Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 30-Day Marriage & Family Refocus Challenge

Family Management & Time Management

“My Time is My Currency, so I must Spend it Wisely!”

We have our hobbies, and then we have what needs to inhabit us.  If we were to view time as dollars, then what we spend our time doing is what we are investing into daily.  Our investments are the only deposits that we have to make withdrawals from in life.  So let’s say that every hour of the day represents $1,000.00 dollars.  That means we get $24,000.00 dollars a day to spend how we like.

*Over the next couple of days, write at the top of a piece of paper $24,000.00 dollars, and then list everything you do in that day, in order to see where and what your investments are.  I would bet in your life, like many others and mine, that too much of our time (currency), is spent in pastime and not in Purpose time. Time is a currency, and when we spend it, it is gone.
It is time to get our marriages and families back on track and back in the proper order of making them a top priority. How can we get TIME back with our mates and families by doing the following…

T- Transition: It is time to transition your mind. You have to view your marriage and family as your ministry and a great part of the purpose of your life. Transition is defined as the movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another. Transition is change! You have to be willing to change in order to see your marriage and family go from the state that it is in to where you desire it to be. The first place that change and transition must happen is within you.

You have to change your schedule, priorities, and make a committed effort that you will invest into your marriage and family every day. When you transition then a refocus can happen that will bring about restoration and reconciliation.

I-Interests: You have to be interested in getting to know and relearn your spouse and their love language again. This time, don’t just take notes, but actually do the things that they desire. Be the spouse that you want to have. Don’t ask for what you are not willing to give.

Get involved in the interests of your kids. Don’t allow a whole calendar year to go by and you have not been involved in their lives or their sports/games, extracurricular activities, and achievements. Be a visible and participating parent.

The only way something can draw interest is by first depositing something into it!

M- Modify: It is time to be more flexible and adjust your schedule where you make your family the center of it and not just the afterthought. Set realistic expectations on the time you have and make sure to invest a great portion of that time on your marriage and family.

E- Engage: Really be visible and focused when you are with your spouse and with your children. Don’t just appear to be there, but engage, and be active. Keep your promises that you make to your spouse and children. Pay attention to your spouse and kids daily.

“I will give my all to what I do, but I cannot do it all!”

Reasonable expectations of you, your spouse, your children, and others are the key to balance.  However, the thing that has to be set in place before balance is Proper Prioritizing.  Setting things in Proper Order brings about balance.

*Use a Pie chart: Make a big circle on a piece of paper and make pie sections of your life and base them on the percentage of time, energy, and commitment that they require.

*Hint: God should get the first piece of the pie, then you, your spouse, kids, family, ministry, career/education, etc… If you can see where you are and how much of you is required, then you will know what you can give.  Allow God to order the day in order to have balance and success.

Remember you are only able to be 100%. Therefore, if your pie chart has total of a 150%, then you have already overdone it.  In actuality, there will never be true equality in all areas of your life because there is not supposed to be.  What?  Yes, I said that not everything in your life will be equal with one another.  For example, your work should never be equal to your kids and your spouse.  Why?  A job is simply that--it has terms and conditions and you can be fired from it.  It is based on work and performance. 

You are a wife (husband) and a mom (dad), regardless, and you can’t be fired from it.  It is not a job.  The exceeding joy that you have with your family can never be compared to some job. Balance in this section refers to bringing harmony into your life--not over giving, or under giving, or neglecting the true mission in your life.  True balance is not to give everything equal amounts of you, but rather to make them compatible in a working sense of being a part of your everyday life.

You can’t do it all, but you should give your best to what you can do.  It is not the Quantity of what you do, but rather the Quality!  “Plan for Tomorrow, but Focus on Today!”  I know we all like to stay ahead, but don’t get so far ahead of God that you are no longer following Him, but leading Him.  Ask God to help you prioritize your life, so that you will have harmony and balance.  It takes more than just you to get it all done.  You are not a Superman/Superwoman, just a man/woman who is super in knowing how to ask for help.

“Prioritize! Don’t Overload Yourself.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The 30-Day Marriage & Family Refocus Challenge

Needs vs. Desires

You have to view your life, marriage, and the relationship you have with your kids (family) from the perspective of the oxygen masks on an airplane. Before taking off, the airline stewardess will demonstrate how to put on an oxygen mask. But it is the profound words that she says about who you should place the mask on first, YOU! Yes, she tells you no matter who is sitting next to you, always put your oxygen mask on first! WOW! What insight we can gain from this. You have to see about yourself as it realtes to needs before you can be of any service, help, or assitance to anyone else.

Basically,  the airline stewardess is saying, if you put someone else’ s mask on, you may not even have the opportunity to put yours own.

You put your kids’ needs above your desires, but not above your own needs. I too have been erroneous in the past when saying that you have to put your kids’ needs above your needs. No, as parents when our children are not of adulthood age, we should put their needs above our desires, but not our own needs. It may take awhile to let this one sink in, but always think about the oxygen mask on the flight, you have to deal with your needs in order to meet someone else’s needs.

The sacrifice is in meeting their needs above your desires and selfish wants, which we are entitled to have, but we often sacrifice for the sake of our kids. I am not saying don’t have wants and desires, but just know that you can’t sacrifice your needs and be beneficial to your marriage or your children. No more guilt over meeting your needs! You have to put your “oxygen mask” on first then assist your spouse and children in their needs, wants, and desires.

It is not the desire of any parent to put their “oxygen mask” on first, but it is a Need for you to do so in order to be the best person, spouse, and parent you can. You have to get a new working defintion of Needs & Desires as it relates to you as a holistic person, your marriage as your priority/foundation, and with your kids (family).

Wives & Moms: If you really want to love your husband, then take care of & love his wife (you). Moms, if you really want to love your children, then take care of & love their mom (you).

Husbands & Dads: If you really want to love your wife, then take care of & love her husband (you). Dads, if you really want to love your children, then take care of & love their dad (you).

The Needed vs. The Necessary

Desires & Wants are Necessary, but we have to Refocus Our Lives on the Needed!

Needed: An essential requirement or duty, or obligation, an urgent want as of something required, a condition or situation in which something is required or wanted.

Necessary: Being essential, indispensable, or requisite, acting or proceeding from compulsion or necessity, not free, and involuntary. It is unavoidably determined by prior conditions or circumstances; it is inevitable.

Being busy, even though you are doing the “necessary” things, is not always God’s assignment.  They are good things, but that does not mean they are God things.  It is all about motives.  Sometimes, we are busy in order to avoid things that we should really be focusing on.  We want to stay busy, so it will look like we are doing and accomplishing something to others.  We are sacrificing God, our marriage, & children for the sake of impressing others.

To take care of yourself would seem to be something that no one would have to tell you, but as men & women (husbands/dads & wives/moms) we are always worried and consumed by everyone else’s needs.  When was the last time you did something for you?  It is wonderful to do great things for others, but charity starts at home, and then it goes abroad.  If you neglect yourself, then are you really helping others?  If you are in a place of restlessness, burnout, and hopelessness, then you will not be good for others.  You have to consider yourself and really focus on your needs to make sure you are equipped to complete the tasks before you.

“Don’t Take Your Strength for Granted”

We are always being and doing for others, but you have to remember that there is one person who needs you most--You!  Really take inventory over the next month of all the demands, activities, errands, and everything else on your to-do list and see where some things can be eliminated.  Again, what is needed vs. what is necessary?  Allow God to be the deciding factor.  Once you have looked at your full monthly calendar and considered everything, then go back in the recesses of your mind and figure out how you got to this place. 

As a spouse and parent, you have come to the place of being so inundated with stuff that you have allowed it to define who you are.  If you took all the stuff and the busyness away, then what is left? Who do you see when you look at yourself?  Are you afraid of just being alone with yourself?  I think you are missing out on the greatest relationship that is always near you, the one with yourself!  Do not forget to put yourself on your own guest list. Invite yourself to the greatest party--Your Life!

The “Do You” List:

I know you have to have a “to-do list” every day, but you need to have a “Do You” List! We are constantly doing things, but we sometimes forget ourselves.  This list will help you achieve the optimum you, so that you can live a life full and overflowing and not one of weariness. This list helps you to take off the Superman/Superwoman Cape and put on the Robe of Care for yourself.  We as spouses & parents are constantly wearing the cape of “I can do it all” when God is only requiring us to put on the Robe of Care. 

Today, decide to change your wardrobe and give up your cape for the Robe of Care!  Your password for your life is LIBERATED.  The login name is YOU… You have to sign-on and login to your own life.  It is time to feel completely free being you. 

This is Your “Do You” List:

1)      Accept You
2)      Love You
3)      Trust You
4)      Affirm You
5)      Respect You
6)      Be You

Accept yourself no matter what. Have a great appreciation for who you are. There will always be things that you want to change, but you have to have initial acceptance of who you are and rejoice in the value of your life.  Know what qualities are simply a part of you and know the things that you do have the power to change.  You become better when you choose to. 

Love yourself. If you do not, then no one else will. Take time to love yourself through words, care, and doing fun things.  You are worth it and you do deserve it.  Always keep a healthy self-esteem; fall in love with you, and then others will too.

Trust yourself no matter what.  You are your own greatest ally.  Decide every day and in every situation to be honest and trustworthy. 

Affirm yourself. You know you can do it, you know you will make it, and you know you are beautiful.  Say and do things to affirm yourself and the overall goal of your life.  Only allow things, people, and places into your life that affirm and add to who you are. Dismiss those things that subtract from you.

Respect yourself every day.  Never allow anyone to degrade you or treat you as less than who you are.  Always regard yourself highly and keep your dignity, integrity, and self-respect as a top priority.

Be You.  If you do not be you, then who will?  God made you and He doesn’t make mistakes, so you are what He wants you to be.  Seek God for improvements, and not the opinion of man.  Be proud to be you, even the past you.  You are a compilation of your life experiences and they have made you who you are today.

Every day, you have to keep this “Do You” list before you.  No matter what situation you face, you will always need to Accept you, Love you, Trust you, Affirm you, Respect you, and Be you!  When you don’t “Do You,” then you are a half-empty woman.  The only way to be full is to fully “Do You!”

Take time now to write out the “Do You” list several times on a piece of paper, sticky note, or index card. Put the list on the bathroom mirror, in the car, at your office, and wherever else you need a reminder of how great you are. A Total Man/Woman does the “Do You” list every day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The 30-Day Marriage & Family Refocus Challenge

Married with Children…

How to Be H.A.P.P.I.L.Y. Married with Children

There has been this awful notion that you cannot have a happy, fun-loving, and sex-filled marriage if you have children. Again, marrige is about you and your spouse and keeping your marriage spouse-centered and not children-centered. Marriage only becomes dreadful and sexless by not keeping it as a top priority even above that of your children who are your family and not your mate/marriage.When you give your children the title or the place/position where your spouse should be then you no longer have a marriage, but only a family. This series is here to refocus (to change the emphasis & direction) of that.

Remember, kids don’t make your marriage, you and your spouse do. Never blame the hardships of your marriage on your kids. Your kids are apart of your family, but you and your spouse are the common denominatiors of your marriage. Don’t allow family issues to become marital issues. If your spouse is being a bad parent, then deal with them as a parent and not as a partner. Vice-versa, if your partner is being a great parent, but an awful spouse, then only deal with them on the issue of being a bad spouse.

You have to Refocus your whole train of thought. Many of us are gulity of allowing our children (family) to denominate or all together obliterate our marriage. You hear people say all the time, “We are having family time.” But you rarely hear, “We are having Couple/Marriage time.” You vowed to love, honor, and cherish your spouse, but you can’t accomplish this if all you do is love, honor, and cherish your kids/family and never or rarely consider your spouse.

Take care of you, take care of your spouse, and then take care of your children. You are no good to anyone stressed out and burn-out. You are no good to your children if your marriage is about to end in divorce. You have to make sure you keep the foundation strong and that is by having your marriage strong.

Stop using your kids as an escapegoat not to be committed to the hard work of your marriage.

When 1+1=3

(How to Be H.A.P.P.I.L.Y. Married with Children)

H: Have Couples Time without Children.

            When you are out with your spouse, don’t use this time to talk about your children and other family problems, but rather use this time to connect with your spouse on a deeper level. Open up the conversation with loving words of admiration and how much you love them. Really focus on your spouse and their needs at that moment. Have fun, laugh, and really enjoy one another.

A: Accept the fact that children do change the course of your life, but that you must keep your marriage on course.

            Most couple don’t accept the fact and adjust to the fact that kids change everything. You have to accept the new expectation of the demands that children bring and you also have to adjust your expectations of your spouse as your partner while they are also parenting with you. You cannot expect your spouse to be a Casanova (Goddess) partner and a Superman (Superwoman) parent all the time and at the same time. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself, spouse, and children. Be Flexible!

            Always have a united front with your spouse as it relates to your children. Discuss who will be responsible for what and always be a support system for your spouse. Kids may adjust the dynamics of life, but you still have a life. So still plan and go vacations and do fun things with and without them.

P: Plan, Plan, & Plan… Preparation is the key to having a successful marriage and family… ask for help… establish a schedule and stick to it… order is the key to success!

            You do have to accept the fact that it will be harder to be spontaneous once children are in the picture. Scheduling is the new Spontaneous! When you schedule things, you are intentional about them and you want to be intentional about your marriage and your family. If you schedule, plan and prepare then you will be FUNctional and not Dysfunctional! Planning keeps the fun and order in your marriage and family. Never schedule things that involve your spouse and family without talking with them first. Be considerate and courteous of their time. It is great to do things with others, but don’t over schedule and extend your family.

            Always schedule family time that consists only of you, your spouse, and your children, even if it is just dinner, or family game night, or talk time. Each spouse should do activities with the children one-on-one and all together at least quarterly. This helps with bonding with each of your children and gives your spouse a break too.

            Always schedule Rest Days (A Sabbath) for your household weekly! This is a must, you can’t refocus if you are dead-tired all the time! Establish set bedtimes for your children, and also have couple/alone time nightly with your spouse.

P: Praise

            Praise your spouse in front on your children. Always set the atmosphere of kind and encouraging words to be a part of your everyday dialect with your spouse and children. Praise your children daily and teach them how to love now. Post their artwork and other accomplishments up in the house. “Love really is in the details-the daily details.” Make the most of the little things and your daily interactions with your spouse and children.

I: Initiate

            Initiate affection, romance, and sex as often as possible with your spouse. Write love letters, send cards, and flowers just because. Make a big deal and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Even while watching tv snuggle, cuddle, and hold hands. Hug and kiss every day! Pray with your spouse and pray for them. Most of us initiate arguments and fights, but start initiating LOVE!

L: Love your children, but be In Love with your spouse

            Shower your children with love and affection, but make sure you are always serving, giving, and being in love with your spouse. Don’t allow your spouse to feel neglected or be neglected because you have pushed them so far down on the priority list. Always ask your spouse how you can help them have a good day, and when they tell you what they need, do it! Also, express your needs to your spouse. Meet the needs and desires of your spouse; remember, it is the little things that count most.

Y: You

            Take time for you. Go out without your spouse and children. Even if you are just taking an hour a day to relax, watch a movie, take a bath, or workout, make sure you put yourself on your own to-do-list! Your marriage and family need for you to be healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and this can only be accomplished if you take good care of yourself daily! It is not selfish to do this, but it is a prerequisite if you want to thrive in your marriage and with your children.

Here is a simple and effective schedule to help you get started in being H.A.P.P.I.L.Y. Married with Children

Time Management & Household Commitments

Sundays: Church and Family time (Cleaning the Internal House – your Soul! Enjoy the rest of the day hanging with family instead of being exhausted from cleaning all day Saturday). 
Schedule & Plan: Prepare for the upcoming week’s events and post everything on the family calendar.

Mondays: Mail sorting Mondays (including bills/magazines/receipts/basically anything dealing with paper). Mate Night: spend some alone and quality time with your spouse for at least 1 hour. Connect through conversation and physical touch!

Tuesdays: Tidy up Tuesdays kitchen/family room (straighten pillows on the couch; put away the things – straighten up pots and pans and Tupperware etc…Yep! The ones in the cabinets). 
Me-Time: Take at least 1 hour of me-time tonight you deserve it. Make sure your spouse also gets a “me-time” moment this week!

Wednesdays: Wipe down Wednesdays bathrooms and kitchen (thorough cleaning – make it shine….including sweeping and mopping). Family Night: have pizza, games, a movie, but most importantly talk with your kids!

Thursdays: Pick up clothes/shoes/jackets – straighten laundry room/bedrooms/Closet.
Date Night: Go out to dinner, take a walk, go for ice cream, catch a movie, or stay in, just do something alone with your spouse! Have some good affection, romance, and sex!

Fridays: BREAK (Sabbath)! Rest Night: Everyone just chill out!

Saturdays: Dust and vacuum. Activities Day: do the activities, errands, and other obligations that need to be taken care of today.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The 30-Day Marriage & Family Refocus Challenge

Your Marriage is not in a Recession, but a REFOCUS!

Refocus: Your marriage is not in a recession, but a Refocus! To refocus means to look again, or focus something again. It also means to change the emphasis or direction of something. Just like in the natural, we all go back to the mirror for a second look before we leave the house. It is time for you to take a second look at your marriage and discover how to change the emphasis or direction of it. God is requiring us now to go back to the mirror of our marriage and commitment and look again.  It is time to Refocus your marriage!

How can you Refocus your marriage? You have to be marriage-centered first, and then secondly be child/family-centered. Have a spouse centered-marriage and a children-centered family. Your children are not your mate, but they are your family. You and your spouse are beyond family because you are ONE. Yes, you and your spouse are one: one love, one mind, one spirit, & one body, etc… The denomination of one does not constitute a family, but rather a marriage. Now, the children are an addition to the already established denomination of the oneness that you and your spouse have. The children don’t make or complete your marriage, but rather your family. Many married couples give up being married to one another for family. This should not be, but rather strive to have your marriage as the strong base by which your family can be built upon.

“Your Marriage is the Foundation of Your Family!”

            If you put your children before your marriage, then you are putting the cart before the horse. Remember your first priority is to be a partner, then a parent. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand you have to meet the needs of babies and young/small children, but you do not do this at the expense of never meeting your spouse’s needs. Nor do you tell your spouse our marriage will be back on track in 5-6 years when the kids start school or even worse in 18 years when they move out.

            Take for instance when it is dinnertime, you should demonstrate in front of your children the marriage to family order by fixing your spouse’s plate first and serving them. Again, this establishes order in your household and it illustrates to your children that you first have a marriage-centered mindset as a spouse, and then as a parent a family-centered mindset.

REFOCUS Your Marriage

R. Reconnect with your spouse. Talk and really communicate with your spouse again and really connect with them. Try to be more understanding and considerate of your spouse. Ask them daily, “What can I do to help you today and to be a better spouse?” Go on dates, take vacations, and do romantic things for one another. Laugh together every day!

E. Edify your spouse. Over the next 30-days, do not say anything negative about your spouse or to your spouse. Even when you need to deal with challenging issues, make sure you do not disrespect your spouse in any way. Build with your words!

F. Fight Less with your spouse. Over the next 30-days, stop making everything an issue, an argument, and a fight. Focus more on connecting with your spouse and changing yourself. Instead of fighting, rather challenge yourself and your spouse to see how you can handle the issues in your marriage without fighting.

O. Optimistic! Be optimistic about yourself, your spouse, and your marriage. Don’t look for the bad in your relationship over the next 30-days. Look and focus on the good in your spouse and your marriage. Find creative ways to bring happiness, love, and joy to your marriage.

C. Commit yourself to your spouse and marriage again. Come up with new marriage vows and recommitment yourself again to your love. Make an “I Promise & Vow To ….” list. Do a little simple commitment ceremony with your spouse and say your new promises and vows to one another. Then frame and post the new promises and vows in your house.

U. Understand your spouse. Don’t always feel like you and your spouse have to agree on everything, but rather choose to understand and support them in a matter. Make sure you say to them, “I understand and I am here for you.”

S. Sex! Challenge yourself over the next 30-days to be physical with your spouse in some kind of way. Remember, Making Love starts with & in the mind, accelerates with your words, goes further with your actions/service, and ends with a good night. It may be impossible every day to have sex, but you should strive to make love to your spouse’s mind, make love to them through your words, actions, and acts of service to your spouse.

Challenge yourself to take your marriage from the recession that it has been in to the next level and REFOCUS it. You owe it to yourself and your spouse to give your marriage all that you have and then some. Imagine how great your marriage will be once you Refocus it!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The 30-Day Marriage & Family Refocus Challenge

**Read through this assignment and modify it to fit your family, then have a family meeting, spouses only first then involve the kids and let them know why you are doing it and all the benefits it has for your family!**

The Day-to-Day Routine Factor:

Ø  Mornings: Each spouse shall alternate weeks to allow the other at least 30mins-1 hour extra sleep by taking on the duties or the roles in preparing the house for the day (i.e. Make coffee, lunches, walk the dog, get child ready for school etc…)
Ø  Goal of the Morning Refocus: Is to allow the other spouse the opportunity to either sleep in, do their devotion, have quiet time before work, or exercise.
Ø  Benefits of this Morning Refocus: Causes your spouse to be refreshed and prepared to take on whatever task awaits them at work and to also be ready and renewed to take on the night shift at home this week while the other spouse does the morning routine… neither spouse is maxed-out and everyone feels the load or duties are being divided equally

Ø  ** Try to at least once a week to have family prayer prior to leaving the house and play worship music every morning when you get up to set the atmosphere and order in the house!

Ø  Afternoon: Each spouse commits to contact the other at least once throughout the day (via email, text, or phone call) just to check on them only… nothing else… only after that communication has been done can that spouse petition the other for a favor or errand, etc…
Ø  At least try to make it a point in the 30-day challenge to have an actual physical lunch together… if not possible, then schedule to call each other and talk while taking a lunch break a the same time… There should always be some type of communication between the two spouses prior to coming home so that they both know and have an understanding of what to expect that evening.
Ø  Goal of the Afternoon Refocus: Your spouse serves as an outlet to talk to and affirm each other at the midpoint of your day before seeing each other when you get home… this also helps the spouse to prepare for the evening.
Ø  Benefits of this Afternoon Refocus: Opens up communication, causes you just to focus and to express love and meaningful things to each other while at work, which sets the tone for your home before you even arrive that evening… gives you something to look forward to each day and relieves stress.

Ø  Evenings: Each spouse shall alternate weeks to allow the other at least 30mins-1 hour extra time to themselves “me-time” by taking on the duties or the roles in preparing the house for the evening (i.e. Make dinner, walk the dog, homework with children, etc…
Ø  Goal of the Evenings Refocus: Is to allow the other spouse the opportunity to either sleep, do devotion, have quiet time, do homework/study, or exercise before dinner
Ø  Have dinner together as a family, no tv on, no cell phones, just family talk…at least one night per week you should have family night, which consist of games, movies, special food treats, or a night out for the entire family… it is most beneficial to do family night-in initially then end the 30-day challenge with a reward in going out for family night… also have family prayer night and devotion at least once that week…
Ø  Give the children time for themselves also… believe it or not kids need “me-time” and this allows everyone to have alone time and unwind from the day…

Ø  Bedtime: Should not exceed 10:00 pm for parents and 8:30pm for children…Prior to going to bed both spouses regardless of what has transpired that day should shower to feel refreshed before bed…Both spouses should alternate between weeks who puts the children to bed… NO CHILDREN IN THE BEDROOM… even if the child is sick then the designated parent should sleep in the child’s room…

The Nuts & Blots:

Ø  Must have at least one date night per week in the home or out of the home (i.e. special dinner, movie, rent a movie, indoor picnic, couple massages, etc…)
Ø  Focus on your marriage and do the maintenance that has been long over due… really focus on how to make the other spouse happy and really focus on their love language and commit daily to doing so.
Ø  S.N.L SEX NIGHT LIVE!! Really make a commitment to having intimacy and sex at least 3 times each week… this is the RECONNECTION of the REFOCUS!! Make your bed a sanctuary again… put romance back into your marriage… have FUN again… get back to the deeper level of friendship…
Ø  Each spouse gets one day to themselves… at the beginning of each week, each spouse chooses that day… in that day you get at least 4 hours to yourself even outside the home to do whatever… THIS IS YOUR SABBATH!
Ø  Release yourself from all other obligations during this time (30-day challenge) to give your full attention back to personal time with God, spouse, children… your home which is your first ministry- the greatest one.

Make it a point to share all domestic duties, and finally do those house projects and clean-up, do all those things you have been vowing to do