The travel industry naturally booms around the holidays. Airports are swamped, traffic is outrageous, and people’s schedules are crazy, all because everyone wants to head HOME. The value of spending Christmas with family and friends, in a warm welcome environment is immeasurable, and the thought of spending the holidays alone is almost unbearable for many. Unfortunately, not everyone can go home for the holidays.
At New Beginnings, a physical home is provided, both for residents and resident assistants. However, New Beginnings is much more than just a physical home, and this has been especially true for the month of December. A lot of what makes home so appealing around the holidays is the Christian loving environment, full of traditions, food, and God’s Word. As a college student, I sometimes miss out on the Christmas spirit, because I am far away from home. This year New Beginnings helped both the residents and Resident Assistants celebrate Christmas through our devotions, tree decorating, and Christmas dinner, and therefore gave me a Home for the Holidays. I am incredibly thankful for my earthly home for the holidays, and grateful for the daily reminders at New Beginnings that I can always look forward to my home in heaven as well.
Naomi Brandt is a resident assistant from Salt Lake City, Utah. While her major at Wisconsin Lutheran College is in Business Administration, she hopes to go to law school after graduation, and work in either law, politics, or public relations. New Beginnings has been a great opportunity for Naomi to expand her work experience, grow in her faith, and have a home away from home.
I think we can all relate to the familiar feeling of end-of-the-year stress. Whether it’s finishing up the school semester, getting important tasks done at work, finishing up shopping for presents, or planning family Christmas dinners and parties, there’s a lot going on this time of the year! Balancing work and personal obligations can be especially hard when there’s so many demands coming from both sides. It’s easy in times like this to become too productive and overwork ourselves, causing exhaustion and stress that affects our health, relationships, and even our spiritual lives.
Jesus told his followers in John 9:4 to work while it is day, which reminds us to not waste the time we’re given here on Earth. However, we can’t forget how big of an advocate God is for rest! Even God, as powerful and almighty as he is, set aside the seventh day after creation to be a day of rest after seeing all the work he had done (Genesis 2:1-3). That’s how we got the Sabbath. And while designing and creating everything in existence may seem like a much bigger task than what is on our plates, he still wants the same thing for us. Setting aside time to peacefully rest and temporarily let go of commitments allows us to complete them and serve him even better afterwards.
Jesus is our Sabbath, and in him we can find the peace and rest we need to feel rejuvenated after daily struggles take their toll on us. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Remember during the Christmas season that God has blessed us with this time to be with our loved ones and to meditate on his love for us. It’s easy to worry about what still needs to be done or what’s coming up in the New Year, but rely on him to bring you through it and give you the rest that you’ve earned!
Laura Heibler is a senior Business Administration and Communication student at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Being an RA at New Beginnings have given her great experience in serving others which she hopes to continue doing in her future career in PR or Marketing. In her free time, Laura loves traveling and going home to Stevens Point to see her sisters and dogs.
What comes to mind when I say "Christmas Traditions"? Do the thoughts of tree decorating, baking Christmas cookies, gift wrapping and attending Christmas service come to mind? How about getting together with family and friends? In my family, we have a tradition of hiding a small, toy bird in the tree every year for the children to look for. Not all families celebrate Christmas with the same traditions and that is okay. We all come from different families with different backgrounds and different traditions. At New Beginnings we strive to expose our residents to traditions such as decorating the Christmas tree or making Christmas cookies. Many of the moms at New Beginnings have never participated in these Christmas time traditions.
Now, imagine if some of those well-loved traditions to you participate in where not there. Could you go without putting up a tree? How about going without the gifts for this year? "It just wouldn't be Christmas without Uncle Jack around." Has that thought ever crossed your mind about a loved one who has passed? Do you really believe Christmas has changed because things seem different? How about if you lost your job or fell on hard times? Is it still Christmas?
The answer is simply "Yes". It is still Christmas. Just because something has changed, doesn't mean the true meaning of Christmas has changed. The fact is that Jesus was still born part God yet part man. He still lived the perfect life and suffered our terrible punishment for us. We celebrate Christmas to celebrate his birth and the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Where is the best place to celebrate such a joyous event? Around a tree? Opening gifts? The best place to celebrate His birth would be in His house. If you have not made going to church on Christmas your tradition, I urge you to do so for that is where we can truly celebrate. For those of us who do make this our tradition, how blessed we are that no matter how much things change for us here on earth, we know that Christ was born, Christ has risen, and Christ will rise again in Glory one day to take us all home.
May God bless you this Christmas.
Christina Pritzlaff is married with two children. She has completed Early Childhood 1 & 2 classes, Infant Toddler classes, and completed the coursework for her Associates degree in Child Development. Christina splits her time between spending time with her family and working at New Beginnings. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her children, camping, fishing, reading, and doing counted cross-stitch.
Over the past 5 years, our government has spent more than 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs. That’s 5 times greater than the spending amount of transportation, education, and NASA combined. Though poverty rates have gone down from 15% t0 14.5% in 2013, there are still 45 million Americans living below the poverty line, second highest among 35 developed nations. Although money is a great resource to help the poor, research has shown that poverty may be more than just a lack of financial resources. For us to see a significant improvement in the poverty rate of our country, we must first understand the culture of poverty and create solutions that include MORE than just money.
The following video was created by Abednego Samudera:
The Culture of Poverty
In her book A Framework for Understanding Poverty, Ruby Payne described that poverty is a set of hidden rules or “norms” that influence an individual’s “patterns of thought, social interaction, and cognitive strategies.” Poverty is a lifestyle, and like any other lifestyle, it is composed of many different elements besides financial resources, such as emotional, mental, and spiritual support. Support systems are as crucial as money for an individual to break away and stay out of poverty.
One of the biggest downfalls of social welfare programs is the notion that if an individual is given money, it will help them secure other resources. Theoretically, it makes sense. Realistically, however, money cannot buy a good support system, especially considering that an individual living in poverty is probably surrounded by other poverty-stricken individuals who need the same resources.
There isn’t one correct solution to this problem. However, there are other cost-effective ways that can yield greater results than just money. Sure, money will be part of the solution, but it will not be the whole solution. Since poverty is a culture, we must teach individuals to break away from that culture. Enrolling in a program that provides support group is a great step to teaching individuals that there are other possibilities besides their own. Education is also a crucial part in getting the poor out of poverty. It’s important that we teach them basic, yet very important, coping strategy skills, such as problem solving, positive attitudes, resolving conflicts, and setting priorities and goals. Along with that, having a support system also means that we are providing them with a network of people who can be a resource to their success. As you saw in the video, New Beginnings aims to break the cycle of poverty for each mother and baby at New Beginnings by providing an abundance of resources and support.
When we understand that poverty is an accumulation of the lack of numerous resources besides money, the solution to fight poverty is exponentially greater than just using money as the only solution. As educators, professionals, mothers, fathers, and students, this means that we need not invest thousands or millions of dollars to this cause. We have opportunities to influence with other resources besides money that can make such a tremendous impact on the poor.
Today I would like to talk about friendship. The dictionary defines it as:
1. the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person's friendship. 2. a friendly relation or intimacy. 3. friendly feeling or disposition.
One Sunday a month the residents, staff, and RAs at New Beginnings-A Home For Mothers go to church together; afterwards we join for a family meal. This is called Friendship Sunday. Two Sundays ago, as we all (there were ten of us) walked into St, Marcus, a beautiful modern Gothic style church with large stained glass windows, we heard perfect harmony coming from the four person choir as they sang Friend of God. Written by Israel Houghten it goes: "Who am I that you are mindful of me, that you hear me when I call. Is it true that you are thinking of me. How you love me, it's amazing." Then 3 XS the chorus - "I am a friend of God." finishing with "He calls me friend. God Almighty, Lord of glory. You have called me friend."
That is not a small thing! That is a mind blowing, life changing concept. Through Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross we have been united with God and we are called His friends, James 2:23 says "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, " Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God's friend." In John 15:15 Jesus says, "I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business. instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
Do you believe that today?