Happy New Year! It is finally officially here. Some of us are much too happy to say goodbye to 2016 and ready to start a brand new year. Before I get too far into this blog I need to stop and wish my husband a Happy 14th anniversary. I love you. I am looking forward to another fabulous and blessed year with you!
On New Year’s Eve I was out shopping trying to buy a printer before the year ended. I got dressed and I went to the local office supply store to get the one I wanted. I walked in the store and headed straight for the printers. There were several options to choose from, so I kept experimenting waiting on a salesperson to come and help me out. Before I knew it at least 15 minutes had passes and nobody had come to check on me. All I needed was somebody to come over and help me get it off of the shelf. No one showed up. Pretty soon I got tired of waiting and went up to the front to inform someone that I needed some assistance with the printers.
The guy said he would send someone back there, but five minutes later, no one came. Now I was getting irritated and decided I was going to a different store. On my way out the door, I sarcastically thanked the guy for sending someone back to help me. The employees looked dumbfounded. I wasn’t going to give them an opportunity to make it up to me.
Rather than going immediately to the other store, I headed home to tell my husband what had happened and that they had lost my business for good. My husband knew how much I wanted needed that printer so went straight to the store to talk with the store manager. Once he began to share my story, they changed their tune to one of an apology with discounts. They wanted to make it right and did.
Typically when someone has a change of tune they are typically going from bad to good or they simply have an improvement in their attitude. I’m sure I heard my Mother back in the day telling me or my sisters that we “had better change or tune.” The change was usually immediate to keep from getting into further trouble.
The Bible says in Psalm 96:1-2 “Sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.” In fact there are five other scriptures that speak of singing a “new” song. Does this mean that we should stop singing the songs of old? Of course not, but are times that the old song just doesn’t quite meet the need or be adequate for the occasion. When you sing the same old songs and never open our hearts to a new song in our heart, our worship and praise can become complacent. A change of tune may be a better expression of gratitude.
Think about it. I have my favorite gospel stations on Pandora that I listen to. There are times when they slip something in new that I will give a “thumbs down” because I am comfortable with the same old songs. I already know all the words to my favorites and don’t want any disruptions. Every now and then I hear a new song that catches my attention and gives me a new praise insight. I remember in 2015 the first time I heard Anthony Brown’s song “Worth”. That song had a special meaning to me and really spoke to my heart. Before long I was singing that song throughout my day to in thanksgiving to God. In other words I had changed my tune.
As I was having my personal end of the year devotion and meditation, I felt encouraged to change my tune in my prayer life. I realize I have gotten into a routine and even though I am excited to spend that time in the morning I need a refresh. My mind went back to the movie “The War Room”. Even though I enjoyed the movie, I didn’t think about creating a war room since I have a private home office. I was inspired to create one and talked to my daughter about setting it up in her old closet. She was actually excited about the idea and said it could be hers and mine.
In my quiet time, I also realized my prayer methodology needs to be recharged. As a Pastor’s wife prayer requests come in all the time and as a result I spend most of my prayer time praying for my family, my church, my friends, my coworkers, my prayer partners, my Facebook friends, and myself. I have gotten away from the other important elements of prayer. Rather than making a New Year’s resolution, I am committing to changing my tune when it comes to prayer and ensure I am using the ACTS prayer method.
· Adoration – Psalm 145:3
· Confession – 1 John 1:9
· Thanksgiving – Ephesians 5:20
· Supplication – 1 Timothy 2:1
Once again, Happy New Year! “Behold the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you” (Isiah 42:9 NASB). I am excited about 2017 and ready to sing a new song. What about you? What areas in your life need a change of tune?
Happy New Year Blessings,
On Friday night I received one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. Since I had a horrible sinus headache most of the day, after work I went straight home so I could relax for the evening. By 6:30 I had taken some medicine and was in my warmest pajamas glancing through magazines waiting for my husband to come home. Both of us had eaten a big lunch so we didn’t have to have to figure out what we were going to eat nor did either one of us have to cook dinner. It was my kind of evening with the peace and quiet I needed to prepare for all that needed to be done by Christmas day.
We climbed into the bed and while I continued to look through my magazines, my hubby scanned Netflix to find a movie for us to watch. Fifteen minutes later we settled on a movie when my phone rang. It was my son asking me if I had received the package he had sent me. I asked my husband if he had seen a package on the porch and he said he hadn’t looked. I climbed out of bed and opened the door to check to see if a package was hidden in the corner of the porch. As I was getting ready to respond that there was not package there, I saw feet approaching the porch. I looked up in shock because first of all I was wearing my pajamas, and secondly because there was more than one person coming towards me.
As I looked up I recognized a familiar face, it was my son Austin! He was followed by his wife and daughter. All I could do was scream with excitement. I scared my husband because he didn’t know what was going on. Soon he realized I was not screaming out of fear but out of joy. I grabbed my son and couldn’t hug them tight enough. This is one of the few times in my life my children have been able to surprise me. I couldn’t believe they had pulled it off. This was the first time in over seven years that he had been able to come home for Christmas. What made the visit extra special was they just got married in June and this is their first Christmas together.
Later in the evening when I was pondering the events of the day, my mind began to dwell on the Christmas story. I thought about how Mary and Joseph even though she was ready to deliver, had to travel back to their family’s home town to participate in the census. Luke 2:3-4 tells the story. “Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.” So in reality, Mary and Joseph went home for Christmas.
The song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas was originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home for Christmas, but could not come home because of the war (World war II). It was later recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby. When I listen to this song every year I can’t help but think about all of our children who are away from us. Eight years ago we were surrounded by all of our children with the exception of one. Now, our children are scattered across the United States.
With our own children being away from home, now I understand why my Mother used to be so excited to see us during the holidays. Once we were grown, two of us relocated out of state. Regardless of where were have lived, we always make plans to visit our home town during the month of December. Even though Mom is gone now, home is still a special place to be around the holidays. My Dad is tickled to see his daughters and his son in laws and his grandchildren.
According to AAA (Triple A) approximately 103 million Americans are traveling for the holidays. Of those travelers 94 million are driving. Most likely travelers are visiting family or returning home. Even though there are so many traveling during this season there are inevitably persons who are not able to be with family for the holidays. So what do you do when you can’t spend the holidays with family. Here are three suggestions:
1. Celebrate Christmas electronically. Send out texts to friends, family and coworkers wishing them love, peace and joy for the season. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Have a skype conversation or a face-time conversation with friends or family who live out of town.
2. Join in with another family. There is no reason to be alone for the holidays. You most likely have friends who are getting together with their family. My daughter has a college friend who was unable to make it home, so we were happy to have her join our family.
3. Celebrate Christmas by going to church. With Christmas being on Sunday this year, get up and get dressed and spend time with your church family on Christmas. Celebrate the birth of Jesus and the real reason for the season.
From our family to yours, we will you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Christmas holidays are the times families come together and share meals, gifts and love towards one another. Every December, my sisters and I set aside a day to spend with one another and our families in Oklahoma. I always look forward to fellowshipping with my extended family and seeing how much my nieces and nephews have grown. This year our gathering was extra special because my oldest sister and Dad had experienced life threatening illness this year. It was a blessing that all of us could be together in one place. Celebrating Christmas with my sisters is never about the gifts we give one another, however my baby sister gave each one of us a memorable t-shirt quilt made from our mom and dad’s favorite t-shirts. What a wonderful family heirloom to cherish forever.
While driving to Oklahoma for our get together, my husband was enjoying the scenery and we were in deep conversation, so he forgot how fast he was going until he saw the red lights in the rear view mirror heading our way. He glanced at his dashboard and realized why the lights were flashing. His immediate response was “I just got me a big fat ticket for Christmas.” Thinking about the price tag of the violation, I told him to think positive, after all we had just been listening to a sermon by Joel Osteen, who was reminding us that whatever we think in our minds will come to past. I immediately followed his statement with “it is Christmas, so he is going to let us go.” It turns out that God showed us favor and the officer returned to the car and said, “Because it’s Christmas, I’m going to give you a verbal warning.” Praise God! In other words, he was going to forgive my hubby for driving beyond the speed limit and let bygones be bygones!
Bygone is a term that means “Allow the unpleasant things that have happened in the past to be forgotten.” According to The Phrase Finder site (englishblog.com), William Shakespeare first used the term in his play, The Winter’s Tale in the year 1611. Later in 1936, Scottish churchman Samuel Rutherford wrote the phrase in a letter to acknowledge his debt to God for past behaviors. "Pray that byegones betwixt me and my Lord may be byegones." The term is used often and refers to past events that were unpleasant such as quarrels or debts.
Over the course of my life I have experienced many quarrels and debts that have left me angry and frustrated. Now when I look back even though I remember what happened, the events don’t have the same effect on me as they did in the past. There are people I am no longer angry at, there are wounds that have healed and I can have conversations with them as though nothing has happened. Why remain in the past, continuing to be a victim and allowing whatever happened to make me miserable in the present?
Here are 5 ways to let bygones be bygones.
1. Quit thinking about how you were wronged –The more you dwell on something and complain the worse your story gets. Soon you will develop righteous indignation telling others about how someone has wronged you.2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (CEV) says: I will forgive anyone you forgive. Yes, for your sake and with Christ as my witness, I have forgiven whatever needed to be forgiven. I have done this to keep Satan from getting the better of us. We all know what goes on in his mind.”
2. Admit your responsibility and your wrongs – Many times we get so caught up in making the situation the other person’s fault that we forget that it take two to tango. Step back and look at the situation and realize where you have contributed to the problem. Proverbs 28:13 (CEV) – “If you don’t confess your sins, you will be a failure. But God will be merciful if you confess your sins and give them up.”
3. Move on – Just let it go. In other words move on. If you really stop and think about what the argument or quarrel was about it the first place, it’s probably not worth it. Isaiah 43:18-19 – “Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Don’t you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.”
4. Make the deliberate choice to demonstrate love - Life is too short to hold grudges for years and years. When we show love towards one another, it is easier to forgive and move one. I Peter 4:8 (CEV) reminds us, “Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins. In any relationship whether it is a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a coworker or even church member, because we are all different we are going to experience conflict and disagreements. However if we show Godly love for one another we can continue to show love even though we may not always agree.
5. Remember God has forgiven you – My sins against God are many, and if He can forgive me for the wrongs I have done, surely I should consider forgiving others. Ephesians 4:31-32 (CEV) says: “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.”
So I have said all of this to say, it’s Christmas... Show up at your Christmas gatherings with the gift of peace. Remember to let your bygones be bygones!
The holidays are exciting for most families; however without planning, holidays for stepfamilies can be disastrous. My husband and I are a blended family of eight children and have been married for over thirteen years. Starring out we really struggled on almost all of the holidays whether it was Christmas, Easter, Father's Day or Mother's Day. Through our trials and tribulations we would like to share our top ten tips for ensuring a happy holiday season.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan – It has been said if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Preparations must be made early in the year. Where will children spend the holidays, how will you celebrate the big events like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s?
2. Manage Step Schedules – Standard visitation schedules means sharing children with the other parent. If you had Thanksgiving this year, children may spend Christmas day with the other parent. Coordinate and be considerate of others, especially the children. Share calendar dates for additional activities such as programs, parties and other events at church, school or work.
3. Manage Expectations – Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Do not make promises you are unable to keep. Be realistic and communicate with everyone in the stepfamily system.
4. Establish New Holiday Traditions – Families have traditions around when, where, with whom, and how they celebrate holidays. Even holiday decorations and gift opening can be a source of contention when everyone wants to do things the way they used to. Combine the best of both worlds and make new memories and traditions.
5. Manage Holiday Budgets – Discuss how much you will spend for the holidays especially related to gift buying. Decide how much money will be spent on each child. One way to save money and avoid competition with the biological parent is to discuss gift choices and split costs.
6. Holiday Meals - Involve everyone in meal planning and consider dietary restrictions. Be strategic in seating arrangements. The husband and wife should sit in the King/Queen position at the table. Seat younger children closest to their biological parent if possible. Know everyone’s favorite dishes. Include children in cooking and planning. Inform adult children of what items they are to contribute.
7. Consider Extended Family – Children in stepfamilies may have as many as four sets of grandparents. Do not overextend your family time by trying to visit everyone in one day. Think of the holidays as a season rather than only one day and make plans with extended family accordingly.
8. Manage Guest Lists – Discuss guest lists with everyone to avoid surprises such as children inviting your ex to a holiday dinner. Be ready to explain your choices.
9. Learn From Mistakes – It won’t take long to figure out what went well and what went not so well. Make adjustments accordingly and get a head start by beginning next year’s holiday planning no later than the end of June.
10. Remember the Reason for the Season – Never forget holidays are about family, fellowship and food. Put aside your differences and have a happy holiday!
As I attempted to get dressed this morning on my way to a luncheon, I had quite a time finding my favorite boots. Last spring I tucked them away for the warmer weather and got out all of my sandals. Where did I put them? I rummaged through my closet for about ten minutes before I figured out what I had done with them. To my amazement I had put all of my boots into a lovely pink and black polka-dot bag that was stored under the bed. When I went back to the closet, I had shoes thrown all over the place. As I grabbed my purse and ran out of the house I vowed that I would not go to sleep tonight until I cleaned my closet out. I knew that if I didn’t address it sooner or later, it was going to be a major problem.
When I came back home I began the awesome task of cleaning out my main closet. Yes, I have more than one, but don’t judge. Being a pastor’s wife and full time employee requires having the right clothes for the right occasion. As I began to clean, I decided I would donate some clothes to charity. Yes, it’s great to get the tax deduction, but more importantly it feels good to be able to walk in the closet and not get hit upside the head by a shoebox or trip over a belt.
So what’s in my closet? My wardrobe contains work clothes, church clothes, workout clothes, casual clothes and my favorite grunge wear. There are summer clothes, winter clothes, fall clothes and spring clothes. I have clothes in two different sizes just in case I don’t work out like I am supposed to. Readily available are shoes of all kinds including boots, sandals, tennis shoes, pumps, slides, sling backs, and flats. A full rainbow of colors can be found including multiple pairs of black shoes. If you look at the top of the closet and you will find an assortment of purses and hats. Finally there is armoire full of jewelry that contains necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pins.
It’s sad. I simply have too much stuff. Okay I admit it. I like to blame having too many clothes on growing up and always having to wear my sisters’ used clothing. Yes, Mom would buy me new things, but when you are the third girl in the family, it’s natural to inherit a huge portion your sister’s clothing. I was thankful when I finally grew taller than them and my feet outgrew theirs.
Okay, I have revealed what’s in my closet, but of course I have deliberately not told you everything. I failed to mention the things with price tags still on them because I bought them compulsively. I did not comment about the clothes that are too little for me yet I keeping promising myself I will be able to fit them again. I conveniently left out the fact that I have clothes that are also too big but I hang on to them just in case of such an emergency. Okay yes, I forgot to tell you that my earrings are all over the jewelry box and I have to sometimes spend 2-3 minutes or more trying to find a match. I didn’t discuss the clothes in the closet with missing buttons, broken zippers, or loose hems that I have promised myself I would fix months or years ago. There are shoes stored away in boxes that need to go to the shoe shop. Oops, I forgot to mention the shoes that hurt my feet so bad I promised I would never wear them again. There are a few things that are still in the closet because I paid a hefty price for them. I am proud that I was able to afford them, but the items are now out of style or useless to me. Lastly are the things I received from others. For some reason when other people give me stuff, it’s hard for me to throw it away. I may not have even liked the gift, but because someone gave it to me I kept it just in case they asked about it.
As I looked at my closet, I couldn’t help think about the closet of my heart. What do I have stored in my heart that needs to be thrown away or given away? Here are six things we must address to empty our cluttered spiritual closet.
1. Unconfessed sin – I John 1:9 (CEV) But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and his message isn’t in our hearts.
2. Excessive worry – Philippians 4:6-7 (CEV) – Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.
3. Selfishness – 2 Corinthians 9:7 (CEV) - Each of you must make up your mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give.
4. Pride – Philippians 2:3-4 (CEV) - Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought.
5. Unforgiveness – Ephesians 4:31-32 (CEV) - Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.
6. Other people’s issues – Galatians 6:1-2 (CEV) - My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself.
After four hours of focusing on what really needs to be in my closet, I was able to get rid of five large bags of things cannot use or don’t need in my closet. Now my closet is clean and I no longer need to keep my closet door closed. How about you, what’s hiding in your closet?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach