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Posts Tagged ‘family’


Did you know?

 The busiest time of the year for counseling offices and psychiatric hospitals in the United States begins December 1 and continues through the middle of January each year.

 Why?

In the deepest part of us, we each have hopes and expectations, some life-changing, which are linked to this season of the year. It is the time of year when we are most vulnerable, and when disappointments we have experienced in our lives usually surface. 

The Holiday Season is the time of year when every adult becomes a child-at-heart, and when every child hopes for their wishes to come true.

So How Can I Experience Truly “Happy Holidays?”

 Determine beforehand (now!) how you will respond in given situations.  Listed on this page are a few common “Joy-Robbers” that can sabotage life’s meaning and fulfillment during the Holidays.

Stress                        

 Simply put, stress is Fear telling us that we can’t possibly do enough to gain the approval we feel we need…

Settle it now – it’s impossible to get everything done.  Let yourself off the hook.

Decide what you can reasonably accomplish, and then don’t push yourself to do more. Relax.

Make appointments during the Holiday to enjoy the time with your family. Let yourself have fun.

Conflict                  

Conflict happens because we don’t think about what our actions and attitudes are doing to those we  love.

Choose to refrain from having conflict during the holiday; this is not the time to settle deep issues, or  discuss areas of pain and                  disappointment.  Journal the things that you want to work through with your family – AFTER CHRISTMAS

Illness                     

The Holidays are no fun when you don’t feel good. Don’t push yourself.

Pushing yourself and your body past your limits decreases your ability to fight infection, and lowers your immunities—so slow down your pace. 

Make sure you get enough rest; research indicates we each need 9 hours of sleep each night to be healthy.

We each need 5 hugs a day to maintain emotional health.  Stay close to your friends and family. Studies show that a healthy community increases well-being and healthy living.

Wash your hands at least 3 times a day; – after restroom breaks, before eating, after contact with others.  Try to keep your hands away from your face.  Antibacterial cleansers are a great help. (Purel, GermX etc.)

Set your focus to search out and find the good things in the season. Look for the good in your family too. Try to focus on, and give thanks for those things.

 Financial Demands

 Determine beforehand how much you plan to spend on each person on your list, and don’t violate the amount you set.

 Plan at least one meal out for yourself (and your spouse) during the season.

 If you haven’t done so in the past, consider putting aside monies specifically for Christmas usage beginning in January.  Save throughout the year for the season, so that you are not pressured when it arrives next year.

Remember, the Holidays are about relationship; enjoy your family, and the gift of God’s Grace; don’t strive. Consider:  What homemade gifts could you give – without using a credit card?

 Depression          

Statistically, the busiest season of the year for psychiatric wards and hospitals is the Christmas and Holiday season. Most attribute this to the fact that creating the “perfect” family image tends to compete for our time during these weeks, conflicting with the realities we all experience. If this is true for you, take some time for solitude and spend it in prayer and meditation.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you things you can give thanks for, in every circumstance you find yourself depressed over. (You would not be the person you are today without those circumstances.) Then, find someone who is in a worse situation than you are. Determine to bless them during this season. Many people have literally “served their way out of depression” by serving someone else in need. If you need counseling, or a friend to talk to, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Let someone else into your life….

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new seasons


Why does change have to be a part of the growth process?  I mean, I’m not usually a complainer, but this time I just have to say something to somebody.  Why can’t the good things just stay the same, and have it be the bad things that change in our lives?   That would be such a better deal.  And yes, I realize that if I keep heading towards this line of thought I will end up in a pity-party…. so we won’t go there…. but really!

It really shouldn’t be such a big deal, I tell myself…. Other people have done it — other parents do it all the time.    You see, we are in the midst of taking our youngest child to college.  Where did the time go?

 The baby. The caboose.

It feels like a final chapter in a book; like the last day of summer; like the beginning of a sunset….. 

I know…  I will never homeschool her again.  Or remind her to clean her room. Or, complain because her belongings have overtaken the living room…. Or, help her find her keys…. Or, inform her of her responsibilities…..

At least not as her mother, persay —

Now we begin a season of deeper friendship…. of coaching when needed and requested…. of more prayer and less…. less… less what? 

I’m not sure yet; this is new ground.

An old friend met us at the airport; coming with new friends….. She was glowing; excited; smiling and alive; looking forward with anticipation and hope;  we all sat laughing together at Starbucks….

I watched and pondered her for a moment.

Is she really so close to womanhood?  How did this happen?

These thoughts have come unbidden.  They overtake me.

After all, her oldest sister is married now…. we went through this; didn’t we?  Didn’t I learn some of this … before?….  I remember some of this ground, I think, but it still feels like completely new territory…

Why am I surprised?  I suppose because I thought this was a learned lesson; a notch in the belt, if you will. 

Learning to let go is hardest the first time, they say…. so why is there a lump in my throat?  This would be my third..

In my heart of hearts, I’m thrilled she has chosen to obey God.  I know she is destined for a purpose. I have prayed for her.  I have sought God and felt Him speak to me.   

It’s just that…. well…. I didn’t think this would happen so soon.  You know?   

I should have been ready for it — this emotional waterfall…. And yes, she’s gone on short term trips overseas in the past.  Yes, she took a year off after high school.  Yes, she is almost twenty — but don’t you understand?  Sbe’s the last one…. Can’ t life just stay the same?

And then, the light of the Holy Spirit breaks in on my fears.  “Let go,” He says gently.  “Trust me. I have only good plans for her life.”

“Okay, Lord,” I say. “You’re sure you got her?”

It’s like He’s smiling at me.  Really, daughter?

Okay, Lord.  Really.

Sorry, Lord.  You do a much better job.  You have no unknowns.  You are the Perfect Parent.

Creator… Builder of Persons…Designer… Author of all good gifts…. and relationships.

In retrospect, I have learned so much from my children.  In their own unique ways, each of the three have taught me about what it means to live; I mean, really live; what life means. 

Life.  Energetic, fun-loving, full of adventure; each child is unique in a different way. 

Our oldest: She is strong, adventurous, uncompromising and creative, 

Our second: She is strong, bubbly, energetic,  and adapting.

This one? She is also strong, quick, graceful and perceptive. She said something that shook me today. “Mom, it wouldn’t be so hard to leave home if I hated it here.  But it’s a great environment. I hate to leave.  I just know I have to. It’s time.”  When did she become so strong and assured…. confident?

Did I tell you our girls are strong?  They will need to be as strong as the sturdy oak, in order to hold to their values in the fiercely fluctuating winds of our times.  They each have a calling from God …. as do we all…. They each have a sense of personal purpose … as should we all….  Older now, I am thankful they each have more energy than I.

But I have loved this season.  Are you sure it has be time for a change, Lord?

Again, this sense of Peace overwhelms me.

Okay.  (Thanks for being patient with me while I get this, Lord. I’m so glad that Patience was Your idea….. lol)

Isn’t the ability of the Creator to create uniquely different, altogether complete, Personhood, in each of us, an amazing thing? Jeremiah, the prophet of old, wrote that God calls each of us to our destiny, while we are still within our mother’s womb.  The psalmist, David, wrote that we are each “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  He said that God knows and sees each of us, and even the things about ourselves we think should be hidden away, are precious to Him;

That God follows and pursues us for relationship. 

He not only loves us; that in itself is amazing — (that the Almighty God; the Creator and Redeemer of heaven and earth;  that He would love me….warts and all!)

But He goes further… He not only loves me — and you — But He likes us as well.

Everything good comes from Him; His composite Nature is goodness and grace… He is not the Author of the bad. He has good plans. He is trustworthy – the Author of the trust concept.  He is faithful. 

Oh yes, I remember that now.   In the midst of my painful dissertations with my soul; in the midst of my debate about just why it is we need to follow-through with His direction and plan; I remember.

Oh, I get it now.  I really can’t look back over my shoulder at what was … unless I intend to give Him thanks.  And if I can’t give thanks, I’m stuck in that place of looking back.  But when Resolved, I need to press forward, to move on toward the high calling in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13)… to pursue Him for the reasons as to why He rescued my life from destruction…. Looking to the future; Embracing the past; Discovering fresh Purpose; Taking more time to listen.

Hopefully, I will “get it” quicker now that I have more life experiences logged in my journey with Him. 

He has plans for me too.

Bill and I are more comforting towards each other these days — we are both in the midst of a learning experience; one that won’t have words for awhile yet… probably because we don’t yet consciously grasp what we are learning ….

Thanks for listening, dear reader. You are helping me to sort out the nitty gritty issues this morning… much earlier than I planned.

I don’t want to travel through life looking over my shoulder; regretting what might have been; wishing for more; somehow discontented with the process…. I need to look ahead, and “square up to the plate.”  I want to learn these lessons well.  After all, anyone who walks down the road looking backward is terribly distracted; they definitely will miss the scenery.

And therein is the lesson. Why would I want my children to live that way?  I wouldn’t.

Thanks, Lord.  I wouldn’t want this any other way.

Be blessed, baby.  Your dad and I will always be here; but for this new season? 

God’s got you. And He really does do a good job.  All the time.

Blessings.

(c) 2010

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Communication is under-rated. 

Like when our Rachel was learning to drive. That learning activity was something Bill did with her, and I observed from the back seat. Not having my husband’s great depth perception, my observations many times came with involuntary drawing-ins of air, and the universal-Mom’s invisible-brake pedal.  

“Turn left at the next street, honey,” Bill instructed, during one of her early lessons.  Now mind you, I had no reason to believe she wouldn’t do exactly what her father told her.  Up until that point, she had done rather well,  staying between the lines; braking slowly, accelerating respectfully —   

During moments like those you learn lessons about your children. Why is it we remember those moments of surprise so well?Perhaps because  we are vulnerable; especially when they are driving. After all,  they have the steering wheel!  That particular driving lesson,  we arrived at the left-turn corner in question, and Rachel drove past it, never slowing.

“Why didn’t you turn?” her father asked, watching not only the road-sign, but the purpose of our outing — the  Wendy’s and their large Frosty — pass into rear-view. 

“You said, ‘turn left,‘ Dad,” she responded, keeping her eyes on the road.  “I will when we get there.”

Bill and I exchanged glances. What was she saying?

“We did get there,” I said. “Why didn’t you turn?”

“M- ah-m!”  She sighed her reply, using the fifteen-year-old voice that only daughters-who-have-been-daughters,  of mothers-who-are-being-mothers would recognize.  At the next corner, Rachel began putting one hand over another, turning the steering wheel. 

Her dad and I found ourselves laughing.  Out loud. 

“What?” she asked, looking at us.  Her father’s eyes were twinkling as he responded. “Must be your other left, Rach,” was all he said, as the car made a right-hand turn.

From her earliest years, our daughter has mixed her directions. (I could write a book here, but I don’t want to get off track….)  When she was five, we tried everything, from making an “L” with the “left” hand, to memory games.  We even did the drill: “My left makes an ‘L’ and I write with my right.”  She tried hard; even to the point of frustration.  The knowledge just didn’t “stick.”  (Bear in mind that these days she is a gifted wedding photographer!  And even back then she was designing wedding dresses and evening gowns.)

She just couldn’t remember which side was left, and which side was right! 

For the sake of the story, I should tell you: I know exactly where the weakness in Rachel’s personal navigation system came from.  It wasn’t her fault.  For as long as I can remember, I too, have struggled; mixing digits, turning numbers; directionally challenged…. Once, years ago, not long after Bill and I were married, I once drove 25 miles out of the way, driving home alone from the grocery store!  Way back then, we were a young couple in a new city. That sense of not-knowing scared me.  Now, thirty years out? I have learned to deal.  After all, the tendency has surfaced so many times, for so long…. Now, its something we all joke about with each other.  “No, Mom,”  they say, “you don’t have to drive. We’ll lead you.”  

I’m thankful I can ask. I’m thankful for family. Additionally, I’m deeply grateful for community. Because, even though I keep maps in my car; several of my friends continue to be kind enough to answer their cell phones and take the time to provide me a running-feed of control-tower encouragement as I search for the right road.  I’ve become really good at U-turns; even the 3, 4, 5 and 6-point types of turns….  (Just a note:  This year, my favorite Christmas gift was the GPS our children gave me.  It’s great! — it has even helped my prayer life!  If I need to travel to a new place, I pull it out.  Then I pray the sky isn’t too cloudy to find a signal….)

Mixed directions. Misunderstood signals.  It seemed natural when the girls were smaller, to find different ways to communicate what they needed to learn.  For example, when they were learning to set the table, we didn’t tell them the fork went on the right (I mean left!) — Instead, we drew a template and asked them to copy it with the dishes.  When we passed food during Family Table, we would point in the desired direction and say, “Pass the bread that way.”  And guess what?  It worked.  Our girls learned.  We connected.  The table got set; the bread was passed.

As I’ve been working on the worksheets for teaching couples to bond, I’ve found myself thinking this week about my own sense of being directionally challenged, and what it has taught me about bonding issues.  Those places within each of us where we are still waiting for bonding to occur — those are the areas where our conflicts take place. Those are the areas where we have developed false strength. 

Those are the areas where the signal isn’t clear; “left” doesn’t really mean “left” to us — And even though we work hard, using the same minimal tools we have always used — it doesn’t seem to “click.”   I’ve had parents explain this away, by saying, “If my child never had it, they don’t know it’s missing, and that’s okay.”   If you have thought that way, let me ask you to follow that kind of thinking to its conclusion, and consider an equivalent statement:

“My child never grew a right arm, but it’s okay. They’re not handicapped.  They have the same abilities as everyone else.”

Such a statement isn’t true, is it?

I’m sure we’ll discuss this more at a later point, because it is where I am in the learning process of helping people heal right now…. Just let me say that bonding gaps cause us to develop wrong perceptions about who we are; places where have chosen to live our lives alone. Usually, these are the empty places, left unaddressed in us, for one reason or another.  Used to being alone, we choose to survive alone;  not choosing community; figuring it out by ourselves. 

Such independence does not make us stronger, it just gets us lost… like me on new roads without a GPS– only refusing to make a phone call.   We become like explorers without a compass.  When this independence happens within a marriage, it transends into parenting;  and our children do not receive the emotional tools they need.  How can they? 

We cannot give to them, what we don’t have — Or teach them what we haven’t learned ourselves.  

The Solution for our bonding needs is presented in our Heavenly Father.  He is God — He is the One who made us, who loves us, who chooses us to be His — no matter what.  He is the Only God, and  He speaks every language.  He knows every bonding deficit.

The moment we open to receive His love — He begins the process — He will do whatever it takes to connect with you.  That is why He came in the form of  Jesus Christ.  

If that seems a little scary right now, then, at the very least, begin opening your life to those you love.  Admit your weaknesses.  Ask for help.   Then, look around.  Let me encourage you to find a solid group of real believers in Christ who believe in the value of community; Safe people, who will let you fail as you learn. 

God isn’t about religion — He is about relationship; and it’s not anything you can earn by keeping a set of rules, or acting a certain way.

He just loves you, and wants you to get the right signals.

 

 

(C)2010 DG — Awakened To Grow .  Duplication without permission prohibited.

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You read it right, friends.  Believe it or not, it is the name of magazine: “Garden and Gun; Soul of the New South.”  As I sat waiting at a friend’s house this week, I picked it up to read. Fascinating.  I wasn’t born in the south, but I wish I was.  I’ve been eating grits, rice and gravy, okra, catfish and ribs for as long as I can remember.  Our family has gone through a gallon of sweet tea a day since Bill and I married back in the 70’s…. Am I telling my age?  Oh well.

The article that tickled my fancy in this particular issue, was called “Fetch Daddy a Drink,” by P.J. O’Rourke (I find myself wondering whether that is a man’s real name — but whatever — this is the south)….. It was the sub-title that caught my attention — “How to apply gun-dog training methods to your children.”  I was hooked.  Was Mr. O’Rourke calling my children animals? (Not that I hadn’t thought it quietly to myself once or twice when they were smaller — but to put such a thing in print?  Really now…)

In a nutshell, Mr. O’Rourke had taken the instructions of famous dog-trainer, Richard Wolters, in the book “Gun Dog” and translated them into parenting lingo.  While the hilarious outcome of his discussion was entertaining, I found several things I agree with, that I can’t resist sharing with you; logging them away here in cyberspace.

Three Rules To Train A Good Dog

1. Start ’em young — Don’t wait to train a pup until he is a year old.  Begin early.  Make solid imprintings that leave a legacy of behavior patterns. (I stopped to think; manners, habits, making the bed, even prayer….. okay.) O’Rourke says puppies who begin training at one year see a success rate of 20%, while puppies who begin such training at  5 weeks see a rate of 90%.  (In people years, that would mean waiting until my child was 7 to expect him/her to make their bed….. and looking back… potty training definitely had to happen earlier than seven…. Continue O’Rourke… I’m listening.)

2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Keep repeating the lesson until the pup learns it, Mr O’Rourke says. (My years as a children’s pastor tell me this is true as well — I always had to remember the One Minute Window Rule.  That’s the rule that says I get one minute of undivided attention from a child for every year of their emotional development….. Hmm…. are we on to something?)

3.  Keep things concise.  “Don’t clutter a pup’s brain with useless nonsense,” quotes the author.  “Keep your commands short.” (I agreed with him up til now, so I read on…. ) The basic commands are SIT, STAY, COME, and WHOA. According to O’Rourke, his son will need to learn those rules if he wants to experience a happy marriage….

I put the magazine down.  I found myself smiling — and at the same time wondering whether the author didn’t have a good point in the midst of his bizarre approach to child rearing. 

In the 1920’s, algebra and geometry were college courses, as were foreign languages, and the lab sciences.  Back then, long division was introduced in the freshman year of high school. Music, the arts, and hands-on classes were part of the learning experience; education utilized all of the learning styles.  Now, in the twenty-first century, our schools are aimed for the 7% of the population who are visual learners. We are harried, hassled, and time compressed.  And now? Five times the amount of information the children of the 20’s and 50’s were expected to absorb, is now on the plates of our children who attend school.  We have become obsessed as a nation with seeking to make sure our children know more, do more, make more and become more than any generation before them…..

Additionally, our children’s health conditions show the results of that approach to preparing them for adult life.  They struggle with ADHD, ADD, childhood depression, behavioral disorders, OCD, obesity, anxiety, sleep disorders, to name a few.  Just last week, I read a news article about a middle schooler who had tried to end his life.  Presently, in my own counseling practice, I regularly see at least five children under the age of 12, with big-people sized problems.

What’s gone wrong with our plan?

Which brings me back to Mr. O’Rourke. There are two major elements underlying the author’s entire “gun-dog” approach to parenting; elements we all really should adhere to if we desire success in raising our children — or our grandchildren — or our employees, even, for that matter.  They are elements applying on any level of leading — whether coaching, counseling,  mentoring, teaching or parenting. 

That missing element is Relationship; personal contact and consistent communication.  To put it in “gun-dog” lingo: When an owner trains a pup, he is personally involved, on every level, for each stage.  He learns to anticipate what the pup will do. He spends time observing; learning how his dog thinks.  It’s how obedience happens.  It’s how loyalty is nurtured.

With personal time.

As parents, we teach our children not only by what we say, but by what they see us doing; day in and day out.  Our actions and attitudes do more to teach than any lecture.  Thank you Mr. O’Rourke for your insight, and your humor….

I know I needed your advice. And the laughs.

But I don’t think I will ever be able to look at one of my children with a palm raised like a stop sign and utter, “Sit and stay.”  (I’d like to raise their personal value level a little higher than that, I think.)

(C)2010 DG– awakenedtogrow.com

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