Shawnda Muir
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Dear Friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day with your family, even if it was a little different and smaller than usual.  Hopefully that meant a little less busy and stressful too!  And hoping you are finding ways to adjust to the unusual Christmas Season due to the pandemic.

If you are like many people now, however, you are feeling the effects of Covid starting to kick in.  Social isolation and lonliness for some, and then the opposite for others - too many people stuck in the same household who are now needing space from each other! These and many more examples are leading to enhanced stress and irritations in families and marriages.  (Remember - God never promised an easy life for us here on earth - as we are not in heaven yet where there will be no pain, suffering or irritations!)

So how do we handle stress in our lives? In our marriages? In our families?

We encourage you to reflect on the MMOC Marriage, Family and Life principles which focus on inviting and then keeping God at the center of all areas in your life:

  1. Your relationship with God - first ensure God is at the center of your own thoughts, decisions and day. Find what works best for you. Options can include:
    1. Start the day with prayer - you can follow the Prayer Process from Dynamic Catholic (which can be found here or in the Christmas book being handed out when Masses resume - I Heard God Laugh)
    2. Pray frequently throughout the day. God loves short conversations with him. Use rituals as prompts - ie brushing teeth, waiting at a red light, cooking a meal..., or whenever you come across something to be grateful for.
    3. Seek God first when making a decision, or struggling with an issue. Ask for his help and guidance. You'll be amazed at what insights will come thru when you take time to ask and then listen.
    4. Continue to develop your spiritual muscles - including Exodu 90 program for men starting Janurary 4. 
  2. In your marriage - God is an integral part of your 3 way marriage. He is the third spoke and the biggest tool in the toolbox to help keep the marriage strong.  God's desire is for each spouse to help make each other a better person and a better disciple in fulfilling God's mission in their life en route to heaven.  And a marriage takes commitment and work.  Consider some of these options to help keep your marriage strong.
    1. Pray together daily - ideally pick a time that works for you both together. 
    2. Read couples devotions daily - here are a couple options.
    3. Spend atleast 15 minutes of quality time together a day.
    4. Greet your spouse with a meaningful hug (atleast 5 seconds!) when they arrive home.  Ask them what you can do to help make their day/night better.
    5. Seek God first when making a decision, or struggling with an issue. Ask for his help and guidance. You'll be amazed at what insights will come thru when you take time to ask and then listen.
    6. Commit to continued relationship building skill development, such as reading marriage enrichment and support books, and attending classes and seminars (note there are 2 coming up on-line in 2021.  Marriage Builders Series in January. We invite you to attend, including the info night on January 4, where you can take the How Healthy Is My Marriage Quiz!).
      The second event is Better Together (from Dynamic Catholic) in Feb-April (series details coming in 2021).  Here's a link to info on this series, including marriage video clips etc.

  3. In your family - God is so loving and waiting to be included in your family. This is where you can make a huge difference by the examples you set. Some examples to keep God in the center of your family are:
    1. Attend weekly Mass together.
    2. Pray together in the morning, meals and bedtime.
    3. Read family and children devotions and bible stories together.
    4. Teach your children how to have a personal relationship with God, talking to him daily about anyting and everything, including good times and bad.
    5. Talk to your children about how to seek God in decision making, and about good morals and values. Set good examples for them, such as by being patient to other drivers on the road, honest when purchasing items at the store etc.

  4. In the community/society - How we live our own lives, including marriage and families, makes a huge impact then to the community and society. Your examples matter.  Here are some options to consider:
    1. Participate in your parish activities - serving during Mass, or in any of the many other ministries.
    2. Volunteer in the many opportunities in our local city and province, or take your skills and passions out further to other locations and countries.
    3. Do random acts of kindness to others including your neighbors, co-workers and even the homeless.

These are just some ways you can keep God in the center of your life, starting with your own relationship and then flowing out to your marriage, family and community/society.

What are other ways you can think of to honor God in all these relationships?

We encourage you to take time this Christmas season and in 2021 to really focus on inviting and keeping God in the center of all areas of your life. And then watch the peace and joy that transcends over you!

God Bless,

Your Marriage, Family and Life Team