We Have A Song to Sing!

We are more than the sum of our parts and Google calendar. My personal and work calendar are filled with activities of adventure, the mundane, and the unexpected. For me, and maybe for you too, there is always a story line weaving its way into my self-imposed and obligated list of things to do. For several weeks, I’ve read devotionals, watched documentaries, received profound quotes from my daughter’s new job presentations, and sat in presentations and meetings from my work that tells the story of  common humanity. For all our differences, we move, work, and play with a common song.  Can you hear the music?

Enthusiasm

“The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word “entheos” which means the God within. And the happiest, most interesting people are those who have found the secret of maintaining their enthusiasm, that God within.”  Earl Nightingale

What creates  enthusiasm within you? The “God within” will guide you. He provides the necessary tools, wisdom, and passion for one more day. If you’ve lost your enthusiasm, perhaps it’s because you are trying to conjure this up on your own, forgetting that you are filled with the very presence of God. His Holy Spirit is capable of showing  you great and unsearchable things.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

As humans we desire the known, God says there are things you’ve never seen or known, and I am willing to show you–CALL TO ME!

In my current job, every day is new. Some days are filled with empowered enthusiasm, other days I am confused and, well, let’s be honest, like Charlie Brown on a bad day.

Enthusiasm is embracing the “AUGHH!” along with the “WOW!”   “God within” means I may have thoughts and feelings, but the story has to play out. In the ball game of life, you hit home runs and you strike out. Both exist. Go with God!

You can’t be a softy

The story of Velveteen Rabbit reminds us of the journey of life not only within ourselves but in our relationships.  We must allow conflict, misunderstandings, true hurtfulness to exist.  You can’t be a porcelain doll. My every thought becomes how can I create a porcelain appearance, situation, or relationship. I carefully hold it, clean it up, and protect it so that it does not break. The result? Exhaustion, anxiety, and frustration for myself and others. I wonder why they can’t see, and I question my sanity around things that I seem to not be able to change. What if…

What if we could embrace the conflicts with enthusiasm and trade our porcelain life in for a “God within” enthusiasm? I don’t want to be carefully kept. Just to hear those two words together makes me want to yell, “No more!”  I don’t want to carefully keep my children, my marriage, or my journey! I want to embrace, with enthusiasm, the God within and the unsearchable.  I don’t want to play it safe to the point of carefully kept. I’m all for logic, boundaries, and order, but there is a limit. If I worship order to the point that when I “get out-of-order” I’m a failure, then I’ve gone too far indeed! Allow life to push you around a little–take the bruises and the bumps, and continue fighting.

Believe in the capacity of others

Think back to a time that you were in the throes of a learning curve, or totally messed up a situation. Because of your actions, you caused others to work harder, or you totally dropped the ball, so they were left hanging. I’m not recommending we do that often; we do need to hold ourselves and others accountable, but our humanity beckons us to rebuild and transform. When someone takes my mistake and gives me enough grace to be transformed along with honest feedback, then I not only begin to change, but I am motivated to consider new possibilities. Capacity is built.  Grudges, self-loathing, and pity parties don’t exist here. Honest conversations with change and possibilities take sail.

I’ve always been enthralled by childhood cartoons and characters–I love Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, the Pink Panther, and Charlie Brown.  Later in Charlie Brown’s life he meets this red-head girl and falls in love.  His infatuation of her was during a time in my young adult life that I was struggling with red hair. In my day, red heads were different, and different wasn’t always cool in school.  I was happy to see and hear that a little red-haired girl could capture the attention of a boy.

When we believe in the capacity of others and make it a point to speak life, we do great and mighty things for ourselves and others. The little red-haired girl noticed all the wonderful qualities of Charlie Brown that made even Lucy tear up. We all have a Lucy, right? You might be that Lucy!  Take notice in the video the compassion in the little red-haired girl, the reactions of others, and the expression on Charlie Brown’s face.

“That’s not the type of person you are at all….”

In summary, embrace the God within (enthusiasm), stop carrying around your porcelain doll, and free your hands and mind up to build capacity in others and yourself.

 

 

 

 

Getting Back to the Basics of Marriage

I purchased a book for my 8th grade daughter, The Good Book for Kids, by Lisa Bergren.  Lisa creatively writes God’s story from Genesis to Revelation using the Bible, discussion, and modern-day stories.  Naturally, the book begins with Genesis, Chapter 1–In the beginning

I pondered the Adam and Eve story.  Mind you, I’ve heard that story many times throughout my life and even had the felt board rendition as a child. Lisa’s first chapter only discussed creation, not the fall of man.  In this concentrated focus, I imagined my marriage as God created. I began to see my husband as created by God, in His image. We all can list the many “views” or “thoughts” we have about our marriage partner.  Yet, when I go back to the garden, I can see through a different lens.

I see a man who, since the beginning of time, longs to work, provide, love, play, and connect. Through these desires, he struggles with brokenness and stumbles. He is guided by God in his God story, and I have been partnered with him in a covenant relationship to journey life. He is broken. I am broken. Together we put pieces together through the power of the Holy Spirit to love and glorify God. There will be no time this side of heaven that your spouse will meet all of your expectations.

So, how do we live?

I believe the answer is in the story of chapter 3 of Genesis (Chapter 2 of my book).

  1. “Did God really say…..”

When you start to rationalize breaking your wedding vows to please your whims or question the sanctity of marriage, then it’s time to take a deep breath and seek God’s love and wisdom. I can lose my religion over the smallest of irritants, so I’m not judging with this statement.  It’s a daily reminder that my marriage is Holy and precious, and, yes, God really did say this…

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all…

2.  The serpent denied the truth. “You will not die…”

When we begin to build walls, contempt, or apathy in our relationship, the marriage slowly “dies”.  Death is evident in our world, and the marriage only works when both are praying and on guard.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

3.  Trusting God versus wondering if He is a killjoy.

Eve thought God was holding out on her–there must be something about this fruit that will make me happy, and God is holding out on me. In our marriage, we can get pretty frustrated or bored. The grass on the other side of the fence still needs mowing, tending to, and, believe me, the lawn you admire or desire has weeds and dog poop, too. From a distance, that other marriage looks so perfect. Turn your eyes to your marriage (or lawn), and get to work. God’s promises are not to burden or to restrict, but to give you freedom and joy. When I look beyond and compare, I’m always frustrated and anxious. When I turn my heart towards home, I can see my reality of goodness, areas to work on, and joy.

“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect, and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and a wife.” – Dave Willis

If you are married, pray that God will help you go back to the garden and remember that your spouse is made the in the image of God. Remember this is a spiritual lens–God’s love and affection, brokenness, and mercy.  Be on guard to reject faulty thinking and deception about marriage and relationships. Be quick to claim good things for your marriage and to do the work.

If you are single, build on your relationship with God utilizing these concepts and verses.  When you are drawn to God and His love, you are able to pour into the lives of others and make a difference in the world around you. Oh, how the world needs Godly men and women to show the love of Christ!

 

You are annoying

It’s been awhile since we purchased our book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. After many months we are on chapter 12.  Did you know that you are annoying and your spouse has the ability to help you grow? You know the pattern.  You do that thing you do, your spouse gently calls you out on it, you call your sibling or best friend to confirm that he/she overreacted, and you are validated that it’s not you that has the issue.

The example Gary gave was a personal one. He had an opportunity to run ten miles in a beautiful area while visiting his son. His obsession over running became the focal point of conversations and the agenda setting.  His wife gently reminded him that his priority needed compromising to fit the group. He accepted the sound reminder and engaged with the family.  He eventually had the free time to run in the end.

Being a woman of faith, I appreciated the reference of Jesus never being compulsive, he served in the moment. My husband and I were asked by the study to list our three annoying habits. We shared, agreed (we know this after 28 years of marriage), and laughed.  Most annoyances truly arise from feelings of inconvenience. Your actions, lack of action, or comment altered my plans or thoughts. How annoyed Jesus must have been but switched gears and served or spoke up.  A mature marriage will serve and sometimes speak up.  When your loved one speaks up, listen and take to heart their advice. No other place can you grow in character and strength than within your marriage. Don’t get defensive or angry–listen.  Your friend may agree with you that your spouse overreacted, but you are not married to them. Let’s be real, too. Maybe you do overreact. It’s all in the delivery. It’s the millionth time they are doing that thing that they do, but it’s your joy to gently remind and guide them into a better way.

Take joy in striving to please the one you love most and change. Find one area of growth and take action to do something different.  Learn to love within your spouse’s idiosyncrasies and think about the strength that lies within the weakness.

I may be task oriented which supports the to do list, but thank you for reminding me to enjoy the now. Can you take something from the list? I need help.

Peace to all marriages who continuously strive for better marriages. If you are single, remember your current relationships with loved ones and friends are fertile ground for a future marriage.  I’ve thought often about the practices of what I’m learning in this book and how I can apply them with work and family relationships. Who could use more grace and better communication on the job?

 

 

 

Redeeming Love (Again)

I was travelling to work one morning.  Nothing really happened per se, but I was frustrated.

Again.

I highlight the word “again” because that was the frustration.  I started praying and asking God questions that centered on why some things never change, and, try as we might, here we are doing it again. He gently reminded me in the prayer time that small, incremental changes are good enough, and that maybe my expectations were unrealistic.  In further discussion with my “positivity partner”, Kim, she discussed a sermon from Joyce Meyer.

“Things don’t happen to us; They happen for us.”

Saturday rolls around and my husband and I pick up the book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. I needed to focus even if my attitude had not caught up with what I know to be true. Wouldn’t you know the chapter was entitled, “This is how your spouse stumbles”. We literally asked each other, “Do we really want to read this chapter?” After a discussion, we decided that God’s timing is best, and we rolled with it.

Cherishing means being patient with your spouse’s sin. We hysterically laughed at the story of “lost keys” in the chapter.  Gary had been running late for work, and he was in a desperate search for his keys.  After a few attempts, his wife, all snug in the warm bed, asks, “What’s wrong?” He begins to explain that he can’t find his keys, and she immediately apologizes and says, “Oh, I used them last night.  They are in my purse.” To make matters worse, when she got up to help, they could not find her purse. I’m sorry, but I’m laughing right now, all by myself, writing this.

THIS IS MY LIFE.

Again.

Gary made it a point to cherish his wife by not reminding her of her absent-mindedness or blaming her.

From lost keys to hurtful words said to addictions, Gary’s message is one of consistent grace and forgiveness with accountability.

We need to accept the fact that our spouse will stumble.  In fact, he encourages us to own it and say, “This is how my spouse stumbles.” Of course when we say this about our spouse it’s hard, but we have the expectation to experience grace for ourselves. I talked about the years my loving husband has supported my very, tender heart in matters that I can’t control.  He has listened, hugged, given me space, and prayed for me. He shared his thoughts and offered gratitude for my years of grace for his stumble area.

To cherish your spouse means to know the dark corners but to still love, cherish, and move toward them.

Holiness, according to the Bible, is often best demonstrated by how patient we are with the lack of holiness in others. Oh, Gary, why did you have to write that? I stopped my husband from reading by saying, “That’s hard for me.”  I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I’m telling you that I’m at an all new level with this in my season of life.  I got the sassy attitude to prove it, and the quick come backs.

Again.

Not to be too hard on myself, I recognize the need for a little humor, but the lost key story, as we both agreed, had the potential to be war in my house.

I loved how Gary reminded us about the “presence behind the problem”.  The very fact your spouse is present with you, loving you, walking this life with you is a cherished gift! Since when did you think your life would be perfection in your marriage?  Did you really marry Prince Charming, and are you Cinderella? My husband snores and this can be quite maddening when sleep eludes me, but the very fact he IS snoring means he is with me snuggled in the bed. I may tear up and need reassurance, but the very fact I’m sniffling (again), means he has me to hold, kiss, and cherish.

Lastly, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. He or she really did not wake up with a written plan to make your life miserable. They stumble.  They have their quirks and idiosyncrasies that rub you the wrong way, but that has been them, probably from the first day you met them, at least in part.  The example Gary gave was an unfortunate husband admiring a beautiful woman in front of his very pregnant wife.  Another time in this chapter for Parish and I to laugh. “What was he thinking?!”, I yelled.  Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means we ask that question in a nice way.  “Tell me what happened from your perspective?” No lectures, but a question and an open heart and mind.  Remember the tone and attitude matter.

So here we go again remembering this in our marriage, parenting, work relationships, and friendships.

“We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2

I told Parish, “It’s like a field of sunflowers with a few bumble bees flying around. We can enjoy the beauty of the field and all its majesty, or we can live in fear that one of the bumble bees is going to hurt us and complain or not experience the beauty.”

Marriage has a few bumble bees, and, yes, we might get stung, but the beauty and majesty is worth it.

The next time your spouse stumbles, or any relationship causes you to stumble, remember it is not happening to you but for you to grow in holiness and righteousness. This is our redeeming love. As I was reminded while watching “Call the Midwife” and texting my friend, Lisa, who had seen the episode. Yes, until we see Jesus face to face, every day is a day to experience His redeeming love.

Call The Midwife

A serious post deserves a humorous ending. Celebrate the relationships that are still “there”.

Cherish.

Again.

WORSHIP SONG

The Power of Words and Mindfulness in Parenting

I wanted to share a session on the power of words and mindfulness in parenting.  This session created by Dr. Lemite, School Psychologist and Dr. Anna Hebb, School Social Worker can be adapted to your needs. You could change the SOL life activity to a different stress-causing event in the home or school. Be creative! You can also use some of the resources shared in this post for clinical practice, classroom, or personal use.

Today we will role play three scenarios.  We have created scenes that may seem over the top only to help us understand the importance of our words.  As you watch the role plays between mom and child, ask yourself what really matters most to the mom or the child?

Exuberant Mom Role Play

Passing score on SOL

Kim (child)– Mom I passed my SOL

Anna (mom): With Pom Poms and dancing  Oh Kim!  You are brilliant, smart, beautiful and amazing!!!  You passed!  Let’s call your aunt Dee and celebrate on facetime.  Ad lib…(GO OUT EAT, ETC…) I told you she was going to be a doctor!

Kim (child)- shy away- lowers head and walks away because mom is not connecting with her

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

Critical Mom Role Play

Failing score on SOL

MOM (Kim) – SOL’s were today….  How did you do! (expecting positive)

Child (Anna)-  ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm were they today? Did I leave my skateboard outside?  I’m hungry.  Do you have any snacks?

Mom (Kim)  “Anna”…. I’m talking to you …. Did you take your test today?

Child (Anna)– Puts  head down –mumbles, “yes”. Starts to whimper a little–I failed.

Mom (Kim) you did ?!?…..what happened Anna….you know you needed to focus on that test

You told me you studied!…..Did you read your notes before the test?  (BIG SIGH- SMH- throw my hands up).

Child (Anna)– I’m so sorry. I really tried hard mom. I’ll do better next time.

Mom (Kim) — I know you did. (say in a negative way)

What message is this mom sending? How did the child respond?

What were your experiences in school around testing and doing well, or failure as a child? We can change patterns or cycles passed on.  We can be different as parents.

The point is to get us in a place we can have a more mindful conversation during these critical times.  

Mindful Scenario

A mindful conversation would exist in either scenario of pass or fail, and why is that? It’s helping the child to develop a growth mindset. Growth mindset takes into account struggle, failure, and the importance of time.  We are helping our children develop healthy coping skills because we know life is not all good and we struggle with weaknesses, and that’s okay.

Mom (Kim)— Hey Anna. how did it go today?

Child (Anna)- Mom, you are not going to believe this but I failed by 3 points.  I feel awful.  I’m so stupid.

Mom (Kim)– Oh Anna, I know that you feel disappointed.  What do you think happened?

Child:  I don’t know mom.  Maybe I should have studied more? Are you disappointed in me?

Mom- (Kim)  I want to see you pass, Anna, but sometimes we don,t get what we want.  I still love you and I know you are a hard worker.  What can we do next?

Child: The social studies SOL is next week, can you help me study?

Mom: (Kim)  of course!

Child:  I love you, mom!  HUG EACH OTHER

Mom: Hey you want to help me set the table?

Child:  YEAH!  What’s for dinner?

Mom: Pizza!

What really matters most? What we communicate through words and body language will shape the child’s self-image. How can we help our children enjoy the experience and have a growth mindset?

Video of the skits by Phillip Brooks, Music Teacher of Hopkins Elementary

Set-up and Agenda for Muffins for Mom 

Moms were invited with their children before school to hear information on how to prepare for the SOLs. The children served their mothers muffins and juice.  Angela Valentine coordinated the event and gave an introduction. We then had a teacher report information on the SOLs and how to prepare from the teacher’s perspective.  We then moved into the power of words and mindfulness parenting.  In the end, we had a teacher talk about Wilma Rudolph while showing the pictures in the book, and showing a quick YouTube video of Wilma running and winning the Gold Medal. The video is below; click the link.

wilma

http://hopkinsrocks.com/2016-2017/4-18-17-muffins-for-moms-sol-prep/

Mindfulness Activity

Briefly, Mindfulness research has been shown to promote the ability to feel in control, make meaningful relationships, be calm, and accept the experience without denying the facts. Let’s try an exercise that will help us focus on our breathing.  First, let’s use the Stress O Meter to gauge your stress level this morning

You can guide the audience, or use one of the many breathing exercises on Youtube.

Repeat the Stress Level measure

Hopefully, we are feeling more relaxed.

Review other techniques on the handout included below.

handout of mindfulness strategies (1)

Review Relaxation apps, especially Pacifica website.

Relaxation apps

Leave them with this quote to take home.  We laminated the quote and added a space for them to write with a sharpie their affirmation.

Be very happy when you are tested in different ways. You know that such testing produces endurance. Then you will be mature and complete…

My affirmation:

Love is NOT all you need (Sorry Beatles)

Yesterday we talked about clinging to what is good.  This morning through a series of readings in my devotional time and a text from my oldest daughter to watch a video on Millenials, I’m bursting to share. I’ve been married for almost 28 years come this February 4. When we said our vows in our 20s, I really don’t think we had a clue how words like to cherish, to honor, in good times and bad, sickness and in health, and for better or for worse would play out in our years to come.  We were in love, and “love is all you need”, according to The Beatles.

I was reminded of how habits form when my husband and I tackled taking down the Christmas tree and decorations for the season.  After almost 27 years, you would think we would be more considerate. It’s not a knock-down drag out fight, but we have our ways– a comment here, a jab there, selective hearing, and eye rolling commences.  It’s so ridiculous, and we end up laughing at each other and promise that in the years to come we will be different.

Our brains are wired for habit forming.  Most habits are good. If you desire to become an accomplished pianist, the daily habit of practicing creates an expert. A growth mindset has become the new area of focus in education and psychology. We have put into words what we know through experience–old habits die hard, and new habits take concentrated practice. Patience.

Patience.

Most of us want what Gary Thomas calls a “watch marriage”. I want to put you on my arm as needed, and when I look at you on my wrist, I want you to fulfill the purpose or role. If you don’t, I’m frustrated or angry. I can quickly put you on the nightstand and walk away. Too harsh? Maybe.  There is some validity to the metaphor.  Love is great, but do we truly cherish our spouse?

Husbands and wives often treat each other according to whatever roles they expect from each other. “Just do what you’re supposed to do and try to look reasonably attractive while you’re doing it, and everything will be fine.” Gary Thomas

Cherish means to hold something dear and to delight in them. We can love out of obligation and duty, but do you cherish each other? If you are single, think of these words. Our culture supports the practice of going to school, finding a career, dating, getting married, having children, and buying the house.  You can be so tied up in the practice you are blindsided by the commitment you are truly making to the person standing next to you speaking vows.  To cherish someone and to build a meaningful marriage takes time, sacrifice, and something deeper than the giddy feeling when you hold hands.

My oldest daughter sent me this video talk on Millenials. I believe it’s spot on, but even at 50 something, because I use technology at a high level, I’m guilty. You must watch this–

God knew we would be a people of instant gratification. Jesus told us that if you want growth or fruit you must

hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. — Luke 8:15 NRSV

There is that word again with another word added to it…..

patient endurance…..

charliebrownugh

Maybe it would help if you understood that God delights in you–He cherishes you.  We all know God has to love us even when we mess up, but have you ever pictured God cherishing you? He has your picture on his refrigerator and calls you up just to say, “Hey– I miss you.  Let’s do lunch.”  He wants to spend time with you no matter how good you’ve played out your role that day. He adores you.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Talk about patient endurance. Thank you, Jesus.

Here is a love dare for you.

  • Examine your responses and actions to your spouse and ask if you cherish them.  If you are single, ask the same question about those who are closest to you in your life right now. How do you express this commitment to cherish?
  • What is one action you can take to change an old habit? Your brain can change, but it takes patient endurance.
  • Spend time with the One who perfectly cherishes you.
  • Take a hiatus from technology, and dare yourself to delete some social apps.

For the creative spirit:

  • Download the app Flipagram. Create a video with pictures of you, your spouse, and some of the blessings from your marriage. Choose a song that represents your love for the background music.  You will have to download the song to your music library and select the song once you are done with uploading pictures. If you do this, CONSIDER SHARING WITH ME!  I’D LOVE TO CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE WITH YOU!

Here is my Flipagram of Parish and me–ENJOY! Each picture has a special memory that we cherish…..

https://flipagram.com/f/122AqRouOeI

  • Write a poem, letter, or create a picture collage.
  • Understand Growth Mindset by reading this fabulous article that also gives you a fun challenge. (click on the words “this fabulous article”)
  • Read this post together and talk it out.
  • Buy Gary Thomas’ book and be committed to doing the Bible study together as a couple:

The Art of Cherishing Your Spouse (GREAT video in this article about the book Cherish, by Gary Thomas)

http://www.faithgateway.com/art-cherishing-spouse/?utm_source=devosdaily&utm_campaign=devosdaily20170109&utm_medium=email#.WHOdEvkrLIU

cherish-meme-delight-768x768

Gary Thomas

Compassion

Self-esteem is defined as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect.”  The difficulty with self-esteem is who or what deems you worthy? If we try something with great confidence but “fail” in the eyes of our family, boss, or self, we begin to judge ourselves to only be good or bad. Today, I’m good because I nailed the pitch.  Today, I am bad because I lost the account.  Self-esteem also becomes tricky because, with some groups of people, you may be a success, and, with other groups of people, not so much–they dismiss you. What group do you listen to?

With self-esteem, self-importance, self anything, you place yourself center stage and await the applause, the silence, or worse–the rotten tomatoes and boos.

centerstage

Anna Hebb, November 13, 2016

 

In this desperate pursuit to feel confident and win favor, we have become a society with dangerous coping strategies. We are taught and teach our children strategies that “puff ourselves up”, compare ourselves to others, and put down those we feel are competing against us. The harsh reality of that last sentence is sobering. At times, it’s evident, and other times, the coping strategy is subtle or encouraged in a positive way.

If you look on the book shelf, you will find several books on Narcissism. We typically use that term to define an extremely self-absorbed person who can’t seem to look outside himself to understand the needs of others. It’s all about them.  What is so interesting is that the very movement of self-esteem in our home and schools that we thought was such a powerful tool to increase success and self-worth in our children has caused poor coping strategies that have led to narcissistic tendencies. These tendencies have been rooted in bullying, excessive gossip, prejudices, depression, and negative self-worth. I’m never good enough. Dr. Kristin Neff has studied this trend.

After a personal battle of the mind with negative thoughts, I wondered if anyone else in the world was struggling, too.  In my research, I stumbled across Dr. Neff and a few other women who had similar concerns with self-worth.  What I found to be comforting and a paradigm shift is the term self-compassion.

Through Dr. Neff’s research, she discovered three core components to self-compassion.

  1. Relating to yourself kindly regardless of flaws and failures. Speak kindly to yourself.
  2. Common humanity. How am I the same as those around me and in my world? We are ALL imperfect.
  3. Mindfulness. Be okay with suffering and struggle, acknowledge it, and speak kind to yourself.

When we feel threatened we release cortisol and adrenaline. God gave us this so we can protect ourselves in a threatening situation. We will either fight or flee. When we constantly feel threatened by low self-worth, we are not only the attacker but also the attacked. Years of this will cause significant mental health concerns and poor health.

Imagine your child in a dilemma of failure or struggle. They come to you for help. Do you say to them, “What a loser! You should have known better! You’ll never amount to anything!” However, we often make these comments to ourselves after an epic fail, or we may blame others (putting someone else down). God not only gave us cortisol and adrenaline, but He also gave us oxytocin and opiates. These are released in us when we are approached with warmth, gentle touch, and soft vocalizations. What calms the crying baby? Remember wrapping your baby up in a warm blanket, kissing her face, and rocking her to sleep with a lullaby? Perhaps, more recently, it’s the calmness you feel when a loved one, or a spouse takes your hand and speaks gentle words to you.

img_9073

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14

The misnomer about negative self-talk is that it produces motivation. Maybe in the short-run you’ll pick yourself up and try harder, but when you spend years with this pattern, you begin to add the events up and become hopeless. The opposite is true. When you connect with God and His love for you and have self-compassion, you will be more motivated toward creativity and change.  You will also create space for mercy and kindness towards others who are not very nice to you.

Therapist have found two extremes. Clients may struggle with a low self-worth, or, in some cases, feelings of guilt, because they are experiencing thoughts of superiority.

The center-stage self needs to take her final bow and exit stage left, please.

Once you exit, imagine yourself not as others define you, or how you’ve defined yourself based on how you think others define you. It’s you, your God-given soul, and the woman or man God is growing in you from glory-to-glory, or piece by piece. You could be in the midst of a mountain top experience, or in the valley of the shadow of death–your Shepherd is right there. My goodness, maybe you are in the mundane of the day-to-day.  Live right there, in that moment, forget self, and cling to God.

How?

Reflect on a time that God has given you immense opportunity to bask in creativity or love. These times are like the moments you lose track of time and all you experience is the moment. We have these incredible moments during a creative activity, yoga, rock climbing, intimacy, prayer, worship, etc.

We are purposeful and mindful.

I recently created a video which brought home the “how”.  The video was a reflection of events that brought great focus on love, peace, connection, and purpose but also the known backdrop of our reality–the situations each of us were dealing with as humans–“we are all imperfect”.

God gives us a symphony in life. His masterful hand is creating, fine-tuning, and providing a cacophonous symphony of promise and redemption.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

If you take the time to watch my video, please listen to the song–the words reflect my purposeful intentions. Our family is imperfectly living together. We are just like you in that our life is filled with ups and downs, blessings, stress, habits, struggles, and disappointments. My favorite is my husband humorously waving the peace sign during a dinner date, in which, we were both struggling in a decision from God to make life-changes. The struggle; the symphony. Peace. I am worthy. You are worthy. Live NOW.

Natalie Grant, “Symphonies”  Album is Be One