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Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

When attending a party, there are certain expectations we have of our hostess. We will enjoy and appreciate everything she has done, but we do assume there will be food and drinks. We would also like a clean bathroom and a home that does not smell like the local pet store. What some people forget is there are also expectations of the guest.

Attire: Shabby Chic; Razzle Dazzle; Cowboy Couture


Word to hostesses: when listing the attire on the invitation for your party, make it clear. Do not let your creative thoughts have you writing a description that requires an interpreter.  We do not want to force our guests to solve a riddle to understand what is expected of them. There is a phrase I like to quote, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

There is something special we feel when we receive an invitation. It is the anticipation of a celebration, the excitement of choosing what to wear, but more importantly, it is the affirmation that tells us, “I was chosen!” We know a hostess has responsibilities to ensure her party is a success, but did you know there are expectations of the guests? And your first job begins when you receive an invitation that says RSVP.

Throughout history we have seen God place people in power that made us say, “What is He thinking?” Yet God clearly reminds us in Isaiah that the way He thinks is far beyond what we can sometimes understand. In a child’s eyes, a parent giving her yucky medicine when she already feels poorly can seem cruel. “Why would Mommy make me take this?” The child lives in her “here and now” moment of life, yet the parent sees the big picture. The mother knows what is best for the child, even when the child does not understand. 

Our 4-part series on living as Christians in a political world was written in response to questions I have been receiving on knowing how to separate truth from lies, when to engage in our political system, and the most effective way to stay informed. In Part 1 we learned the biblical formula for seeking truth. In Part 2 we discussed the importance of knowing your foundation. In this post, Part 3, I will provide you with 7 practical tips I use to find truth in our news driven world. 

  • Patti Hatton

2021 Decisions: Success or Failure

The Covid-19 quarantined lifestyle has had its challenges! I have been proactive in areas such as cleaning and organizing, spending time with loved ones, and learning to play online Mahjong. However, I have slipped into some comfort- zone patterns of behavior that are not serving me well, and it is these activities I would like to address.

Behaviors are driven by the decisions we make, and decisions determine our successes and failures. There are big decision categories such as what type of person we marry, will I develop my spiritual life, or what vocation will I pursue. Then there are daily categories: will I eat healthy foods; will I exercise; will I foster and develop strong friendships; will I monitor what goes into my mind. How we answer these questions will guide our decisions and our decisions will drive our successes, failures, and future.

The decision is the seat of power and the place where Christ awaits to give us strength when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). Utilizing our freedom to make good decisions is key to living a satisfying life. Are you conscious of the decisions you make each day? The purpose of making decisions is to drive preferred goals and to secure positive outcomes. What are you choosing? Are you accepting ownership of yourself and making choices to live your best life?

Let’s try this exercise. Name a personal target area for growth or area of behavior you want to change in 2021. Now, name two people you know who are succeeding in this area and name two who are failing. If you study each person, you will see common actions each are taking, or not taking, resulting in a positive or negative result.

The rut of behaviors I find myself in because of quarantine is watching too much TV and eating too many snacks…while watching TV. During the day I eat in a healthy manner and exercise regularly. In the evening, I give myself permission to eat a treat. To me, TV and treats represents the finish of a busy day and a respite from the pressure to perform. This is not a bad thing if handled properly. My problem arises in the amount of time I watch TV. During the shutdowns, my screen watching has increased dramatically, and so have the amount of treats I consume.

What is your challenge? What area do you wish to change? Do you drink more than you would like? What about excessive shopping online? Have you stopped initiating activities to build friendships, grow your mind, create something, serve or mentor others? Do you need to learn a new skill, study your Bible more, or clean out your closets?

Give serious thought to an area you would like to change. Begin to observe your thought patterns associated with your challenge. What rituals will you put into place to help you avoid slipping back into the same bad habits?

I rate my behaviors on a scale from 1 to 10. Wanting to watch TV and eat snacks is an 8 for me. This is high. But I also know the cost of my unsupervised behaviors will cause me to waste time, gain weight, and lose sleep. I need to actively come up with ideas I can use to substitute my actions. I must find tools to put in my toolbox I can use the next time I want to sit on the couch and binge.

When I look introspectively, I realize I enjoy rest time and pleasurable snacks. Knowing this about myself, I can take steps to determine other ways to meet these same needs, which will also accomplish my goal to remain healthy.

These are the three alternative behaviors I have chosen when I want to watch TV:

  • Turn the TV off and leave the media room at a pre-determined time.

  • Choose two nights a week to forgo watching TV and work on a creative project instead.

  • Cultivate a habit of writing in a journal at the end of each day, which requires cutting TV time off at a reasonable hour.

Here are my three alternative behaviors for snacking too much in the evening:

  • Plan to drink decaf tea after enjoying one treat. The tea represents a soft finish and fills the stomach.

  • Sit on the floor and do sit-ups, or some form of exercise, as a distraction and to create new energy.

  • Embrace the discomfort of saying no to overeating. (This is a big one because you are allowing yourself to be uncomfortable. Change can cause discomfort, which is often why we resist it. Ask God to make Himself strong on your behalf and to combat the desire to eat. Over time, the neurological wiring in the brain will alter and the uncomfortable urges will dissipate. Celebrate the discomfort knowing that you are experiencing your body making a positive shift.)

Fill your toolbox when you are not in the middle of your challenging activity if you want to experience success. This way, when temptation arises, you are prepared. Without a pre-planned roadmap, the pressure becomes too strong, and you will slip back into the never-ending cycle of repeat failure. If you need extra support, rally a friend, spouse, or professional counselor to encourage you. Help can come in many forms, and our likelihood of success is greater when we are in the presence of people that care for us.

Cheers to you and to making decisions that will drive you to experience a happy and healthy 2021!

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

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