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This year the folk musician Bob Dylan won a Nobel Peace Prize for his lyrical work. His musical career which started in the 1960s has continued into present day and the songs he wrote back then have had the staying power to be favorites in all generations of music fans.

One of the songs Dylan wrote was directed to his son. The title of the song is “Forever Young.” In this song he gives encouragement to his son on a life worth living, developing character, and being a good person. The first verse includes the line:

“may you always do for others, and let others do for you.”

Many times, in my opinion, a great deal of focus is given on always doing for others. Sometimes to the point of totally sacrificing the needs of self. I want to be clear here, doing for others is important, as Dylan notes in his song. Just as important, I think, is allowing others to help you.

We were not created to be alone in this life. The bible tells us that God created two people because just one was not good in His eyes. Throughout the word of God community is developed in the family, His holy nation of Israel in the old covenant, and finally the church. Within these institutions all people have a role in service towards each other and also to allow another to serve him.

Of course, there is the teaching of Jesus in which he instructs us to:

“do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This assumes that at times people will be serving us as well as us being served.

As we keep in mind our relationships with other people may we indeed, “do for others, but also let them do for us.”

 

–Justin P. Lewis, MA

As you probably know, the summer Olympics are currently underway. It seems to me that during this season every four years American citizens feel a little more connected. There is a sense of unity that is particularly high.  It makes us feel like “family.” We are all on the same side.

It is enjoyable to watch the athletes compete who have trained so hard for years. Just for this one moment.

Taking this in has caused me to realize how the Olympics can be an example of operating like a family.

In the Olympics we cheer for the athlete who is from the USA just because we are from the same place. We are going to support them without any other conditions. In a family, we should be willing to support our family member just because they are a part of us.

The Olympics displays a sense of how roles in a family should play out. On Team USA each athlete has their particular sport. Just as in a family we have particular roles. We do not expect a gymnast to play basketball why should we expect a child to act like a parent?

In the Olympic games the participants give everything they have to contribute to the team. They are rewarded for success, yet encouraged either way. In a family success should be rewarded and pointed out. However, a person’s self worth in the family is not more or less because of it.

Enjoy the games and Team USA! Also, build your family into a strong team.

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

Want to have a healthy family? They do not happen by accident. It takes effort and paying attention to areas that will fortify rather than destroy. Dolores Curran wrote a book:  Stress and the Healthy Family  in 1985. The wisdom contained within this book still holds true today.

Curran performed a survey and all participants responded. She drew the following conclusions about healthy families from the survey. There were 15 traits that rose to the top from the 56 traits that were presented.

Healthy families:

  • Communicate and listen
  • Affirm and support
  • Respect one another
  • Develop trust
  • Have a sense of play and honor
  • Share responsibilities
  • Teach right from wrong
  • Build a strong sense of family
  • Have a balance of interaction
  • Have a shared religious core
  • Respect privacy
  • Foster table time conversation
  • Value service to others
  • Share leisure time
  • Admit to problems and seek help

There is one of the fifteen traits that were common with all of the respondents. It was “foster table time and conversation. It is important to take time to make a difference in your families by eating together and talking about the day’s events. It is equally important to be able to share the emotional aspects of your day for support and encouragement.

We encourage you to consider this list of traits that might enhance and empower your family.

Roger D. Thompson, MS

LMFT

How did you meet?

Common interests and common hangouts draw people together. The places where you met or frequented while dating could be choices for a lifetime. Are you comfortable with where this could take you?

How long have you know one another?

Hopefully you have been dating or engaged longer than one year. It is not essential, but it is a good start. Getting to know each other should allow for many settings, which should include time with each of the families.

What do each of you value?

You both grew up in different homes. You will likely have different thoughts on what is most important. Soon you will consider the purchase of furniture for your home. Inevitably, this is an area of great delight, different tastes, and sometimes strong opinions. In addition to the style of furniture, it becomes necessary to discuss how much you will spend on what type of items. Be ready for this to take time. It is normal! Be patient with one another and listen. It may be helpful to learn the art of compromise. This is just one example of how your values will impact your marriage.

Have you been sexually active prior to your getting married?

It is more than just a good idea to abstain from sexual activities until married. God says so! God wants the best for us in marriage. After all, God created us for each other. God directs us to refrain from sexual relationships outside of marriage before and after we marry.

Why question God’s authority? Why push the envelope again and again only to find out that God’s way was the best way. Of course, God is right. He is God!

Dr. Wayne Oates with the Baptist Theological School presented at the Kentucky Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 1987. He was in his eighties at the time. Dr. Oates had written over 50 books at the time. He stood before the group of almost 500 therapists sharing about things that people had difficulty figuring out. Dr. Oates said, “Why have people not discovered that when they go to bed before marriage that they put to sleep the senses necessary to make good decisions about the future of their relationships?”

Have both of you spent plenty of time with both of your families?

It is a good idea to be well acquainted with your future in-laws. Also, it is a good notion to pay attention to how your family relates to the special someone. Certainly, it is a plus if you get along. It is even more important to learn how to get along when conflicts exist. It is a worthwhile process to learn how to get along.

Have you had time to have conflicts and resolve them?

Blending two separate identities into one is a process. It is inevitable that you will experience conflict. This does not indicate that you have major problems. However, it does indicate that you think and feel differently at different times. This is normal. The work now begins as you explore your differences in values. It is essential to learn how to solve conflicts. By the way this is a never ending fine tuning process.

Do you have a common faith?

This is an important issue, but commonly overlooked. First, having a similar faith can be defined as believing in Jesus Christ as the son of God, who was born of a virgin, died when he was 33 years old, lay in the grave for three days before his resurrection, and now lives seated at the right hand of God. Most who call themselves Christians have this belief in common.

Secondly, and this is where the difficulty seems to arise, there may be conflict on the how and where this belief system is to be practiced. This can become a major source of contention.

I suggest that you pray and continue to study to develop a common faith practice. This is what the people did following the baptisms on the day of Pentecost. This is not an area that tends to get better by ignoring or avoiding it.

What are your odds of marital success if you are both teens and if your parents have had multiple divorces?

Many young couples do not think to ask about matters such as this. Time is on your side. Teen marriages have a high rate of marital conflicts as well as divorce. You have matured to this point, which brings on deeper reasoning; however these same social and emotional abilities will take a major growth spurt over the next four years. In this time frame you will likely develop new ways of understanding and communicating. Your values are likely to experience equal growth.

You will have displayed a rare form of wisdom and maturity if you choose to wait. It is equaled by my hope for you to be able to be patient, while you experience this future growth. Reassess your growth in one year. Keep a journal abut how you think and feel. Read all of your entries in six months and twelve months. I just bet you see growth in what you read.

If you still plan to marry anyway, I do suggest that you plan to receive per-marital counseling. This process is usually more successful if done six months prior to your marriage.

May God help you to find strength to do His will His way to receive His blessings as you ponder marriage which He created.

By Denise Mann

There are good play dates, so-so play dates, and then there are meltdown, can’t-get-out-of-there-soon-enough play dates.

Preschoolers may do battle over a toy, engage in name-calling, refuse to acknowledge one another, or even push, bite, or hit their playmate. Older kids may tease, taunt, or torment each other and/or get into trouble — or even into dangerous situations.

Of course, your child’s health, safety, and well-being — physical and emotional — come first. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to look out for that.

“You have to protect your kid and you don’t want to put your kid in a situation where he or she is uncomfortable,” says child psychoanalyst Leon Hoffman, MD. “If your kid doesn’t want to play with another child, you have to take that very seriously,” says Hoffman, who co-directs the New York Psychoanalytic Society’s Pacella Parent Child Center.

But how do you know if you’re reading the situation correctly? When should you express your concerns to the other child’s parent? And how can you do it diplomatically?

The next few posts provides expert advice.

It started innocently enough. You connected on FaceBook with an old boyfriend or girlfriend (isn’t technology wonderful?) — or started meeting regularly for lunch or drinks with a colleague from the office. You felt the chemistry, but you weren’t going to act on it. And since “nothing” was going on, you didn’t need to tell your spouse. But now you can’t deny it any longer. Whether your relationship has become physical or remains technically just a friendship, you know that you are in deep. You don’t want to hurt your spouse, but you are sure that ending your affair would break your heart.

At times like these, it can help to know something about human nature. When people feel intense emotions, the parts of their brains that process emotions become more active. Meanwhile, the logical parts of their brains remain relatively inactive. The result? People find ways to make sense of, and support, their emotional state; and it’s incredibly difficult to challenge this emotionally driven thinking.

When someone is having an affair, this kind of thinking intensifies the passion of their new love while also magnifying the inadequacies of their spouse, or their current “real” life. They can try to argue with themselves about how they shouldn’t feel as they do and how pursuing the affair is not a good idea, but that approach usually leaves them feeling a stronger “need” to pursue it. Still, the guilt about doing this can also be overwhelming.

So, if you are caught in this dilemma, what can you do? The first step is to fully acknowledge it. Trying to pretend that a budding love doesn’t exist, or isn’t that strong, will only send your awareness of it underground; where it will influence you without your even realizing it. You will likely find yourself the victim of a surprise attack; I was avoiding her and was okay with that, but then she needed my help with something, and, well… The next thing you know, you are thinking this must be fate. If, instead, you admit to your feelings and look squarely at the problem, you can begin to address it.

Addressing it means, in part, admitting that your thinking is clouded by strong emotions. With this acknowledgment, you are choosing to lead with your head and not your heart. You can consider your values and at least try to correct for the bias of your emotionally driven thinking. This doesn’t mean ignoring your emotions, but rather considering them with the perspective of what’s best for you in the long run. Remember, after all is said and done, after your heart’s fluttering has subsided, you will need to be able to wake up every morning with the results of your actions — so consider them carefully.

Think about your marriage vows and how important they are to you. Think about the effects of continuing an affair on your thoughts and feelings about yourself, as well as on your spouse, children, new love, and anyone else involved.

Many people want to savor their new love, but still have strong incentives to work on their marriage. They want to strive to be happy again with their spouse, not disrupt their lives (for themselves and their children), and do the right thing. But they also ultimately want to be assured of having romantic love in their lives if their efforts at reviving their marriage fail. The dilemma is understandable. However, holding onto both relationships simply does not work. It can’t. Honestly working on a relationship means giving yourself wholeheartedly to it.

by: Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD from WebMd.com

v Make a Christmas picture book from old Christmas cards.  Stack the cards on top of each other with all the pictures facing down the same side.  Sew the cards together along the crease and refold to form a book.

v Fancy sneakers make a one-of-a kind gift.  For children or adults.  Buy plain white sneakers from a craft or discount store.  Use a hot glue gun to decorate with buttons, ribbons, and lace.  Or use fabric paint to stencil designs.

v Even if you don’t bake you can still give food as gifts.  Buy in bulk and personalize your gifts by packing them in a unique container (for instance, a flower pot, mixing bowl, or decorative glass jar, etc.).

v Make handprint cards.  First, have the father use a colored pencil to trace around his hand on a sheet of paper.  Next, have the mother trace her hand inside the outline of the father’s hand.  Then trace around the children’s hands, each inside the outlines of the others.  Use different colors for each person.

v Make homemade wrapping paper using brown paper bags.  Decorate with paint, markers or rubber stamps.

v Buy clear Christmas balls and have family members decorate them with acrylic paint.                          Taken from “Holiday gift ideas” by Ellyn Sanna


 

Christmas is a time to share our love and make special memories to last a lifetime. Even the simplest activities can become a heritage of love, stored up in our children’s memories for them to share one day with their own families. Here are a few ideas on making memories:

  1. Take a drive to see the Christmas lights. Bundle the kids up and take a late night drive to see as many lights and decorations as you can. Sing Carols as you go.
  2. Put together a “time capsule” to be opened at a predetermined Christmas in the future. Put the front page of the newspaper, a picture, drawings, video or audio tape, and a list of presents. Get everyone to write a wish or prediction.
  3. Help an elderly neighbor decorate their home, take food, or take them shopping.
  4. Set up a treasure hunt for your children leading to a present. Give easy clues for younger ones and harder clues for older children. Leave a candy cane or cookie s beside some of the clues.

These are just a few ideas helping make Christmas a little more fun. Allow your creativity to start some new family traditions as you celebrate the holidays.

Lesson 5:  Sacrificial Love

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a  hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease.  Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.  The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save  her.”  As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Do you want to make an impact on your grandchildren‘s lives? Do you want to grow closer to them, develop meaningful relationships, and leave a legacy for them?

Here are seven ways you can build intentionally stronger relationships with your grandkids:

1. Plan special times together. It doesn’t have to be a week each summer; it could be a few weekends throughout the year, or even a weekly afternoon visit. The quantity of time is not as important as the quality.

2. Ask the parents to stay away! This is time for you and your grandchildren alone. If the parents are with you, the dynamics shift because kids will always focus more on their parents.

3. Take advantage of the resources around you. Whether it’s big-city attractions such as museums and aquariums, small-town amusements such as miniature golf and bowling, or natural resources such as lakes and woods, show the kids what’s special about your area.

4. The simplest pleasures are often the best. You don’t always have to be on the go. The time you spend at home with the kids will often be the times they remember best.

5. Make a plan, but be flexible. If something’s not working, don’t force it. If mini-golf is rained out, move indoors for crafts or board games. If the kids are tired and cranky, just take some down time. A plan is only there to guide you, not control you.

6. See things through the kids’ eyes. What excites your grandkids? What do they really want to try, learn about, or explore? Let that be your guide as you consider activities.

7. Give them your undivided attention. Don’t spoil them or cater to their every whim. But know that the love kids receive from you makes them feel special. So when they’re with you, be with them. It’s that simple.
Give intentional grandparenting a try. The time and love you invest will be paid back tenfold by the strong relationships and lasting memories you build with your grandchildren.

–Information from Ramona Roberson

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  • Learning how not to do for others what they can learn to do for themselves is one of the golden rules of adult maturity. 2 years ago
  • In an effort to avoid the feeling of failing people often don't put forth effort.By doing this they will not experience their full potential 3 years ago
  • The ability to successfully handle conflict is more important than the amount of conflict in a marriage. 3 years ago
  • Weekend challenge: Tell your spouse something you love about them and expect nothing in return. 3 years ago
  • Word Wed:Don't be anxious about anything,but in every situation,by prayer and petition,with thanksgiving,present your requests to God.Phil4 3 years ago

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