My fourth resolution is my tithe before wants. Everyone of you know how I feel about tithing. I believe in it and I give my tithe not out of a feeling of I must but out of a feeling of I want to. I am a cheerful giver. When I was first a believer I was taught to tithe and the reason for it and I got it! How could I not give him everything when he gave me everything?
Only I have confession to make. I have absolutely no problem tithing my money. I give tithes and then some, I give offerings and plenty of them but I don’t always give the tithes of all of my life. Remember tithe is not just money. That would be easy for me to give I’m not a control freak about the tithe. I am a control freak about the 80% I live on I’ll admit that. What I don’t always give is my time and talent. Sometimes, I tithe my time to the Internet, sometimes to a good book, sometimes I tithe my time to sleep, sometimes I tithe my time to a good friend who I want to share a tea and gossip with and many times I tithe my time to chores and work.
I’ve become really good at fooling myself. I say, “My whole life is a tithe, I work for the church.” Not true, the time I work for the church is service to others and not about my personal relationship with the Lord. Sometimes I feel like Jesus is speaking to me when he said to the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, “Could you not have kept watch with me an hour?” I am so so sorry at the time and I try to do better but just like the disciples I go back to the slumber of my life. I don’t neglect my prayer life, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t take the challenges that come my way necessarily as first fruits but rather I take them for granted and sometimes give what is leftover.
This year, I’m striving to stay awake. Take an assessment of your life. Do you tithe? Money? Time? Talent? Or do you give the leftovers? It will determine your life’s blessings. Wisdom comes from the Lord. God knows I need more wisdom, yet the word tells us she cries in the street. I want to still her cries this year and I want to sit at her feet. That demands my attention and the best of me, not what is left over.
My third resolution for the year is to put my husband before my job, my children and my parents. We are doing The Love Dare in our couple’s bible study. I’m so ready to open that book and begin our study. I often neglect my husband. Not on purpose. We both know the importance of time together but many times, we kiss goodbye in the morning and our day begins and we don’t touch bases again until 9-9:30 at night. AND WE WORK TOGETHER!
So there are times when I actually schedule time and call my husband and say, “Let’s go eat and stare at each other for an hour.” Or I will call him on a Friday afternoon about 2 ish and tell him to meet for a secret date at the movies. I’ll say, “I want to sit with you in the dark and hold your hand and share popcorn.” Can I just tell you that it’s not often I do that? Can I be honest and say our weekly date nights have become routine and it’s mostly my fault? I am the planner and so I have a bigger responsibility. God has called me as a wife to make my husband a priority and sometimes I don’t. Not on purpose, I’m not mad at him or anything. I simply put work before him. So I am going to make each day count. I want to spend the rest of my life being his girlfriend so I need to put in more effort.
Oasis if your marriage is struggling right now and you are thinking about divorce, let me just say, you’d be better off working on this marriage. Your next one will be better, make no mistake about it, not because the spouse is better but because you will have learned some lessons to make it better. Why not just take the lessons you’ve learned and fix this one?
My Second Resolution is my family before my obligations. Christmas Day, I watched my mother who is 68 go into mom mode. She is a good Mexican mother so she quickly put the tamales on the stove, the chili verde to warm along with the beans and rice. We arrived and all the food was ready. Her face fell when we said we weren’t hungry. She then went into mega mom mode as she asked us every 15 minutes if we were hungry now. We finally all sat down to eat with her.
Her face shone with satisfaction at having her family home. I watched her gleam as she watched her grandchildren. Anthony is her favorite, something about a Mexican grandma and her first born grandson. Anthony hung the moon in my mother’s eyes. She hovers over him and Anthony has such a love for his Nana that the scene just oozes love. After my kids left, Doug and the kids and my stepdad went into the family room to watch television. I cleaned up my mom’s kitchen all the while she kept saying, “LEAVE IT”. She wanted my time not my service.
When I finished cleaning her kitchen I sat with her at the kitchen table. She brought her homemade candy and cookies so we could talk. I looked at mom and how happy she was. Once again she told me how worried she was about how much I worked.
I realized that each year one of my goals is to spend more time with my mom. It never happens. There is a church to run, counseling to do, a store to manage, a family of my own, my girlfriends say they miss me and my dog needs a walk. Too much stress in my life and suddenly months have gone by and I haven’t visited my mom. Instead I call her every other day. She deserves and needs more than that.
How many times have I been told by my friends who don’t have their moms here anymore how much they wish they could have spent time with her? How many times have I heard from my friends who live in the same town as their mom how much their mom drives them crazy? I’ve never made room in my life for my mom to drive me crazy. This year, I’m going to put my action where my mouth is. I won’t have my mom forever, I need to make time for her now. What about you? Are you neglecting family putting others first? Are family members asking for your time?
Those of you who have known me for years know that I am a big proponent of annual vision statements. I have made one since my 20’s and I continue to make them. They keep me focused and on path. I used to brag about how I would write down my goals for the year and by September or October my statement would be complete. I thought I was just that good. Until one day the Lord spoke to me quietly and said that the reason I had accomplished my vision statement early was that I wasn’t dreaming big enough.
So now, I am really seeking the Lord for what my vision statement should look like. I am asking for His will to be done in my life not just with lip service but also with heart as never before. So what about you? Are you thinking about your goals for 2010? Do you have some plans and ideas, and more than that, has the Lord given you a word? If he has not, can you honestly say that you’ve asked him earnestly and waited to hear an answer?
One thing I know about the God we serve is He is a planner. The plan in the bible was written before the foundation of the earth and it tells a story from beginning to end. We are in the final chapters of the book but since we don’t know exactly where in those chapters we are, we must look toward heaven for our next move. God is a planner and you were made in His image. Are you planning and seeking out His will?
I want to write about those things that have struck my heart and where I feel the Lord is leading me. Maybe there will be a cord or two, which will resound in your spirit and you’ll be able to move forward into 2010 with passion, with vision and with purpose in the will of the Father.
1. This year I plan to put people before my to-do. I like to work. I believe it’s a blessing and not a curse and I am a firm believer that every able bodied person should work. However, I work a lot. That is the American way isn’t it? In an effort to get the American Dream I’ve learned some lessons that perhaps don’t serve me all too well. I have to confess that there are times when I am in the middle of work at the office and a visitor comes in and I am annoyed at the interruption, or my kids call and I have to call them back because I am too busy. This year I must learn to put people before my to-do list. After all the legacy I leave will not be one of a clean house, because it gets messy as quick as it is cleaned, the legacy I want to leave is of a people well loved. This year, let’s get out of debt so that we can get to a place where people become more important than things. Where we can decide to work overtime because we want to not because we need to. Let’s be mentored by those who understand how to do this wisely and let’s get on it.
With weddings costing on average $30,000, you can see that the couple has gone to great expense to make their day perfect. They’ve spent money on photographers and a video choreographer and florists and a wedding planner. They’ve selected beautiful centerpieces, wonderful dinners a beautiful cake and favors.
Favors are what the wedding couple has selected for you take home as a remembrances of their special day. It’s their gift to you. A thank you for coming to share their special day with you.
What I’ve been seeing for years now is that people are taking whatever is not nailed down. Ladies, this is stealing. Plain and simple. At one wedding I saw the mother of the bride run out of the reception hall chasing down someone who was leaving with the centerpiece of their table. The person had to audacity to be upset because the mother of the bride said she wanted it back. You see, the centerpieces were rented! Please don’t do this! Don’t let this be you! What are you going to do with the centerpiece anyway?
It’s the same at church. For each dinner or special event we’ve had to let people know that the decorations are not to take home. We reuse them. We change them up to make them look fresh but it’s for your looking pleasure not your take home pleasure. Yet and still, people walk out with things.
And the same goes for dinner parties. I’ve had dinner parties where women, sorry, but to date I’ve never seen a man do this, put the napkin ring holders in their purse. What are you going to do with one napkin ring holder? How am I going to replace the napkin ring to complete my table setting? I had to let them know, I like my napkin ring holders and I want to keep them! I know for some of you reading you are staring at the screen with open jaw. Some of you would never think of taking anything and others of you are mad because I’m spoiling your thieving tradition.
One of my friends stole something from a dinner party I had recently then she mailed it back to me as a joke because she knows it’s my pet peeve. Also, you don’t leave a dinner party taking food with you unless you are invited to do so. You don’t ask if you can take a few pieces of pie home to your kids. You don’t arrive telling the host that your husband didn’t want to come because he was watching TV but he wants you to send a plate home for him.
Please take pictures, no not the ones that are in frames in the person’s house! Bring a camera and take pictures if you want a remembrance. Don’t take the host’s supplies!
Luke 2:8. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15. When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16. So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18. and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
May your home be filled with Joy as you celebrate our Savior’s birth!