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5 People Who Need Your Quality Time

21 Oct

How do you create quality time?

Comedian Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating.” Why?

“Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book!”

I’m LOL-ing at the remark, but also the word “set.” (Can you tell what decades Marx lived in?)

But Marx brought up an important concept. How we use our time is important. We want to choose wisely. We want Quality Time.

Today as I thought about the people in my life, I accessed just how much quality time they’re getting from me. Have you ever done that?

I discovered five areas in my own life (you may find more), and I am sharing some books that I’ve found helpful. Perhaps you’d like to share resources that help you with quality time. (I do not get any compensation for mentioning them.)

1. Quality Time with God[Note: More accurately, God doesn’t need your time, but He loves you and desires your time.] You’re either smiling or cringing right now, depending on how much time you’re spending with God and whether that time is “quality.” Some women don’t spend much time with the Lord at all. Others spend time and make moments (hours?) together  times of powerful  intimacy and study. Most of us are somewhere in between.

God convicted me of this last year, and I made some radical changes to spend more time with God. The enemy conspires to steal our time away from the Father, so we need to be proactive and schedule time, if necessary. The more we spend time with God, the more it will be times of delight rather than duty. Some powerful books in this area are Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s books, The Quiet Place, A Place of Quiet Rest, and a study she wrote with Tim Grissom, Seeking Him, a book designed for personal revival.

2. Quality Time with Your Husband (if you’re married) – In the busyness of life, we sometimes forget how special our marriage relationship is (or can be). I have many, MANY marriage books on my shelves, including a number by Bill and Pam Farrel  (including A Couple’s Journey with God; Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti; Marriage in the Whirlwind;  Red Hot Monogamy; and 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband ~ all available at love-wise.com).

In Marriage in the Whirlwind, the Farrels describe the whirlwinds that come into marriage and how to survive these stressful tornadoes. They say, “Many times it seems couples long to cry out, ‘Stop the world ~ I want to get off!'” They talk about how unexpected circumstances, the busyness of technology and life just moving too fast, emotional storms, financial struggles and other whirlwinds can destroy a marriage if a couple isn’t wise about using their relationship in positive ways. Quality time together can help to combat stresses.

Quality time in marriage includes listening, simplifying the calendar to make time for each other, setting goals together and taking time to build physical intimacy. [Besides the Farrels’ books, which are meant for men and women, I also recommend Kathi Lipp’s The Husband Project and Arlene Pellicane’s 31 Days to a Happy Husband to women.]

3. Quality Time with Your Child (or children) if you have them (or Grandchildren) – One of the statements that always bothered me is that children need quality time, not quantity time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children need both! They need to be near their parents in order to feel loved and learn from them. But quality time is certainly important.

First there are the simple things: cooking and baking together, planting seeds, enjoying art and music, sharing the how-to’s of life, and helping them see how things work. More important ~ seeing how LIFE works with wisdom principles from scripture.

Then there are times of more focused teaching. One of my recent joys is sharing A Girl after God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George with my oldest granddaughter. A book I wish I’d had when raising my sons is Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, which is all about “Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. For busy moms who wonder how they can be more proactive in pointing quality time toward spiritual truth, I highly recommend Carrie Ward’s book, Together: Growing Appetites for God.

4. Quality Time with FriendsI tell women that no one friend (except Jesus) can be all for us. We need a variety of friends who encourage, challenge, teach, and help us. We need some friends to kick back and LOL with.

One of my biggest regrets is that I waited so long to build friendships. They don’t just happen. It’s rare that God just drops a friend into our laps. The Bible says that is we want friends, we need to show ourselves to be friendly). That takes planning. It takes time. We need to listen when we’re together and not just talk about ourselves.

This is my weak area and I’m working on it. I go on Friendship lunch dates (and need to plan some Friendship activity dates to help me get some of the lunch dates pounds off! LOL!) I’m writing a book on friendship based on some of the things God is teaching me. (Do you have some good Christian books on friendship to recommend to me and others?)

5. Quality Time with YourselfThis may seem like a strange one, but the Bible says we are to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31), so this presupposes we are properly loving ourselves. Kathi Lipp has a helpful book titled The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You’ve Always Wanted

When it comes to quality time with ourselves, we can be more proactive when choosing our activities ~ either (1) doing things that build/improve our lives, (2) leave us pretty much the same, or (3) tear down/hurt us in some ways. (When I speak to women, I call these Climbing, Coasting, and Collapsing choices.)

Pursue Climbing choices; they’ll always be the best. As you plan time for yourself, think of things you can do that will challenge you mentally, physically, and spiritually. Do things that energize you, encourage growth, build your confidence and please the Lord. These are things you won’t regret, things that make you feel better about your life and, at the same time, bring glory to God.

These are choices like reading a good book, listening to music that blesses, enjoying a sport you love … anything that inspires you. For stories that are inspiring and missional, I recommend any of Kathi Macias’ books.

To find more time to pursue Quality Time relationships with yourself (and everyone), check out Marcia Ramsland’s books about simplifying your time and organizing your life at organizingpro.com. Choose Climbing choices that build all of your relationships!

Reserve the Coasting choices (those you might make when you really don’t feel like making any choices!) for those days when you want to relax and unwind. These are happy choices that may make you feel good and won’t tire you out, but they really aren’t designed to move you forward, either. A massage would fall into this category, or reading a good mystery novel, or spending some time on Pinterest. These are things that are easy to do. (But beware – too many Coasting choices and you’ll begin to waste time.)

Avoid Collapsing choices (negative, destructive, or hurtful options) like the flu! Collapsing choices may seem good at the time, but they don’t build us up. This would include watching bad television, pigging out at a buffet, or anything that prevents you from being your best. Basically, it’s doing anything you’ll regret or be ashamed of later.

So … what category needs some improvement?

Where are you not spending enough Quality Time? What can you do TODAY to change that? Can you think of others who might need your Quality Time?I’d love to hear about ways that you spend Quality Time in any of these areas, as well as any resources you would recommend.

– Dawn

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Moms, Stop the Anxiety!

12 May

Billy and Bobby were talking to each other. Billy was suddenly quiet.

“I’m really worried,” Billy said. “My dad works twelve hours a day to give me a nice home and good food. My mom spends the whole day cleaning and cooking for me. I’m worried sick!”

“Sounds to me like you’ve got it made. You’ve got great parents!” Bobby said. “What have you got to worry about?”

Billy replied: “What if they try to escape?” (1)

Raising kids is always an adventure, and as we approach Mother’s Day, I want to share a post from my young friend, Deedra Scherm. I wrote about Deedra in LOL with God in the devotional, “Lemon Vision” (p. 84). She has energy, passion, and most of all, wisdom. Young, busy moms will instantly identify with her opening words ….

I WORK FROM SON UP TO SON DOWN!

I am the sole female in my household, and three of the four males that live here with me are age seven and under. Being a Mother of All Boys (or MOAB, if you want to be trendy) can wear a Mama out. I read somewhere that toddler boys have 50% more energy than girls. I think I might believe it. 

I see my friends with their darling little princess daughters all dressed up with their pillowcase dresses, adorable striped leggings and matching bows on their heads. I just sigh as I scramble to pull the boogers out of the hair of one ~ how’d it get up there? ~ and spray the antibacterial pain relief on the bleeding knee of the other while the third tries to “take down” booger boy with his cardboard sword. 

I keep telling myself that in about 12 years, while my friends with all girls will be dealing with a toxic fireball of female teenage hormones, I’ll be sipping lemonade while my boys are mowing the grass, planting my spring flowers, and picking up dinner from my favorite restaurant “so Mama doesn’t have to cook.”  One can hope, right?

There are days that I feel like my heart and my brain are about to explode. 

The level of stress that sometimes creeps into my life as I take on the role of Mom is exhausting. I sometimes feel I should know every answer, fix every problem, plan for every single possible scenario, and make sure absolutely nothing ever goes wrong. (OK, maybe this is just a mom issue, regardless of the gender of your kids!) I start to feel like my whole life is about running around taking care of everyone else, and no one is taking care of me!

That feeling is the cue that I’ve missed something very important.

There is a little “rule” we learned in Kindergarten:  “Put things back where they belong.”  I Peter 5:7 says, “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” You see, when I start feeling stress about completing the MILLION tasks of the day, dealing with running a business from home, the outcome of a medical test, the future of our family’s finances… I realize that I have kept anxiety with me rather than putting it back where it belongs.

I have to stop anxiety, refuse to carry it, and pass it over to Jesus. When my anxiety is extreme, I will even imagine, as I pray, that I’m holding the problem in my hands and laying it down before the throne of our Lord.

Now, this is not a call to apathy… to just flop around without a single emotion, never caring what happens in life. This is a call to action!  The verse says you are to cast!  And not just cast “some” but to cast “ALL” of your anxiety on Him for a very good reason: He cares for you! This is a determined choice for a very sound reason. God will never leave us, forsake us or fail us.

As I learned to recognize my anxiety, I could see opportunities to say, “Lord, I don’t know the outcome of this situation, but I know you have a plan for me. I trust you to help me with each step and give me the comfort and peace to deal with anything that may come my way.” That’s how I make it to the end of the day with peace and joy… even if I’m constantly surrounded by a bunch of crazy boys.

Deedra Scherm  is married to Kris and they have three active little boys. Between building forts, bandaging skinned knees, and acting out Bible Stories, she is the President and CEO of Lemon Vision Productions which provides inspired media for kids, like Little Buds 123’s DVD. Check out her books and DVDs at www.littlebuds.com.

(1) Adapted from http://www.broadcaster.org.uk/section2/jokes/parentingjokes.html

Legacy Takes More than a Light Switch Plate

6 May

In 1939 and again in 1964, Westinghouse buried some time capsules with some common and some rather odd contents:   a deck of cards, a bikini, a Polaroid camera, a Bible,  a Beatles record, a child’s Mickey Mouse cup, credit cards, a copy of the sci-fi magazine “Amazing Stories” in microfilm form, etc.

You can probably guess which items belonged in each capsule ~ but you’d be wrong if you put “Bible” in the 1939 capsule.

Would you have added these things in time capsules?

Time capsules are all about passing on information about today to someone in the future.

I recently saw a “Light Switch Time Capsule that got me thinking. The author of the post, Sean Michael Ragan, said, “I get nostalgic when I move out of a home, especially if it’s one I’ve lived in awhile. Leaving a secret treasure or two stashed here and there, seemed to help me get closure.” Instead of dropping a note in the wall (as some have done), Sean wrote a message on the back of a standard light switch plate.

The switch plate had a note on the back to tell all future home owners a little about the previous home owner’s history in the home. This particular person’s story was a little depressing, actually, as he described some of his personal choices. But there is something in each of our hearts that wants to pass on information to others about what we think is important, or information about how to deal with things in the future.

As a Christian woman, I want to leave a legacy; I want to be sure my family knows what I think is important (God, His Word, and serving the Lord) ~ but it will take a lot more than a simple light switch time capsule to pass on that information.

So where can I “leave” my legacy information (my time capsules*) to make a real difference?

First, I can leave a legacy in my history  (or heritage). I can leave my children and grandchildren photos and family tree information, special recipes and keepsakes ~ sharing cultural traditions and some of the family history that made me the person I am, including my Christian heritage.

The Israelites left memorial stone altars for future generations. For example, they made a mound of stones after crossing the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua 4:1-8), and later, when people asked the meaning of the stones, they talked about the faithfulness of God in caring for His people.

I’ve told my children about Christians in their background who ministered as preachers and missionaries and faithful servants of God in their churches. They need to know they have a godly heritage, and that they can trust in the Lord for their future (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Second, I can leave a legacy in the hearts of each of my children and grandchildren. I can write truth on their hearts. I can spend time getting to know the unique personalities and needs of each one, and perhaps tailoring some biblical information (or counsel, when asked) to help them deal with things in their lives or the future.

Proverbs 1:8 says, “Listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” This assumes that we are instructing and teaching.” We are to faithfully teach our children and grandchildren about the love and righteousness of God (Psalm 103:17-18).

Third, I can leave a legacy in my “handbook,” my copy of the Word of God. I want to leave them notes in my personal Bibles that they can read in the years to come, if they so choose.

Everything else ~ all material goods ~ will fall apart or whither away, but the Word of God will endure forever (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35), and it is timeless and relevant for my family’s future needs and direction. I want them to understand that the scriptures “worked” for me. They comforted and counseled me in times of need, and they were a steady resource. The Word is alive and powerful! (Hebrews 4:12)

Fourth, I can leave a legacy in my home. I might write words of wisdom on items in my home, that they will read (and perhaps want) after I am gone. I think of the Israelites’ mezuzahs by their doorposts ~ small parchments inscribed with a short version of their Torah. It’s original purpose was to help the Jews remember the presence and commands of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9).

While I think it’s more important that God’s Word is inscribed on our hearts, it certainly can’t hurt to have home decorations that remind us of who God is and what He is doing in our lives. And these works of art ~ plaques, paintings, sculptures, etc. ~ can be passed down to our family members.

I will need to be proactive and intentional about all of this “leaving,” of course. In the busyness of life, I must make time to remember legacy or it won’t magically happen.

What do you do to pass on family traditions and the truth of the Word of God? Where else might I leave some legacy information?

* Just for fun:

At your next family reunion, create a time capsule of family memories. Ask each guest at the reunion to bring an object they feel represents their current interests or something about the culture at that time. Seal and wrap the time capsule, and save it for the next reunion!

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