the rest of the family. Do not be task oriented. When you spend direct one on one time with your kids, playing a game, looking them in the eye and giving them your attention, the level of tantrums in your kids comes down considerably and you all feel better.
4. Clutter Busting: Keeping a few most important areas of your home de-cluttered keeps you less stressed. Not perfect but picked up through the day. Also try training your kids to pick up after themselves. This is a hard area for us moms, but keep working on it, and as we do it, it seems to bring peace and a whole lot less anxiety for all.

5. Giving up Perfection – The only one perfect is God. Be reminded of this when you put high expectations on yourself. When we can let go of striving for perfect, we can rest in grace and let God work on our hearts. This softens us to be better moms.
6. Meal Planning – When you know what is for dinner first thing in the morning it makes the day go better. Just planning it out is a simple thing to do, but sometimes If you forget, you then end up in a panic wondering what to make or getting dinner made in time.
7. Having Mom Time Out: Time outs are crucial for you to re-group and feel human. I encourage you to take time outs through the day. Try to simply go to your bedroom for five minutes and breathe–time out does wonders for us as moms. If your kids take naps, then you have some time to soak in the silence. Doing anything here or there for yourself is so important in refueling and rejuvenating. A date with your girlfriends, reading a good book, any hobby or interest that is just for you is important to feed your soul and make you a calmer mother.
8. Playing Music: Play music every day in your home, it works like magic. Your kids might be fighting a lot or might need to cool down too. Music works so well to change the atmosphere of our homes or to keep it peaceful.
9. Give Grace for Limitations: We are women with hormone changes going on all the time. Hormones are a normal part of our ever-changing bodies, but it’s good to recognize them as a valid mood changer. Communicating with our kids and husbands when we don’t feel well, is a good idea. Recognizing any medical limitations gives everyone in our homes room to extend grace to each other.
10. Scripture Memory: Memorizing scriptures as a family, with your kids, and for yourself can make such a difference in your home. When situations come up you can turn to the scriptures you have learnt and get your kids to recite them back to you, or you recite them as a reminder when things are not going well.

There is nothing that works better in the heat of the moment than saying out loud “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”!