Presence Over Presents – By Ashley Bright

Our schedules are already jam packed and the holidays roll around and we lose the simplicity of the season. We lose the childlike wonder of laying under the Christmas tree and watching the lights twinkle. But what if we could have it back? What if we could remember the truth behind this beautiful holiday. What if our hearts could be in awe once again?

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it? This is probably the busiest time of the year. We are hustling and bustling. This party here, that party there. Did you make cookies for the party you have to go to tonight? Did you get a good gift for all the right people? Oh don’t forget to make sure you drop some change in the Salvation Army bucket.
Our schedules are already jam packed, and the holidays roll around and we lose the simplicity of the season. We lose the childlike wonder of laying under the Christmas tree and watching the lights twinkle. But what if we could have it back? What if we could remember the truth behind this beautiful holiday. What if our hearts could be in awe once again?
You see every year I find myself stuck between doing all the things and having fun around the holidays, but when I take a second to listen to the words of the Christmas songs that are ringing from every store speaker, I must pause. “A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.” And for a moment I begin to ponder. My heart leaps and takes a breath, and then I’m swept away from that moment, because it’s my turn at the register. What might it look like though, if this year we took a second to cherish the season of Advent. What would it look like if we took a moment to return to the childlike awe of Christmas? What if we cherished presence over presents this year?
I work with kids and as Christmas approaches they constantly talk about the things they are getting this year and what they really want Santa Claus to bring them, but how often is that toy you get them broken, or lost less than a month after we open it? When I reflect on my Christmas’ growing up, I honestly remember very few presents that I received, but I do remember the moments. I remember the whole family singing Christmas carols. I remember the sounds and smells of the wood crackling in the fire place. I remember the joyful anticipation of Christmas morning. The memories that truly last and have an impact on us have nothing to do with presents, but only to do with presence.
So this year how can we teach our hearts and our children’s hearts to value presence over presents? What if we cherished each day of Advent for the treasure that it contains? Maybe we study the incarnation for the multifaceted jewel it truly is, or maybe it’s as simple as a Christmas Eve tradition of hot cocoa and the Christmas story? There are so many ways to go about this, but maybe just maybe it’s time to say no to the fifteen parties and doing all the things to lay under the Christmas tree and watch the lights twinkle.
So friends this year I call us all to return to valuing presence as so much more valuable than presents. May our hearts truly feel the joy that has come to the world.

Parenting God’s Way – By Seth Dahl

“There are far too many parents who live with the philosophy of “Follow what I say, not what I do,” and we all know this doesn’t work well. It kills trust in our children. They see us talk one way but live another. I heard someone say one time, ‘Children are really bad at doing what we tell them, but really great at doing what we show them’. “

My daughter wanted her jacket out of the closet to go out in the cold and play. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach it, she decided to ask me for help. But like many three-year-olds, the way she asked me was more of a yell than an ask.

After several seconds of her yelling, I walked toward her with the intention of telling her to not speak to me that way. As I approached, a thought interrupted me, “How would you ask if you knew I would say yes?”

Because of that thought, I knelt down in front of her and asked her that very question. She looked up for a moment as she thought about it, then replied, “Please?”

I grabbed her her jacket, put it on her, then threw mine on so I could join her outside. We had such a great time playing that day. As we were playing, I thought about what just took place. God just parented me so that I could parent my daughter like He would.

From that time on, I’ve trusted Him to step in at those moments in order for me to become the parent He’s designed me to be.

There are far too many parents who live with the philosophy of “Follow what I say, not what I do,” and we all know this doesn’t work well. It kills trust in our children. They see us talk one way but live another. I heard someone say one time, “Children are really bad at doing what we tell them, but really great at doing what we show them”.

We must realize that all of us are continually teaching our children whether we are using words or not. And one of the greatest things we teach them is who God is like.

I have several friends who are counselors, who spend most of their time with clients talking through things that happened when they were a child.

As a children’s pastor and parent, one of the burning desires of my heart is to see a generation of children grow up who don’t need a lifetime of counseling from what their families have done to them. I believe the story I told at the beginning of this post is one of the keys to seeing this.

God wants to help us parent.

God wants us to parent our children like He parents us. We’ve all had dysfunctions in our families growing up, but we don’t have to perpetuate them with our kids. We don’t have to allow our past to become our present. We have a Father who is more than willing to help us.

When God asked me that question, He didn’t just change that one interaction with my daughter, He changed my entire relationship with Him. Now I ask myself, “How would I pray if I knew God’s answer would be yes?”

For all the parents reading this, I’d ask you to ask yourself the same question. All His promises are yes and amen in Christ. This question will bring so much trust into your relationship with God, it can’t help but bear fruit as a relationship full of trust with your own children.

So, how would you pray if you knew He would say yes?

If you would like to hear more from Seth, check out his website at sethdahl.com and his podcast on iTunes – The Disconnected Dad, https://itun.es/us/bRYigb.c.
You can also look him up on Facebook and Instagram.

Too Many Voices in My Head.

We can start to recognize the voices that Shame and Guilt have, but we can’t move forward in life if we still listen to them. The negative thoughts that are in our lives actually keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.

Shame and Guilt, they have a lot to say in our world today. They act like they control the whole of humanity and some would say they really do… but I would like to change that in this post.

How do we start to recognize the voices of Shame and Guilt and get rid of the input that they have in our lives?

Great Question!
1. Shame and Guilt Says “I Am Something Wrong.”
We all know that we can do something wrong, but when we listen to Shame and Guilt, we start to believe that we are the thing that is wrong. If we can recognize this in the way that we think about ourselves, than we can start getting rid of the false voices that say otherwise.
Often times Shame and Guilt are very sneaky when they speak and it’s almost always through our thoughts toward ourselves. It’s so subtle that we miss it a lot. We can’t allow them to have a say in our thinking, our life, or our identity. What we believe about ourselves comes straight from our thought life. A few great questions to ask ourselves and identify if Shame and Guilt have control in our lives are: Who do I believe I am? Who do I think I am? What do I do to/for myself that tells me more about myself? How we answer these is a sign if we are living with Guilt and Shame.

Guilt and Shame have a false sense of control and power, and we let them have it. They talk us into actually feeling like the problem is always us, as if we have control over people’s emotions and made them feel a certain way.
The voice of Shame and Guilt sound like they are legitimate, but they’re the illegitimate sons of an illegitimate man.

I believe that when we listen to what Shame and Guilt have to say, we start acting out of impulse and fear of how we’ll affect the people around us instead of how we are living our personal lives.
2. We Are Not What We Eat.
Obviously this point isn’t about eating, it’s about the thoughts that we “feed” ourselves.
To further hit a point that I made in the beginning – we do things that can affect people in the wrong way, but those times don’t dictate who we are. Often times as a society we mistake someone’s actions for their character. We often forget that forgiveness is not a one time deal, but it’s a never-ending posture that sees the person instead of the mistake. Some of you reading this probably need to look past your own mistakes and look at who you really are and forgive yourself.

How we digest our thoughts will speak through our actions. I have a choice everyday, whether or not I’m going to eat the thoughts from Shame and Guilt, or if I’m going to spit them out. Once I spit them out, I lift a weight off of my shoulders that I was never meant to carry.
3. “We Can Fly, We Can Fly, We Can Fly!”
What caused Wendy, James and John the ability to fly to Neverland?
It wasn’t just “Faith, trust and Pixie dust.” They had to think happy thoughts! If we have happy thoughts about ourselves, we’ll start to go places that we never thought were possible. All we need to do is change the way we think about ourselves. It’s really that simple.

Say what you want about Peter Pan, but he always found a way to enjoy his life, have fun, and think highly of himself.
What are you going to do that causes you to change your thoughts into happy thoughts and causes you to soar like never before?
We can start to recognize the voices that Shame and Guilt have, but we can’t move forward in life if we still listen to them. The negative thoughts that are in our lives actually keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.
4. Shame and Guilt causes us to doubt who we are.
Doubt Keeps Us From Our Destiny. To stick with the Peter Pan analogy, The time when Peter almost lost the battle against Captain Hook, was when he started to doubt himself and his ability to fulfill his destiny.
Just watch that part of the movie (the original animated Disney film) to see and know the thought process that Peter is having in that instant. Replay the moment with me – Tink is almost dead, Wendy, James, and John are captured with the Lost Boys on the Jolly Roger, and nobody can save them but Peter Pan… While all of that is going on, he starts to really question if he’s really a hero or not and if the battle is lost. Notice the progression from that process, to the huge turnaround that happens in a matter of minutes! Though all of this is verbal in the moment (for theatrical enjoyment) his voice, mood, and behavior all change the moment he changed the way he thought about himself and the situation he was in.

Our greatest triumphs are on the other side of our greatest doubts.
Shame and Guilt speak doubt into our minds that causes us to lose sight of our destiny. They often use our failures as their greatest weapon against our destiny. Peter Pan almost let his failure of letting Wendy and friends getting captured, turn into the ultimate failure of not being the person he really is. When doubts come into our mind, they always question who we are and who we are meant to be. When we listen to those doubts and lose sight of ourselves, we let a minor failure turn into a big failure.

And this leads me to my last point.

5. There IS Hope.
Some of our biggest failures can be the beginning of our greatest successes.
Don’t just stop at your failures, make them learning moments.
When we learn from our mistakes and decide not to listen to the doubts that Shame and Guilt cause, we create something that is super special – Second Chances. There’s always a second chance at the end of what we do letting our thought life, words and actions be filled with hope. This process of finding the voices that have power in our life and which ones to get rid of is a lengthy process, but its worth it. You have to give yourself time to work through everything that comes up when you start this journey. Stay hope-full and you’ll go far in life.

Remember, when it comes to Guilt and Shame:
You are not your actions. Your destiny is on the other side of your doubts. Think happy thoughts. Believe the best in yourself. ALWAYS stay hopeful.

If You Could Open Your Mind Like You Open Your Mouth, What Would Happen?

This is the perfect time to be talking about this. With the election that just happened and all that surrounds it, plus all of the protests of multiple different things from killings, to constructions of oil pipelines; there are so many different things we hear about, that we don’t actually do the research about, to see what’s actually happening.

Because I have put this down as a Christ-following blog, I want to set the beginning of this blog with some knowledge for y’all to know- I am keeping Christian viewpoints out of this as much as possible for you. Though, I will address things that Christians do that hurt the processes of creating our own opinions.

To officially start this post, I must say, I am still working on this myself, but the reason I want to talk about this is because not enough people actually try to find out BOTH sides of every story you hear. We believe so many news stories just because it comes from the same viewpoint or stance that we already have. If you want me to prove this, then look at your political party. Do you listen to everything that is Republican or Democratic? Do you question everything that comes from the party you don’t like, but believe everything that your political party says? Do you listen to only Fox News or CNN? If so, then you are just accepting another person’s opinion and not your own.

I’ll be honest, I would call myself a Republican, but I listen to a lot more Democratic news outlets than I do Republican. Not because I want a laugh or because I think they are misguided, but because I want to create my own well informed opinion. The moment that I let my bias overtake my opinions is the moment that I become closed-minded.
I always look for things that are unbiased, because when someone can report the news as just news, that’s when I actually listen to what other people have to say.
The moment that people use their opinion to report the news is the moment that it is no longer news, because it becomes a biased view that holds very little factual information, but a lot of agenda. I’m not in the business of listen to agendas and taking it as facts, I’m in the business of hearing news and researching it.

Let’s move from this, into how to actually stay open-minded.

Step One: Become Unbiased by Listen to People When They Speak.
I know this seems obvious, but let’s be real, a lot of people forget to do this when they have conversations with people about big subjects. All they are worried about is sharing their view and not hearing the other person’s view.

We have to hear people out when we invite them into a conversation. This is absolutely necessary to staying open-minded and to not becoming biased. When we stop listening to people once they say something that is against what we believe or think, we shut off our ability to think and give up our right to have an opinion.
If we are the ones that invite people into a conversation, but can’t listen to people that have a opinion that is the complete opposite of ours, then we throw out our ability to be curious and think about what we read or hear.

When we shut off our ability to think, we turn off our freedom to speak our mind.

This probably will annoy a lot of people because it’s America’s First Amendment right to speak our mind, but if we only speak our mind or opinion and don’t think or research what we’re about to say, then we only come off as foolish and misinformed.
Let’s quote the Bible for the Christians that are offended at the above statement; “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge look appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:2) The wise make knowledge appealing, meaning that wise people encourage others to look up what is correct at all times. Foolish people only speak, don’t listen to others, and don’t put in the effort to find out the truth; which smells like a horrible belch.

Step Two:
Listen to Two Different News Outlets.
Obviously the news is biased. I would say “nowadays”, but the news has been biased for more than just our century.
With that being said, we should still listen to two different news networks, that share two totally different views. Even though the media is biased, that doesn’t mean I have to be.
When we watch the other side of the news that we can’t stand, but at least hear them out, then we actually let our biases slide away from our thinking and start to become more open-minded people. We get so butt hurt about people being biased that we never realize that we have our own biases towards our “regularly scheduled programing”. When you hear the other side of the news, you start to realize that there really is two sides to every story.

Which bring us to my next point –

Step 3: There’s Two Sides to Every Story.
I’ll compare this to the movie, Toy Story.
Andy was a normal kid that loved to play with his toys and never really thought about, or even considered, that they might actually have a secret life that could affect him.
If we look at the movie (the very first one), Andy should’ve seen those toys move around, or at least have the sense that nobody can steal his toys from his room and then suddenly return them after a couple days like nothing had ever happened haha.

We should do our due diligence when it comes to the stories we hear over the tv, Facebook, the internet, or whatever comes into our view in terms of information and media that we watch.

If we really want to encourage people to be open-minded, then we have to encourage fact-checking and hear people out with legitimate interest when we speak to them.

Think about how you can start living like that more in your life, and how you can encourage people to do the same.

 

Redefining Powerful – By Shay Shipman

Being powerful means deciding who you are going to be based on who you are called to be, what is best for your family and friends, what will actually impact the world and then being that person down to your core.

It means being just as confident speaking in front of millions as it does cleaning the toilet. It means to stop and talk to somebody who could never do anything for you, but loving them just because it’s right, because you want to.

It means starting that program and making money off of it and changing generations, because that’s who you are.

January 2nd, 2017, with tear stains on my face I boarded my flight to go back to Redding, California and complete my second year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

Christmas break had been a conflicting time, fighting between wanting to finish school but wanting to stay with my family and be home where I feel safe.

I argued with God as I walked through the airport, and by argue I mean I ranted and he waited patiently as he always does. I went back and forth between being so grateful for the life I had in California and the experience that I got at BSSM, to being so upset that I couldn’t be with my dad when he needed me the most and having to miss my nieces growing up. I knew that I needed first year, but second year hadn’t been so clear and it’s been a fight to want to stay.

I sat in my tiny leather blue seat waiting for take off, with my hood up shut off from the rest of the world. I sat there silently as the wheels started to leave the ground, staring at the home I was leaving behind. In that moment, when I decided to be still, I felt him. He came in with his soft, steady voice saying “Who are you?”. Still irritated I thought “What do you mean? What kind of question is that?”. I kind of knew it wasn’t an actual question. Typically when God asks you a question, he’s not the one that doesn’t know the answer.

I went through the usual “I’m a daughter of the highest king, I’m powerful and redeemed by your love and I have access to all you have”, the total first year run down. There was some more silence. And then with a smile on his face, like he had been waiting for the moment, he said “But who are you? Right now.” Now, I don’t know why a simple question broke me and sent me back into my identity, but I know that I know you cannot look upon his face and feel his love for you and your spirit not be called to conviction.

I had been walking through the airport like being sent into the kingdom was a chore. I had been angry at God for sending me on the greatest opportunity of my life, an opportunity that I asked him to let me go on. I had let anger and disappointment into the airport, which it already has plenty of.
I forgot who I was.

I forgot that I had been chosen. Chosen to see his kingdom advance, chosen to see his goodness, chosen to be a part of revival. I forgot that he was good, which by inheritance, meant that he was good to me and that I received all the blessing he had to offer without even asking.
In Isaiah 60:1-3 it says: “Rise up and shine, for your light has come. The shining-greatness of the Lord has risen upon you. For see, darkness will cover the earth. Much darkness will cover the people. But the Lord will rise upon you, and His shining-greatness will be seen upon you.
Nations will come to your light. And kings will see the shining-greatness of the Lord on you.”

Being powerful means being willing to be the light and shine.

So often we view being powerful someone who has the strongest personality, takes what they want, pushes people out of the way and is usually successful. It’s usually associated with the words forceful, strong, blunt and loud. I don’t believe that our image and the reality match up. Somewhere along the line we decided that to be powerful and to be a leader you have to be the loudest, you have to be forceful and you have to be tough.

The websters dictionary defines being powerful as: Having the ability to control or influence people or things – having a strong effect on someone or something

Why do we think being powerful is shut off? Why do we think that it’s okay to ignore the person that hurt you and make them feel unwanted or unwelcome? Why do we think it’s okay to walk through an airport and release anything but hope, joy and love?

We convince ourselves it’s okay because it’s easier. It was easy for me to walk around angry and upset and be like everyone else. It was a lot easier than being vulnerable and praying that good would come out of my pain and that God would take care of me. It was a lot easier than being powerful and telling the world about a God that I believe is good even when I didn’t feel his goodness.

To be that kind of powerful would mean that we would have to give a piece of ourselves to the world, we would actually have to truly be who we said we were on stage. It’s easy to be the kind of powerful that shoves people out of the way and talks so loud and so much that no one gets the chance to speak to their hearts, you can run through life without the risk of being hurt because everyone is too afraid to talk to you.

We need to ask ourselves if that sounds like a powerful person or a coward.

Being powerful means deciding who you are going to be based on who you are called to be, what is best for your family and friends, what will actually impact the world and then being that person down to your core.

It means being just as confident speaking in front of millions as it does cleaning the toilet. It means to stop and talk to somebody who could never do anything for you, but loving them just because it’s right, because you want to.

It means starting that program and making money off of it and changing generations, because that’s who you are.

It means being fully you and being fully known by the world. It means to take responsibility for what you have in your hands and empower others to do the same, to lift them up and not push them down.

Powerful is vulnerable, and vulnerability is powerful.

It’s really time for us to wake up and realize that shoving people and your emotions down, running from your problems and focusing on you, is not powerful.

Operating out of love, identity and passion all while serving where you can serve and being vulnerable in every area of your life, even when you don’t want to. That is what it means to be a powerful person.

Let’s talk About Relationships Baby, Let’s Talk About You & Me

One of the biggest goals I’ve consistently seen throughout humanity, is to have relationships and/or community. We find lots of love and acceptance in them, which is why we value community so heavily. That’s why I even started this blog, because people have such a high value for community, family, relationships and the like, but don’t fully know how to even get in or stay in them.

 

 

Relationships of any kind are key to having a good life. The community that we build around us helps shape the outlook of our future lives. The people around us influence the person within us.

There’s so many relationships that we have to deal with in our everyday lives. We have family members, friends, best friends, bad friends (if they are even friends haha), boyfriends, girlfriends, or husbands and wives. Needless to say, we have a lot of relationships that we deal with and I haven’t even touched the relationships with people that we don’t want to have. (I see you bullies and some co-workers)
With most relationships that we have, we try to stay as connected as possible, but sometimes we just forget about certain people (I’ve been there myself. Sorry to those that of you who I have forgotten).

One of the biggest goals I’ve consistently seen throughout humanity, is to have relationships and/or community. We find lots of love and acceptance in them, which is why we value community so heavily. That’s why I even started this blog, because people have such a high value for community, family, relationships and the like, but don’t fully know how to even get in or stay in them!

Here’s a list of ways that can help your relationships last:

#1 – Pursue your friends. Do things with them that they like to do.

In my last blog (Family With You, Family Around You), I said that we have to pursue relationships with the people we want around in our family, or the people that are already in the family. No matter what, pursuit of those we want in any of our relationships, are vital to staying in that relationship. A lot of times, pursuing someone or a group of people, looks like talking to them, asking what they like to do in their spare time, places they like to go, etc… After you do that, plans days where you can go do the things they said. Sometimes it’s just hanging out and playing video games with a couple liters of soda; other times, it’s going to a coffee place and talking about places you want to go.
Everyone is different, but everyone will love and appreciate the time and effort that you put into getting to know them, and do what they like as well what you like to do.

#2 – Don’t Stop Believing (Hold on to that feeling).
Although I am totally quoting a song, this is very applicable to relationships.

If you feel like you’re constantly asking “Why do I feel like I have no one to hangout with?” I would challenge you and ask; “Have you tried being friends with someone more than two months?” Point of the question is this: are you putting in the time that it takes to actually build a strong, healthy friendship with someone? Cause if you’re not putting in the effort, than you will feel like you have little to no friends in your life outside of school, sports, or church.
If you’re having a hard time staying friends with someone for more than 2-4 months, then ask yourself, “What am I believing that is keeping me from a great, long friendship?” Because either way, there’s something that is stopping you from believing that the friendship process isn’t worth it.
Quitting never helps anyone, but never giving up gets you recognition.

#3 – Have a better view of yourself.

A lot of people probably wouldn’t think that their friend problems were because of how they view themselves, but it’s a very real thing.
Here’s some questions that can help indicate if you have a bad view of yourself:
1 – Do you believe that you are actually worth the love you will receive from friends?
2 – Are you confident in how you interact with people?
3 – Do you think that people will think you’re dumb if they get to know you?
4 – Are you afraid that people won’t like you once they get to know you?
5 – Do you feel like you have to act like a completely different person when you are with people just so they can like you?

You can talk to people about how to change any of these if it’s a problem that you do have, but I want to give you some hope right now.
Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from going after any relationships that you want to have in your life. The pain of a failed relationship might suck, but the gain of a true friend is priceless.
Don’t let yourself be scared. Don’t let yourself say you’re not worth it. Don’t let yourself say there’s too much hurt that comes with relationships. Believe in yourself. Believe in others.
Once you start believing in yourself and have the confidence to be able to tackle any relationship or heartache in your life, that’s when you kicked fear in the face and won the war.

Ending with this, don’t let the idea of having to settle keep you from adventure. When you go on adventures with your friends, it creates a intimacy that can’t be broken, and does away with the novelty (or standard) of relationships; and let’s face it, intimacy is way better than novelty.

Family With You. Family Around You

There’s so much that can be solved when we just use love on a daily basis. I firmly believe that there is nothing love can’t fix in our daily lives. And when Family meets Love, there is nothing that can come against the power that they hold when they are together. Bottom line is, as family, you want to thrive with connection and love, not just make ends meet with a Facebook-type connection where you only see small amounts of a life you’re not even connected too. My last point of the Step Three is this – A family will thrive with love inside of it. But without love, it will not stand the test of time.

 

Creating Family.

I know when you read the title, you were probably thinking of marriage, sex, and giving birth to a baby. Now, there’s a couple ways I could go with this, and none of them would be helpful to a rabbit in spring. (If you get what I mean.) The direction I want to take this though, is practical ways to start creating family around you, with you, and for you.

Let’s start with treating people like family.
Friends, associates, neighbors, children’s friends, in-laws, you name it. How we treat people will be a deciding factor in how we create family.

Let me tell you about my friend John.
John knew how to connect to multiple people and make them feel like they were more than just people or friends meeting to hangout. He would have them feeling like they were family meeting together to be a part of a bigger picture, while talking about life and how they could reach their daily goals. He wouldn’t mind discussing the big “family issues” that mattered to anyone around him. John even helped them see that family is able to give some of the biggest sacrifices from love toward one another for them.
You just have to read John’s letters to really see the sense of family he carried with him everywhere he went. His want for family is still written in emails every once and a while, but his heart will always be to connect with people of different cultures, of different minds, of different ethnicity, and of different lands.
See, when we choose to connect, we open up different entry ways to people’s hearts and start building the bridge to family.

The “family bridge” as I’ll call it, can take a long time to build. When we were born into a family, we didn’t have to put effort into creating a family dynamic. But when it comes to creating that atmosphere around us when we’re not connected to our blood family, we’ve got to put in effort to get that same dynamic. Everything that is worth building takes time. The Golden Gate bridges took 4 years to build. That’s 1,460 days, 48 months, and 208 weeks. And yes, I did the math.

At the end of the day, family takes effort. No matter who is trying to create a family environment; it takes time, sweat, pain, energy, and commitment. Some people are great at joining a family connection with you or other people, but some aren’t as great; and that’s ok, those people are just as valuable as the others. You just have to find the people that want to create family and put in the time with you.

So now, let’s go after practical ways to actually create family.
First Step – Pursue relationships with people.
This is probably the most important step honestly. See, we can’t just waltz our way into creating family and say “here I am. Come to me!”. We have to really go after it. Inviting people into your life, having game nights, having breakfast, lunch, or dinner with them, maybe going out for a coffee every once and a while, I don’t know! But always stay in constant pursuit of the people you want to have as family.

Step Two – Be vulnerable.
I have a lot I could say about this point, but I’ll save most of it for another post.
What I will say though, is that vulnerability isn’t about being honest. It’s about being open. When we open up to our actual family, as well as our extended family that we start to create, we bring them into a new dimension of the relationship we have with them. I’m pretty sure that if people would be more open with each other, we wouldn’t have a lot of room to be misunderstood. We see the opposite of this in celebrities lives.
They are some of the most misunderstood people in the world. This is mainly on our part though, as people we look in from the other side of the one way glass window.

One of the ways we can keep from that happening in our lives though is through vulnerability. Being willing to be open when people ask. The whole point of vulnerability is to bring forth connection. Vulnerability means that you have courage – The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” – This is vulnerability at it’s finest. This brings families closer.

Step Three – Do everything with love towards each other.
There can’t be family without love.
One of the best ways to change a sphere of influence is through a loving family and community. One of the many ways they can experience something like this is by how you treat people in your everyday life. Let’s be real, most people haven’t felt legitimately loved before. Either by family or friends. That’s not a good thing, and we need to change that. Imagine, once we start treating everyone with love like family would, the things that can come out of that. We would have healthier communities, better workers, honesty, crime would go down, and there would be peace for everyone to enjoy.

There’s so much that can be solved when we just use love on a daily basis. I firmly believe that there is nothing love can’t fix in our daily lives. And when Family meets Love, there is nothing that can come against the power that they hold when they are together. Bottom line is, as family, you want to thrive with connection and love, not just make ends meet with a Facebook-type connection where you only see small amounts of a life you’re not even connected too. My last point of the Step Three is this – A family will thrive with love inside of it. But without love, it will not stand the test of time.

Ending with this, whoever wants to create a family environment must realize that you hold a lot of power. And as Stan Lee famously says in his Spider-Man comics, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
We hold many responsibilities when we start building family. We make sure that we have an environment that makes people feel safe enough to speak their mind by telling you their heart. We have to make sure that love is always in our “house”, and that we pursue the relationships that we want in our lives; while also encouraging that they pursue us as well.

I encourage you to talk to people about what this would actually look like for you, as well as them, and to start building a family under the roof you’re starting to build.