Why You Should Make Family Goals!

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The New Year will be here before we know it and this is the perfect time to be thinking about setting goals. We often think of goal setting for our businesses, homeschooling, or even our health.  Most of us want to set individual goals or resolutions; however we don’t usually think to set family goals.

I want to encourage you this year to do something different!  Have a family meeting where you have some simple snacks and gather your family together to talk about the New Year!  You should have a nice size pad of paper and a pen so you can write down everyone’s ideas!  This is a time to brainstorm together, encourage everyone to come up with ideas and at the end write down what is most important to your family!  Statistics show that writing down your goals, you are more likely to follow through and make them happen!

I think one of the greatest things you can do as a family is setting goals.  You can see amazing things happen in your family life when you set goals together.  It is also a wonderful example to your children for setting goals in their future.  This can benefit them in their work, their business, or their schooling! 

Benefits of family goal setting:

Setting goals as a family gives your family purpose.  This is the perfect time to write a family mission!

Setting goals can help you achieve better health.  Maybe you have wanted to start eating healthier as a family and you want to learn more about that.  You may have a family member that has been having health issues and you want to support them in making changes and set goals.  This is also the perfect time to start an exercise plan as a family!

You can do more for the Lord – There are so many spiritual goals we want for our family but just hoping they will happen doesn’t make them so.  Maybe we want to serve more, save for a mission trip, memorize scripture, or read your bibles more together.  Setting spiritual goals can help you make that happen!

You can achieve home goals – This is the perfect time to talk about home projects you want to do as family, plan family vacations, or even start a new meal planning or chore chart!  When you get together to talk about these things, you set up a greater chance it will be successful!

Setting family goals can help you connect on a deeper level as a family and give you great things to work toward!  I hope you all create amazing goals for your New Year!!

Blessings, 

Angela, Together with Family

Angela Richter

Angela Richter is a wife to her best friend of 20 years and mother to three! She is the author of Together with Family where she writes about finding ways to connect with your family on a deeper level! She is passionate about intentional parenting and marriage and loves to share practical ways to make family life better! She loves anything regarding homeschooling, writing, reading great books and scrapbooking! She lives in the Northern part of the Bluegrass state and is a Kentucky girl through and through! You can find her on https://www.facebook.com/togetherwithfamily, http://www.twitter.com/AngelaJRichter or http://www.pinterest.com/AngelaRichter/

Helping Your Child Work Through Conflict with Others

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conflict
conflict

It happened recently.One of our children came home from a social gathering with a story of conflict and word-wounds inflicted.

As a parent, the mama-bear in me quickly rises, but when our children face conflict with their peers,  it is a unique opportunity for us to help them live out the gospel and to grow, even through the heartache.

So what do we do?

1) Gather the facts.  For our family, this often comes quite easily because three of our children are in a similar stage and as we ask questions, we can usually get a fairly accurate rendition of what took place when the conflict occurred. But questions are the key in this step.  We must ask questions that mine the roots of what our own child may have done to incite or invite or aggravate the dissension.

2) Draw out empathy. Even if it seems that the other child is clearly in the wrong, we must help our child see the situation from the other child's viewpoint.  It may help to ask questions like, "What do you think made her say or do _____" or "Why do you think he was feeling so angry with you?"  As we try to help our child brainstorm what, if anything, they may have done to create or add to the conflict, if hopefully will help them gain compassion for the other child's perspective.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. ~John 13:34 & 35

3) Share your own heartache. Sharing about a time when we were personally treated unkindly or unfairly, helps our child know that we can relate to what they are feeling. It is important that our child knows we really do care and our hearts aches when they are hurt by another.

4) Bring it back to Jesus. We can remind our child about the many times that Jesus faced unfair treatment and still showed kindness, that He understands better than anyone, how they are hurting.  As we talk about how God sees everything and we can entrust ourselves to a God who judges righteously, it is a good opportunity to remind our child of God's good news message-- that we all are sinners and we shouldn't be surprised when there is conflict in relationships, but that Jesus came to die for sin and He offers forgiveness, which we must also extend to others.  Through Him, there is hope for healing and redemption in relationships.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ~Eph. 4:32

5) Pray for the other child and for his/her parents. In God's Word He commands us to pray for our enemies.  God can develop emotions of love and concern for another when we are obedient to take a step of faith and pray for someone even when we don't feel like it.  We can pray that God will convict the other child if they are in the wrong.

6) Pray for yourself and for your child. We all have blind spots or areas of sin that need to be addressed and it is important for us to spend time asking God to show us where we are in the wrong.  We can also pray that God would give us a heart of compassion and patience towards even those who have hurt us.  We can ask us to help us speak words rooted in love.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14

7) Develop a plan for the future. This may just mean we help our child prepare appropriate and kind responses that they can use in the future if conflict arises again, but if the conflict is beyond our child's ability to navigate, it may involve humbly and prayerfully communicating with the other child's parents or with the supervising adult, if we will not be present and their has been a pattern to the conflict.  The key is to remember how we, as parents, would want to be treated if our child was the offender and if communication beyond child-to-child is necessary, it is always best to go first to those most immediately involved.

8) Entrust the outcome to God. Finally, it is important to remember that we cannot control another person's response.  We must do what is right, without being frightened by fear, entrusting ourselves to Him, but ultimately we can pray that God will let us feel peace even if the other child does not respond in the way we hope.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ~Romans 12:18

It is never fun to see our child hurting, but conflict can be something that God uses to draw our children closer to Himself and to us.

With Love, Kara

Kara Chupp

Kara is 18-years-married to her husband Jason, one of the funniest and most generous people she knows. They have 5 kiddos, 4 here and 1 in Heaven. They also have a muppet-like-mess-of-a-dog Penny, non-breeding Madagascar Hissers (who have had over 100 babies), chickens, fish, and a bearded dragon named William Wallace. Kara writes mostly about family adventures, adoption, grief, Heaven, education, books, and most importantly, clinging to God in everyday life.

There is Hope on Christmas Day

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"I heard the bells on Christmas Day 
Their old familiar carols play, 
And wild and sweet 
The words repeat 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head; 
"There is no peace on earth," I said; 
"For hate is strong, 
And mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep! 
The Wrong shall fail, 
The Right prevail, 
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Turning on the news lately rattles me. I find I'm guarding more than ever what I take in and read about the world today because it often makes my heart quicken and I become overwhelmed by all that must be done to mend hearts and nations and wounds. 

And this week, we usher in Christmas.

In recent years our family's Christmases have been both joyous and painful, full of gifts and full of loss. Life's difficulty doesn't abate until December 26th and I know many of you are in the thick of circumstances that stretch you, that distract your heart and mind from this season's glad tidings. How does a mother making Christmas swoop her children up with jolly if she carries grief in her heart? How can a community reeling with the pain of injustice brought against them stand and worship and sing with joy? 

Christmas can carry both. 

 If you are struggling this season, it may seem strange to celebrate and be feasting.  But, friends, it is in this feasting that the beauty of Christ is made manifest. Our lives are messy. They are complicated. They are broken. And the beauty of this season of Advent, of waiting and preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus, is that he does indeed come! He cuts right through the hurting of our hearts, the darkness of our communities, the bleakness of our sin and he is Emmanuel; God with us.

And so we must remember more than ever it seems, that His coming matters. It matters to us every day in our grouchy moments, in the ones that catch us with guilt, in the times that bring us to a place of being undone. In the years where we are less than all our ideals. The juxtaposition of Christ’s coming in the shadow of the hurting world reminds us of our desperate need for Jesus to be here with us. We are desperate for him alone. 

Wherever you are this Christmastide, take heart and take hold of hope. Christ is here.

Merry Christmas friends,

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

Kristen Kill

Kristen is a Northwest native who grew up surrounded by family, books, alpine peaks and lots of green. She never thought she’d leave. And when she did, she landed in a lot of concrete in a city that shapes the world’s culture. Now she's figuring out a life that she longs to have marked by gratitude and grace, good food and conversation; beauty, art and homeschooling all squeezed into a Manhattan apartment. She writes about living with intention as a wife and mother of four in the midst of a city that makes her heart beat just a little bit faster every time she walks outside at Hope With Feathers. She also relishes in her role as the Editor of The Better Mom and loves sharing snippets of her life on Instagram.

What I Believe Mary Knew

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what i believe mary knew
what i believe mary knew

Christmas is such a wonderful celebration and often our memories are associated with music. Would you agree? Many of us are familiar with the Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know?" As the lyrics take us on a journey from Bethlehem to Calvary, we gain thoughts on the life of Jesus. But in our role as mothers, maybe you're like me and wish you could just sit down and have a heart-to-heart with Mary, the mother of God's Son.

I wonder how Mary processed the news the angel brought.

We know that she was confused initially. As a virgin, how could this be?

Yet the truth- she was indeed with child. The child of God.

I have to think she rehearsed her talk with Joseph.

"How do I explain this one to my fiancé?"

Yet words came to her and Joseph did not shirk his bride.

What love between this man and woman.

How beautiful their love that God would choose them to be the earthly parents

Of His one and only Son, even if for a short time.

I wonder if Mary initially thought her first Christmas was perfect.

Riding a donkey for miles while nine months pregnant

Surely felt less than ideal.

I doubt Mary's dream birthing plan consisted of attempting to sleep on the hay

With the scent of animals encompassing her makeshift bed.

I imagine the worst sting of that first Christmas was the rejection in her heart

Resulting from 5 small, yet deafening words "No room in the inn."

Yet Mary believed the angel's words that she was blessed to be the one

The one Whom God would use to fulfill his promises to the nations.

There could be no more perfect Christmas than this- the first.

We strive for the perfect Christmas, yet I wonder if we focus on the perfect reason for Christmas.

I wish I could have heard Mary's whispers over her beautiful baby boy

As she and Joseph hovered close to the fire.

To hold God in the form of man filled more than her arms;

Her heart must have burst with joy over the magnitude of the moment.

I realize Mary couldn't predict his earthly future,

Yet there could be no mistake as God the Son made his heavenly entrance.

I suppose she would witness the many miracles to be performed,

But there would never be another exactly like the first- his birth.

Emmanuel- God with us- had arrived.

And that Mary knew.

What else do you think Mary knew?

Rachel

Rachel Wojnarowski

Rachel Wojnarowski is a wife, mom to 7, blogger, writer and speaker. She and her husband, Matt, enjoy caring for their busy family, whose ages span 3 years to 23 years and includes a special needs daughter. Rachel leads community ladies’ Bible studies in central Ohio and serves as an event planner. In her “free time” she crochets, knits, and sews handmade clothing. Ok, not really. She enjoys running and she’s a tech geek at heart. Rachel teaches social media and blogging classes in her local community and also speaks at Christian women conferences. Wife, mom, reader, writer, speaker and dreamer, you can find Rachel on Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest., as well as RachelWojo.com.

It's for this that Christ came

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We’re operating on two different levels today, aren’t we?

Genuine smiles light our faces. We’re surrounded by glittering trees, glowing candles, precious people, and mouth-watering food.

We’re grateful. Full of joy and goodwill.

But…

There’s something deeper. The pain of loss. A heartache. The something that hurts or haunts. The reminder that peace on earth is not yet reality.

It’s for this that Christ came.

This.

The sin that said “God’s trying to cheat me out of what I need. I’ll do it my way.”

The sinners who broke all that was supposed to be beautiful.

Us.

Because of sin, we hurt.

Dysfunction. Abuse. Abandonment.

Betrayal. Envy. Narcissism.

It’s all ugly... what’s been done to us... what we’ve done to others.

Yet despite the horrific mess, He came.

No.

Because of it.

What a beautiful Savior!

One who would come and embrace us in all our filth and stench.

One who reaches into the gutters of the world… who lifts up the worst of sinners and most desperate victims.

One who sees every crying, love-starved child, every wounded wife, every dishonored parent. Every war, every oppression, every injustice.

None of use deserve help. We’re hopelessly lost in the darkness of guilt.

But still He comes.

He came as a human, lived life on Earth, and died for our redemption.

He comes today, beckoning us into relationship with Him. Promising freedom, forgiveness, and eternal life to any who receive it… who stop trying to clean themselves up and simply trust Him.

Our souls find rest in Him. Our eternal future is secure.

But of course, our flesh is still on Earth today. Our battle of the here and now continues.

And in despair I bowed my head: "There is no peace on earth," I said, "For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men."

We’re going to feel the pain, this side of Heaven. We were made to feel. To feel is to be human… made in God’s image.

He too feels.

He too knows these conflicting levels from which we operate today.

He smiles at our family gatherings, yet knows the turmoil hidden in each heart.

He delights in the snowfall, or the sunrise, or the rolling waves, yet knows why our tears fall as we soak in the beauty.

But He knows even more.

He sees the big picture.

The end of pain, yes! But also the purpose and glory that outweigh it all.

And today? He’s measuring out the grace it's going to take. Every morsel of strength. All the love and power and help our journey requires.

My friend, He came, yes.

But our God is still with us. He is Emmanuel.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.*

Praying your heart rests in Emmanuel this Christmas.

Jennifer

*from "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Jennifer Ebenhack

Jennifer’s eight eventful years in Haiti produced a gift of brokenness through which she has discovered the depths of God’s healing grace. She passes that grace on to others through her blog, life coaching, and her ebook Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear. She is currently writing a memoir of her family’s nine-year adoption process and gripping experiences in Haiti.