Monday, December 31, 2007

Goals are great in 2008

Every year on New Year’s day I set aside a little quiet time to reflect on the coming year. Prayerfully I set goals in four major areas of my life; spiritual, physical, mental, and social. When I was a child, my dad encouraged us to write out our goals every year. This became a habit in my life - a very good one. It helps me regroup, think ahead and make positive plans for the future. Okay, so I don’t keep up with every one of my goals, but it sets me off on the right foot as I begin the year.
Goals need to be conceivable and believable (dad taught us that too). No pie in the sky stuff, but realistic expectations of what you want to strive for in the coming year. Our goals should not be dependant on other people’s actions. These are personal goals. For instance, instead of setting a goal that you will have little Susie potty trained by May, make it your goal to implement a daily potty training plan for the Spring, the result is up to Susie. Another goal for yourself may be to read one book per month (or per quarter, well maybe per year depending on how busy your life is right now – remember be realistic). A spiritual goal may be to read the Bible everyday and spend time in prayer daily keeping a prayer journal. A social goal may be to join a mom’s group like MOPS or Hearts for Home or plan to meet one friend for lunch each week. Physical goals (sorry, I hate to think about this especially after the holidays) may include a desired weight or a weekly work out routine.
This year I’m trying something new. I’m going to review my goals at the beginning of each week, just to remind myself what I set out to accomplish and revisit how I am doing. It is a good idea to not only review your goals, but also have an accountability partner to encourage you through out the year. It may be your spouse or a good friend, but find someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing your goals and asking for support. Finally, our most important goal is to honor God with our lives and draw close to him. Micah 6:8 gives us a tremendous spiritual goal for the year. It says, “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Let’s make the year great in 2008, as we walk humbly with our God!

Family fun: Call a family meeting and talk about goals. Encourage each child to set goals in the four main areas of their life: spiritual, physical, social and mental. Provide a place for the kids to record their goals, whether it is a journal or a poster board or colorful paper. Type out Philippians 3:13, 14 and give to each of your family members to put with their goals. Pray together as a family for God’s blessing on the New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After

Well friends, it is the day after Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring (except my husband who already left for work). The quiet is nice. We’ve enjoyed a wonderful time with family and friends for the last few days, and I’m so grateful for the joyful fellowship not to mention the delicious food. One discussion I particularly enjoyed occurred Christmas morning at my dad’s house. First let me tell you about my dad, Garry Kinder. He is a godly leader, full of integrity. By trade he trains, coaches and motivates managers and agents in the insurance industry. He leads by example and teaches with words of wisdom. On Christmas morning before opening presents we sat around his living room and he shared with us several powerful principles for life. In a nutshell here they are:

Be yourself, but be your best self
Forgive Self
Forgive Others
Set Goals
Compete but don’t compare
Christians are not called to respond to the critic; Christians are called to respond to God

Honestly, dad’s words were the greatest Christmas present any of us could have received, for they weren’t temporary little trinkets, they were words for life. I hope you will find them helpful to you and your family as well. Let me encourage you to take time between Christmas and New Years to relax and reflect on who God is and the powerful difference He makes in your life. Be still and know He is God as you enjoy this time of renewal. I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and I look forward to visiting again as we move toward the New Year.

Family Fun: Encourage your family to take some time to relax and reflect during this week. Share several of the life principles mentioned above with your family. I would add the importance of gratitude, and encourage your family to write thank you notes to the people who gave them gifts. As a family you may want to decorate cards and create personalized thank you notes. Start the habit early to encourage your family to write their words of gratitude for the gifts they received. Even a small simple note is meaningful and starts a good habit at an early age. I set out large white envelopes on the kitchen counter after Christmas, each addressed to those who gave us gifts. I encourage the kids to write their thank you notes and insert them into the large white envelopes, and I try to have them in the mail before the new year begins.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Perfect Gifts

Have you bought all your gifts yet? Most likely you are tired of people asking you that question. Our answers may range from a boastful “yes!” to a humble “I haven’t even started” or somewhere inbetween. When I think about finding the “perfect” gifts for my family and friends, my mind glazes over in a fog, but I want to present to you three perfect gifts we can give this year. They may not reduce your Christmas list, but they will create eternal blessings for you and your family and friends. All three of the following gifts create an overflowing joy in our lives and in the lives of others.

Compassion. In Matthew 25:40 we read, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” We give to the Lord when we reach out and give to others. Opportunities abound during the holidays whether it is volunteering at a hospital, donating gifts or serving in food lines. I want to encourage you to pray for God to lead you to the place you and your family can serve. Don’t let it be just a Christmas season participation. Carry this opportunity of service throughout the year, reaching out to others and loving and serving in His name.
Forgiveness. Is there someone you need to forgive? Are you holding onto bitterness and anger? This Christmas, release it and give the gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness means you are giving up the right to hold something over another person. It does not mean you are saying it is okay to do what you did to me again. When you give the gift of forgiveness you are actually giving yourself the gift of freedom for you will no longer be entrapped by your resentment. Seek God’s help (forgiveness is not always easy), but decide today you are going to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us, “Forgive each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”
Thanks. Great joy erupts from a thankful heart. Psalms 136:26 tells us, “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Let’s be women who give thanks to God continually. Our family, friends and co-workers will be blessed by being around a person who is grateful. The opposite of being a grateful person is a grumbler and we know people are not blessed by a grumbler! So let’s make an intentional choice to give thanks to the Lord for His love and kindness, counting our blessings each day.

Yes, this season is all about giving. Certainly the “perfect gift” is not something we give to others, rather it is what God gave to us by sending His only Son to die on the cross for us. God gave the ultimate gift, which motivates us to give to others. Happy Giving!

Family Fun: Together as a family, wrap three empty boxes with plain wrapping paper. Label the boxes: Compassion, Forgiveness, Thanks. Place them under the tree and talk about the fact that these are three gifts we can give to Jesus this holiday season and all year long.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Christmas Hustle

Are you doing the Christmas Hustle?
You know the steps:
buying and wrapping presents,
baking favorite recipes,
visiting with friends and family,
writing and addressing Christmas cards
and going to festive parties and programs.
Let me assure you, you are not alone.
As moms, we all know the steps to the Christmas hustle quite well.
The question is, are we enjoying the dance or are we simply going through the motions? My friends, there can be joy in the dance! When we turn our eyes toward Christ and step into a relationship with Him, the dance has meaning. We begin to see the activities of Christmas in a new light and recognize a greater purpose…the purpose of celebrating God’s love for us demonstrated through his Son Jesus. Let’s keep our eyes on the bigger picture of the celebration of God’s wonderful redemption for the world. As we allow these thoughts to lead us in the dance of Christmas we experience a great joy and an underlying peace. Perspective is everything, and having an eternal perspective prevents us from stumbling over little frustrations and meaningless endeavors. Join me in devoting each day of this season to Him and asking for His love, joy and peace to fill our hearts. II Peter 1:3 says, “As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a Godly life.” Amen!

Family Fun: Make crowns using poster board. Allow the kids to color and decorate with sequins, stickers and gems. Tell the kids the Christmas story as seen through the eyes of one of the wise men who came to visit Jesus in Luke 2. If you have older kids, allow them to tell the story. Praise God together for being King of King and Lord of Lords.

Family Conversation Starter: What gives you joy or makes you happy at Christmas time? What makes you angry or sad?