Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are people really comparing Christmas to Halloween????

Someone made the comment to me that Christmas is for the kids.  Which, had me thinking (scary I know!).  Do people really think Christmas is just for the kids?  Are they lumping it together with Halloween and other kid events?  What if you don't have kids or you kids are all grown up?   Has our society really gotten that far away from the true meaning of Christmas that its become more of a commercialized holiday? 

Christmas is so much more than Santa and gifts.  I know this part is fun but it shouldn't be the center of celebrating Christmas.  Its about love,  giving and FORGIVING.  It s about being thankful and celebrating with family and friends.  It's about the birth of Jesus and remembering how great God truly is. 

Both Mark and I didn't go to church as kids.  Thankfully,we do now and so do my parents  and they  love it.  Growing up we missed what Christmas was all about. Sure we had great times with family, but its like throwing a big party for your son and daughter and then forgetting to bring the guest of honor or simply not showing up to celebrate their big day.  Yes, have all the fun with family and friends this year but don't forget Jesus is the reason for the season not Target, Walmart or the mall down the street!

This Christmas I encourage you to not forget Jesus and giving church a try!  Having Jesus at your party will help you remember why we celebrate Christmas and its just not for the kids! Plus if you want to give your kids the bes gift and your foucs is on just the kids then give the  gift that they will never forget and will have way after you are gone, and that gift is Jesus!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Swear I'm going to Kill Her!

 I'm finally ending the curse that my mom, grandma's and probably great grandma had and continued to pass down to all the women in the family!  You know what I'm talking about stressing out over ever little thing that needs to get done before Christmas  Easter, Birthdays or just a simple family dinner!!!

I remember growing up having Christmas dinner at our house and my mom and almost every other mom I knew getting all worked up about the house!  I couldn't understand why until now! All the things we women have to do and our husbands have no clue what truly goes on before a big holiday!   Making sure the Christmas tree is up and decorated, lights on outside, grocery shopping, buying and wrapping presents, cleaning the house and not just cleaning the house but washing windows, washing floors and rugs, laundry, sheets cleaned, which i don't know why we clean before a party because it just gets all messed up and we have to start all over after everyone leaves!   Making cookies, getting Christmas outfits, family pictures, stamps and send out Christmas cards!  Its know wonder why women are exhausted before the big day gets here!  When the day finally gets here, we are busy getting the kids dressed, going to Church, getting the food ready, feeding the kids, cleaning up that we barely enjoyed the family that was over visiting. We take a quick glimpse over to our husbands and see them laughing and having a good old time that a part of you would like to strangle him because he knows how to relax and have a good time while you feel like a slave in your own house!  Finally, the night comes to an end and everyone leaves and you wonder why you do what you do and how did the day slip by you. You swear you will not do it again next year, however next year comes and the same old thing happens again!  Its like Ground Hog day!  Same thing just different year!

Of course I'm over exaggerating or maybe not, but you get the picture!  The majority of women I know work so hard getting everything ready for Christmas or many other family gatherings that we miss all the fun. My mom did it for years!  I call it the Martha syndrome! We laugh about it now and anytime we begin to feel stressed out we will call each other Martha! If you are not familiar with the story.  In the Bible there is a story about two sisters Martha and Mary.  They are completely different.  Jesus is coming to dinner and Martha is excited but focusing on all the stuff that needs to get done that she is getting mad at Mary because she isn't doing anything in Martha's eyes but sitting and enjoying Jesus.  Martha starts to upset and begins to moan and groan to Jesus . He stops her and reminds her that Mary is doing what is right.  Mary knew Jesus would not be with them for long and to enjoy him everything else can wait. 

I know I do it and so does so many other people, we focus on all the wrong stuff and miss the true joy of Christmas.  Seriously, who cares if your house is not spot less, the kids are not matching, the lights are not on and you have to buy store bought cookies because you just don't have the time to make them.  Its okay. What is important is to take time to remember what Christmas is all about the birth of our Savior Jesus and   to enjoy the family even if they drive you crazy!  Its only one day!!! Have fun with your kids.  This year as you are crossing off the thing you have finished but then adding a few more things to the never ending list, take a breather and remember to be more like Mary.  Its time to finally end the crazy Martha curse that has been handed down generation to generation.  This year is the year I'm finally killing Martha and be more like Mary and really enjoy Christmas and everythig that comes with it!  It's what I love about Christmas! Make sure we keep our priorities straight!  We can have and do all the stuff that comes with Christmas but if we miss celebrating Jesus then we missed the point and everything else really doesn't matter!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Does the idea of gettig together with family put you in a panic attack???

The count down begins only 7 more days until Christmas!  Yes, this can be a wonderful time of the year. Time to get together with friends and family you might not see much during the year or  running into friends while you are shopping!  Its so fun seeing people that you normally wouldn't see.  Even if you are friends with them on FB and know exactly what they are doing, its not the same as seeing them face to face!

However, with all the expectations of Christmas and visiting family and friends, I think many of us can have feelings of disappointments.   We have all these thoughts of what Christmas will be like and get so excited about getting together with everyone, that when someone doesn't show up or isn't as thrilled about Christmas as you are, we start to feel discouraged.  We have hopes of families and friends putting the past behind us but to find out some of the people we love dearly may not feel the same about us.  For many people Christmas can be a time of great pain.

I'm here to remind everyone that if you  a "normal family" all of us  have some sort of dysfunction  in our families! If you focus on the dysfunction, you will miss the true joy of Christmas. I know this may not be easy for many people because their is so much hurt in their families or  painful memories at this time of the year.  But it all depends on what you want to focus on.  If you put your focus on people, even your family, you will have feelings of disappointments.  If you focus on the dysfunction, you will miss the joy of Christmas.  I believe when we have those feelings, its God reminding us not to focus on the world only him!  He is the reason for the season.  Whether you have a very close family, are all alone or a family like mine the "Griswalds"  know that the only way to truly enjoy this year is to keep your eye on Jesus and you will never be alone or disappointed! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can You Keep up with all the Expecations of Christmas???

Until 2 years ago, Mark and I were doing what 98% of the population does on Christmas, spend so much money and focused on the all the wrong reasons to celebrate Christmas.  We would find ourselves kinda depressed or a feeling like this is it?  All the planning, shopping and excitement of getting together with family and then seconds after the gifts are opened and dinner is eaten we had the feeling like this is it!  All of that and its all over in one day.

All the gifts we bought the kids and our family members just never seemed enough.  So, we would go out to the stores just one more time and buy just a few more gifts to put under the tree. Half  the time we just bought the gifts for our kids  because heaven forbid our kids go to school and don't have all the cool and latest toys and gadgets as their friends.  Every year we were trying to out do ourselves from the next year and it was getting exhausting and we didn't like what this was teaching our kids.

 God spoke to our hearts. We were having those feelings like who is this for?  We knew it wasn't for God because he doesn't need this stuff.  It wasn't really for our kids, because they didn't need it.  Was it for us?  Where we sucked in to the materialism and commercialism of this world telling us that more is better?  Of course the answer was Yes.

We have changed our traditions on how we celebrate Christmas.  Yes, we still do Santa but its know where like it use to be.  We give our kids a FEW gifts and we don't  over spend, which is not easy! (Makenna and Markus know longer believe in Santa.  When they asked us if he was real Mark and I didn't want to lie to them.  We wanted them to understand Santa was for fun and using our imagination but we wanted them to know that  God is real and to know and believe in  the true spirit of Christmas)  We have taught them the true meaning of Christmas which isn't just looking at the manager you put on your fireplace. Its  not about just picking up a tag on the Christmas tree at church and buying a gift a target. (this is nice but its so much more)  Its about Jesus and his birth.  Its about giving to him.  I don't share this story to pat myself on the back to say Mark and I are the greatest parents, because we are not.  This is all God and his doing.  We really want our kids to experience what it means to give, to see the pain in the world and to truly recognize how blessed we are.  To put others before ourselves.

Two years ago a friend of mine shared a story on what she was doing for the homeless.  Mark and I were able to do it with the kids.  You don't need a Church or a huge group of people to do the work Jesus has called you to do!  We made lunches for the homeless.  Makenna wrote Scripture on an index card and put it in the bag and we went down to the heart of Detroit to a shelter.  It was  great learning experience for them and then after we took them for a treat to Lafayette Cony Island!  (they have been wanting to go there because they watched in on TV diners!!!)  This year we are doing something completely different. They still talk about it to this day!

This year don't kill yourself because you can't keep up with the Joneses or yourself from the previous years.  Instead put the focus on the one who matters and do something for someone else this year.  It will give you more joy then giving another present to someone who really doesn't need anything but your love!

What has God Done For You???

Christmas time can be a great time of Joy.  Its a great time to get together with family and friends.  Its a time more people are focused on giving and reaching out to help someone in need.  Its a great time to reminisce, laugh and be thankful for the life God has given us.  Gathering with people we love and celebrating the birth of Christ is the best time of the year. 

However, many people are going through so much at this time of year.  Many people are without a job, lost a love one, dealing with sickness either with themselves or with someone they love so much, divorce, or are all alone.  Some people know why we celebrate Christmas, however because of all the hurt they are dealing with in their life or trying to maintain the expectations of what the world says about Christmas, they feel empty and are slowly loosing hope. 

Today, instead of me writing about my experiences or thoughts on faith, hope and even suffering, I would love for you to post your comments on how God has healed you.  Your words might help someone else and bless them this Christmas season...

God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully (Romans 8:28).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Can You Please Forgive Me for Stealing???

Have you ever did anything that you know you shouldn't do, but you think what the heck, its really know big deal?  You try to find reasons to validate what you are doing.  It happened to me this past month.

I knew better but sometimes we make mistakes and give in because everyone else is doing it.  Thankfully, I surround myself with people who encourage me but also hold me accountable for my actions.  It hit me a few weeks ago, when talking to a friend a church.  If the saying is true,"how you do anything, is how you do everything," then the littlest things matter. 

Anyway, mark and I are doing p90x. My cousin has the dvd's and to save a few bucks, we asked him if we could borrow his cd's.  I decided lets burn the DVD's so we have our own copies.  There are people I'm sure that don't think there is anything wrong with this, but there is its stealing.  There are people who make a living selling CD's and DVD's and if we burn them we are taking money from them.  I'm sure there are people who think, some of these people make a ton of money and they don't need it or will miss it and that is still wrong.  They have worked very hard putting there info out there for us and if we can't pay for it then we don't need it.  If you want to make a ton of money like them, then create your program.  One day I hope to have CD's and books out there and would I want someone stealing from me? 

The little things matter and they all add up.  Think about it all it took was a bite of an apple from Adam and  Eve in the garden.  They knew better but they I'm sure they thought just this one time won't hurt and it did and we are all paying for it because of one dumb little but huge mistake.  "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor,doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may Have something to share with anyone in need." Ephesians 4:28.  "you shall not steal" Exodus 20:15. "And Jesus said, You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you sall not steal and you shall not bear false witness. "Matthew 19:18.

So, the DVD's we burned are going in the garbage.  I'm so thankful God is a forgiving God and can forgive me for making such stupid mistakes! Thankful for my dear friend for remindng me!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What to do When Your Neighbor Loses Your Dog!

What do yo do when you ask your neighbor( who is a grown man) to let your dogs out while you are gone and you come home and the  your dog which is 16 yeras old, deaf and blind is missing? 

Last night around midnight we walked into the door from a long ride home from Grand Rapids expecting to find our dogs sleeping.  Instead, we found the back door to our sun room opened, the screed door opened and the door going to our backyard open and one of our dogs missing.

We house sit our neighbors dog for them, so this was one of the first times we asked him to let our dogs out.  When we found kodi missing, we were very upset  especially becasue she is so old.  Mark was up driving around looking for her and I called all the police stations asking if anyone turned her in and the aswers have been NO. 
What do I do?  What do I teach my kids because I know there are lessons to learn from this.  After I made the phone calls and had no luck, I sat the kids in bed and had a talk with them.

First, Everyone makes me mistakes.  Yes, we are sad and I'm upset, but we have to find forgiveness.

Second. How you do anything is how you do everything.  God cannot bless you nor will he if you don't learn how to take care of the little the things.  If you can't take care of the little things how in the world can you handle anything big.  Its important not to be careless and to treat other peoples belongings just like how you would treat your own.  When someone asks you to do something and you say yes, to give it 100%. 

Truth is Mark and I have been talking about putting Kodi to sleep for 2 years and haven't had the guts to follow through with it.  Yes, the kids are sad and so are Mark and I because we didn't get to say goodbye but at least something didn't happen to one of us or to a PERSON we care and love.  Also, it just reminds us that you never know when something will be taken from you or when someone you love could pass away, so to make everyday count and always tell the person and yes even your dog how much you love them...

We pray that someone has her and will turn her in so we get a second chance at saying goodbye...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Are Competivite Sports Healthy For Kids??? Part 2

Gymnastics season officially starts for us tomorrow!!!

As Makenna is preparing herself for her first meet, she understand that she isn't in competition with anyone.  She doesn't go to her meets to beat another girl or another team.  She doesn't compare herself to other girls and mark and I don't compare her with other gymnast either.  There are girls that are better than her and girls Makenna is better than and that is called life!  We will meet people who are prettier, smarter and have more athletic ability than us and vice verse. So, we have to learn how to stay focus on our gifts and be grateful for what we have and to be happy for everyone else too.   If we are always comparing ourselves with someone else or wanting what they have, we will miss the beauty God has given each of us.

  We are teaching Makenna (and Markus and Marcia) its not about going to the meets to beat another team.  Its not about winning the trophy or metals and its not about the score.  (However, it is nice to win!!!) Its about taking all the gifts and talent God has given you and shinning for him.  She has learned to ask God for help and to let him work in her at the age of 10 years old!  She use to feel like she was bragging if she went on the gymnastics floor and gave it her all, which is absolutely wrong.  God wants you to succeed and he wants you to give your best because when we do good, it makes God look good and he gets all the glory.  Makenna knows when someone looks at her they see the light of Jesus.  Think about it, when your kids do well doesn't it make you so happy and proud.  It makes you look good!  This is how God feels about all of us.  Also, our kids are learning its not all about them that they have a responsibility to take their gifts and talents and bless other people...

Today, whether its taking care of your kids, cleaning the house, going to work or moving toward your God given purpose, do it with the right attitude and shine not for yourself but for your father in heaven and give him the glory he deserves.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Are Competitive Sports Healthy for Kids???? Part One

Makenna first gymnastics meet for the season starts this Saturday!  We are all excited and can't wait to watch her use her gifts that God has given her.  I know there are people who don't agree with competitive sports and probably for good reasons.  However, I've seen and witnessed the benefits of sports in my life, my husband and my kids lives.  There is a such thing as healthy competition.  Mark and I have been able to use gymnastics for Makenna and Karate for Markus and Marcia as another fertile ground to teach them important life lessons.  (which I will share in future blogs)  I don't think sports are the problem.  Its the coaches and parents who don't have their morals and values in check and act like morons that are the problems.  When the parents act crazy then so do their kids!  So, its important to make sure  the coaches that are teaching and spending time with your kid has the same values as you do.  If they don't and its not a healthy environment you are setting your child up for disaster. 

Its so important as parents to do our job  to teach our kids about balance.  I know Makenna loves gymnastics and probably would spend every day in the gym if we allowed her too, but what is that teaching her?  Its teaching her to be a workaholic and idols success as an adult and that is not healthy.  In our house it is God, family, school and then whatever comes after. If anything begins to feel or look chaotic we know are priorities are all out of whack. 

  Makenna has big goals and she knows with God and hard work, anything is possible. (I love when kids and adults and bigger visions for their life.  However, the majority of kids and adults have big ideas but sit on their behinds and play video games all day or won't take the time to sharpen their skills in order to reach their dreams.  If you are going to dream big and use the gifts and talent God has given you, then you need to work on them everyday.  If someone thinks they can accomplish something by wishing or doing nothing I have bad news for you that is a poverty mindset. The bible says, "He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11 We teach the kids to dream big but in order to do that you have to learn how to work and it starts at home first!

Do You Dread Putting Your Kids to Bed?

Putting my kids to bed last night was one of those nights!  You know what kind of bedtime nightmare I'm talking about.  The one when your daughter knows how to work you and get you to get her water, then milk, turn on the bathroom light, run out of her room 10 times to say good night and kiss you one more time!  As much as you are trying to keep your cool, you just want your kids to go to bed so you can have a least 10 minutes of quite time before you pass out of exhaustion!  The more they came out of their room the crankier I was feeling.  I looked my daughter  Marcia and said in a loud voice, "GET IN BED."  She looks at me with her sweet face and says, "Mom all you have to do is say it in your nice voice!  Can you please talk nice to me."  What do am I suppose to say about that?

 So, I look at her and in my nice voice I ask her to go to bed.  She looks at me and say OK and off to bed she went and she never snuck out of her room again! know being a mom is not easy and sometimes our kids just know how to push our buttons!  We have to remember that is their job!  I know that sounds crazy but they are kids for a reason and we are the parents.  Its our job to teach our kids self-control, patience, kindness, respect and love.  If they through a baby fit and we through one back, what is that teaching them?  We have to make sure we are preaching what we practice.  Ask yourself, the way you talk to your kids, would you want your spouse or boss to talk to you the way you speak to them?  I can guarantee the answer is no. Ask anyone, I'm a fanatic about words and how we speak to each other and to ourselves.  I'm not perfect but its something I take very serious.  But why do adults who know better talk to children the way they do.  We have to show them the way because when they know better then they can do better. 

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