Sometimes our lives can feel very mundane and cyclical.  We go through the same things day after day.  Same problems and frustrations.  Same traffic.  Same job.  We can begin to lose hope, feeling that there isn't anything more to life than what we see in the now.  

So, how do we break out of this cycle?  Start by returning back to the passions, desires, and dreams that God had placed in your life.  These could even be things that had laid dormant in your life for years, or things you've placed on the "shelf" as you progressed in the busyness of life.  Is it starting up that business that you've always wanted to do?  Returning back to school for a degree?  Finding a partner?  Learning to play a particular instrument?  Whatever it is, these dreams are placed in you for a specific reason and purpose.  

 Take that first step of faith to begin moving forward into what He has called you to do.  Begin talking about your dream again.  Do some research on it.  Write out a plan.  Don't let fear hold you back anymore, as fear is only "False Evidence Appearing Real."  And as you take your faith steps forward, God will guide you along the journey. 

"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."  (Isaiah 41:13)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28)
 
I attended a marriage conference last year through www.unitedmarriage.org with my spouse.  The one thing that really stood out for me that I learned is the term "married singles."  What that means is that although each spouse may be engaged in different activities or hobbies that are "good," it actually can drive a couple apart from each other.  You can easily live parallel lives that never meet together. 

In placing value on your marriage, I've learned that it becomes important to place value on the activities and interests of your spouse.  Although it may not be "your thing," if its important to your spouse, it should become important to you too.  

Last year, my spouse partnered up with my pastor and opened up a cafe.  Although I viewed it as "his thing" at first, I had to make an attitude adjustment to see it as "our thing."  I sacrificed much of my time to help make and pass out flyers, hire staff, and even wash dishes.   In honoring my spouse with my efforts, I felt I also honored the Lord.  

How can you connect with your spouse today? 

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (Matthew 6:21)
 
When the Japan earthquakes and tsunami hit, I couldn't help but have my eyes glued on the tv.  The horrific images of rushing waters wiping out villages, nuclear explosions waiting to happen, buildings collapsing down...I was in disbelief on what I was seeing.  But, I couldn't peel away from it.  

As adults, we can so easily get consumed with all these images.  Unfortunately, just a few feet away, our kids are also watching these images.  And as adults being overwhelmed by everything we are seeing, imagine what is going on in our kids' minds.  Fear can easily build up in their little hearts, worry and anxiety can build up in their simple minds.  

As parents, we have a responsibility to also help our children process through traumatic events.  Here are a few tips that can help you:

1.  Limit and discuss media images with your child.  Don't let them be alone through all of it. 
2.  Tell them about positive things that are happening.  Share about the rescues and heroes.
3.  Encourage them to ask questions.  This can create a positive and educational dialogue.
4.  Educate yourself.  Know what is developmentally appropriate to share with your child.  

For more information and tips on what to share with your children after traumatic events, you can access free info online at www.nctsn.org

Proverbs 22:6 says to "Train up a child in the way he should go:  and when he is old, he will not depart from it." 
 
 
"Letting go" seems to be one of those inevitable things that happens over and over again in life.  It could be letting go of a relationship, letting go of a career, letting go of a past hurt, letting go of control.  

Ecclesiates 3 talks about a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to uproot.  A time to weep and a time to laugh.  A time to mourn and a time to dance.  A time to search and a time to give up.

Choosing to let go doesn't mean you've failed, you're giving up, or you're forgetting it.  Letting go means that you are recognizing that God is in control (and not you) and that there is a bigger purpose ahead of you.  You won't have all the answers at first, but as you take steps of faith forward the Lord will make things clearer for you. 
 
 I sometimes reflect back on the challenges and seasons of my life.  And if there is one thing I can say with confidence about those seasons is that it "never is easy!"  In fact, with each season that passes, things seem to get harder and harder.  Life gets rougher.

One saying that I'd often hear is that God never gives you more than what you can handle.  I sometimes cringe when I hear this saying because when you ARE going through a lot in your life and someone tells you this, you may be thinking one of these two things...okay, what is wrong with ME or what is wrong with GOD to be putting me through all of this??? 

Living in Hawaii, there is this local pidgin saying "I get 'um."  Meaning, "I don't need your help, I can do it myself."  Sometimes with our Christian walk, we can have that same mentality, "I get 'um, Lord."  We shut the Lord out of our troubles, we shut the Lord out of our problems, we shut the Lord out of helping us, period.  

This is not what the Lord wants.  Scripture in Psalm 55:22 shares to "Cast all your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."  I find that the Lord doesn't rescue people from situations, but He helps to guide people through them.  It is more the "journey" than the end result where the Lord teaches us to trust in Him which raises our level of faith in Him. 

"And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that  you can stand up under it."  1 Corinthians 10:13

"...rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."  Romans 5:4

Keep your hope alive in Christ! 

-Edwina     
 
This Christmas season seems to feel quite different.  Our economy is still in a fiasco, many people are unemployed, troops are still at war...it seems quite difficult to focus on the positive things this season with so many hardships around us.    

No matter how difficult of a year you've had, it is still important to count your blessings.  Take the time to reflect on the things you do have so you can learn about gratitude.  Take the time to cherish your loved ones so you can learn about appreciation.  Take the time to share with others that are less fortunate than you so you can learn about giving. 

Feeling down?  Take the time to write 10 things that you are grateful for...it will help to lift up your spirits.  Foster a spirit of gratitude and love this season.  Merry Christmas!

-Edwina
 
I remember when I first got married.  My husband and I did not have much, but we were “in love.”  Money did not seem important back then.  Fast forward our lives many years later, add a couple of kids, and money becomes a huge need.  And unfortunately for many marriages, money becomes a focus in arguments.  Financial arguments in marriages are primarily due to issues with “money management.” 

Here are some of my theories on how money becomes an issue in marriages:

1.     Not prioritizing how money is being spent.  Many couples don’t have a budget, much less realize where all their money goes.  In addition, couples fail to see the big picture of their spending.  One $3 cup of Starbucks coffee per day equals to $1,095 per year.
2.      Lack of financial knowledge.  Unless you are working in the financial field, most of us are probably clueless on what to do when it comes to our money and  how to properly manage and invest it. 
3.      Not understanding your relationship with money.  Our upbringing, gender and culture influence our views on money.  What are some of your views and beliefs about money?
4.      Not living within your means.  Numbers don’t lie.  If you make $100,000 per year, but spend $120,000, you are worse off than someone who makes $30,000 per year, but is able to save 10% of it. 
5.      No financial reserve.  One recent 2009 survey done found that 20% of Americans reported having less than $1,000 in savings.  Financial analysts estimate that you need at least 6 months of your monthly income in reserves for a rainy day.  The rainy day will come.

Here are some practical tips on addressing money in your marriage:
1.      Be honest with each other about your current financial situation.  Ask the hard questions, and be ready to listen non-judgmentally.  Remember, numbers don’t lie. 
2.      Write out financial goals.  Have the end in mind.  What lifestyle do you want to be living when you are at retirement?  Then, work backwards in planning how you are going to achieve that.
3.      Devise a plan of action.  Write out a budget, sit down with your partner and go through all of your incomes and expenditures.  Track your daily spending to see where all your money is going.  Seek out professional financial help if needed from someone like a financial advisor or banker.   
4.      Make sacrifices, and learn to say no.  Distinguish your needs vs. your wants.             
5.      Review your financial situation with your partner, at least once a year together.  Don't assume anything.

Referring scriptures:
Luke 14:28-30
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” 


Proverbs 6:6-8

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” 


With money management, its a change in your attitude and perspective.  Educate yourself, be open with your partner, and work together as a team to address money issues before it damages your relationship.  -Edwina


 
I am excited to start up this blog, to write and share about different life topics that affect us.  God always fills us with fascinating, sometimes challenging seasons of life.  However, through these seasons is when God forms our character and molds us to be more like Him.  He never gives us anything we cannot handle, but we are responsible to equip ourselves with knowledge and ask God what he wants us to learn as we go through these seasons.  Please check out the links page, which shares resources on marriage, parenting, and spiritual growth. 

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Ecclesiates 3:1-2

"'For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  Jeremiah 29:11

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  Proverbs 16:9

I hope these blogs and scriptures will be an encouragement for your "season" of life.  Mahalo and enjoy reading!
- Edwina