Not enough money, too many bills, a debt pile with a life of its own. You want the tough answer? The spiritual answer? Start giving more. Not just stewardship as you may know it, but giving of yourself " really stretching. Biblically, you receive tenfold in return for what you give; we've all heard that. This is not a dollar-for-dollar refund, but a spiritual interest payment of blessings and new opportunities. It's looking outside yourself, away from the hand wringing of your own personal dilemmas. You change the focus from What about me? to What about everyone else? The new attitude generates new resources, new sources of blessing. The immovable mountain of debt moves. Or perhaps, because you are now looking up and out to the rest of the world, you can finally see the solutions! Perhaps they were there all the time! Read Matthew 7: 7-12 and start sowing.
by John Morris
Savor the sunset. The end of the day is God's time to demonstrate beauty lavishly in the western sky. This is an ideal time to set aside some time just for the two of you as a couple. The best time is just before sunset. Sit down on the back porch or take a walk " and watch the show. Share with your spouse how God, who just reflected his majesty to you in the sunset, has worked this day in your life.
by Tom and JoAnne Fogle
While all families have to negotiate their own methods of communication, particularly if there are teenagers involved, blended families have unique issues that first-marriage families do not. And since recent surveys suggest that approximately 1/3 of American children will live in a blended family before the age of 18, it's important for families to find ways to live peacefully together.
In a blended family, the most difficult role is that of step-parent " that person who has volunteered to raise another person's children, who is often unappreciated or even scorned by those children.
If you've been called to this wonderful, yet harrowing, role, here are some tips for successful step-parenting:
1 Remember that the children have strong emotional bonds to the biological parent who does not live with them. It is important to encourage and respect those bonds. You are not a replacement for the missing parent.
2 Discuss parenting roles, preferably before marriage. Often, it works out best for each parent to be the primary disciplinarian for his or her own children, with the stepparent filling in for emergencies and gradually taking on more parental duties.
3 Once you've had time to establish bonds as a blended family, the step-parent can take a more active role in parenting. It may help to delineate clear family rules so that the step-parent is simply following the household rules and not acting as the 'enforcer.'
by Elizabeth Solsburg
She: Dear Lord, how time has flown! It was only yesterday that our children left home, yet now they are making their own way in the world.
He: We have time on our hands; fill it with your work as you will.
She: You know our anxieties and ailments, how will we make ends meet?
He: Who will provide for us when we can no longer provide for ourselves?
She: We put our trust in you. We do the work you have set before us.
He: We live simply before you. We give away what we no longer need.
Together: Aid us in our later years and bring our souls to you, escorted by our guardian angels, when our work here is done. Amen.
by Pat Nischan
Romance and intimacy:
In our last issue, we talked about the first D-A-T-E principle, concepts for a long-lasting romantic relationship in your marriage. This month, we present the two more principles, and some questions for you to consider about your own marriage:
'A' is for adapting to growth and change. Unless there is growth in the relationship, passion will fade. Families also undergo many changes. Couples need to adapt and use a bit of flexibility and imagination to keep their romance fun and lively. Don't let new circumstances dampen your amorous practices. Take the initiative to be creative and innovative with your approach to physical intimacy.
'A' is also for achieving awareness of both our own and our spouse's feelings and needs We can increase awareness of our spouse's needs through open and honest communication, and by trusting him or her with our own needs in return. This clears the path to an even deeper intimacy where we can be more open and vulnerable with each other. Communication workshops and couple retreats are great ways to help increase our awareness. "
by Rick and Diane Peiffer
Questions for discussion:
What has worked well to keep the romance alive in our marriage?
How willing am I to adapt to the changing circumstances of our lives together?
What principles do we need to work on in order for us to have more romance?