Friday, June 30, 2017

Showing God's Goodness Through Faith and Family

If you have been in church long enough, you have probably seen some of the most caring, compassionate, and gracious people that you have ever met. They are delightful in their service, genuine in their faith, and great examples to the young and the old, alike. They help you to see that God is good and that He has good things in store for us.

We ask ourselves, what is the trick? I can think of many people who have been great examples to me in the church. They have been all ages, backgrounds, personalities, and skill sets. They belong to different churches, have different education levels and career paths. But, they all have a few factors in common. They put faith and family in the forefront of all they do. They live out their faith at home, and raise their kids to do the same. Over the years, the messiness of life does not phase them. They let God work everything out by faithfully living their lives according to His instructions. As a result, they amazingly never lose their peace and joy.

The Bible tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The same is true of our actions. Out the abundance of the heart, we can serve people. We never have to be lacking anything.
How do we become like those who give out of abundance?  What if we do not believe we have the peace, joy, compassion, or care that others have to give? Well, the Bible tells us that what we sow, we reap. When we read and pray, we have more to give. Pastor Craig Cramer recently stated that only 17% of people in this country attend a Christian church service regularly (at least three times a month), and only 13% of those people read their Bibles daily! Wow. Just attending church and reading the Bible is a great start for having more to give!

Terri Savelle Foy encourages people to clean up at home first. We need to de-clutter our home, our minds, and our lives. We need to get rid of the mess so we can have more to offer. Part of cleaning up at home involves taking care of our family. God commands us to do so. If every Christian takes care of family first, there would be less stress on the church to take care of those in need. We can not take care of everyone, but we can take care of the people that God has placed in our lives.

Some of the happiest and most helpful people in the church are those who work alongside their families. Husband and wife. mother and daughter, brother and sister, parents and kids - it brings great joy to people to see families serving together. And, it brings joy to the families, as they know that God has blessed their faithfulness in serving one another. It is, also, much more fun and productive to care for your family and the church at the same time. To grow the church family, we need to serve as a family and embrace God's gift of family.

It is the example we set before people and the care we provide that allows us to be a blessing. We can be a delight and a joy to God's people, just as others have done for us.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Brief Reflection from a Wife at Home

The other day something very fascinating occurred to me. I had a million goals for the day, a less than positive attitude, and a desire to just go outside and have some fun. I realized that the day before, I had somewhat neglected my duties as a wife, because it was so much more fun to just go outside. I knew that clutter and mess inside the home would just make me stressed out, so I realized that I needed to get to work. My mind was going back and forth, from telling me to go outside with the boys, to stay inside and clean up. I was so confused on what to do.

You know, on these beautiful summer days, it is normal to neglect some duties inside for the sake of running outdoors in the summer sun. Going on a walk, running laps around the house, going to the park, swimming, having a picnic, those are the good days. Kids need the fresh air and the excitement in order to feel like kids. Running around screaming and hollering is what they do best.

So how in the world do I know when to do the housework on these beautiful days? I know it sounds like a less than intelligent question to ask, as we can all figure that out on our own. But, I hope to share something with you that can help.

I realized my husband was at work. I knew if he was working, I should probably be working too. If he does not get a break, why should I? We work as a team. He does not have the pleasure of working from home yet, but either way, work is a part of our world. God gives us work.

The Scriptures tell us that God prepares good works for us to complete. The good works can be in the form of making money, growing crops, taking care of livestock, and taking care of our home and our children. Sometimes that work can be fun, and many times, if we have the right perspective, it can be rewarding, as well.

Rest is for the weary, but let's stay strong, be thankful for the opportunity to take care of our family, and wait for the proper time to celebrate together when the day's work is done.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Encouraging Your Spouse

Have you ever realized that your spouse needs encouragement? The world tends to beat us down, and we constantly need someone to be there to build us back up. I have heard that encouragement gets us going, and consistency keeps us growing. We need discipline to stay in motion, but that encouragement is so powerful for helping us begin each day in a world that is great at tearing us apart.

I have recently realized that women need just as much encouragement as men. All people need a sense of self-worth. I believe that helping our spouse to feel like they are worth something is one of the greatest gifts that we can give. Our culture tells us that we are not good enough, the work place tells us we are not good enough, the church tells us that we are not good enough. The message comes at us from every direction. How do we combat these negative messages that do nothing but prevent us from enjoying the life God has given us?

It is fascinating how God brings good teaching to us. I hope that I can provide that to you now.

Joseph is a character in the Bible that we can look to in these situations, when we do not feel like we are enough. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, who basically wanted him dead. I am sure he felt worthless and betrayed. Little did they know that their brother would get the attention of the king because of his ability to interpret dreams, and he would soon be second in command over the people of Egypt. He would have access to the stored food, when the rest of the land was experiencing famine. Joseph tells us in Genesis that when people (his brothers) meant to harm him, God meant it for good.

Encouraging your spouse is important in word and deed. As John C. Maxwell explains, we need to set people up for a win. He said that good leaders take people so far that the finish line is within reach, and then they let them cross it on their own. We should do the same. We can praise our spouse, and then let him/her win. Feed the kids, and praise him/her for helping with the clean-up. Do most of the work cooking, and praise him/her for helping at cutting up the vegetables. Clean up the yard, and praise him/her for watching the kids. In our home, my husband is a good example in this regard. He does most of the cooking (because I am just not a great cook) and he praises me for the little help that I give. And, I am able to do more each time. If we ask for too much at once, we are setting our spouse up for defeat. But, if we are reasonable in our requests, he/she will be encouraged to do even more!

Let's encourage our spouse in word and deed! After all, you are the best person in the world that can provide that gift.

Yours Truly,
Melissa Seng

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happiness: What Does It Take to Attain It?

We all want happiness. At least all of the people reading this blog, I am sure, want to be happy. Yes, there are times in our lives that we prefer to be miserable, out of our own stubbornness, or out of our desire to fully overcome hardship. Sometimes emotional pain is what we need in order to decide that it's time to seek better for ourselves. Sometimes we have to experience hurt, instead of ignoring reality. But, once we are through the tough stuff, we want to be happy.

So, how do we seek out and obtain happiness? What does that look like? For most of us, we can see what it looks like, but it seems unattainable as a personal achievement. The ironic truth is just that, happiness is an achievement; it take works! It may not be considered work in terms of earning a living, but it's earning a state of well-being. It is a choice.

What can we do to make ourselves happy? Well, part of that question you have to figure out on your own, but I can give you quite a start on figuring it out.

*Figure out what you enjoy doing, based on your skills and resources. And do it! It could be cooking new recipes for your family, scrapbooking with all of your keepsakes, reading your next favorite book, going out on a coffee/tea date with your spouse, planning your next vacation and earning the money to get there, playing kickball in the yard with your kids, or going on a camping trip. Take time to do what you enjoy and your years will not feel like they are just passing by.

*"Live Like Your Loved!" I just heard that song by Hawk Nelson on the radio today, and it was exactly the message that can bring us joy to our spirit and happiness to our bones.

*Seek perspective. The other day I called a friend and got perspective from probably one of the greatest people I have ever met. Wisdom is wise, but perspective is powerful. It teaches us how to look at the world, which ultimately changes everything.

*Do not over-exaggerate your yesterdays, overestimate your tomorrows, or underestimate your today. Tomorrow never comes, and yesterday probably was more difficult than you can remember. Know that you can make it a great day today! (John C. Maxwell)

*Follow the instructions that God lays out for us in Scripture. They are written for our own good, and can save us a lot of trouble.

Ecclesiastes 2:26 "To the person who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness..."

Yours Truly,
Melissa Seng

Monday, June 5, 2017

What Does It Take To Raise Up A Winner?

As many of you readers know, I like to go on runs, refreshingly long runs. As I was running the other day, I could not help but think about all the little kids out on the soccer field. Some of those little ones give it their all to make their parents proud. Some of them work hard to be the best, some of them work hard to get a rest. I can remember not too long ago being out in a different field, playing the same game. That game did not mean a whole lot to me; in fact I was one of the ones working hard to get a seat on the bench. Soccer is tough for those of us who have not been blessed with such skills or interests in being a great soccer player.

Running around that soccer field, I could not help but think of the defeat that many kids face these days. They work hard, just to learn that they are not good enough. They want to be valued; they want to be good enough.

It is obvious in the world of sports that not everyone can win. I do not think everyone should win. Winning takes effort; it takes skill. Winning separates those who are serious about the game, from those who just show up. Winning takes character and determination. It shapes our lives towards victory. It impacts our health, our relationships, and our ability to have fun.

Teaching our kids to work hard and win is fantastic. However, three words kept coming back to me as I was running around those soccer fields just a few evenings ago. The three words repeated in my mind: "and then what?" These young kids, from age four on up, win the game. And then what? Do their parents teach them that they are better than everyone else, or do they congratulate their children for working hard and giving it their all? For the kids who were on the losing team, do their parents teach that winning is the key to their self-worth, or do they teach that they are valued and should not waste a second on negative thinking? Are we teaching our kids that their value is derived from their performance, or are we teaching them that they have immeasurable value from their Creator?

It is not a coincidence that those who know they have value are the one's who usually perform the best. In fact, when kids know they are loved and valued, they have all the reason in the world to do their best. They have nothing to lose. In H. Jackson Brown, Jr.'s book, "Life's Little Instruction Book," he says to "Work hard to create in your children a good self-image. It's the most important thing you can do to insure their success." The key is not valuing your children for winning, it's valuing your children before they win.

John C. Maxwell talks a lot about adding value to people. Parents can lead their children to performing better in school, in sports, and at home by letting them know that they are valuable and created in the image of God. We can create winners by letting our kids win first at home.