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Archive for the ‘Isaiah’ Category

A parent’s love is unlike any other. We may feel physical attraction to someone else or may even be romantically in love with someone, but the love a parent feels for their child begins before they’re even born and doesn’t leave until the parents breathe their last breath.

 

That’s why Isaiah asks the question, “Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you” Isaiah 49:15 (TLB).

 

God, our Heavenly Father, expresses His love for us both in terms of the father’s love and a mother’s love. Generally, a mother has a much closer attachment to their child because, well, God wired them to feel that way. They carried that baby inside the womb for nine months before they were even born. Even adoptive mothers feel this same motherly love for their children. Fathers also feel love for their children, but perhaps in a different way.

 

Love your children in the same way God, our Father, loves you- unconditionally!

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Growing up, we remember the old style washing machines that looked like a large drum with what looked like an arm above it. That arm had two rollers through which the clothes were passed to squeeze the water out of them. I was fascinated watching my mother pulling the clothes out of the washing machine and loading them onto the rollers and then watching them come out flattened out on the other end. She would then hang them on the clothes lines to dry in the sun and the breeze.

 

One of our favorite words from the bible are those found in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”

 

God offers us a miraculous transformation from filthy and old, to clean and new. No need to go through a washing machine and rollers…it happens just for the asking. Ask God to wash you, and make you clean and new today.

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Be a better parent – 3

As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13 (NKJV)

Author Sunny Sea Gold[i] shares in American Scientific Mind one last bit of research-backed advice that has resonated with her.

Secure your own oxygen mask.  At the beginning of an airplane trip you will hear the safety information.  You will be told about the importance of wearing your seat belt, how to fasten it, how to adjust it, and how to release it.  You will be told about the location of the exit doors or windows.  And you will be told that about the oxygen masks:  “Should the cabin experience sudden pressure loss, oxygen masks will drop down from above your seat. Place the mask over your mouth and nose, like this. Pull the strap to tighten it. If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children.”

As parents, you may feel at times like you are struggling to breathe and you are no help to anyone!  Much like the airline safety announcement, the evidence for taking care of your own needs first is clear, especially when it comes to addressing medical and mental health issues.  According to Gold, “Mothers are more likely to either ignore or overreact to kids’ misbehavior when they are mired in depression.”  As she adds, “adults with ADHD also improve their parenting skills when they get treated.  All of our day-to-day health-related activities matter, too.”

It’s not just a matter of being healthy for our own good or so that we can take care of our children.  A 2015 study of national health data done in the United Kingdom suggests that parents’ way of life may be just as important as genetics in passing down obesity.  Another study from London showed that children who had two overweight biological parents were 27 percent more likely than other kids to be overweight.  In fact, adopted children of overweight parents were almost as likely to be heavy…21 percent.

Beside taking care of yourself, remember to take care of your marriage.  A healthy marriage is one of the best gives you will give your children.

Father, help me to care for myself even as I care for my children.

[i] Gold, S.S.  Scientific American Mind, March 2015

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Family reunions may be bad – 1

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6 (NKJV)

Sometimes family reunions can give rise to tensions and emotions which can turn quickly from happy, light-hearted banter to stinging squabbles or fights about long held resentments.  That’s why instead of looking forward to a day of togetherness, you may find yourself dreading the possibility of a major family catastrophe.  You may not be able to prevent all problems from arising, but you can reduce the chances of triggering them.  Leslie Becker-Phelps[i] gives us a few tips to survive family reunions:

Keep your expectations realistic. There’s a difference between the family that you’d like to have and the one that you really do have.  When we have an idealistic view of the family, or how the family reunion will go, you may be disappointed, frustrated, or even angry if things don’t turn out like the image you had develop.  Becker-Phelps suggests you “be honest with yourself and set realistic expectations for a good day with the family that you have.”  If you don’t, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Attend to your basic needs.  Before the event, do all you can to take care of yourself by sleeping well and by eating enough so you don’t show up as a hungry, cranky version of yourself.  And when you need a break from the family, be sure to take one.  For instance, if things are getting a bit tense, or you feel your frustration rising, excuse yourself and take a walk around the block, get some fresh air, take the time to pray, or do what helps you to calm down.

Feel the love. As Becker-Phelps says, “Remember that your concerns, frustrations, and even anger exist largely because you care.”  Consciously thinking about how you love your family can help fill you with compassion for them, and keep you from being sucked into a vortex of anger and frustration.  Consider the option of not having a family to love or be loved by, and do what you can to enjoy the time you have together.

Father God, remind me that my family is as imperfect as I am, and help me to show them and experience their love.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/06/how-to-survive-your-family-reunion.html?ecd=wnl_men_061915&ctr=wnl-men-061915_nsl-promo_5&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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Happy perfectionists – 2

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Isaiah 46:9 (NKJV)

Meghan Holohan[i], from TODAY, provides several tips from experts for anyone who is a perfectionist so they may be happier with themselves.

  1. Ask for help. Because perfectionists have a difficult time with self-acceptance, and accepting others, they are not good about asking for help. The irony is that asking for help would mean they would have to admit that they are not perfect.  What you need to realize is that when you ask for help you open yourself up to the realization that other people are either in the same boat or are able and willing to lend you a hand. Think about it — either way you’re not alone.
  2. Look for cheerleaders. Because perfectionism relates to self-esteem, this is where friends and family come in. One expert recommends that loved ones say something like: “When you make a mistake, I know you feel terribly but that doesn’t change how we feel. I still love you even when you make a mistake.”
  3. Accept that you’re human. This is a very important step. It is one thing to understand that others are not perfect; it’s another thing when you, the perfectionist, accepts that you are not perfect.  But in the same way that an addict cannot begin the healing process until he/she recognizes and accepts the fact they are an addict, you may continue to be unhappy, and make others unhappy, until you come to terms with the fact you are not perfect, and that you don’t need to be perfect
  4. Visualize the option. As Holohan explains, “Perfectionists often hear criticisms when no critiques exist.” Instead, consider what failure looks like and how to cope with it.  “Give the spirit of criticism no quarter, for it is Satan’s science. Accept it, and envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings of one another follow.”[ii]  Before others criticize you, instead of being overly defensive, see yourself responding kindly to other people’s criticism.  And go easy on yourself.

Father God, only you are perfect and it is only your perfection I need.  Help me to be more like Christ every day, to be more tolerant of my own faults, and to accept my finiteness.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/5-habits-happy-perfectionists-t27596

[ii] White, E.G.  Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 351

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Happy perfectionists – 1

I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, Isaiah 45:5 (NKJV)

You might think that a perfectionist would automatically be more successful; however, recent research suggests that isn’t always the case. In fact, many people who are hard-wired for perfection often sabotage themselves.  Wanting to be perfect is almost like a compulsion which may be counterproductive.  For instance, for some perfectionists, the drive to be perfect causes them to stall when faced with an important task. Procrastination helps them cope with a fear of failure.  On the other hand, perfectionism forces others to do too much, resulting in OCD-like behaviors.

Perfectionists have a hard time accepting the fact that no one can manage to be perfect, which is one of the reasons that a perfectionist is so often disappointed.  While perfectionism exists as a personality trait and not a disorder, it may lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety. For many, because expectations are so high, goals often go unmet which explains why many perfectionists suffer from low self-esteem.

Unfortunately, perfectionism is not only frustrating for the perfectionist.  Because it is linked with workaholisim and exhaustion, it is also exhausting for people who are around them.  So what’s a perfectionist to do to be happy and healthy? While some extreme cases may require professional help, Meghan Holohan[i], from TODAY, provides several tips from experts for anyone whose drive for excellence has become a stumbling block.

  1. Be compassionate to yourself. You may be so busy criticizing yourself that you don’t realize you need to be kind to yourself. Keep in mind that you’re only human, everyone makes mistakes, and only God is perfect.  The one area where we should strive for perfection is in our character.  The way to do that is to “dwell upon the perfection of Christ, and as we behold his matchless charms, we shall desire to be like him, and become changed, reflecting more and more of his spirit of love.”[ii]

Father God, help me to realize that I don’t have to do everything perfectly all the time, but you do help me to be perfect like Christ.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/5-habits-happy-perfectionists-t27596

[ii] White, E.G.  Signs of the Times, January 26, 1891

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When you should seek help – 1

For I looked, and there was no man; I looked among them, but there was no counselor, Who, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Isaiah 41:28 (NKJV)

As Kristen Kansiewicz[i] writes, “emotional problems can be complicated, and it is sometimes hard to know when you need to seek professional help.  Too often, we wait for problems to resolve on their own, or we minimize symptoms of mental illness, trying to conquer them through prayer or willpower. In many churches, there is a stigma that comes with seeing a counselor. For too many, entering a therapist’s office feels like an admission of failure.”

When we have a fever that doesn’t go away, or a part of our body hurts badly, or we have some symptoms that somethings is not right with our digestion we go to the doctor.  We’re not embarrassed or ashamed; we do it in order to feel better and enjoy good health.  Going to see a professional Christian counselor simply means you are seeking emotional support for something beyond your control.  There are many things that are simply beyond our control; for instance, brain functioning, relationship complications, or a tragedy.  What you can control is the steps you take to become well again. Kansiewicz suggests there are at least five times you should consider seeing a professional Christian counselor:

When your mood changes for more than two weeks.  Our mood may change for a few hours or even for a few days; however, if it persists for at least two weeks it could be a symptom of a depressive or manic episode.  Sometimes we use the word “depression” to mean we are discouraged or deeply sad.  As Kansiewicz explains, “Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest in most activities, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, changes in sleep (sleeping too much or not enough), and unusual changes in weight. Other symptoms include restlessness, difficulty with concentration, and wishes for death or thoughts of suicide.”  Of course, anyone actively thinking about suicide should go to their local emergency room right away or call the National Suicide Prevention Line at (800) 273-8255.”  We will continue with these issues for the next few days.

Father God, help me to find help a good counselor when I need help.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Times-You-Should-See-a-Counselor/

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“Come now, and let us reason together” Says the LORD. Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)

Eli Finkel,[i] a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University says that “Marriage today is, in some senses, better, and in other senses worse than it’s ever been.”  He adds, “The best marriages today appear to be better than the best marriages we have ever seen —that humans have ever seen.  At the same time, the average marriage is actually a bit worse today than it was a generation or two ago.”  According to this marriage researcher, we’re living at a time when people see it as an “all or nothing marriage.”  In other words, people want their spouses to be their best friends, someone who encourages them to be better, and to meet all their needs.  The problem is that the more people expect of their marriages, the more likely that these marriages can’t live up to expectations.

An additional problem is that the demands of life today can make marriage seem like a tough endeavor.  We even hear experts say things like, “marriage takes hard work.”  As Finkel explains, “We’re spending more time at work, more time with our children doing intensive parenting. And then in the middle comes this problem of there’s not enough time for each other.”

However, having high hopes doesn’t mean that your marriage will fail. Finkel provides three tips to keep a marriage strong:

Write it up — Three times a year, for seven minutes, you should write down your disagreements as if you’re an impartial third person looking at your relationship.  This adds up to only 21 minutes a year; it doesn’t require a great deal of time.

Talking it out — Communicate with your spouse regularly. Listen to them, tell him/her what you understood them to say, and respond.

Rework expectations — Your spouse can’t be everything you need or want all the time. Try setting realistic expectations.

Marriages between spouses who love and encourage each other through the journey are the strongest.  As Finkel says, people in such unions “are through the roof in terms of how happy they are.”

Father God, help us to implement these three simple ideas so we can have a stronger, healthier marriage.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/3-tips-make-your-marriage-stronger-happier-ever-t40261

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Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17 (KJV)

James Altucher[i] encourages us to learn and grow by using his techniques for learning:

  1. STUDY THE HISTORY, STUDY THE PRESENT. Once you find what you would like to learn about, something that you love, study its history. Do you want to learn more about car repair?  Read about how Henry Ford built the first car.  Read about how cars are designed and engineered.  And then read about one aspect of car repairs, one specific part at a time.
  2. DO EASY PROJECTS FIRST. If you use the example above, start with simple repairs – how to change a tire or how to replace the battery. Then move slowly to the more complex, challenging repairs.  Ernest Hemingway never thought he could write a novel, so he started by writing dozens of short stories.  Taking it one step at a time will give you confidence and the desire to learn and do more.
  3. STUDY WHAT YOU DID. Comedian Amy Schumer records all her performances and then reviews each of them, second by second. She wants to be the best at comedy. Don’t become obsessed with your mistakes, but learn from them so you will do better in the future.  Ignoring your mistakes could keep you from becoming great, or even good at it.
  4. YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE FIVE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. Surround yourself with other people who have the same interest in what you are trying to learn.  Because humans are tribal mammals, we need to work with groups to improve.  In a group you challenge each other, compete with each other, love each other’s work, become envious of each other, and ultimately take turns surpassing each other.
  5. DO IT A LOT. What you do every day matters much more than what you do once in a while. Write every day, network every day, play every day, live healthy every day.  Measure your life in the number of times you do things.  Become an expert but doing it often.

Father God, help me to continue learning every day for the rest of my life so I may also continue to grow for eternity.

[i] http://boingboing.net/2015/05/11/the-only-technique-to-learn-so.html

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Save for the future – 2

June 5                         Save for the future – 2

For thus says the LORD: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, And you shall be redeemed without money.” Isaiah 52:3 (NKJV)

Jean Chatzky of TODAY,[i] gives us three more ideas to save money:

  1. Correct Social Security mistakes you may be making. According to the Social Security Administration, the average American takes Social Security at age 64. They’re missing the memo that the longer you wait to take benefits, up until age 70, the more your monthly benefit will be. In fact, it increases 8% every year between full retirement age and 70. For instance, if your benefit at full retirement age is $1,300 a month, you can turn it into $1,716 a month by waiting to take it until age 70. That’s close to $5,000 in extra income a year.
  2. Turn off the lights. There are also other ways to trim your energy bill by 30%. Most people don’t realize that one of the biggest energy hogs in the home isn’t the refrigerator or dishwasher but the cable box. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that we spend $2 billion a year to power these boxes even if they are not even in use. Just flip the switch off at the end of the day and you can save big money. Also, be sure to keep boxes off in rooms where the TV is not used frequently.
  3. Automate, automate, automate. The easiest way to make sure you meet your savings goals is to set up automatic contribution or deposits to your 401(k), move money automatically into an IRA or Roth IRA, and move money from checking into savings every time you get paid. At the same time, delink that savings account from checking so that you can’t pull money out of savings every time you hit the ATM.

The English writer, Samuel Johnson said, “A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.”  God gives us the ability to make money and the freedom to return to Him what is His, to spend it as we wish, to save it for the future, and to use it to help others.

Father God, help me to use wisely what you give me so plentifully.

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

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