Tag Archive | family

Preparing for the Worst

consent-clipart-pen_and_paper_legal_document_with_pen_signing_the_paper_0515-0909-2116-0233_SMUIn the last six weeks we have supported friends who lost their son and a friend whose husband died. Walking with my friend whose husband passed has brought about a renewed focus to make sure we have all our papers in order should anything tragic happen.

*DISCLAIMER – I am not a lawyer and am not offering specific legal advise. I am giving you suggestions of where to start.*

1. Make a Will – Visit a lawyer or buy software and make out a will. Include plans for what will happen with your children, your final expenses, your debt, and your money. You can specify who is presumed to have passed first if you both die within a certain time frame. You can give care instructions for your children. You can set up a trust to provide for your children in the future. You can also bequeath individual items to specific people and record your wishes for your funeral service.

2. Make a  Power of Attorney – Again, with a lawyer or software, make out a Power of Attorney that will allow your spouse to make decisions for you in the event you cannot. This will allow your spouse access to accounts and credit in your name only, as well as allow them to perform business on your behalf.

3. Make a Health Care Power of Attorney – Once again through a lawyer or software, make out a health care directive giving your spouse the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Include your desires for life support and extreme measures, as well as your wishes to be an organ donor, if you so desire.

4. Make a file that includes birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards and other important identifying documents. Make sure you both know where this is and that it can be easily accessed. Include the kids identifying documents here as well.

5. Make sure both spouses know when and how to pay the bills. Even in today’s world, usually one person ends up managing the finances. Make sure you both know they system and how to use it.

6. Have all finance, insurance, and investment papers up-to-date and filled where you both can access them. Including banking records, safe deposit box keys, debt statements, mortgage information, auto loans, car or other vehicle titles,  and property deeds.

7. Have a secure list of your log ins and passwords. These can be kept in separate documents with a number code matching them up if you worried about security. You can also keep them in a hand-written notebook instead of on a computer file. Just make sure your spouse can access your online accounts or shared accounts.

8. Talk to each other. I know it is a subject no one wants to deal with, but the truth is that sometimes you do. Talk to your spouse about your wishes and their wishes. Will she stay in the current house/location or move closer to family if something happens? Will he have to put the kids into school (if you homeschool) or pay for additional child care? Do you want to be buried somewhere specific or do you just want your spouse to do whatever they think is best? Are there extended family issues that could complicate an already difficult time (e.g. Cousin Steve always pops up and asks for money when he knows someone has received something)? Talk about it all and then get it in writing.

Not Our Home

Phil 3-20.001This week I was reminded how very much this world is not our home. I was asked to pray for marriages that are struggling and breaking down. A friend was rushed to the hospital because of a chronic illness. We learned that the son of family friends shot himself and the prognosis is not good. And on a less significant, though more personal level, I struggled with the realization that our oldest daughter is old enough to know a kid who shot himself. (WARNING – This is not the time or place to start a debate about guns. Doing so will see comments deleted.)

It sounds so cliché, but he’s a good kid from a good family. My oldest did not know him well, but did know him. This is, thankfully, her first experience with something like this, but I am saddened because I know it won’t be her last.

So in the midst of all this pain, all this sadness, what are we to do? The temptation is to ask why but I believe I already know the answer. Broken. This world is broken. Broken by the weight of evil. Broken by our own sin. Just broken. And I am burdened with prayer for those who are experiencing more of the broken now than they were a week, a day, even an hour ago.

So how do we go on? How do we keep walking in this our brokenness? Hope. Not that by some magical happening things will “get better,” but in the hope given to us through Jesus, our Savior. Romans 8:24 tells us that our hope is not in the know things of this world but in what we don’t currently see. Our hope is not that the world will get it right, but that our God got it right and offers us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). With that hope we can move forward. We can go on. We can reach out to our broken world and tell them about the hope of Messiah, Jesus Christ.

If you would like more information about a relationship with Jesus, please click here.

So hug your kids a little more today. Have a little more grace for those around you. Take the time to call that friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Reach out to that coworker who seems to always be alone. Yes, the world is broken, but Jesus, who was broken for the world, offers us hope in the midst of the broken.

Back to School?

College word artNot the kids this time! Right now, my husband is pursuing his Master’s degree in an accelerated program that will have him graduating in May, just 12 months after starting. I’m not sure why, but I thought this would also be the perfect time for me to go back to school too. Maybe I was jealous that everyone else was in school? So now all 5 of us are in school. And it is crazy. Plus our ministry has ramped up and we are counseling two couples each week while still leading or hosting 3 small groups and leading a group of small group leaders. Oh, and then there’s our regular activities at church…praise team and the Connections ministry where we are leaders. Plus the kids activities. I’m tired just writing it all out!

I don’t tell you this so that you feel sorry for me. We have made these choices with prayer and purpose. But it is a crazy time at our house. How are we doing it? ORGANIZATION! This season of busyness has brought to light the need for organization beyond menu planning and clean closets. Here are some tips we have learned:

1. Shared calendars. 4/5 of us (the 6 year old is excluded at this point!) have smartphones and we sync calendars. Every family member has their own calendar (color-coded of course) and we have calendars for special groups. For example, there is a wife calendar, a husband calendar, and a couple calendar. Anything that is for us both goes into the couple calendar. The kids all have their own calendars and there is one for activities that involve all three kids. Then there is a calendar that deals with all-family things. Each person has all the calendars that affect them syncing to their phone (and for us it goes to the computer and iPad too). This way everyone knows what is going on, where we need to be and when. We use the notes section to include instructions such as what to wear and if they need to bring something like a book to occupy time or sports gear for the next activity. We parents see all the calendars so we know exactly what is happening in the family schedule. This helps keep us all moving in the same direction as a team.

2. Boundaries. Now more than ever we are also saying no. No to things that take our focus away from our primary mission. No to people who suck the life out of us. No to requests from others when it is our family time. No to good things that just are God things for us.

3. Scheduled family time. We have scheduled Mondays as non-negotiable family night. Everyone is expected to have work and school finished by dinner time on Mondays so that we can eat together and then play together. Whether swimming at the base pool or playing cards or Wii games, we spend time as a family uninterrupted. We don’t answer calls or texts. We just enjoy each other. This recharges us for the crazy week ahead.

4. School schedules – for the parents! Since my husband and I are both in school too we keep detailed plans of each class. Required online meetings go in the calendars. Before a class starts we make a detailed plan of each week’s assignments and schedule each part of larger projects. This keeps us from rushing around at the end of the semester.

5. Staying connected. Not just with each other, but with outside people too. The tendency for many when things get busy is to stop church activities like LifeGroups and service areas. We have found that when we withdraw from fellowship and service with other believers, everything else suffers. So we plan our time, use it wisely, but we stay involved.

The only way to be successful is to put in the hard work. That means doing the organization and planning that will help keep our family focused during this season of life. I am looking forward to Jonathan’s graduation in May. Then we get three months of calm before he starts on his Master’s of Arts in Religion and Doctorate!

Enjoy the Moment

DSCN4316As I look at my Facebook feed I see most of my friends are complaining about more snow, or their husbands and kids, or some other thing life has thrown at them. Trust me, we are not without the problems of life. We have been through unemployment, financial trouble, marriage problems, sick kids, bad weather, broken belongings, moves, seasons of upheaval, and such. And I too have been guilty at times of airing that all out on social media. But as much as these things happen to us all, instead of posting our problems for everyone to see, what if we really did learn Paul’s secret of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13)? If Paul could find contentment chained in jail, surely I can find it even in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life.

Today we have a fresh breeze blowing through the open windows and 3 loads of laundry line drying outside (well, in our 3-season room anyway) and it is 65°F. Yes, I know it will get colder tonight and they have even thrown around the dreaded “s’ word here, but I will enjoy the warm and sun. I will rejoice that we have a home and a washing machine (thanks to a very generous friend). I will be thankful that we have laundry to hang and fold, because that means we have clothes in abundance to wear.  I will be still and quiet, knowing that in the noise and chaos that surround me  children are learning and growing. And tomorrow, I will embrace the cold, the sleet, and snow. I will be thankful that I have heat and a cozy house. I will appreciate the fact that I have sweaters to wear and fuzzy slippers too (thanks Mom & Dad for the warm Christmas gift!). And if it is cold when I go out I will be thankful that I feel it because that means I am ALIVE!

Without all these things that “get in our way” what would our life be anyway? Mine would be pretty dull and boring. There would be fewer funny stories and less laughter for sure (who else but us has a story about a kid getting bit by a donkey while performing in a living nativity?)! But the secret to contentment really is to learn to be thankful, GRATEFUL, in all situations.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

DSCN3010This weekend our family experienced our first PCS (military term for when someone is reassigned to a different base) loss. Our best family friends are moving across the country. This family is in our LifeGroup and is just “that family” for us where all the parents and all the kids get along and enjoy being together.  For our kids, this was their first (of what I am sure will be many) PCS loss. For us it has usually been us moving away to an exciting new adventure, leaving friends behind. This first time of having friends move away is proving tough. As we drove home from the going away party at the beach our car was fill of silent tears and reflective hearts. While we had been preparing our kids (and ourselves) for our friends moving away, that final goodbye proved to be more difficult that we expected. Middle Child is taking it exceptionally hard as she is losing not one, but two great friends as this family leaves.

All this got me thinking about ways to help my kids deal with this, and the subsequent moving of friends that being attached to a military base will bring. How can we help them separate and grieve properly? Last night, talking to Middle Child as she worked through her feelings I was reminded once again that Jesus knows how we feel. He saw all His friends run away and even deny Him at the end. Jesus understands feeling lonely. And He can bring the comfort and solace our soul’s need.

So today I am giving the kids a little more grace, encouraging them to be patient with each other. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us to “be angry but do not sin.” The order of the day around our house is “be sad, but do not sin.” Remember to love on your kids and your friends!

Pause Before You Pounce

pbypsidebarI am totally guilty of yelling more than I should. I have  a certain way I like things done, and when it doesn’t happen I can pounce if I am not very careful. God is really working on this in me (if it gets done well, does it really matter how it got done?). Recently I signed up for the 5 day Pause Before You Pounce challenge from Karen Ehman (author of Let It Go). This great devotional gives scripture to memorize (Be angry but do not sin – Eph. 4:26) and anecdotal encouragement for what Karen calls “mama mouth”. I highly recommend all moms and wives sign up and take this 5 day challenge!

Saturday Project: Personal History

My kids love to listen to us tell stories of when we were kids, when we got married, time my husband served in the Navy, when they were born, trips we have taken, etc. It doesn’t matter that they have heard most of these stories before;  they regularly ask us to “tell me about the time…”.

I don’t have a good family history. Many of our family items telling the story of the family have been lost as older one passed away and boxes got lost or damaged in moves. Because of this, and my kids regular desire to hear about our family history I decided to write it all down for them. But where to start?

Here is a collection of links that will get you going. These links have lists of questions and challenges to tell your story and your family’s story for future generations. Be as creative as you like. You can put things in a binder or scrapbook with photos or other memorabilia or you can type it up and insert digital pictures if you have them. The important thing is to just get your history down.

Real Simple Personal History Questions

This Is Me Challenge

This Is Me Challenge LDS Version (I’m not LDS but it gives some interesting faith questions that others can adapt)

FREE Advent Devotionals

The season of advent is upon us. This is a great time to refocus your heart and your family on the wonder of His love, in the face of all the materialism and commercial hype that comes with Christmas in America. Here are some great free resources for advent: 

Born A Child Yet A King (Christ the King Church) – Once a week devotional

For Yonder Breaks A New and Glorious Morn (Christ the King Church) – Daily devotional

Jesse Tree Advent Book (AHolyExperience.com) – 25 daily devotionals with activities

Reasons for The Season (WomenLivingWell.org) – 24 family devotions

Jesse Tree Printables (TiredNeedSleep.blogspot.com) – Free printable Jesse Tree ornaments

Basic Etiquette

Today it seems that many of the basic etiquette rules that I was raised with (and I am not that old!) are just missing from our society. It isn’t just that people aren’t doing these things anymore, but that no one is teaching them and now we have a generation of adults who don’t follow some of the basic rules, not because they are choosing to ignore them, but because they just don’t know. So here are some basic rules of etiquette and entertaining that will serve you well.

  1. RSVP means the hostess wants a response. This doesn’t just mean call if you are coming. They want to know either way, by the date specified. Do the hostess a favor and just let her know if you are coming or not.
  2. When you go to someone’s home, never arrive empty-handed. Bring a dessert or salad or bread for dinner, a bottle of wine or other drink, a house plant, a picture frame, but never arrive without a gift for your hosts. If they have invited you over for dinner or a party, giving them this small gift lets your hosts know you appreciate their work to entertain you.
  3. Write a Thank You Note! Seriously, when someone does something for you (has you over for dinner or provides a service) or gives you something, take 5 minutes to hand-write (no emails!) a Thank You note. It doesn’t take much time and people appreciate the sentiment. Teach your kids to do the same to family and friends for gifts and to parents of friends who host them.
  4. Whenever possible, reciprocate. When a family has yours over for dinner, a few weeks later, return the gesture and host them at your house. When someone offers you a service (raking your lawn, watching your kids…whatever), as long as it isn’t something you are paying for, return the gesture and do something nice for them (watch their kids on a different night etc.)
  5. Introduce new adults to children as Mr. or Mrs./Ms. & their last. It is up to the adult if they want to allow your child to call them by their first name (or Miss First Name). Just teaching your kids this simple courtesy will help them in relationships with adults and help your child understand that adults are to be respected.

These simple etiquette rules will make a huge difference in your family’s interactions with others. They take little or no time and money, but the payoff can be amazing.

Halloween – What to do when you don’t celebrate

Halloween is the # 1 growing holiday, rivaling only Christmas in the sales of holiday themed decoration and displays. But also in growing numbers many families are choosing to skip celebrating this day. Whether for religious or personal convictions or just to keep the kids away from strangers and their candy, many families are looking for some alternative to trick-or-treat and haunted houses. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Family game night – stay in, play games, and just enjoy time as a family. Remember to keep your porch-light off or to put a sign on the door.

2. Run errands – stores & restaurants are generally less busy during trick-or-treat hours. This may be a great time to catch up on much needed errands. We used to schedule out little ones doctor appointments during trick-or-treat hours. Again, leave that porch light off.

3. Treasure Hunting or Geocashing – If you geocash, set out to find a new point. If not, set up a treasure hunt in your own back yard.

4. Family Bible study – we have in the past talked about how people wear masks and pretend to be things they really aren’t in order to please other people or hide themselves from the world. We then talk about what it means to be transparent and how God already knows all our secrets and sins anyway and He is just waiting for us to trust Him with our stuff.

5. Dress up night – let the little ones show off various costumes and sill outfits. Have teen-agers do a fall or Homecoming fashion show. Dress the family in your favorite teams colors. Let the kids dress up mom and dad, complete with make-up and hair. Take lots of great, silly pictures of your fashion night

If your family chooses to abstain from Halloween, what do you do? Share your ideas in the comments!