Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fanning Your Flame

"Fanning Your Flame"

Written by: Nina Lydon


MOPS is a great place for mamas to come together and refill our cups, renew our strength, and be poured into instead of always pouring out. Our last meeting was no different, with good coffee, hot breakfast and a great mixer bingo game; I was ready to listen and receive from our speaker Julie Landreth. 
Julie spoke on the idea of “fanning your flame” revolutionizing marriage one woman at a time. This idea can sometimes be daunting. After all we are moms, we do it all already. After a long day of being a nurse, chef, hairstylist, chauffeur, referee, professional maid, and personal shopper for small children, on top of all the other responsibilities in our lives, the last thing we want to be is “sexy”.
After all, sex can feel just like another way we are pouring out to someone else instead of poured into. Julie gave us a few tips to help us “fan the flame”. First she talked about studying your spouse and their patterns/behaviors to find the best time to connect with them. Her other suggestion was to discover your partners love language, once you know more about how your partner views love, you can show him love in a very specific way. 
Julie touched on the biblical principle of being “naked and unashamed” with our spouse. (Genesis2:25) I believe personally that this means being completely vulnerable with your spouse, baring all your flaws, fears, and secrets. This is sometimes easier for women than it is for men. Julie encourages us as women to  try to connect with our spouses on a deeper level in order to make sex more meaningful.
Men and women are different when it comes to sex. Women connect emotionally to sex and men connect physically. Men seek out the physical connection and release of chemicals in the brain oxytocin (bonding chemical) and endorphins (feel good chemical). Women seek out the emotional connection that intimacy brings. So having sex with our spouses is so much more than just intimacy, it creates a bond chemically, physically and emotionally. 
Don't know where to start? That is okay! Julie stated the three C’s to get started. Confidence, communication, and comfort zones. Start with building your confidence up, remember that you are made exactly the way God created you to be. You are a masterpiece. You were made with a purpose and put on the earth to do only what you can do. You are the only one who can love your spouse the way that you do. Communication, remember to communicate with your spouse the best way you can inside and outside of the bedroom. If we are feeling connected to our spouse emotionally we are far more likely to create those special moments with our spouses intimately. Lastly, Comfort zones, sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zones to spice things up. Climb in the shower with your spouse, wear something sexy to bed or send a flirty text or two. Just showing your spouse that he is needed and wanted can be exactly the spark you needed to “fan the flame”.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Using Traditions to Teach Values

Using Traditions to Teach Values- Nov 27, 2018

Written by: Liz Morrison

When someone says the words “values” or “traditions,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe when you think of values you think of things like honesty, kindness, or selflessness. Traditions for you could be annual family vacations, things you do the same way year after year on a holiday, or something you eat on a special occasion. Now I ask you, how often do we think of values being taught or enriched by traditions?

Yesterday we had the honor of hosting Crossroads’ Executive Pastor Ed Applegate and his wife of fourteen years, Kiah, to deliver a message called “Using Traditions to Teach Values.” What better time than in the middle of the holiday season to get some insight on this subject from a couple that has plenty of experience? Together Ed and Kiah have five children between the ages of six and eleven and have spent years teaching and developing good values in their children through the many traditions they have in their home, such as honesty, kindness, how to deal with conflict, and knowing Jesus.

The pair spoke about the “Tradition Cycle” which visually explained that there can be values taught through traditions, that great memories can be made through those traditions, and in turn instill in our children values that they will carry with them throughout their lives and later to their own families. The three main values that Ed and Kiah have dedicated themselves to teaching their children through traditions are serving, giving, and having fun.



Serving

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

The Applegates explained to us that in serving others we are serving Jesus, and even though our kids may not always be racing out the door to get out and do service projects, they will learn to find great joy in helping others while learning the value of serving. Their family does a number of service projects as a family throughout the year such as Citrus Saturday, Love Salida, serving in the children’s classrooms during Sunday services, helping at events with Compassion International, and a project that they started on their own, Cookies for Cancer.

So how can you build traditions around serving?

1.     Find a project that everyone in your family can do, despite their ages or limitations: Make sure no one is left out of the experience of serving others or learning this important value.
2.     Choose something that would give you special time with one of your children, such as your Elsie’s child. Recently Kiah and their daughter Alathea served with Compassion International by handing out sponsorship flyers at a concert which was not only a great serving opportunity for them both to enjoy, but it was Alathea’s first concert which created a special memory for her and Kiah to share together.
3.     Join an existing service project or create your own: Reach out to your church, school, or community to find projects that you can be a part of or create something that serves a person, people, or a cause that is important to you and your family, like the Applegate family has done with “Cookies for Cancer.”
4.     Celebrate! Express the joy that you and your family feel after serving by celebrating what you have done together. Ed and Kiah explained that after Citrus Saturdays each year they have lunch together at In N Out, which has become a tradition that they all look forward to after a morning of hard work serving others in the community.

Giving

“It is more blessed to give than receive.” Acts 20:35

Giving may be one of the best but most difficult value for all of us, which makes it even harder to teach our children. Jesus tells us that it is more of a blessing to give than to receive, however, when someone asks us to give our time and money to someone else we naturally become selfish with it. Unfortunately, a lot of us miss out on the joy and the thrill that is felt from giving to others because we forget that it is what Jesus wants us to do. How then, you ask, can we teach our children the value of giving when it is something we struggle with ourselves on a daily basis?

There are so many ways that we can give to others and it is not always monetary. The Applegate family chooses many ways to give throughout the year to teach their children how joyous it can be such as giving candy canes out at the mall during Christmastime, taking a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need, sponsoring a child through Compassion International, and randomly giving McDonald’s gift cards to homeless people in need of a meal. Their children also complete household chores which they are paid for but set a portion aside towards tithing, and a selection of chores which they can earn “Cow Bucks” for. This also teaches the children that working hard equals money, which is a very important lesson to learn in life.

I know you’re asking yourself what “Cow Bucks” are because that is what we all were doing when Pastor Ed mentioned it. Every fall the family receives a catalog in the mail where they can choose specific items to donate to people in need. Soccer balls, goats, chickens, and clothing are just a few of the many things that can be sent, giving the Applegate children the opportunity to do chores that earn them special dollars, created by Ed and Kiah, which they can use to “buy” the items they want to donate. This not only teaches them the value of giving to someone in need, but gives them something tangible to tie to their good deed. This year one of the kids is donating a goat!

Now your wheels are probably turning with ideas on how you can teach your family the value of giving through traditions so here are some ways Ed and Kiah believe you can do that:

1.     Plan and decide how and what you can afford to give. Giving does not have to be expensive, but it can have monetary costs such as travel, buying items to give, or just giving money in general. Kiah and Ed explained that they put money aside for special giving each month when they budget, on top of their normal tithing. This way they are prepared to pay for whatever they need, and can give as needed when the unexpected need comes along, so it is not a hindrance on their finances and they can give more freely and joyfully knowing since they are prepared for it. So many of us find security in saving our money “for a rainy day,” but putting money aside with the intention of using it towards giving can definitely make the idea of giving easier when it’s difficult.
2.     Decide how you are going to involve your kids. You may already be giving to various charities or tithing to your church, but if your children don’t know you’re doing it or aren’t involved, how can they learn the value of giving to others? Involving our kids in what, how, when, and to whom we give to shows them what a blessing we can be to others through giving, which is a feeling of joy that they will pursue well into their lives.

Fun

“The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Serving, giving, and teaching values and traditions to our kids may take time, effort, and dedication, but who says you should not have fun while you’re doing it? God wants us to live our lives to the fullest, and that includes having fun! When we make teaching values and carrying out traditions fun we create lasting memories for us and our kids that they will learn from and share with others, just as the “Tradition Cycle” shows us.

Giving to Jesus may be one of the hardest ways that we give to someone else. What do you give the Savior of the World, after all? One example given by Ed and Kiah was their family’s Jesus Stocking. Every year they, along with their kids, take time remembering the ways in which they served or gave to Jesus by serving or giving to someone else. The kids make drawings or notes with the ways they gave throughout the year and place them all in the stocking. Then, on Christmas morning after everyone has awakened, they take turns pulling the pictures and notes out of the stocking and read them aloud as a family, celebrating all the ways they were able to give and serve Him by doing so to others.

Is there something you and your family do traditionally that you can use to teach the values you want them to have in life? Whether it is enjoying pancakes, pajamas, and cartoons every Saturday to unwind and enjoy each other’s company, celebrating after a service project, getting an annual pass somewhere fun that you and your family can go together, or looking at Christmas lights then drinking hot chocolate afterwards like the Applegates do, you can build unity and nurture values in so many ways by just having fun together.

However you do it, it is so important to be intentional when instilling the values that you are trying to teach through the traditions that you already have or plan to create. If you haven’t started any traditions, it’s ok to start now, no matter how old your children may be. Do not be discouraged if your children, or you, struggle to get out and complete projects, give to others, or simply do a family activity. As you all get started and begin to find joy in doing those things it will get easier and more enjoyable for everyone, especially those who are on the receiving end of your blessings that you give through serving and generosity. So what are you waiting for?


To get more insight on teaching values through traditions, you can read “Treasuring God in our Traditions,” written by Noel Piper, as recommended by Kiah Applegate.

And some pictures of our fun "Minute to Win It" games at the beginning of the meeting...what a blast!




Sunday, November 25, 2018

Raising Boys & Girls

Raising Boys and Girls- 11/14

Written By: Joanna Metheny

Last week our speakers consisted of two different videos, the first by David Thomas, author of Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, and the second by Lori Lara, a 3rd degree black belt who has designed a year-long program to raise Strong Girls. Each video gave some great insight into how boys and girls differ, and specific things we can do to help them thrive.
In the first video with Thomas, he discussed how the best gift we can give our sons is to understand their hardwiring. He said the two main ways we can connect with our boys is by engaging their brains, and engaging their hearts.
Thomas talked about how biologically, girls develop earlier and faster than boys in the area of impulse control. He said girls tend to think first and act second, while boys are the complete opposite, and tend to just go through their day, doing their activities, and then thinking about things afterwards, and how that is a very important distinction.
Thomas also talked about how boys tend to be more singularly focused that girls, who tend to be better at multi-tasking. He said this explains why if you give your son and daughter a list of things to do (change your clothes, put them in the hamper, brush your teeth, and get in bed) why 20 minutes later you’ll find the girl all done and the boy will likely maybe have one shoe off and be in the middle of his room playing with Legos. I had to laugh because this exact thing has happened in my family, on more days than not. He suggested the best way to get through to their “little boy brains” is by appealing to all their senses. This would entail something like getting down to their eye level, looking them in the eye, touching their shoulder, and then making your request, but including just one of the tasks you need them to complete. Make your request, and then say, come back to me when you’ve done that. Once he has, praise him a bunch, and then repeat the actions with the next step of what he needs to do.

In the next section, Thomas discussed how we can engage our sons’ hearts. He said that as mothers, we are their first encounter with the opposite sex, and help form their understanding of how gender roles work. We have the unique opportunity to teach our sons about God’s mercy and kindness, and this is both a blessing and a weighty responsibility. We provide our sons an anchor of security as they begin to separate from us and venture out into the world, and we should be a safe place for him, his home base. He mentioned how we’d get both the best and the worst of our boys, and we should be a sounding board and available to him, but not allow him the freedom to be disrespectful, nor to treat us like a punching bag.

In our second video about raising Strong Girls, Lori Lara talked about how strong girls are those who have a deep sense of self-worth, can answer the questions “who am I?” and “what are my gifts and talents”. Strong girls have a sense of who they are in the world, and are fine making mistakes and learning from them. Lara said we only protect the things we value, so we need to help our girls learn to value themselves, so they see themselves as something precious and worth protecting.
How do we do this? By helping our daughters develop their intuition. Lara said intuition isn’t them something so esoteric, but rather a God-given superpower to help us take care of ourselves. We can help our girls develop intuition by constantly asking them questions, without passing judgement on the answers. We should ask them questions like “what do you think about this person?” or “what do you think about this situation?” Doing this will help them understand what THEY think, it will increase their awareness, and help them verbalize how they feel. This in turn will lead them to feel more comfortable talking with you and speaking up with their peers, coaches, and anyone else they encounter. Learning what she thinks and how she fits into the world will help empower her, as well as build trust between the parent and the child. Lara suggested allowing conversation with space for disagreement, where there is room for both your opinions, and our daughters learn it is okay to not always think like we do.

She also stressed the importance of normalizing mistakes, as well as how we should be transparent and share with our kids mistakes we have made, so they understand it is okay to mess up and talk about it. She said the worst fear a girl can have is “I can’t tell my parents” because that leaves her vulnerable to predators or negative influences. Lastly, she suggested making sure your kids can always use you as an excuse to get out of uncomfortable situations.

We also kicked off the holiday season by working together as tables to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas child! Our MOPS group gave 39 boxes! Wow...what a blessing those boxes will be to those children!