Sunday, January 5, 2014

To The New Year - Family (Part 5 of 7)

There are a lot of things families can do as traditions. I follow a blog called The Art of Manliness it's one of my very favorite blogs. I probably read more articles from them, than any other blog. They have several fun articles about traditions that I had to add them on this series.

- Yearly Form -
This can be especially fun if you have younger kiddoes! Simply make a form that asks for their name, date, and things that will show their growth as they get older. Such as: favorite color, favorite song, favorite Bible verse, favorite sports team, favorite animal, best friend, height, favorite thing to do, etc.

Then put their forms into your families "New Year" (or the name you give it! after all, it's YOUR binder!) binder, so that in future years you can look back over the growth you've all had.

- Be more patient with relatives -
So, when I asked people about "New Year's Day" resolutions, I got a surprising amount about working on being more sociable with their relatives. Coming from a pretty close knit family, it's sad to me that so many need to have this as their resolution…BUT…I will say, I know what it's like to have rougher relationships, and work on fixing them or risk losing them.

Relationships take investment, if you are unwilling to invest, chances are they won't try either.

Christian, here is the deal.

If you are related by blood….honor your father and mother (even if you've got a bad relationship).

Mark 7:10
"For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’"

Matthew 15:4

"For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’"

Ephesians 6:1-2
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),"

If you haven't seen this person in years…love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:14-15
"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another."

James 2:8-9
"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors."

Romans 13:9
"For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”"

If you hate their guts…love them anyways, show them that Jesus transforms people, and give mercy as you have been given mercy.

Matthew 5:43-45
"“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

Luke 6:35
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil."

If they are a Christian…love them as Jesus Christ loves them.

John 13:34
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

- More Family Less Tech -
My generation seems engrossed with discovering how many screens can captivate our attention per day. Even myself, I can be "watching" (just listening) to the TV, texting a friend, and typing up an email…that is THREE screens going at once. That may sound like a lot, and I guess it is, but it is nothing to what happens when my brother is working on his music…he says "I'd like to have at least a quad set up." That is he would like to have at least 4 computer screens for his music work alone! Not to mention another screen as his phone.

So, if you have too many screens in your life, and not enough IRL interaction maybe try some of these:
- unplug for one day a week,
- at home put your phone on your dresser or in a drawer,
- leave your phone at home when you go to church or on a date,
- turn the WiFi off after 7 pm,
- unplug while on vacation/during holidays,

- Spend time Outdoors -
I love to be outside! I love to go hiking, walking, try my hand at almost dying while attempting parkour…
But adventure does a body good! This past summer I jumped off a 27' waterfall! (and I didn't die!)

So take time to go camping with your family, or do something outside with your college group. Just get outside and do something fun and soak up some vitamin D.

Matthew 22:34-40
"But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the great and first commandment.

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”"

Saturday, January 4, 2014

To The New Year - Monetary Goals (Part 4 of 7)

So, I have a lot of trips and plans for this year, and well….traveling cost money! (Who would have thought?!) If you have big plans this year, then being mindful early about saving for your travels will help to keep things low stress.

Here are a few ideas that may save you some cash this year.

Monetary Goals

- Save a dollar each week -
If you save $1 on the first week of 2014, then add $2 on the second week, and $3 on the third, and so on and so forth, by the 52nd week you have pretty close to $1,400!
That may pay for your plane tickets for your vacation trip.

- Tithing -
Dear Christian,
This is not a guilt trip, nor does God need your money. Be sure of that, He's not asking for a hand out or begging for funding. Tithing is a command, that we give back to God that which is His, and is done in Joy and Thanksgiving.

My Daddy explained it like this. It's as if God is handing you $9 and you give Him $1, you just GAINED money, you didn't lose anything!

- Pocket Change -
This year try putting all your pocket change into a jar (a pretty jar or vase…or a giant water jug). I am using a pretty jar I got from Hobby Lobby. I am saving my pocket change for a discipleship trip with Iglesia Biblica de La Gracia in Alexandria, Virginia to the Dominican Republic.

- Save part of your paycheck for a specific purpose - 
I'm the type that would love to have a dozen savings accounts and name them things and then sort my money that way. BUT….apparently that is a hassle. :-P So, I cash a part of my paycheck and put it in a jar (see above for 'why?'). This holds it in it's place so that I remember what it is for. That way I stay motivated about saving for that jar's purpose (in this case the 2014 DR Trip).

Saving part of your paycheck will be awesome, it will add up quickly, aiding you to pay for a vacation, new car, house payments, or to get out of debt faster!

I hope you enjoy watching your money grow towards your goals as much as I do.

- Pay off DEBT -
Some of us were taught and raised to live debt free, and thus don't live crushed beneath the seemingly insurmountable monster that is debt. But if you are in debt, don't give up, you can get out of debt! It will require of you to be willing to get out of debt and the dedication to not add to your debt.

Using some of the ideas above you maybe aid in getting out of debt.

Although, $1,400 seems like a drop in the bucket if you have a $150,000 student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical expenses. Here is an idea…work a few extra hours a week, and take the pay for those hours and dedicate them to paying into the debt. Maybe something you might consider is taking a small/part time job to dedicate towards paying off debt.

Debt is not permanent, there is a way out.

Proverbs 3:9-10

"Honor the LORD with your wealth

and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine."

Friday, January 3, 2014

To The New Year - Home Modifications (Part 3 of 7)

Over the past few days all the furniture and appliances from the kitchen and dinning room currently gracing the living room with their presence. They don't seem too upset about being evicted from their cosy habitations. After all, we tore out the near half century old multi-layered linoleum…and scraped off the nasty glue. Now Momma is laying lament wood flooring. It's looking lovely!!! It should be done this week.

So here are some ideas you may like to work on this year!

Home Renovations

- Toss out Junk -
I'm not suggesting a minimalistic lifestyle, although that can be good for you for a season. But I am suggesting that if you look around your home, there are probably a lot of items that you posses but do not use. Extra clothing, unused toys, duplicate tools, spare lap top, and your sport's collection from high school are probably not things you use often, and probably not even annually, they simply take up space.
Try going though your closet, and toss unworn things, and things you've not worn in 2013, and toss things that don't fit.
Try doing that process in other areas of your house!

- Organizing Your Entire House -
So to organize the whole house is a project that is not going to happen in an hour.

As such, something that may help make it more doable, is to list out the rooms in your home and tackle one per month of 2014!

Dining Room,
Living Room,
Guest Room,
Den/Man Cave/Great Room,

And commit to first removing things you don't need in that room, then make a plan to neaten that room. Does that room need any items? Better lighting? Pictures for the walls?
Obviously, the best resource would be to get these items from rooms you've not yet organized! (Because that way….you know, it's free stuff!…and begins to prep that area for it's own reorganization!)

Please let me know how your rooms turn out!

- Revamping the Desk -
So, if you are like me, your desk is more than a desk, it is where you spend a significant amount of time every day. I have a desk that I share with my sister. I use my dresser top as my "Standing Desk". I also use the kitchen table as a desk when my sis uses our desk. So, I think desks are rather important! How your organize your's will either help to streamline your work, or create a never ending headache for progress.

Maybe you can make it your New Year's Resolution to take care of your desk, to keep it neat and clean. Maybe make it your goal to reorganize it, paying attention to what balances efficiency with comfort.
Having a wood stool counts as a chair. But after 10 hours sitting on it you may rethink your "going green" idea. So, for a nice chair, I suggest getting one that is comfortable and fits you well…even though that is something that will cost more than a basic office chair.
Use your wall space to your advantage! You can hang up schedules, calendars, pictures, memos, sticky notes, invoices, spreadsheets, and just about anything up on your wall! It gets those things OFF your desk. Just be sure to remember to keep your walls neat too. If you are surrounded by cluttered and busy surroundings then your quality and quantity of work will go down.

If you were to have a pencil/pen sort of organizer would that be more helpful? Or a drawer?
What helps you organize better a day planner or giving your calendar the sticky note disease?
Are you utilizing your shelves and drawers to their fullest potential?

Let me know of your ideas! I'd love to hear about your personal way of organizing your desk!

Remember that the outside is a reflection of the inside, you should care to order your home, because it glorifies God. It tells those who enter "this person's home is peaceful, and it matches this person's peaceful constant soul".

I Peter 1:22-23

"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

To The New Year - Things to do this year (Part 2 of 7)

So, we all enjoy doing things that make us happy, feel satisfied, and at least most of us will enjoy making other's smile. Thus, today's post. These are things that you can do that will grow you and maybe make someone else's day that much brighter.

Things to do

- Hand Made Gifts -
Maybe you are a crafty person! DIY things are very cool gifts! I made my Momma a decorated trashcan for her sewing table using an empty oatmeal canister.
Maybe you are not crafty, but wish you were. Well my dear, there are a bunch of tutorials out there…google some things and have at it! Maybe this year, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, or personalized cards will be hand made by you.

I know as someone who has received such gifts, it's a very special way of being told that someone loves you enough to spend the time in making something for you with their hands.

- Learn to Crochet/Knit -
YAY! Now that I've convinced you to make something, knitting or crocheting something is a simple project, and is something that can be used to create quite intricate and complex patterns. With this you can make everything from pot holders, coasters, washrags, to table runners to clothing!

You can listen to music, talk, watch TV, take your projects on vacation, or just about anything you want to do!

Enjoy your projects!

- Volunteer -
This year make a point to do things purposefully benefiting someone else. Volunteer your time and resources and expect nothing in return!

Maybe babysit for free for your best friend to on a date with her husband.
Teach a class at church.
Volunteer to take meals to the couple who just had their baby.

- Do your best work. Always -
I'm not arguing that your boss is a nice guy, actually he might just make your life a nightmare! But do your best. Get your work done well. Get your tasks done on time. Honor your boss.

Your performance is noticed.

- Stay in touch with loved ones -
Life gets hectic sometimes, I know. I'm a college student. I know somewhat of insanity. But there is always time to send a text, email, write a letter, call, or something to tell a friend we remember that they exist and that we haven't actually died yet.
It's a wonder that I didn't die of insomnia as a freshman, but I survived…and my friends remember that I would still take time to send them "I love you" messages.

I treasure the cards, letters, and memories of when THEY would take time out of their crazy lives and remind me that they loved me and I am special to them.

This year, commit to loving your family and friends more than you love watching the game and more than you love falling asleep in a pile of novels.

- 10 People. 10 Blessings. -
Ever had a awful day, and God does something special to remind you that He's still right there with you?

I love to see people smile, and I love to tell people that Jesus Christ is REAL! So when I think about it, I buy people dinner. Once I was on a date with my Daddy, and a homeless man came to our table asking for a quarter. Daddy didn't have change with him, and so the man walked away. I followed him and discovered, he had all the money needed for his dinner…except the quarter. He saw me standing beside him, and while I couldn't give him a quarter, I told the two people he was trying to purchase his meal from, and told them I would be paying for his order.

You see, that is not my generosity, that is God's love and mercy that He has put into me, and He uses to minister to people through me.

That is the giving side of it. But what's it like on the receiving side? I've had complete strangers pay for my food and it's just stunning, I'd never expect a person I don't know to come purposely choose to buy my dinner. It's a beautiful thing, and it reminds me of God's faithfulness.

So, what can you do to bless 10 people this year?

Buy the meal of the person behind you at the drive-thru.
Baby sit for free.
Send someone a special card.
Take someone hunting.

What will you do? Please comment with ideas! This one excites me to see what you will do this year!

- Unplug -
I doubt it shocks anyone anymore when they look around and most people are engrossed with some screen. I mean, I get excited when I see someone reading a book, like you know, with paper and ink in it!
But what is wonderfully shocking…is when someone unplugs themselves and spends time away from their desk and electronics!

Maybe make it your goal this year to unplug one day a week. Spend that day reading, or hiking, or just being around people you love. Maybe pick up a game in your new found time?

Ephesians 6:5-9
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To the New Year - Writing Goals (Part 1 of 7)

So this is the first of my New Years posts….day one of 2014 seemed like the time to do it.

I'm sure many of you know those who have "new years resolutions". It tends to be promises they do not keep, such as:

An impossible weight-loss plan.
Impractical financial goals.
Insane travel itineraries.

Most people don't keep their new years resolutions because it starts without much thought, it just is "something you do". It's so easy to find a bunch of things you would like to do, and then try them all, and thus bite off too much to chew.

Here is my advice, for what it is worth. If you would like to make a goal, first pray about it, don't just jump onto it because it's a good idea. Take some time to think about what you want to do and look over your schedule to see if it will work, then revisit the idea and be sure that it furthers your goals to look more like Christ. Sometimes we need to say NO to making new goals that we might accomplish the things we've already committed to, and this is wisdom. Sometimes we need to say YES to new things that God might stretch and grow us, pushing us far from our comfort zone that we might shine all the brighter for His glory. So, here are some idea's that I've put together, maybe some would benefit you.

- Many ideas here were thought of by my friends, and a few friends donated their valued time to write about their ideas.
- Goals that *I*, personally, will be doing for the FIRST time this year, are titled in italics.

Writing Goals

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
~ Benjamin Franklin
- Write a Blog -
When you think of blogs, you may think of a blogger Mom who seems to post way too often, or maybe a nature blog that gives overly detailed information about the black Jaguar's genetic coding….and you are not interested in writing a obsessive political blog or maybe you don't have the time to commit to posting an award winning photograph every single day for the next year. If you think blogs take time, you would be RIGHT. It is an investment of your time and energy.

Writing a blog is an investment, it is a worthy one.

I prayed about a blog for nearly three years before I went ahead with the venture. I knew what sort of blog I wanted to write, one that encouraged Christians and displayed my faith, but I knew that the "when" I began was very important. I spoke with many friends who are bloggers, and I interviewed them with several questions about the practical reasons, benefits, and problems with blogging, as well as why they blogged. I took my time in growing my purpose for this blog, it took over a year for the title to evolve to it's current state, and it was it's own outward display of inward spiritual beliefs.

So, all that to say:
- take your time in doing this, but do it.
- it's okay to grow ideas as you go along.
- it's an investment of effort and time.
- it's going to display to the world what you believe, so know what you believe.

I have blogged with both Blogger and WordPress and both are good sources. Blogger is a much simpler platform, and WordPress is a more professional platform. I prefer Blogger for the simplicity of it.

I hope you start up a blog this year! If you do please post a link to your blog in the comment section of this post!

- NaNoWriMo -
Maybe you are already a writer of novels, blog posts, essays, papers, maybe you've already written your dissertation! If you enjoy pressing deadlines, losing sleep without getting paid for it, and the satisfaction of seeing your story come to life…NaNoWriMo might be what you've been waiting for.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (November). It is a writing challenge, lasting 30 intense days, where you have the chance to write 50,000 words of fiction! If you succeed and accomplish this lofty goal, you will be rewarded with being a champion and victor! Winner's have the chance of having their completed novels published.

I've done NaNoWriMo, and it's a LOT of fun! This last year I was unable to participate, so I wrote some tips and ideas for the NaNos here.

If you want to do it, but aren't sure exactly how to prepare for it, try this challenge.

I hope you get the chance to compete some year! It really is a ton of fun!

- Journal -
This is something that I believe everyone ought to do. If God has given you the blessing of knowing how to write, then you ought to write. If you've never considered journalling, I propose the idea as a noble one. God commanded the Israelites to make markers of His blessings and Providence in their history, this was that in times of trial they might remember His enduring faithfulness. Journalling can do the same thing in your own life.

Personally, I am not a faithful journaller, I do it in random spurts when I think about it. But I will say this, when I look back at my writing I can see God's hand in my life, constantly growing me, and I can watch my faith deepen. It is incredibly encouraging to have the ability to look back and see where I was and where I am today.

Journalling is a way of getting thoughts out of my mind. I'm a word person, my mind gets so full of thoughts that it gets hard to think with so many thoughts going at the same time! But when I write them out, I have the chance to organize them, and then once they are out, it is much quieter in my head, and I can go about my day with more patience and thoughtfulness.

If you aren't sure about this idea, remember journalling can be just about anything! Maybe you can write one sentence each day, or if you are a prolific writer you will write more. Maybe you could make each Sunday a "recap of the week" sort of day! Or, every trip you go on, take your notebook and document where you go and what you see. I do that, and always think of the Lewis and Clark.

Maybe getting a pretty journal would be fun.

Journal topics:
- Journey to eating healthier
- Vacation memories
- Favorite moments
- Thought of the day
- Scripture commentary
- Prayer

During the fall of 2013 I began my adventure to a healthier lifestyle, and went out and bought the biggest bright pink journal (400 pages!) I could find, and I began to write in it all my successes and failures as my journey began.

So, your journal is not relegated to some boring topic, just write what interests you!

- Hand Written Letters-
Maybe this is old school, but it's one of the sweetest things me and my friends do, in my opinion. There are few things that brighten a day like checking the mail and finding a precious hand written letter from my friends.

A hand written letter means my friend sat down, took time out of her day, thought her words through, and patiently wrote her thoughts out for me. It's totally different than an email or text. I can write a text while walking through Wallyworld…I can type up a few hundred words in an email in a few minutes and keep going in stride. BUT…hand writing a letter to a friend. I have to pause all other life, I seek out quiet, I slow down my thoughts, I pour my heart into that envelope. I lick the glue to seal the letter, I place the stamp, write the addresses, then somewhere on the envelope I write "Psalm 103".

My day is so bright when I get a letter! And it's satisfying to flip up the mail boxes flag when I put a letter in the mail, knowing in a few days I would make a special friend's day brighter.

If you have never been one to send "snail mail", I encourage you to start! It's a lost art! If you write a few letters every now and then, please write more! So much love goes into each letter, and it's certainly felt when your recipient opens and reads your letter, it's  beautiful thing!

- Jar of Memories -
So, last year I saw an idea online, about writing little notes about good, fun, happy, exciting, etc. things that happened throughout the year, and putting them each in a jar. So that at the end of the year, I could open them all up and see the blessings that God had given to me through the year. Maybe you could think of it as journalling meets "message in a bottle" idea.
I enjoyed it and thought it was fun, maybe you might like to do it this year.

How ever you all go about the year, do it with vigor!

Colossians 3:16-17

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."