Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How To Eliminate the Stress of Traveling Alone

Today we hear from guest writer Julie Morris as she shares how

single parents can make the most of traveling alone....

Photo via Pixabay by JanBaby

Taking a trip without the kids can be a great way to relax and have fun, but it can also be a stressful undertaking, especially if you already suffer from anxiety. The process of packing and traveling isn’t easy, long hours in the car can take a toll on your mood, and the thought of leaving your kids for any period of time could leave you feeling a little wary. However, there are some simple ways to make your next solo trip a little more stress-free while keeping it memorable; here are some of the best.

Manage your expectations
Try not to put so much pressure on this vacation. As understandable as it is to want a perfect trip, keep in mind it’s nearly impossible to capture perfection, especially when you’re in a foreign environment with lots of factors that are out of your control. Try to relax and enjoy all the small moments that make a trip good, like being able to have a quiet meal, escape the noise with a good book, or hearing the waves crash on the beach.

Pack smart
Although the kids aren’t joining you on the trip this time, don’t use it as an excuse to overpack. Keep a checklist of everything you pack so you can ensure it makes it to your destination and comes back home with you too. Keep an essentials bag within reach with items such as cell phone, money, snacks, travel documents, and any necessary medication. Since you are traveling alone, bring something to help you stay awake on the trip, like coffee or your favorite playlist, and don’t forget a car charger. Designate someone back home to check in with as you progress on your trip. Ask them to call you if they haven’t heard from you within a certain period of time.

Be flexible
It’s important to plan a little, but not so much that you can't breathe. Things rarely go as planned, so having a flexible schedule is key. Rather than trying to do as much as possible each day, come up with a list of things you would like to do and prioritize them. If you remember the goal is to relax and have fun while the kids are safe at home, you will be much happier.

You're traveling by yourself so you can decide what you want to do and when to do it. You can change your plans. You might not have a plan at all and that’s perfectly okay. A flexible mindset is key to thoroughly enjoying your trip.

Do some research

Before your trip, do some research on where you’re planning to go, to make sure you won’t run into any surprises once you get there. For instance, some museums and other public areas are only open certain days of the week, while some offer discounts if you visit during a particular time of day. Knowing ahead of time what spots to avoid and when to plan a visit will help keep stress levels down so you can enjoy yourself and visit the locations on your must-see list.

While you are doing your research, write down the telephone number and address for the hotel or room where you can be reached in case of an emergency. Solo travel requires extra safety precautions, so make sure you stay connected with a trusted family member or friend and check in often. Speaking of telephones, while this is a kid-free trip, it’s likely that you’ll want to check in at least once. However, if you will be traveling internationally, you could wind up with a hefty cell phone bill if you aren’t careful. Have the person your child will be staying with sign up for a free Skype account and set a time each day to call in using your hotel room’s WiFi. If you’d prefer to use your phone, consider purchasing an international calling plan from your carrier.

Leave home worry-free

You can’t have fun if you’re worried about what you’re leaving behind, so plan for your home while you’re planning for the trip. If you don’t have a security system, let your neighbors know you’ll be going out of town so they can be on the lookout for anything suspicious. If you have a pet, you’ll want to make sure they’re well taken care of, so consider a pet sitter. This way, you’ll have peace of mind while you’re away.

Just remember, your trip is supposed to be enjoyable. Don’t let unneeded stress ruin it for you. Use this time away to rest and recharge so you can return home ready to conquer the world as a single parent once more.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Should Christian Singles Shack Up?

So, you're a single Christian man and you've found a wonderful woman you want to be with every day. 

For the religiously devout, the answer to the question of whether to engage in premarital cohabitation is a simple “no.”

Anyone who knows their Bible, understands what scripture says about avoiding temptation. It's out of the question.

Perhaps you're thinking, "But it seems crazy that we're spending so much money on two separate places when we could cut our expenses in half by being roommates. What's the harm? We're just trying to save money--it's not like we're sleeping together...er...much."

Living together prior to marriage has increased 30% in just the last decade. That's no surprise to any of us, unless we've been living in an underground bunker. 

I'm increasingly troubled, not by the fact that non-believers are living together. That's to be expected. It's the Christian singles I hear about openly sharing apartments and sleeping together before holy matrimony. 

Of course, whether you want to admit it or not, living together before marriage naturally assumes that a couple is sleeping together and having sex before marriage — which is sin, according to God's word.

You might start out thinking it won't turn sexual. After all, you have two different bedrooms. And maybe you're strong and can keep yourself from falling into sin. But you're still "playing house" experiencing non-sexual intimacy by living side-by-side, cooking and eating together, cuddling up together in your PJs to watch television, discovering what gives each other gas and all your other bathroom habits. You're living like a married couple (with or without the benefits).

But I don't even want to get into the issue of how foolish it is for Christian singles of the opposite sex to share living spaces. I'll tackle that another time.

The point I want to make today is how damaging it is to shack up before marriage, regardless of whether or not you're sleeping together and regardless of whether you're a Christian or not. Let's take those equations out of it and see how it's still a foolish idea.

The following findings reveal how living together before marriage negatively affects the relationship of anyone who tries it, abstinent or otherwise.

Studies show that cohabitation prior to marriage is linked to lower marital happiness, stability and a 33% higher chance of divorce. If you're one of the many divorced fathers who visit this site, that means the chance of your next marriage ending in divorce is already pretty high, even if you commit to living apart before marriage and staying abstinent.

Furthermore, couples who have lived together before getting married have more fights, lower commitment, lower relationship quality, and are twice as likely to suggest divorce.

An even more significant factor is that they may have “settled” for each other — having slid into marriage rather than making a more deliberate decision to get hitched.

What does that mean?

Moving from dating to sleeping over, and from sleeping over to living together can be a gradual slope--one not marked by rings, ceremonies or even a meaningful discussion about it. It just kind of happens.

This lack of weighing pros and cons comes from viewing living together as a fairly low-risk proposition. "If things don’t work out, we’ll just break up and move out."

Easy enough. Sadly without the commitment and investment in a ring, a marriage license, and a ceremony, it's pretty easy to slide out of that relationship.

Those intentional decisions serve as a way to lock you in, therefore decreasing the likelihood to search for other options. Just like a down payment on a car, the greater the setup costs, the less likely we are to move to another situation when needed.

While moving in together might seem fun and economical, there are still investments. The setup costs are subtly woven in and often not easily recognized. You happily split the rent on a nice apartment, share the cable bill, pets and enjoy shopping for furniture together. All of these have an effect on how likely we are to leave.

Inertia sets in.

The result of prematurely “locking in” causes people to miss out on opportunities to date those with whom they might be a better fit. You could end up saying "I spent years living with an idiot who I wouldn’t have dated very long if we hadn't been living together."

Worse yet, couples who otherwise would not have tied the knot, end up married because of the inertia of cohabitation.

Whether a man and his lady friend are devout Christians saving themselves for marriage...or they couldn't care less about abstinence; founding a relationship on convenience and ambiguity can interfere with the process of finding the person God really wants them to have.

When men already have a woman cooking for them or fulfilling other emotional (if not physical) needs, why would they consider someone else?

The drive to look elsewhere is diminished. "I guess I'll marry this one, we're already sharing everything else, might as well make it official."

That's a real romantic motive. I'll bet she'll run to the altar when she hears that.

BOTTOM LINE: May we be men of integrity and honor. Not only abstaining from sex until marriage, but also refusing to compromise our testimony and reputation. Refuse to move in with anyone from the opposite sex until you can do so with your wife.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What scriptures come to mind that support your answer?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Terrified I Might Be Throwing my Daughters to the Wolves

I just have to put this out there rather than carrying this burden in my head.

I'm afraid to put my girls in public school. 

Each year my wife and I (yes I'm happily remarried...15 years ago...catch up!) Anyway, my wife and I pray and see if God is giving us the grace to homeschool one more year.

It's never been a lifetime commitment. We decided before we ever started this journey that we'd take a year at a time. We didn't want to become legalistic about it. Some parents act like it's a biblical mandate that demands a conviction.

But enough about them. The deal is, my wife has reached her limit and needs a break. After all, it's mostly on her to school them since I'm at work all day. I only contribute with 1-2 subjects. Christine does most of the work and it's time for a change. We saw it coming.

Here's the hard part, if we do it now our daughters would both be going into public Middle School. Yikes...worst time to have them experience the world without us for 6 or more hours per day.

I've never been crazy about having some strangers (who may or may not have a Christian worldview) influence my children all day. I used to say it was ludicrous for parents to just follow society and enroll them....I think I actually used the word "stupid" at one point.

I know, forgive me. I can be so self-righteous sometimes.

Now I'm eating crow and I'm scared. What if they get sucked up into the wrong crowd? What if this messes up my sweet girls and they decide Christ isn't who they want to follow after all?

We have no guarantee our kids won't walk away from the Lord. 

After all, my two grown children from my previous marriage left the faith. They too, were dedicated as infants, received Christ later and were baptized.

For now, we're proceeding with caution--knowing our two youngest might experience bullies, hear profanity, see immodest clothing as a normal style, be confronted with gender fluidity, feel the yuck of sexualized comments by adolescent boys or even see drugs and violence.

Still, our plan this fall, is to enroll them into public school and allow them to experience the realities of this world...some of which can be good for them. Things like exposure to teachers who won't be so soft on them when they whine about homework. Or positive peer pressure to do some things that somehow, other kids can convince them to do but we parents can't.

That's a whole other blog post thank you very much.

On the bright side, we do live in a part of town where a lot of Christians tend to reside. My city is home to many Christian organizations. So a lot of staff live here with their families.

I'm trying to comfort myself hoping there are lots of good kids enrolled who love God and have become an influence to other students. Maybe this helps defer any persecution of conservative students.

If things go south, I can at least remember it's not a decision set in stone. We can pull them out and home school again.

I'm really gonna need the Holy Spirit's comfort for this one. I love my girls.
I just need to trust God with this. 

How about you? Have you ever gone through this? What was your experience?