Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday's Quote of the Day

The man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound...Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud...At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them...He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms...Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me...That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand." At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Paul Harvey

Thursday, December 17, 2009

10 Communication Skills for Effective Parenting

We all want to have healthy relationships with our children. Often the measure of health in our parent/child relationships is the quality of our communication. Positive communication is the key to friendly, trusting, and caring relationships between parents and children. It is also a skill most of us were not born with. Children learn how to communicate by watching their parents. If parents communicate openly and effectively, chances are that their children will, too. Whether you are parenting a toddler or teenager, good communication skills will benefit your children for their entire lives.

So how can you communicate effectively with your children? The ten skills listed below can help you improve relations with your children and bring harmony to your home.

1. Be interested in what your child has to say.
Turn off the TV and put down the newspaper. Kids can tell when you are not concentrating. Maintain eye contact, this lets your child know that you are really interested in what they have to say. If you truly do not have time at that moment, promise to get back to them later, but then do it!

2. Keep conversations brief.
The younger children are, the more difficult is for them to sit through a long speech. The goal is for parents to pass on information a little at a time while checking that their children are paying attention to and understanding what is being said at regular intervals. Parents should let children decide when enough is enough. Look for clues like fidgeting, lack of eye contact, distractibility.

3. Ask the right questions…avoid dead end questions.
Avoid asking questions that just require a yes or no answer. Ask questions that begin with what, where, who or how. But…don't let your questions turn into an interrogation!

4. Communicate at your children's level.
Come down to their level both verbally and physically. Use age appropriate language that the child can understand.

5. Express your own feelings and ideas.
Communication is a two way street. Parents can teach their children many things, for example, morals and values, by expressing thoughts and feelings. For example, watch TV together and engage the child in a conversation about why you believe what you are watching is wrong or immoral. Be careful, however, not to come off "preachy" or judgmental.

6. Regularly schedule family meetings or times to talk.
Use the dinner hour as time to catch up with each other. Or use quiet times before bed as a time to find out what the child has planned for the next day.

7. Admit it when you don't know something.
When a child asks a question you don't know the answer to, use it as a learning experience for both of you. We need to teach our children that the smartest people are not the ones who have all the answers (an impossibility), but the ones who know how to find the answers. Teach your children how to find out the answers to tough questions.

8. Try to make explanations complete.
When answering questions give as much information as the child needs, even if the subject is something that you don't feel comfortable with. If parents answer tough questions without strong reactions, children learn that no subject is taboo, and they will probably lose interest after they get their answer. Remember, anything you make an issue will become an issue.

9. Let your children know they have been heard.
Keep interruptions to a minimum. You can offer encouragement through a smile, touch or nod, without interrupting. When they are done speaking restate what the child said. For example, "Boy it sounds like you had a really tough day!" Not only will this let the child know that you have been listening, but it will often give the child a chance to clarify or give more information.

10. Avoid negative communication. Examples of negative communication:
· Nagging and Lecturing
· Interrupting
· Criticizing
· Dwelling on the past
· Controlling through the use of guilt
· Using sarcasm
· Telling children how to solve their problems
· Putting children down
· Using threats
· Denying children's feelings

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Depression and the Holidays

I don't know about you, but sometimes "the most wonderful time of the year" to quote a famous Christmas carol, is not always so wonderful! The holidays, which start at Thanksgiving and don't end until after the New Year, are stressful! Cooking, spending too much money, eating too much, parties, family gatherings and decorating can take a toll on the best of us. For some people the holidays are really the saddest part of the year. A time when the loss of a loved one is felt the most, and a time when people who aren't surrounded by friends and family feel alone and isolated.

Our expectations during the holidays often set us up for feeling bad. Our fantasy of a loving family singing carols around the tree are often replaced with family friction, moody teenagers, and dinners that don't look (or taste) like the picture on our Christmas card.

We all suffer from the blues at times, especially in the winter when days are short and our "perfect" holidays don't pan out. However, if the blues last more than a few weeks you may be suffering from depression.

What to look for...
• Loss of pleasure from daily life.
• Sad, anxious or “empty” mood.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Changes in weight and appetite.
• Feeling restless or irritable.
• Trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
• Fatigue or loss of energy.
• Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.
• Physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment.
• Thoughts of death or suicide.

Here are some things you can do if you're feeling down during the holidays
• Set realistic goals
• Ask for help when you need it.
• Get enough sleep.
• Go to sleep and get up at about the same time every day.
• Eat a healthy diet.
• Exercise regularly.
• Build and keep friendships and a network of support.
• Take a course in stress management or assertiveness.

If these don't help and you feel several of the symptoms of depression listed above for more than two weeks call your doctor. Don't let the blues get the best of you!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stressless Saturday

Dear Jesus,

I am so tired. My weariness goes all the way to the bone. Even when I sleep, I wake up exhausted. I am worried about so many things. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that you understand even my doubts and that you love me in the midst of them.

My schedule is so packed with important things, and I can’t imagine giving up even one of them. Help! Will you really show me where to put my left foot and my right? Lord, I want to believe; help my unbelief. Give me a heart that hungers and thirsts to know you, even more than I hunger and thirst for rest and peace. When I want to know and understand you more than anything else in my world, I will have come to the beginning of the end of the stress that threatens to undo me. Reveal yourself to me, Lord, and I will follow.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday's Quote of the Day

"The worst disease in today's world is not leprosy or cancer: it is the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, of being deserted and alone“ Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stressless Saturday

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with its possible adversaries, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds...but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day...Today. Any man can fight the battles of just one day, it is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities...Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down.

It is not the experience of Today that drives men is remorse or bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring

— Author Unknown

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fun Friday

"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.
Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by. Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize the guy was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy).
By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."