HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOME A LOVING HOME | BY DAYAN MASINDE

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1. “Get married”

In a generation where many are opting to co-habit, and living by the ‘Come-we-stay’ option; choose to get married. There is security in officially getting married, both of you feel most safe to give your all in the home. In a co-habit arrangement it is easy to walk away, easy to sometimes feel threatened, easy for the person who pays the rent or the bills more to make the other feel unwanted.

2. “Keep the bedroom warm”

The bedroom is the epicenter of the home, the mum and dad determine the climate in the house. All the other rooms are a reflection of the bedroom; if the bedroom is warm, the whole house will be warm. Handle your business well in the bedroom.

3. “Hang family photos”

Family photos allows every one in the family to reflect. When things are tough, looking at smiling photos of your family will inspire you to put effort in your valuable family. Sometimes we forget what is important, photos remind us. Display also plaques with loving quotes to remind every one what the family should stand for.

 4. “Eat together”

People connect best when having a meal, that is why most dates happen where eating is involved. Use the same practice as a family. At the dinning table, love happens, people laugh and talk.

5. “Work on communication”

Listen to each other, let no one – mother, father or even the smallest child feel locked out or chocked. Too many children grow quiet and withdrawn when the dad or mum gets home.

6. “Don’t argue in front of the kids”

Yes, you and your spouse will have moments you disagree; but never let the kids witness you two fighting. Shield your children, take these serious conversations and confrontations to the bedroom and solve them there, come out as a united team.

7. “Pray together”

A family that prays together loves together. Prayer softens and warms hearts. Do it together, not alone.

8. “Command your morning”

Start each morning on a high and positive note, speak life and love that sets the tone for the day.

9. “Dance”

Pump up the volume, dance and laugh. Act silly, home should be fun.

10. “Play some good music”

People have different taste in music, but as often as possible, you as the father or mother, play good and positive music. Play love songs, spiritual music, inspirational music; your children will remember you for that. Many people find love through music.

11. “Have movie nights”

Yes, you and your spouse are busy. But set aside at least one night a week or two weeks to sit down as a couple or family and watch a movie; preferably a movie your children will like and you as the adult you make yourself enjoy. The number one thing children long for is time with their parents. Just two hours of watching something together will show a lot of love.

12. “Entertain visitors”

Hosting visitors brings out the best in you, it challenges you to be more alert about your home because when it’s always you and your spouse and children you can get too comfortable. When people visit you, you feel proud of your home and project love. Visitors cause us to analyze our home.

 

13. “Play games”

Play competitive games as a family; whether video games, computer games, outdoor games or board games. Games unite us if we play them together, avoid games played alone.

14. “Decorate the house together”

When giving the house a make over or moving into a new house, let the taste and needs of every one in the family be put into consideration. The house should be a haven for each one.

15. “Kiss as mum and dad”

Kissing is an act of love. Let the children witness mum giving dad a kiss and dad planting kid-friendly kisses on mummy.

16. “Hug often”

As a family, set the tradition of hugging and showing affection. A hugged up person feels at home. Many people are grumpy and a warm hug will calm them.

 

17. “Do house chores together”

Yes man, chores are not for women alone. Do things as a team, divide chores; assign responsibilities to the children too. People feel they are part of something they are responsible for.

19. “Say I love you”

How do you expect your home to be loving if you refuse to say loving words?

20. “Celebrate special days”

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Graduation days, the return home from a long period of travel, the coming back home from being admitted in hospital, holidays; all those are moments you can use to unite the family.

 

21. “Go out on dates”

Leave the house sometimes and go out on a date with your spouse or as a family, when you come back home you will have plenty to remember and smile about. Dates break the monotony of being boxed in the house day after day.

22. “Sometimes turn off technology”

Technology is good, but also a threat to the quality of relationship in the home. Sometimes turn off the TV, the computer, the tablet, the phone and have quality family time.

Photo Credit: Be2

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Live Your Life’s Dream…Inspired by God | Tricia Goyer

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No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

As a speaker, one of my favorite things to do is encourage the audience to “dream big.” Too many times we put God in a box.

We’re afraid to step out of our comfort zones. We forget that God created the universe, so surely He can help us with our small dreams. There are many dreams God has helped me fulfill: starting a crisis pregnancy center, leading a mission team to Europe, and writing books for a living, to name a few.

So I like to encourage others to dream big since I’ve seen dreams come true in my life. Yet lately I’ve been adding a P.S. to my message. Why? Because in my good intentions, I may have led people to become discouraged instead.

One of the problems with the message “dream big” is that we let our human minds measure what “big” is. We think it has to be fame or success or a huge blog. We think it has to involve starting a ministry or sharing Christ in an atheistic country.

This doesn’t always have to be the case. What is “big” to God? The “big” thing to God is obeying what He asks you to do. You could become famous, make it big, and become well-known—and it would amount to nothing. Or you can ask God what big is to Him. You might be surprised.

Last year, my husband and I felt God telling us to walk away from some of our ministry opportunities in order to adopt two children from the foster care system. I will not become famous wiping noses, playing mommy, or pushing a swing, but to God this is a big thing.

WHERE FAITH BECOMES REAL

What is big to God in your life? It’s a question you need to ask. It’s wonderful to dream big.. just as long as you are sure you know that the direction of your dream was inspired by your loving heavenly Father.

Faith step: Take a minute and think about the dreams God has been speaking to your heart. Write them down, even though they may not seem big to the world’s eyes. Now, what is one step you can take toward them? Write that down too.

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A Devotion to Refresh Your Spirit | Marion Bond West

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Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin. Matthew 6:28

I hadn’t had a very good workout at the YMCA that morning.  Everyone looked younger than I am–and more athletic. I dreaded going home. I’d just drop into a chair, exhausted.

My body was weary, but so was my soul. God seemed so far away. The sun was Georgia hot, even at eleven in the morning, as I exited the building. Discouragement tagged along with me.

A woman passed me, walking briskly to the parking area. She stopped a few steps in front of me and took out a bottle of water. I slowed down. It didn’t appear she was going to drink it.

I pretended to rummage through my gym bag in order to observe her. She leaned way over, after removing the cap to the water bottle, and singled out one red zinnia in the garden that grew beside the iron fence.  Carefully, even lovingly, she allowed the flower to drink.

An amazing thing happened. It felt as though someone had poured joy directly into my soul. One flower in all the hundreds had been tended to with such deliberate care. The woman straightened up and walked to her car.

I lingered by the red zinnia. Somehow, I felt refreshed, as though God had reached down to Earth and touched me. “I see you, Marion. I love you.”

Father, You find such tender ways to show me Yourself when I need You most.

Photo Credit: Boston

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Truly See the People God Brings into Your Life | Suzanne Davenport Tietjen

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Anyone who holds onto life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. John 12:25 (MSG)

God has been teaching me about vulnerability, a gift I never wanted. Growing up, we learn to protect ourselves. To never admit certain things. To hold back our tears.

If we didn’t learn this before high school, we were in big trouble. We–sadly, not all of us–survived. Along the way we wore so many masks we don’t remember how to be real.

It’s strange, because I’m touched when others are authentic. They bravely share their unguarded hearts, and I tell myself they can do it because they have their acts together. Unlike me. I am a mess! And I can’t afford for anyone to know.

Until recently, anyway. I’m in an online group of Christians who support each other’s creative efforts along with each other’s efforts to be human. And honest. We gather face to face every year. To keep it real.

Last year’s opening prayer issued this challenge: “Help us to pay attention. Remember, everyone has something to offer.” That resonated with me. I fought my introversion and sat with different people at every meal. I looked at and listened to each person without writing off anyone. I forgot about myself.

I imagine Jesus looked at people like that. The experience of being really seen yet still loved may explain why so many dropped everything and followed Him, why so many still do today.

For me, the experiment is ongoing. People look very precious to me. It’s scary, giving it your all. Being all in. But what are we really here for anyway? Could it be to see and take care of each other? Maybe I’m learning how.

Faith Step: Try it yourself with the people God brings into your life. Hear what they’re saying. Ask questions. Give up the need to make your own point. How does this feel? What do you see.

Photo Credit: Clarity

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The Crockpot of Faith | Sharon Finck

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Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19–21 (NIV)

I love my crockpot. In the morning, I throw ingredients into it and go about my day.

By suppertime when I’m too tired to think about preparing a meal, the food is ready. Even lesser quality meats turn tender after simmering all day.

Yesterday I tossed in some stew meat and herbs, chopped carrots, onions, potato, and celery, and covered everything with beef broth. Humble ingredients, but they combined to create a satisfying stew for a cold winter evening.

When Jesus talks about storing up treasures in heaven, I think of my crockpot. The preparation comes long before the enjoyment. We are serving Him today, looking forward to the eventual feast. What are the ingredients we’re adding to the pot?

Perhaps the quiet words of understanding and encouragement that we offered a friend yesterday. Or the financial gift we made to another’s ministry. Maybe the song of praise we lifted to Jesus alone in the car as we drove across town. Or the effort it took to hold back an unkind word. A patient correction given to a child. A gentle hug. All the demonstrations of love to Jesus and others become part of the treasures stored up in heaven.

As the ingredients blend and simmer, Jesus stirs, adjusts, and adds His own components. I’m so excited for that time at the final banquet, where we’ll discover what treasure was created from the humble bits and pieces of our lives.

Faith Step: Cook something today, and as you add in each ingredient, ask Jesus to show you various ways to add treasure to your heavenly storehouse.

Photo Credit: Crockpot

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Clear Away Your Spiritual Clutter | Sharon Hinck

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“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

As recent empty nesters, my husband and I have begun thinking about downsizing. It’s amazing how much we’ve accumulated over the years. Sweaters seem to reproduce in the back of the closet. Papers bulge in file folders. Bins of outgrown toys fill the basement.

As we sort through things to donate or sell, we have an opportunity to think about which items are really precious or needed, and which things are simply clutter. One of the challenges of sorting out clutter, is that I rarely have to make a simple choice between something good and bad. Instead, there are lots of good things—just too many of them. Working at de-cluttering my home, I thought about the rooms of my heart.

I’ve also picked up some spiritual clutter along my way. I’ve been excited by a particular trend in worship, or embraced a specific spiritual discipline, or grappled with differing theological understandings of certain questions. But every now and then, Jesus reminds me to bring my focus back to what is absolutely essential—the simple core truth of His death and resurrection.

I heard a story once that a leader of the Christian faith, with a wealth of intellect and scholarship at their disposal, was asked to summarize his beliefs. He chose to describe the central truth of the Gospel free from embellishment, in the words of the children’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” When I quiet all my opinions, knowledge, and experiences, and everything else falls away, I can focus on that simple core truth, and rejoice.

Faith step: Are there any good things in your life getting in the way of the One best thing? Invite Jesus to clear away the clutter.

Photo Credit: Norma Cardenas

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A Heavenly Reminder of God’s Presence in Our Lives | Erin Keeley Marshall

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The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

Our group of campers gazed up at the night sky lit with stars too many to count. It was a mesmerizing sight, but what had our focus most was a paper lantern moving higher above our heads.

The night was still, hardly any wind to blow the globe, so it floated lazily toward the heavens. Along with my husband, our friends, and our collective kids, I oohed and aahed as the glowing object moved over the treetops and eventually beyond our vision.

Despite some rain that weekend, we all had a wonderful time making memories, canoe floating downriver, roasting s’mores, romping through the campground, and falling asleep to the sounds of the great outdoors. But that moment in particular as I watched so many people I care about gazing upward, I breathed a prayer of thanksgiving that God’s eye is ever on us.

We lost sight of that lantern as it floated beyond our reach, vulnerable to the slightest pressure against it. How peaceful it also felt to trust that the God who created the mighty winds and expansive sky carries us tenderly, guides us faithfully, and shelters us constantly.

His own are never truly at the whim of any other force. It may seem so at times, but the Lord is still sovereign and in control. What a beautiful sight our hearts can enjoy when we envision ourselves and those we love being led along by the mighty hand of a loving God.

Faith Step: Buy a paper lantern and offer a prayer as you send it upward. Thank the Lord that He carries you.

Photo Credit: Ascension Lutheran Pittsburgh

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You’ve Got Mail…from Jesus! | Sharon Hinck

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But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

My mom’s birthday was approaching and I wanted to do something special for her. Mom insisted she didn’t want a party and didn’t want any fuss at all. I reminded her that we all wanted to celebrate her, and asked again if there was anything she would enjoy.

She admitted she loved getting cards in the mail, and had heard of a friend who had a “card shower.” My husband, daughter, and I dove in to the project with gusto. My husband put up a notice at work. My daughter posted online to her friends. We passed out slips of paper at church with her address, and I sent info to an e-mail loop of writers.

A few days before her birthday, cards, postcards, and even gifts of books from people she’d never met began to arrive. She was thrilled. Each day was an adventure when she’d bring in the large stack of mail, and pour through return addresses from all over the country.

Her joy at receiving, opening, reading, and savoring her mail made me think of the full mailbox that Jesus has provided for us through His Word. Every day, I can open the pages of my Bible and find His greeting of love expressed in various ways: letters, songs, poetry, historical accounts, parables, and more.

Had Mom let all those colorful cards and well wishes sit unopened, she would have missed out on a fun blessing. Yet some days, I ignore the wealth of encouragement and love that Jesus has sent to me.

Faith step: Open your mail from Jesus–your Bible–and rejoice at His personal greeting to you today. Then mail a card to a friend to lift their spirits.

Photo Credit: Liberty Friends

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The Perfect Question to Ask Jesus Each Morning | Rebecca Barlow Jordan

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Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

I don’t always remember, but one of the first questions I like to ask Jesus when I wake up each morning is, “How can I encourage someone today? And who?”

He’s always faithful to answer, often through His Word. One morning after asking that question, I read from Isaiah 35:3–4 (NLT) and found a practical answer. First, “strengthen those who have tired hands.” That might include teachers, hair stylists, moms, writers—and all who use computers, which includes most of us—missionaries, pastors, and parents who spend time “lifting up” the burdens of others.

Next, the passage mentions encouraging those who have “weak knees.” I envisioned grandparents and senior citizens, veterans, and even athletes with wear and tear on their bodies. But the last category, the “fearful,” could probably include everyone. These needed to hear the words, “be strong, and do not fear.”

Sometimes I can offer an encouraging response to a needy e-mail request or blog comment from my Web site. Other times, my phone will ring, and the caller needs a cheerful word. And who can forget neighbors or our family members, who need a hug or a kind word? Even through my prayers, especially as I turn Scriptures such as Ephesians 3:16–19 or Colossians 1:9–12 into heavenly petitions for others, I can pass on His encouraging truths, trusting Jesus to make those prayers a reality.

For me, finding people to encourage is not a problem. Remembering to listen and to follow through with Jesus’s answers is where I need work. And the amazing thing is, when I try to lift up someone else, I’m the one who ends up encouraged.

Faith Step: Ask Jesus to help you encourage someone today. Invite Him to speak through you, and be prepared for His answers.

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The 8 Most Dangerous Christian Prayers

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The 8 Most Dangerous Christian Prayers

There are certain prayers as Christians that we should be careful of praying. Not saying we shouldn’t pray these prayers for we should. What we are saying is be aware of what you’re praying for and be ready for the outcome…

1. Teach me humility.

After you pray this Christian prayer for humility, be ready for people to badmouth you, slander you, and drag your name through the mud. If you pray for humility, be ready for false accusations, for that “skeleton in the closet” to be revealed, or for people to belittle you and talk down to you as if you were inferior.

The only way to learn humility is to be placed in humbling situations, so if you pray for humility, be ready!

2. Teach me patience.

If you pray for patience, get ready to be surrounded by the most annoying people you have ever met. Get ready for your car to break down when you are late for an appointment. Get ready your children to go bonkers. Get ready for prayers to not get answered. Get ready for setbacks, roadblocks, and pitfalls.

Just like with all the other Christian prayers on this list, God teaches us patience by taking us through trying times.

3. Lead me wherever you want me to go.

One way this Christian prayer is often prayed is with the words, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

Usually when we pray this Christian prayer, we think that God is going to send us into high profile ministry positions, places of honor and glory, and opportunities to be heard. This is why ministry leaders almost never “feel the leading of God” to go to smaller ministries and places of lesser significance. God always seems to “call” pastors and ministry professionals to bigger churches, richer ministries, and positions with greater power.

While I do not deny that God sometimes leads people in these directions, I think that more often than not, God wants to lead us downward, but we refuse to go. Of course, this does not mean that we will stay in the gutter if God leads us there. God may very well lift us up out of the gutter to a place of prominence, but when He does so, He gets the glory instead of us.

That’s why this is such a dangerous Christian prayer. We want to be used by God for great things in His kingdom, but God’s path to greatness usually does not mirror what we had in mind. God’s path to greatness usually leads to prison, death, and the gates of hell.

Also (and this fits with #1 above), when we pray this prayer, we will often be faced with a choice between two ministry positions, one that leads to honor, glory, and fame, and one that leads to obscurity and insignificance. Though the temptation is to choose glory and honor, such decisions may actually be a choice to follow Jesus downward into humility.

I once heard Francis Schaeffer say in an interview that if given the choice between two ministry positions, we should choose the one with less fame and glory.

4. Help me understand the plight of the poor.

This Christian prayer is like asking God to make you poor. Yikes! How can you understand the plight of the poor unless you become poor yourself?!

So do you like your nice house, your two cars, your steak dinners, and your Caribbean vacations? Don’t ask God to help you understand the plight of the poor.

5. Make me more like Jesus.

In one way or another, this has been a constant life prayer of mine. A couple years back, I realized that this prayer ruined my life.

I had my life all figure out, and it was all going according to my perfect plan. Then I started praying this prayer. Before long, all my hopes and dreams lay shattered around my feet. I often tried to pick up the pieces and glue everything back together, but God would come through with His baseball bat and smash it all to hell (almost literally… all of my plans and dreams deserved nothing more).

When you pray to be like Jesus, God will begin to break down, burn away, and slough off anything and everything in your life that does not look like Jesus. This sounds nice until you begin to experience it. The purification of our life may be with God’s refining fire, but it sill burns!

6. Give me more faith.

Christians like our beliefs in nice, neat packages. But life is not like that, and neither is life with God.

When Christians pray for God to give us more faith, we are likely to enter into some of the difficult and doubt-filled times of our lives. You will begin to question everything you have never known and everything you have ever believed. You may even begin to doubt God’s goodness and maybe even His existence.

This is not bad. Embrace the doubts. Understand that if what you believe it true, it can stand up against all questions. Truth does not fear a challenge. There is no other way for your faith to grow than for your faith to be tested.

7. Give me victory over sin and temptation.

Christian prayerHow do you think victory comes, except through ever-increasing cycles of temptation? Sure, God does not send the temptations, and He never allows us to be tempted with more than we can bear, but if we pray for God to give us victory over sin and temptation, this is the same thing as asking God to strengthen us so that we can stand up under greater and greater temptations!

So if you pray this Christian prayer, be ready for an onslaught of all the wiles of the devil.

8. Please help my annoying neighbor/coworker come to Christ.

This is a great Christian prayer. Except guess how God is going to help your annoying neighbor or coworker come to Christ? That’s right. He’s going to use you.

I once heard a story of a Bible study group who decided to make a prayer list of all the people they “disliked” the most, and then pray for these people every week as part of the Bible study. Over the course of the next ten years, all but one of the people on that list became believers, and almost all of them became Christians because the members of that Bible study showed grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness to these “annoying” people.

Have you prayed any of these prayers???

Article by Jeremy Myers
Image by Project Inspired

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