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Archive for the ‘Ecclesiastes’ Category

A feast is made for laughter, And wine makes merry; But money answers everything. Ecclesiastes 10:19 (NKJV)

Financial guru Suze Orman is known for telling people “FICO first, then sex.”  What she means is that you need to find out your date’s FICO score, which is a measure of how likely someone is to pay their bills on time or repay a loan, before you get more serious about a relationship.  Researchers at the Brookings Institution, the Federal Reserve Board and UCLA suggest credit scores may also offer important insight when it comes to long-term relationships.  Jane Dokko, one of the authors, told TODAY’s A. Pawlowski[i]  “We find that the farther apart the two people’s scores are, the more likely they are to separate.”  She added, “One possible explanation is the idea that the credit scores don’t just measure how likely you are to pay your bills on time, but that particular behavior is generally correlated with more general reliability, or how trustworthy you are.”

Here are some of the other findings of the research which focused on the Equifax “risk score:”

  • People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships than those with lower financial grades.
  • Partners who each have a high credit score at the start of their romance are more likely to stay together.
  • Couples with the lowest average scores at the beginning of their relationship are up to three times more likely to separate than couples with the highest average scores.
  • People tend to pair up with partners who have a similar financial grade.

Pawlowski writes that “In a way, credit scores may offer a glimpse into someone’s character. A person who fulfills his financial commitments — like repaying a loan — may be equally serious about his commitment to be faithful and supportive of his spouse.  When partners have a big gap in their scores, it’s a mismatch in trust-worthiness that may affect the stability of a household. (will continue)

Father, help me to pay attention to the financial aspects of our life.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/will-your-relationship-last-your-credit-score-may-hold-answer-t49116

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Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:9 (NKJV)

For those of us who have been married for some time we know that marriage can be both a source of joy and sorrows. Through ups and downs, couples can bolster their happiness by following these five tips from Meghan Holohan[i] that real life couples find work for them.

Share the housework.  According to research, couples that share in the household duties, including cooking, cleaning, and child care, enjoy more sex and are happier than couples where the woman does the traditional “feminine” tasks and the man tackles the traditional “manly” tasks.

All you need is love.  It is not enough to feel it but to expressing it to each other and reminding yourself of the other’s love for you can help strengthen relationships.

Pack your bags, but not the kids.  Sometimes taking a break from the kids and focusing on the each other is what you need as it helps you to reconnect while allowing your kids to gain some independence.

I want to hold your hand.  Holding hands gives strength, comfort, and affection to each other while showing everyone else you love each other.  Such closeness is not only good for you but it may serve as a deterrent for others who may want to establish a relationship with you or your spouse.

Have fun together.  As someone said, “Couples that play together, stay together.”  Laugh together. Go on trips, hikes, vacations, and adventures together. Play games. Share new experiences and have fun together to boost the health and strength of your marriage.

Sometimes all we need to save or strengthen our marriage is a few small changes.  Begin with just one of these for several days or weeks before implementing the next one and watch your relationship turn better each day.  Oh, and don’t forget to pray daily, together, and for each other.  We can do anything with Christ’s help.

Father God, may make small changes toward a better relationship.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/tips-successful-marriage-real-life-couples-t40991

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV)

Shelby Marra,[i] writing for TODAY, asks, “How do you move into the lofty world of high achievers? The first step is to believe in yourself and know that you deserve success.”  She refers to research of Dr. Suzanne Gelb, a clinical psychologist and life coach of 28 years based in Hawaii, who writes that “although many women have a hard time overcoming social stigmas –such as the outdated belief that women cannot be competent employees and mothers at the same time– once a woman realizes her full potential and rids her mind of toxic thoughts, she can take over the world, Beyoncé style.”  Gelb gives her top tips on how people, particularly women, can become and remain high achievers, particularly in three aspects of their life. Today: Work.

  1. Find a mentor. Surround yourself with like-minded professionals provides you with the inspiration to be your own personal best in the workplace, while at the same time providing you with a network of support and guidance.
  2. Enjoy the process and keep an open mind. It is easy, particularly for women, to become frustrated and impatient when developments at work or in their careers take too long or don’t happen exactly as they imagined. It’s important for you to remain diligent and passionate while also being open to pursuing all opportunities presented to you, even if it’s not what you originally had in mind for yourself.  When God closes one door, He opens another one.
  3. Go for it! As Marra writes, “Allow yourself to explore new business ventures or speak up in a work meeting about something you feel strongly about. Apply for that job opening, even if you are underqualified. Ask your boss about negotiating a raise. Do not underestimate yourself, and simply go for it!”

You don’t have to settle for what you have or for what you’re doing as if that were your only choice.  Keep trying until you are satisfied with the options you have.

Father God, help me to not be satisfied with less than I can do but to be and succeed at doing what you have planned for me.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/how-become-high-achieving-woman-work-your-relationship-parent-t33071?cid=eml_tes_20150718

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Save for the future – 1

For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. Ecclesiastes 7:12 (NKJV)

According to an article by Jean Chatzky of TODAY,[i] the savings rate has been hovering around 5.5% ; in other words, we’re saving 5.5% of our income this year, which is better than the past two years.  Of concern is that Americans under age 35 are still spending more than they’re making, which means they are taking on debt as a result, while those 55 and over are saving 13%.  If you’d like to see yourself saving more, Chatzky has a few suggestions for how to jump-start yourself mid-year!

  1. Discounts you’re not getting: For instance, 84% of Americans never asked for car insurance discounts. Discounts are generally available for self-reported driver information like mileage, marital status, occupation, academic standing and defensive driving skill. If you drive no more than 5,000 miles a year you will pay an average of 8% less than someone who drives 15,000 miles. If you’re married you will generally pay less than singles, and teachers, nurses and accountants are all viewed as safer drivers, and can save money because of it. Call your insurance company and ask your agent what discounts may be available to you.
  2. Money you could be earning on your checking account. According to Bankrate, there are 20 checking accounts paying an interest rate of 2% or more. Of course, there are some stipulations to get that yield. For instance, you must make a certain number of debit card transactions each month, sign up for direct deposit, or use the bank’s online bill pay system. But if you can all of that, these accounts may be worth it.  Do some research to see if your bank offers a plan to help you earn more interest on your money.

The key is looking for ways to save, by both cutting down on your expenses and by receiving more income from any source possible, and then put that extra money aside, saving it for your future.

Father God, give me the wisdom to use the money you give me to take care of my needs, save for the future, and help others.

[i] http://www.today.com/money/here-are-some-easy-ways-reboot-your-savings-efforts-t23696?cid=eml_tes_20150601

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Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Ecclesiastes 4:11 (NKJV)

It’s estimated more than 3.5 million married people in the U.S. live apart for a variety of reasons, including because of their job, and not necessarily because of marital discord.  Researchers at The Family Institute at Northwestern University have discovered that spouses who live in separate homes report being less anxious and depressed than couples who live under one roof.[i]

They survey of 296 married people, about a third of whom were in long-distance marriages, revealed that both groups were equally satisfied with their relationships, but there were some distinct differences.  The long-distance spouses reported better health in such areas as lower anxiety, depression, and fatigue. They also had better diet and exercise habits.  At the same time, spouses who lived together scored higher in other important categories, which may seem obvious:  They had more sex and experienced less relationship stress.

While commuter relationships have become more common, relationship experts caution that long-distance marriages are far from rosy, especially once children enter the picture.  As Dr. Gail Saltz told TODAY, “Partner proximity has pluses and minuses, but I would say more pluses than minuses.”  She added that living apart is usually pretty stressful.  As she explains, “In the day-to-day, ‘we’re a team and help each other’ (mode), you would lose out on some of those benefits.”

As the researchers at Northwestern University note, long-distance marriages can work as long as both partners have agreed to this arrangement and are happy with it. As the author concludes, “It’s a delicate balance that is not easily obtained by everyone who tries.”

Our passage today  reminds us that “two are better than one” (vs.9), for many reasons, among them, because they will keep warm. . . and it is not just talking about temperature.

Father God, while modern life offers us many opportunities and options, help us to do all that we can to remain together so that our relationship may not cool down and so our children will have the warmth of home and family in which to grow up.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/long-distance-marriage-can-offer-health-benefits-study-finds-t18821?cid=eml_tes_20150502

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Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NKJV)

We all experience anger at one time or another.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Anger is common. It’s a normal response when you sense a threat or a social or professional slight.  Low to moderate anger can even work for good, prompting you to right wrongs and make improvements.  The problem is that chronically angry people spend too much time in this hyped-up state and over time that makes them more likely to get heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems.

We need to recognize if we have an anger problem before it hurts us, or others.  When anger happens often, when the intensity is too strong, or when it lasts too long it needs to be dealt with.  Melissa Bienvenu, of WebMD[i] shares some tips to tame anger.

When you feel rage coming on, slow down your breathing and relax your muscles. That can stop your body’s “fight or flight” reaction that makes anger worse.  Using imagery to help you relax is a positive exercise.  Imagine a beach or other peaceful scene. Breathe in and out with the tide, picturing your stress washing away. The more you practice, the better and faster these relaxation techniques will work in an unexpected situation.

Quiet yourself with soft music. Instrumental and nature sounds without words seem to work best.

Learn to recognize what upsets you and plan how you will react when you find yourself in the same situation.  The earlier you intervene in the anger process, the better. The key is to calm yourself down before you explode.

Spend time in prayer, remembering and thanking God for how He has helped you and blessed you in the past and asking Him to take your anger and turn that negative energy into something positive.

Accept that you can’t completely prevent it all the time. The goal is not to never feel angry; rather, the goal is to learn skills to control your anger.

Father God, help me to be angry at injustice and unfairness, but also help me to control my anger before it hurts me or others around me.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/why-am-i-so-angry?ecd=wnl_emw_042215&ctr=wnl-emw-042215_nsl-promo_4&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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Not right now

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

 

As much as you may read and study, talking about human sexuality is still a bit uncomfortable for us as parents but much more so for our children.  We as adults understand the mechanics and have found the gift of marital sex to be wonderful and something to be enjoyed.  But for a young mind, some of the specifics are difficult to comprehend.  So keep in mind one more thing:

  1. Don’t press on if your child is uncomfortable. As Michele Borba, parenting expert, suggests, the key to any good parenting discussion, on any subject, is to watch the child’s response and then take their lead. Again, you don’t have to provide them with too much information, it doesn’t have to be too graphic, and you don’t have to do it all at one time.  As Borba says, “In today’s world, kids are hearing about sex far younger than you would ever suspect.  Make sure that you are there to give them accurate information.”[i]

You also need to keep in mind the level of maturity and comfort in your child.  Just because one of your children was able to absorb and accept all the information you shared with them at a certain age it does not mean that all your children will be ready at the same age.  What is most important is to always maintain open communication and an environment where your children will feel comfortable asking questions and approaching this subject.

In our home, we never had “the talk” with our daughters.  Instead, human sexuality was simply a normal part of our entire life experience so that as they were growing up they were learning, a little at a time, about how God created us all and how He designed for our bodies.  The result was that during the transition years of puberty we could talk about the changes taking place not as a taboo but as a normal part of growing up into adulthood.

 

Father God, how wonderful You are and how wonderful You have created us.  Help us to convey to our children the wonder of Your works in and through our bodies that they may grow up loving you and taking good care of themselves and of the treasure with which You have entrusted them.

[i] http://www.today.com/parents/parents-try-explain-sex-kids-reactions-are-priceless-1D80412561?cid=eml_tes_20150110(accessed 1-10-15)

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