Building a Healthy Family
Building a healthy family relationship is essential for families of all types. Whether it is a married couple, a family of four or a single mother and her adopted child, families thrive on love. Without a healthy family relationship, it can feel like someone has no one to turn to in times of crisis and or times of celebration. Healthy family relationships do not come automatically–they come with time and effort. The concept of family goes back to the origins of creation. When God created Adam and Eve, he told them, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). As a result, the first family came into being, and even though it got off to a rough start, families have been the basic building block of humankind ever since.  In an effort to reverse the trend of destructive relationships and strengthen the infrastructure of our society, we must be committed to the education, promotion, and support of each other through prayer, communication, fellowship, resources and most importantly making God and His Word first in our homes. Families play a large part in giving us self-confidence, validation, and self-esteem. Our society considers families the basic unit of the social order: Strong families form the basis of strong communities.
If you are building or rebuilding your family, I pray that these five principles will be a guide for you and your spouse. I am standing in Faith with you, that God will give you and your children the breakthrough that you are praying for, these are simple but applicable steps that can bring positive results in the health of your home.
 
Family Principle 1, “Eat Dinner Together”
 
Find the time to eat dinner together as a family.  Eating together as a family is a healthy habit that helps to bring everyone together. I believe eating together teaches children proper etiquette and it is an opportunity for open communication.  It is a time to bond, be involved and build intimacy. Even if you don’t have children, eating together allows you to relax from the busy pace of work and just talk.  It is nothing like hearing the laughter and conversation of family around a dinner table. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
Family Principle 2, “Quality Time”
 
Spend quality recreational time together doing activities that each of your family members enjoy. Even if your children are adults, take the time to plan family time. You can play board games, attend a concert, go the movies, go see a play, go to a game or read a book together. Creating regular family rituals is vital in showing your family they are important. If you are blending your families invite the all children to be involved; making every attempt to be a peacemaker.  Spending regular time together is what makes a family a tight unit. There is a famous quote that states “Your family needs your PRESENCE more than your PRESENTS”.  “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2).
Family Principle 3, “Respect”
 
Respect each other’s personal space. If your spouse asks for some alone time, give it to them.  Children learn respect, how they see parents respecting one another. If your children at times need quiet time, teach them to build healthy boundaries. Everyone needs time alone, and respecting privacy is one of the things that build solid relationships. If you have multiple children, it is important to give each one of them, their time alone with you, as the parents. Take your son to a sporting event while your spouse takes your daughter to a movie or nail salon.  It is very important that we as parents pray for wisdom in raising our children. God gave each of them different personalities and they will have their own journey in life.  Respectfully, we have to give them their space to grow and develop. Alone time with parents helps children feel special, it is their personal time of validation and an opportunity to learn from their first classroom “Home”.  “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). 
 
Family Principle 4, “Communication”
 
Allow everyone in the family to openly communicate feelings respectfully.  I believe that to maintain a healthy family relationship, each member must be able to communicate freely with one another, as well as listen effectively. Listening allows you to learn more about your family’s thoughts and personalities. Communicating allows you to express yourself to relieve frustrations and other emotions. When your family is having a discussion try never to interrupt a family member through disrespectful tones, demeaning words, or through passive aggressiveness; instead, listen until he/she is finished, then relate how you feel. This effective type of communication prevents and solves arguments, keeping the family relationship healthy.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly”  (Proverbs 15:1-2).
Family Principle 5, “Financial Security”
Many families struggle when comes to financial freedom. Trying to juggle life, responsibilities, priorities, and extra curricular activities can be overwhelming. The key to good money management is expense management. We need to learn to live below our means and be content with what God has given us. This is hard for all of us, but it is a valuable life lesson. Developing a good budget is key. Everything we have comes from God. He owns it, and He entrusts it to us to use for His purposes. True financial success comes not from accumulating a large surplus in our bank account, but from following God’s plan for our finances. As we do this, He will provide for all of our needs. As Christians, our first financial priority, just as in every other area of life, should be God and His work. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).
Pastor Clinton House
Summer of Worship and Praise Pastor Tonya Hall

“Don’t Let The Heat Exhaust You”
For approximately eight days in June, the temperature in Las Vegas sweltered in the 110-117 degree range.  The weather station issued “heat advisory warnings,” asking  people to stay indoors. Being outdoors in the heat can lead to the body overheating, causing heat exhaustion.
Heat Exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.
Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Heat exhaustion symptoms may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion begin to appear when your body becomes unable to regulate its heat loss. Hot weather, strenuous activity, alcohol consumption, and overdressing can all promote overheating.
According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of heat exhaustion can appear suddenly or over a period of time. Faintness, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue are common symptoms, as are headaches, low blood pressure upon standing and heavy sweating. If your skin is cool, moist and has goosebumps even though you are in the heat, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion.
Pay attention to your symptoms of heat exhaustion and stop your activity to rest, find a cooler location, and rehydrate. If the symptoms worsen, contact your doctor. If your body temperature is 104 F or higher, seek immediate medical attention.
 
Information provided by Mayo Clinic
“THE CREDIT CARD ACT OF 2009-PART II’ 12 CONSUMER PROTECTIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Last month, we learned about the ‘Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009’ promulgated by former President Barack Obama.   Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of what you need to know.
  
CARD Act highlights:
1. Limited interest rate hikes: Interest rate hikes on existing balances are allowed only under limited conditions, such as when a promotional rate ends, there is a variable rate or if the cardholder makes a late payment. Interest rates on new transactions can increase only after the first year. Significant changes in terms on accounts cannot occur without 45 days’ advance notice of the change.
2. The right to opt out: Consumers have the right to opt-out of — or reject — certain significant changes in terms on their accounts. Opting out means cardholders agree to close their accounts and pay off the balance under the old terms. They have at least five years to pay the balance.
3. Limited credit to young adults Credit card issuers are banned from issuing credit cards to anyone under 21 unless they have adult co-signers on the accounts or can show proof they have enough income to repay the card debt. Credit card companies must stay at least 1,000 feet from college campuses if they are offering free pizza or other gifts to entice students to apply for credit cards.
4. Clearer due dates, times: Issuers have to give card account holders “a reasonable amount of time” to pay on monthly bills. That means payments are due at least 21 days after they are mailed or delivered. Credit card issuers are no longer able to set early morning or other arbitrary deadlines for payments. Cutoff times set before 5 p.m. on the payment due dates are illegal. Payments due at those times or on weekends, holidays or when the card issuer is closed for business are not subject to late fees. Due dates must be the same each month.
5. Limits on over-limit fees: Consumers must “opt-in” to over-limit fees. Those who opt out will have their transactions rejected if they exceed their credit limits, thus avoiding over-limit fees. Fees cannot exceed the amount of overspending. For example, going $20 over the limit cannot have a fee of more than $20.
6. Minimum payments disclosure: Credit card issuers must disclose to cardholders the consequences of making only minimum payments each month, namely how long it would take to pay off the entire balance if users only made the minimum monthly payment. Issuers must also provide information on how much users must pay each month if they want to pay off their balances in 36 months, including the amount of interest.
7. Late fee restrictions: Late fees are capped at $25 for occasional late payments; however, the fees can be higher if cardholders are late more than once in a six-month period.
8. Gift cards expiration rules: Gift cards cannot expire sooner than five years after they are issued. Dormancy fees can only be charged if the card is unused for 12 months or more. Issuers can charge only one fee per month, but there is no limit on the amount of the fee.
“The most vulnerable consumers, those who carry a balance, have been protected by the protections of the CARD Act,” says Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center, a Boston-based consumer advocacy group. “Some of the worst abuses were addressed, including retroactive rate increases. It put the brakes on some of the fees. They are still kind of high, but it kept them from going up.”
Poorly Educated Part I (The Value of A College Education)
I don’t think anyone would argue that times have changed.  In generations that have passed, all you had to do is graduate from high school and you were going to get a job that could take you all the way to retirement while earning a pension and allowing you to retire respectably.  But as advancement has taught us, the proverbial bar has been raised.  In this day and age, pension plans are few and far between and even having a college degree doesn’t guarantee anything!  If you want to make your mark in a given field, you almost need an advanced degree.  Having these advanced degrees definitely open up opportunities that would be closed without the extra knowledge and training, but it comes at a price.

 

This proves there is a certain value to education we cannot ignore.  It pays to be educated!  And just like everything that has value, getting an education cost!  And it cost more than it ever did before.  As tuition, books, room, board, and fees continue to rise, I can only see it getting more and more expensive in the future.  But what value do we place on education?
The cost of an education depends on few things.  Some of which are the schools where the degree is being earned (as some schools are just more expensive than others), the degree, itself, and the job market related to the degree.   But before we deal with those topics, which we discuss in subsequent articles, I want to take the time to contemplate the most prevalent method of paying for an education (the use of student loans) and how it affects the wealth of graduates.  See the following:
  • Americans owe over $1.3 trillion dollars in student loan debt.  Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt behind only mortgages. (Forbes, 2017)
  • The average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt and 59% of millennial graduates say they have no idea when their student loans will be paid off. (US News, 2016)
  • The average monthly student loan payment (for borrowers aged 20 to 30 years old) is $351. (Student Loan Hero, 2017)
The income of graduates is being used to pay off debt rather than build their future.  Our graduates are gaining an education,  at a much greater cost than anticipated because it is mortgaged against their future earnings (i.e. their wealth building tools).  “How so?”, you might ask.  Let’s assume an average 23-year-old graduate is paying $351/ month for student loans for 10 years, which is the average to repay their debt.  If there was no debt, instead, that money every month is being put into a mutual fund investment.  Now let’s say after 10 years when the graduate is 33, they decide NOT to add anything else to the investment and is content with it doing nothing but gaining interest over the years.  When the graduate reaches the age of 65, with just average returns, they will have over $750,000 in that account!  Again, that is assuming they did not put a dime into the account from age 33 to 65!  If the graduate never stopped adding to the account, they easily could be a millionaire!  But instead of building wealth and securing a financial future, that money is paid to money lenders and banking institutions and they are making billions on top of billions from servicing debt!

 

Education is important.  I believe in education and I encourage everyone to seek it.   But we have to be wise in our pursuits.  We can’t get so enamored with the thought of getting an education that we just do what everybody else is doing.  Isn’t that the definition of average?  Didn’t God create us to be better than average?  Of course He did!  Remember, you are wonderfully and fearfully made (Ps. 139:14).  It’s time we start taking the road less traveled so we can reach our full potential.  There are alternates to loans such as scholarships, grants, work studies, internships, apprenticeships, and the most overlooked alternative of all, work.  All of these options might not be applicable; but they should, at least, be vetted.  Remember, Jesus warns us to count the cost before we make a commitment (Luke 11:28-31).  Now we see how expensive an education can be when it is paid for with student loans.  So let’s really try to avoid student loans if possible so we can get the most out of our money and build wealth for ourselves and not for the financial institutions.
[1] Friedman, Z. (2017, February 21). Student Loan Debt in 2017: A $1.3 Trillion Crisis. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2017/02/21/student-loan-debt-statistics-2017/#2be279e85dab
[2] Powell, F. (2016, May 9). 10 Student Loan Facts College Grads Need to Know. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/slideshows/10-student-loan-facts-college-grads-need-to-know
[3] A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2017. (2017, May 17). Retrieved June 18, 2017, from https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/
Marriage
I believe that Friendship is the foundation of any healthy marriage. Before anything romantic occurs, friendship needs to be present. The art and blessing of Friendship will create lasting moments in your marriage when you and your spouse are trying to maintain determination to fight for your marriage. Even in the best of times, be sure to keep your marriage covered in prayer, as challenges and troubling times are inevitable. God must be the center of your relationship, and even in that, you have a responsibility to maintain what God has given to you.
I pray these nuggets will bless your marriage:
1. Be faithful. During hard times, a friendship can either be lost altogether or become stronger. There may be times during the darkest days of your marriage when you and your spouse may question whether you made the right decision. There may be moments when you may want to walk away, but you MUST remain faithful. Marriage has many stages of development, be sure to maintain a desire and willingness to grow with your spouse; maintaining faithfulness to the commitment you made to your spouse, and most importantly to the vow you made before God.
2. Believe in each other. One of the reasons God created marriage is to bring husbands and wives to their full potential. You’ll never be close friends with someone who doesn’t believe in you. As spouses, we have to build an environment where our husband or wife can thrive. God created your spouse for something special, and your job is to help cultivate whatever that is. There will be days when the two of you will not agree, but being respectful and learning to agree to disagree will teach the both of you how to respect each other’s opinions. Everyone’s perception is their own truth. You cannot push what you do not respect. Learn to embrace the beauty of your differences. Your spouse needs you to believe in his or her dreams, goals, and aspirations, even in times of perceived failure. Wives, listen. Husbands, hold your wife and ensure her that everything will be fine.
3. Encourage honesty and intimacy. Honesty is crucial in every relationship. Does your spouse know your heart? Does he or she know what you’re thinking, what you love, what you believe? If not, it’s time to let your spouse into your world. Isolating yourself from your spouse makes intimacy impossible. Intimacy offers the opportunity for your spouse to get to know you. Intimacy transcends any physical contact. It enables a couple to send a message to each other in a room of 500 people while being 100 feet apart.
4. Be a safe place. Who do you call when something great happens? Who do you go to first when something terrible happens? You go to the person you trust the most. As a married couple, you need to be each other’s refuge-the place each of you go to celebrate good news or find strength to face bad news. No one else should be the first responder to your spouse other than you.
5. Be fun and creative. The strongest marriages are the ones where a husband and wife still have fun together. If this ever stops, if you no longer enjoy each other’s company, then hard times are going to be very overwhelming. If one of you enjoys golf, then play golf together. If it’s fishing or hunting, then do that together. If one spouse likes shopping, go shopping together. Whatever it is, do it together! Come out of your comfort zone once or twice and go into your spouse’s world and have fun. Do something that the both of you have never done before and take that adventure together, make your marriage an adventure, always put a new twist in your marriage.
6. Bear each other’s burdens. If you’ve ever tried to carry three pieces of luggage by yourself, while you are taking a trip, you know how important it is to have someone to help you with lifting the load. Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That is what friends do. Offer to help. Be a support. Never sit back while your spouse deals with hardship. What one bears, you both bear.
I am praying for the success of your marriage.
Pastor Clinton House
Are You Really Big-Boned?
Well, let’s talk weight. The question of weighing more because you are “big boned” has surfaced again. This belief is what I would like to call, “The Big Bone Theory of Thinking!” People who say, “I’m not fat, I’m big-boned,” think they are overweight because they have big bones.  This theory of thinking is not true.

Photos of the same size body frames and the excess body fat attached to one of them. The excess body fat has nothing to do with being “big boned.”

  

What is true is that people have different size body frames (small, medium and large). Only about 15% of people have a larger and 15% of people have a smaller than average frame; most us have an average frame size. So, blaming your extra weight on the size of your bones is not accurate.
People with larger bones are slightly larger for their heights; however, it’s the soft tissue atop and around those bones (muscle and fat) that make some people look more “big boned” than others. Simply put, most who weigh too much for their height do so because of excess body fat.  Bodybuilders are the exception to the rule due to muscle mass weighing more than the same volume of fat.
For a person to not have excess body fat (overweight/obese), he/she should live a healthy lifestyle. A person should exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes daily), eat healthy (fruits/vegetables, drink lots of water), get plenty of sleep (8 hours), meditate (positive thinking), and visit your doctor (yearly physical exams).
So, next time you hear someone say, “I’m big boned,” help them to know it is not the size of their bones that determines their weight; but rather, the excess fat that is attached to it. Now, let’s get fit!
By Tracy Byrd, Fitness Instructor
HAVE YOU HEARD OF ‘THE CREDIT CARD ACT OF 2009?’
On May 22, 2009, the Credit CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Barack Obama. The full title of the law – Public Law 111-24 – is the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. It amends the Truth In Lending Act, the Federal Trade Commission
Act and the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.  I know…that’s a lot of legalese.  I don’t personally use credit cards.  If I can’t pay cash for something, then I don’t need it.  I have lived without a credit card for over 10 years.  But I realize I am not the norm.  So if one is going to use a credit card…be EMPOWERED.
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains on the Consumerfinance.gov website, the law serves as a Bill of Rights

of sorts for credit card holders, prohibiting practices that are unfair or abusive, such as slapping fees for going over a limit or imposing a fee without warning. At its most basic level, the law seeks to make rates and fees on credit cards more transparent so consumers can see what they’re getting and make smarter financial decisions.

Credit card issuers must notify you of a rate increase – or any other significant change in terms to your credit card account – at least 45 days in advance. The Board aka Federal Reserve Board has developed rules that address what a “significant change” means.) This notice must be clear and conspicuous, and give you the opportunity to close the account. If you decide to close your account to avoid the new terms, issuers won’t be able to charge a penalty fee for closing your account, place you in default because you close your account while you still owe a balance, or require you to pay your balance in full immediately. If your card issuer does raise your rate (or says it will) and you close your account, your card issuer can require you to pay back your balance over five years or double your previous minimum monthly payment.
Issuers cannot increase the annual percentage rate, fee or finance charge on your existing credit card balance except in limited circumstances. Your rate can go up if the rate you were given was clearly disclosed as lasting for a certain period of time. For example, your card issuer could offer an introductory rate if you were told what the new rate would be after that period expired. Promotional rates must last for at least six months.
If you are 60 days late on a credit card payment, your issuer can raise your interest rate retroactively. However, you must be given the opportunity to earn back your previous rate if you make your minimum payments on time for six months.  Remember, an issuer cannot raise your rate on your credit card in the first year except in the circumstances above, such as with an introductory interest rate or if you fall 60 days or more behind.
If a credit card issuer increases your annual percentage rate based on factors such as your credit risk as a borrower or market conditions, the creditor shall consider changes in those factors when determining whether to reduce your annual percentage rate. Every six months (at minimum), issuers must review accounts on which they raised the interest rate since Jan. 1, 2009 to assess whether the facts they used to raise the interest rate have changed. If so, they must lower your rate.
Do I have your attention?  Stay tuned next month for more information on the ‘THE CREDIT CARD ACT OF 2009.’
Information provided by Tanika Capers, Esq.
Let Us Pray

From childhood, we have heard those words.  Most of the time we had no idea what it meant.  Jesus loves us so much, He left us a blueprint on how to pray.  In the book of John, Chapter 17, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray; what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer”. He wants more than anything to hear from us.  Whether our prayers are for healing, direction, needs, or wants; He delights to hear from us. He told us to seek His face and ALL other things will be added.  He so desires a relationship with us and that starts with prayer.  Whether you are driving in your car, kneeling, laying on your face, or in your prayer closet, He hears you.  Don’t compare your prayer life or relationship with Him to anyone else. He has chosen you uniquely.
Regardless of where you are and what you are doing, He is always pleased to hear from you.
Build your relationship with God. He wants you more than you know!
Prayer truly changes things, most importantly it changes you!

Mother Janet Farmer