I Like Christmas

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Photo by Christian Mosemann

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To me, Christmas means beautiful lights, music, food, and laughter; the look of anticipation in the eyes of young children. My church will have it’s Christmas breakfast. We’ll sing the wonderful old traditional songs. Our minister will remind us of our reasons to be hopeful and that giving blesses both the receiver and the giver; that love and compassion still exist and that we can, with help, be transformed into compassionate, loving people.

But it can be a lonely time of the year. Avoid loneliness by joining people who are helping those in need. Find a way to help a religious group or a community organization assist those in need. Let them enjoy Christmas too. Consider the gifts and abilities you have and what the community needs from you. You’ll feel more connected as contribute. It feels good to contribute to the well-being of others. Isolation only leads to bitterness.

The focus of the season is still love, peace, and giving. You can be part of this. You can choose to compassionately love and give to others. The amazing thing is that we can choose to give no matter what our circumstances might be. You can know that you connected, helped someone else, and in the process, helped yourself.

Christmas is a reminder that we can find beauty and good in this world of ours. May you have a truly merry Christmas.

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Photo by Christian Mosemann

Forty-eight Years of Commitment – And Still Going

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9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? 12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4 ASV, The Bible

Commitments are a big deal. I was concerned about commitment right before I married my wife. I really wanted to be with my fiancee. Still a lifelong commitment is a daunting one.

My fiancee and I belonged to the same Christian denomination. Neither of us had close relatives who were divorced. The members of our churches seemed to stay together for life. They all kept their marriage vows – together for better or worse; no other sexual partners; till death do you part. And, they seemed to be okay with their arrangement. That was encouraging.
Our vows were spoken in front of relatives, friends, and church members. We were part of their group; they expected us to keep our vows to each other and to God.

In June, we’ll celebrate 48 years of marriage. We kept our commitment to God and to each other. We stayed with our denomination. We’re still active members of our church. I’m grateful we’ve worked out our differences and accepted each other’s imperfections. We’ve benefited from our arrangement. We have –

1. An agreed upon moral/ethical code. Our moral and ethical code is a time honored one prescribed by our religious group. We have both agreed to abide by it. As a result, we didn’t have to create something new.

2. Emotional security. I don’t have to compete with other men; she doesn’t have to compete with other women. We’re not looking for somebody better.

3. Affection and sex. They’re readily available. We don’t have to hunt for a lover.

4. No worries about sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a closed sexual system.

5. Physical security. Someone’s there if you’re sick, disabled, or just need help with the computer.

6. Good memories. A lifetime of photo’s and memories of being together and being with our children.

7. Secure children. Our children, and grandchildren, are wanted and have security. They don’t have to worry about their family dissolving and their home disappearing. It’s not mom’s place or dad’s place? It’s mom and dad’s place.

8. Energy to put into the community. Security issues, companionship issues, and “where do I belong issues” are resolved. Energy can be directed other places.

9. The support of our church. Our government is less likely to need to take care of us because we have the support of each other and our church.

10. A place to socialize and contribute. The same religion has united us and given us a place, our church community, to socialize and contribute.

I’m glad that I made commitments to my wife, God, and my religious community. My wife and I have benefited and so have our children and the community. Making a clear commitment and keeping the commitment is necessary for the well-being of any venture. Why should building a home and a family be any different? It’s something to think about.

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My Contribution to a Happy Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.
Mother Teresa

I love to come home to the warmth and laughter there. I want to do what I need to do to maintain a happy, healthy, home. A garden needs water, fertilizer, and someone to remove the weeds. The atmosphere of a home also needs tending to. Here’s what I work at –

1. Sound ethics and morality. I work at following the teachings of my Christian church, the professional ethics of the National Associations of Social workers, and the regulations of the Social Work Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Noble ethics and morality are life giving to everyone.

2. Control issues. I want to remember that I only have control over my attitude. That’s about it. I can’t control others or the world I live it. I make my decisions and so do others. It’s good to remember that.

3. Self-control. Only my self-control will allow me to live out noble ethical and moral ideals. Only my self-control will provide the opportunity for others to live with me safely. I want people to be safe with me and to trust me.

4. Healthy rules. I can avoid chaos with a few rules that I kindly and consistently enforce. I learned this when my wife and I trained my dog. I also learned that rewards help my dog to live by my rules. Rules and rewards are something to consider.

5. Growing up. I want to be a more mature, loving, compassionate person. My support for this comes from my family, church, prayer, and my professional life. I’ve learned that I need the wisdom and support of others.

6. Appreciation. I work to verbalize and demonstrate my appreciation. I know that lack of appreciation can be discouraging.

7. Freedom. I want to be free of obsessive-compulsiveness behavior, complaining and resentment. I want to relax and enjoy my life as it is. War, corruption, illness, poverty, abuse, and erupting volcano’s aren’t new. I want to help people as I can and then shift my attention to what is beautiful, good, and true. Is this uncaring? I don’t think so.

8. Shared resources. I want to share my money, skills, and time. It feels good to do something significant for someone else. Altruism is a good thing. I want to help people realize their dreams.

9. Celebration. It’s a good thing to celebrate success. I want to celebrate the successes of others without envy and jealousy.

10. Excellence. I can choose to work for excellence and humbly accept that perfection is impossible. I don’t want to expect perfection of myself and others. It’s discouraging and a waste of good time.

Our homes and gardens take work but they’re worth it. What can you work on to develop and keep warm loving relationships in your home?

Think About Coming Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home. Mother Teresa

I will forever associate home with my wife’s parents and their spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. It was the epitome of a warm and loving home. Good company, good humor, and delectable food. It was a place where we could relax. They’re gone but their descendants still take gracious interest in each other and support each other. My wife and I have worked to provide the same kind of atmosphere in our home.

So what are the characteristic of a home that will allow us to thrive? Here are some that I think are important –

Safety. I can relax here because I’m physically and emotionally safe. I am safe to be around.

Intimacy. I belong here. I’m listened to; I have influence. My thoughts and feelings matter. I listen to and give my partner and children influence. I can be emotionally close to them and them to me.

Communication. I can hear and be heard with a spirit of honesty, kindness and generosity. I can hear and be heard without fear of ridicule.

Fruitfulness. I can develop my abilities and interests; I can experiment, fail, and learn. I support my partner and children as they develop their interests and abilities.

Ecstasy/joy. My family and I can find joy in people, pets, nature, projects, and privacy.

Neighborliness. My family and I honor the needs of others in the community and we accept the support of others.

I believe the above characteristics can help me have a home like my in-laws. A home that exudes a spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. That’s very important to me.

Think about these characteristics; talk about them with others. Perhaps you could send the post to a friend and see what he/she thinks. A good home is worth working for.

Photo credit: 123rf.com. Image ID : 24704393

What’s Most Important in a Relationship

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“Unless you love someone nothing else makes sense.” Anonymous

So, if you want to have a great relationship, what’s most important? What comes to mind? A large number of my patients might say, “good communication”. But, what do you think is foundational to having a healthy relationship with your partner?

My vote goes to freely loving and enjoying people. Think about it. You and I probably wanted our parents delighted interest in us from the day we were born. We still want  people’s eyes to light up when we come into the room. Just think about how small children and puppies respond to attention. We want to know that someone simply wants our presence; that they like being with us.

We want to be loved deeply; deep affection that leads to a person unselfishly acting in our best interests. Can you actually say that you don’t want this? I wouldn’t believe you if you said you didn’t. And, you know without my saying it, that your partner wants to be loved and enjoyed too.

I think that being coupled comfortably calls for you and me and our partners to love and enjoy people. Therefore, we need to find a way to deal with the negativity and pressure on planet earth and still appreciate what’s positive. This means doing whatever it takes to clear the way for you and me to have the time, energy, and attitude we need to love and enjoy people.

So, this is my case for what’s most important in a relationship. I truly think that without the ability to love and enjoy people you and I will be emotionally starved. Love is a gift; give it freely and receive it freely.

Feel free to agree or disagree in the Comments section of this blog. In around a week, I’ll focus on what it takes to love and enjoy people.