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Advice for Debbie, Robin and Carm

Expert advice for our three bloggers sharing their resolution journeys!

As our resolutions blog draws to a close soon, we wanted to give our three bloggers some expert advice for continuing to achieve their goals.

“I want to know how to find the time to plan/organize/shop/prepare for family dinners,” says Debbie. “And I need simple, easy recipes that everyone enjoys and dinners that my teenagers can start if they get home before me in the evening.”

“The best way to get teens cooking is to have everything ready on the counter with the recipe, and make it something that can be done in under 30 minutes,” says Rozanne Gold, mother to a 14-year-old and author of Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. As for the meals you’ll make yourself, organization and a master plan is key. Gold does all her shopping on the weekend, and will look at the preparation required. “Sometimes I like to do prep during the morning while I’m having some tea,” she says.

Dana Meachen Rau is also a working mom with two kids aged 9 and 12. In creating her four-part teen cookbook series, which includes A Teen Guide to Creative, Delightful Dinners, she focused on easy and fun recipes. She suggests reminding teens that cooking can be social, whether with friends or family, and will give them control of the menu if they feel that mom’s meals are boring or not to their taste. Rau is also a huge advocate of organization. Meal planning means one weekly trip to the grocery store and figuring out which days she has more time for more complicated recipes. Don’t be afraid to have breakfast for dinner, or to make sandwiches an entree. As long as all the food groups are represented and you’re together? All good.

“Without a doubt, my biggest challenge to listening well and paying attention is my jam-packed schedule!” Robin says.

“It’s all about having the intention to pay attention,” says Michael P. Nichols, PhD, author of The Lost Art of Listening, Second Edition: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships. To truly take an interest in what another person is saying, you must suspend your own interests. Which means setting down the phone, the to-do list, and thoughts that wander to yourself, as Robin described last month.

In other words, says Nichols, “The act of listening requires a submersion of the self and immersion in the other.” Asserting that listening has little or nothing to do with technique, Nichols offered a few ideas for Robin to consider. First, Robin should recognize that we are asked to listen constantly, but that not every source deserves special effort. Kids, spouse, friends, customers and some co-workers are important. But give yourself permission to slack off with commercials, for example, or muzak, a stranger in line, or a neighbor you don’t like. Sit down and define when you will listen, and to whom. Now that’s selective listening!

Second, says Nichols, “Part of the secret to being a good listener is make sure you get listened to yourself.” Often, people who don’t listen are people who don’t get listened to. Are friends and family listening to you, Robin? We are! And we’re inspired by your goal!

Says Carm, “It seems like I always have to work hard on the spiritual practice of forgiveness especially when I am disappointed by people in my life that are supposed to be supportive.”

Get back to the gospel, recommends Chris Brauns, author of Unpacking Forgiveness and pastor of Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, Illinois. He laughs that he often witnesses “gospel amnesia,” when we need to remember God’s forgiveness, and remember Christ’s forgiveness, and we should extend that to others. “When we think of personal forgiveness,” says Brauns, “Think, whatever someone has done to offend me, that pales in comparison to what I’ve done to offend God.”

Other great examples of teachings about forgiveness are Matthew 18, Ephesians 4:32, Luke 17, and the Lord’s Prayer. Braun also suggests that to get off the “mental gerbil wheel” of re-playing a wrong, seek loving people, take a walk, appreciate nature or throw yourself into work of any form. Realize that though the gospel is your guide, you’re not minimizing justice. Read Romans 12:19, “Leave room for the wrath of god.” In other words, trust that God will sort it out.

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