Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

7 Ways to a Better Break

In Christmas, Family on December 27, 2014 at 11:23 am

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High Expectations.

I come into Christmas break with high expectations each year.  Here is a time of love, laughter, presents, food, family, and fighting.  I wanted to say fun, I really did.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Christmas break, but sometimes the bickering drives me insane.  The problem of having two high functioning alpha dogs as kids is that nature only allows one alpha dog in the pack…and that’s me!  It is rather fascinating to watch the downward spiral as sugar and time take effect.  I expect family to get along and learn to discuss, even debate, but keep a civil tone.  Unfortunately that does not always happen.

How do we learn to get along with family that might drive us nuts?  Here are a few tips to make it through week two of Christmas break.

1.  Sleep more.  In pragmatic terms, this keeps distance and reduces time.  The more sleep over night and later into the morning reduces the amount of opportunity to fight.  Also, it gives our bodies a chance to recuperate from the day.  Family time is needed in all of our lives, but we live so independent that coming together can wear us out.  Sleep allows your body to reset itself.  Instead of pulling all-nighters playing games, watching movies, etc, sleep more.

2.  Eat Better.  The high sugar content of this season gets us out of whack.  We run to family and eat quick on the way.  We run to the after Christmas sales and eat on the go.  Most of us sit down and eat one good meal with family and call it Christmas dinner.  That night is usually the best because we all ate properly.  Take time to eat fruit more than fruitcake and eggs more than egg nog.

3.  Listen first. If we would listen to the other person first before reacting it would help.  Learning to listen is a part of maturity, but is also a hard lesson to learn.  Listening takes strength and courage.  Lashing out with words is the easy reaction that anyone can do.  Withholding words and setting your mind to hear and listen to others takes energy.  If we do not someone will kill someone else before the week is out, or everyone runs screaming to their rooms and slams doors.  Where is the “peace on earth” in those moments?

4.  Think of others.  This one is risky because the other may not think of you.  When deciding on pretty much anything, stop and consider what the other person might want to do, play, eat, or buy.  When doing this you are taking the high road.  Thinking of others before yourself is selfless and sacrificial.  Now, you cannot play the martyr here and beg for your wishes later.  Thinking of others is civilized and we are, right?

5.  Take turns. Who picked last time?  OK, then someone else picks this time.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so fast!  However, if you instill this from the beginning it makes life easier down the road.  Taking turns is critical to lasting through the breaks.  We made a sign one year that had the names of our two one on each side.  After they chose a game, the card was flipped over.  Next time, even a day later it was easy to see whose turn it was and this reduced the number of fights about the next game to play.

6.  Read and Rest.  This is not sleep time.  This is a time when everyone takes a break and does something on their own in their own space.  We encourage reading.  The days have long passed since naps would be taken, except for one of us who is unnamed!  The rest take some downtime and read.  This does not have to be all day, but an hour or 2 in the afternoon will help ease the transitions.  Each can have the pleasure of doing their own thing, which will allow for the ability to think of others more later.

7.  Remember what  is important.  What will be remembered 20 years from now?  30 years?  Family.  The important part of these breaks is family.  Family outweighs the presents, choices, fights, and more.  Family spending time together is difficult and will be what is remembered later.  Those funny moments.  As you guide yours through this break remember what is important.  God and family.  Raise these up and let them shine for all to see.

We each enter the breaks with high expectations.  We want that perfect family picture; that greatest gift/game; that fightless week.  These rarely happen and, in our mind, the day/break is shot.  When we come into these breaks with “movie level” expectations we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Lower them to a realistic level and watch your joy increase.  Nobody is perfect.  No present will wash away all of the pain.  No time will fix everything.  Yet, we can come to these moments and walk away with joy in our soul if we just be real with the time and people involved.

Have a great second week!!!

James 4:1-3 NLT

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

It’s Christmas!

In Christmas on December 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

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Christmas Time is here!

Friday, not Thursday, really gets the holidays pumping.  We say thank you all day and in a variety of ways on Thursday, but on Friday we push, pull, and charge our way through for more.  Black Friday is a well-known event, though not an official holiday (yet).  Store owners wistfully dream of coming back to a profit setting at the close of business and many will.

How did you spend your Friday?  Were you one that gave up and stayed as far away as possible?  Were you one that gave in and shopped but did not camp?  Were you that one who gave it your all and combed through every possible ad and put together a map and schedule for every store in order to fulfill your whole list in one day?

Many I know poke fun and ridicule those who “go all out” for this day.  In some ways, I am one of those who mock you.  Why?  I think it has to do more with the level of importance in the big picture.  We talk about giving our all, giving 110%, or being “all in”.  When we put the same importance across the board there is a loss of priority.  When we “leave it all” on the field for a game but cannot “give our all” to the things of Christ we have skewed our system.

What if we gave our all to the things of Christ?

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God could have given up on us.  He could have thrown up His hands and said, “If you can’t earn it, you don’t get it.”  He could have just held us to the sacrificial system.  Giving up means that there is no hope any longer under the weight of an angry God.

God could have given in and walked away.  Who’s to say He could not have just gone and created another universe with a new Adam and Eve and left us.  How horrible!  Giving in means we are alone.

God gave us His all.  He gave us Jesus.  He gives us hope.  He gives us Himself.

What will you give?

Give Thanks and Party On

In behavior, Chrisian Life, Gospel Living on November 25, 2014 at 8:52 am

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This week will be the biggest feast of the year for many of us.  We will see family, friends, football, and a lot of food!  We gather around to thank God for his bounty and blessing and well we should.  Many have taken to social media all month to share one thing a day for which they are thankful.  Being thankful is a moral and ethic that God established among his people. He guided them to thanksgiving 4 times a year. As you read Leviticus 23 take time to thank God for these 4 things.

  1. Leviticus 23:5-8 Passover

The Israelites were in a tough spot and were not sure God was there, was aware, or if He even cared.  I am sure, given the human condition, there were some who wondered if God even had the power to help them.  In the midst of 1000’s of gods being worshipped in Egypt, it is conceivable that some began to doubt.  God afforded them sanctuary from the 10th plague if they would just believe and act on that belief.  By following the directions, they would be exempt from the devastation of the 10th plague – losing the firstborn of everything.

God showed His power to sustain.  What, in your life, are you struggling to overcome?  Are you losing the battle of love, addiction, health, or job?  Is what you are facing seem to overwhelming that you are beginning to lose hope?  God has the power to sustain you through the darkest and brightest times of your life.  We don’t always see the need in the brightest days, but in the dark days we get it.  Let God’s power sustain you through this moment.

Thank God for His power to sustain.

  1. Leviticus 23: 9-22 Harvest

Each year the farming community receives in a harvest.  I remember serving in Buffalo, OK where each August, after the wheat harvest, our monies would soar.  Many in the community waited all year for the one check and survived on it alone.  So it was with Israel.  While they did have livestock for food, shelter, and clothing, the harvest provided the basic needs of life.  God instructed them to give 10% back and have a party while doing it!

Because of God’s provision, they were supplied with the needs of life.  The holiday season always reminds us of those who don’t have anything.  As I helped to unload the 68 boxes for Operation Christmas Child from our church, I realized that 68 kids will have something that brings them joy.  As I saw people taking the tags from the tree for our winter clothes drive, I realized that those 34 kids will have coats, gloves, hats, and more.

Thank God for His provision that supplies your need.

  1. Leviticus 23: 26-32 Atonement

This festival was of specific concern for the nation.  Once a year, they gathered together and received atonement, nationally, for sin.  At that time, God has established that a sacrifice had to be made for sin and guilt to be removed.  Every day, on a personal basis, people would come and present their sacrifice with the priest and be made right again with God.  However, nationally they would do the same.

Our country struggles today.  We are conflicted morally and ethically.  We do not have agreement on right and wrong.  Whatever seems right to each one appears to be the rule for the day.  Leadership is making executive decisions without regard, it seems, to the best interests of the country.  When moral rot sets in to a country, the leadership will soon crumble.  But there is hope.  As each of us take on our responsibility before God and develop others to do the same, then a grass-roots effort could spark a change in our country, but it begins with each one of us.  God offers peace through a sacrifice.  When someone places faith in Jesus and follows Him, we have peace with God.

Thank God for His peace through a Sacrifice.

  1. Leviticus 23:33-44 Shelters

This festival helped the Israelites to remember that while it wasn’t always pretty, He provided the shelters while they were in transition before the Promised Land conquest.  Annually, Israel was to live in a makeshift shelter, or booth, for 7 days.  This served to remind them of how God protected them during that time.

We drove to the edge of town.  I looked up and saw what looked like a little city of cardboard.  Surely no one lived here right?  Surely, this was just some huge child’s building project.  There were 1000’s of people/families living in this section.  House constructed completely from cardboard and other scrap materials.  The nice ones had corrugated plastic or metal intermixed!  I stopped right there and was thankful for God shelter provided to me.

Thank God for His protection in your shelter.

 

Like worship, thanksgiving is a lifestyle more than party!  Let us be mindful of God’s love and grace each day.

Off the Hook

In Chrisian Life, Journey, Suffering on April 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

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I pulled out my phone the other day to make call.  I had a question and needed an answer pretty quick.  It rang and rang but no one answered.  I thought it odd so I hung up and tried back.  It rang and rang.  No one answered.  No voice mail picked up.  Nothing but an incessant ringing.

Was something wrong?
Were they injured?
Were the phone lines down?
Did I call the right number?
Had I done something wrong and they were refusing to answer?

It turned out to be nothing.  But when I needed an answer I felt all alone.  Anxiety for their well-being and stress over my problem both rose quickly.

Has that ever happened to you with God?  Have you ever felt like God was not listening?  Have you ever felt God did not care?  There are cherished moments when I felt such a strong bond with God.  There are also those moments when I felt like I had lost connection.  Why is that?  For me, the seasons of dissonance are a result of personal sin.  I feel distant, lonely, anxious, and scared.  A person really appreciates what they have usually only when they lose it.  The closeness of God, the joy of His presence, the peace that passes understanding are all easily taken for granted.

9 but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving.   Jonah 2

Jonah had walked away from God.  He literally  went in the opposite direction!  He found himself in a big mess.  In the middle he made that statement above.  He was going to worship with thanksgiving even though his present circumstance were horrible.  Thanksgiving?  How could he give thanks?  He would because he realized that he could be dead.  Things could get worse.  He thanked God.  He realized that the mess he sat in was his own just like our is.  Paul wrote,

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 3:6

We have become awesome at taking needs to God!  We can throw up our prayer list, post it on Facebook, or Tweet it so all can know our problems.  We often engage in spiritual manipulation telling others they must pass it on for a blessing.  The reality is that my problems are my problems and not yours.  While Christian brotherhood would demand that we bear one another’s burdens, in the end they are still my problems.  Jonah had his.  I have mine.  You have yours.

The real question is what are you going to do about them?

Jonah cried out to God in worship with thanksgiving.  I tend to whine.  You?  Paul tells us to take our anxieties to God with thanksgiving.  I tend to stress out, take it out on others, and attempt to work it out on my own.  You?  Your situation, like mine, must be owned.  You must come before God and own up for whatever your part was.  Accept the situation as it is and worship God with thanksgiving.  Then you may claim the second half of Paul’s statement: and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.

Own Up.  Grow Up.  Send Up.  Watch the blessings come down.  Gotta go…phone’s ringing!

Blank Slate

In Decisions, Direction, Leadership on January 1, 2013 at 10:54 am

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Every new year is like a blank chalkboard after a school holiday.  The cleaning crew has done its job and the boards are clean, clear, and ready for chalk!  One can barely, if at all, see any reminders of the former session.  You have a new year that you are staring at right now.  Maybe you have a new you that is staring at you wondering if the new will just be another version of the old or if it will be different.  There is something inside of us that longs for the different, the slower, the simpler.   While I would not trade the technology I have grown accustomed to and that you are using to read this very blog, I do yearn for those moments when the pace was slower, life was simpler, and relationships were real.

We have a chance!  We have a blank slate.  What will you write on it?  How will you manage the space?  What will eventually get erased for something else to be written?

As many of you might start a new Bible reading campaign on this day, or week, we find ourselves in Genesis.  God had a blank slate on which he masterfully created everything we know today.  In those seminal moments, He was methodical and patient.  I do not desire to argue about how long it took but rather the potential thought behind it all.

Day 1 – Balance -Darkness covered the entire surface.  God decided that the darkness was out of balance and light was needed.  The balance of light and dark carries over into all facets of life.  We must have balance.  Some call it Chi while others call it Yin-Yang.  The Bible calls it Light/Dark.  For many of us I believe life is usually out of balance.  God started with balance and so should we.

I can always tell when my car tires are out of balance because something shakes, making the ride uncomfortable.  The efficiency reduces because there is too much drag in one area.  The danger rises because if the tire wears too thin and blows while driving down the highway the car could get out of control, spin, flip, or hit other cars.  God’s Spirit was hovering over the surface and the decision was made to bring light into the situation.  The Holy Spirit hovers over our lives trying to get our attention light the low pressure gauge to alert us.  Where is life uncomfortably shaking?  How is your efficiency and productivity?  Are you being dragged down because of something out of balance.

Begin with balance.  Make the necessary choices.  Don’t resolve. Do.  There is no try.  There is either do or do not.  What will you do today?

For Shame, For Shame

In Anger, behavior, Control, Family, Jesus on November 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

As we approach the Holiday, or as some feel, Shame, season of the year I wanted to share a few things to help us navigate these choppy waters of family, friends, and holiday events.  Many of us will spend much “quality time” with family members that can dredge up all manner of evil like CSI diving in the East River.  Even approaching the house, memories invade and emotions stiffen.  These negative emotions are often due to some trauma, experience, or relationship that carries such negativity that we can hardly breathe.  Shame is:

  1. negative emotion: a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment
  2. capacity to feel unworthy: the capacity or tendency to feel shame
  3. state of disgrace: a state of disgrace or dishonor

Why do we feel these emotions around a time of year where thankfulness and joy are to abound?

1.  Your track record of behavior is not how you were raised.  If you were honest, you would admit that the current behavior, lifestyle, housing arrangement, etc is not approved by the parental unit.  You fear the subject being brought up though our false-pride and bravado would kick in and you never openly say those words!  You dread the judgmental looks and comments from family.  As early as Genesis 3 we see this pattern happening.  Adam and Eve had made a poor choice of lifestyle and now were awakened to shame, guilt, and fear.  This sin is what causes us to feel that way too.

2.  Your family has a history of being holier than anyone else.  Let’s face it, sometimes our family is perfect and we cannot live up to that kind of standard.  Dad is the model citizen and mom wins all the awards in the community.  Your family has been like a glass house to the public and held in high esteem as the family everyone wishes they had.  Maybe you had friends openly state they wish they had your parents.  All the while you rolled your eyes and prayed to God that this would somehow end.  This is the same kind of feeling you get about halfway through any holiday meal!  Your prayer life triples right there at the table.  It is hard to live up to those family standards.  In fact, you haven’t and now the shame is poured out on you, possibly without you even deserving it!  Maybe your sibling was the perfect child.  Imagine living in the home with Jesus and having to hear, “Why can’t you be perfect like your brother Jesus?”  You might have heard those kinds of things.  Having everyone drop in together for a meal, a day, or more can be overwhelming.

3.  The Family Secrets.  You know what I am talking about.  Those events from the past that no one is supposed to discuss.  The time that Dad got drunk and….  That one day where your sister skipped school and then cried for days after.  That Summer where you felt all free and wanted things to be special before leaving for college.  The time when you heard the screams from the basement.  All of these secrets have never been exposed to public discussion.  All of these events are locked up in your heart and spending time with certain family members creeps you out.  Maybe, you don’t want Uncle Joey hanging too close to your kids.  Yes, these things can bring a sense of shame; a wish that you had a different family.

How do we deal with shame?

Be honest before God.  Adam and Eve came clean and God dealt with them mercifully.  We must be honest before God about those actions we can control.  Faith in Jesus may not erase your memories but there is no condemnation in Him either.

Be honest with yourself.  There are those things that are out of your control.  Be who God created you to be.  Live how He desires for you to live.  My parents don’t “approve” of all the things I do, but as an adult they are not in control of me.  If I am good with God then I am good to go.

Forgive.  For more read THIS.

The holidays do not have to be something you dread.  God provides a multitude of coping skills through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Here are a few that you can request starting right now:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Happy Holidays!!

 

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