Here’s a quick and squeezy way to juice some more joy out of this year for yourself and your family. All of these are suggestions to be intentional with your habits. If you set too lofty of a goal it is a bit daunting and tends to get sloughed away. However, if you see almost immediate results, you are likely to bring them into your line-up of life skills. Plus, you may find beneficial side effects that sound a lot better than the “leaky stool, breaking out in a gushing rash, green ears syndrome” kind that are listed on those wonderful pharmaceuticals commercials. Here they are:
- God Time: The very first suggestion is for that very first thing you do after you wake up. I suggest you make that appointment with your Creator. Myriads are lauding the benefits of early morning wake-up and meditation, I’m here to tell you that they are on the right track for some of it, and they are seeing its benefits. However, I recommend getting away from a self-centered meditation and getting to know your maker. My suggestion is a 5 minute time on your knees as the very first thing you do. Some people may not know what to pray. I recommend starting with the actual words that Jesus (Messiah) instructed us to pray. We call it the LORD’s prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13) That will kick you in the right direction and you can’t go wrong in praying His words. After all, His words created you… and everything else. After prayer, I recommend a chapter in Psalms out loud (as Psalms are prayers of God too) and another chapter as you read through the Bible. I don’t recommend skipping around. Benefit – Focus, Blessings, Honoring God (Elohim). Side effects: Revelation, peacefulness.
- Family Time: Write on a chart, where you can see it – a weekly outing with your family. In other words, have a weekly date with your entire family. There are so many reasons to post this on a white board or a chart, not just a calendar. One of those is that calendars are small and crowded. You will likely have someone in your family who needs structure in a bad way. This is an amazing stress reliever. Make this year a year FULL of memories. You might buy tires and laptops and stuff, but life gets busy. Before you know it, it’s Monday. Then it’s March. Then it’s next year. Make a list of favorite places. Buy a year pass to the zoo and make sure you juice that for all it’s worth. I know this is not a popular opinion in church-world, but together time for families should take precedence over, even, church time. As wonderful as many churches are – they are often places that split up the family into a bunch of little specialty groups. If that’s what you choose in your church, that’s fine. But, take a Sunday, or Saturday off and do something purposeful with your family and tell me if it wasn’t worth it. My parents kept my brothers and me out of actual school one day (gasp) and simply did a fun trip. I honestly don’t remember what it was, but the fact that it was more important stuck in my old brain. Benefit: Memories, Instagram boasts, hugs. Side Effects: singing silly songs, laughter, impulse ice cream stops.
- Volunteer time: I cannot tell you how important it is for your children to see that their parents are concerned with the kind of things that make God sad. In other words, volunteer for some cause at least once a month and involve the whole family. There are loads of opportunities for this. Start with your local church or synagogue, and go from there. If you can’t find one, run a fund raiser for your own. My 8 year old daughter got it in her mind that she would buy a house for a flood victim in Bhutan. What do you think she did? She developed a fundraiser selling hand made soap, crafts, and greeting cards. And… she bought a house. Not a 3/3 with a two car garage, sure. But a roof over the heads of people who needed shelter. Put this on the chart right next to the family outing. Benefits: You make the world a better place, blessings. Side Effects: Joy, inspiration for others.