Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!


As I have a few moments this Christmas Eve I wanted to wish all my 1 or 2 readers :) a very Merry Christmas.  As I reflect on the events of this past month I am filled with gratitude for all the many blessings in my life.  We have had many special and fun family and friend events already and I am ever mindful that each day is a gift and every relationship is blessing in my life.

I haven't been totally successful all month to keep my focus on the important things in life and what this season is truly all about but I am doing better than in some years past. 

I just want to take this post to encourage anyone reading to wake up tomorrow with a heart full of thanksgiving for all God has done or is doing in your life.  Before the craziness of the day begin take a few moments to reflect on what Christmas is really about -  Jesus coming to earth as a baby to live a human life so He could understand all that we feel and go through and then eventually die on the cross for our sins. 

Here is the scripture that you can reflect on and read to begin your Christmas day.

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus


 1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his wife, who was pregnant.
 6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
 8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
 13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

   Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
   Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

 15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

 19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!


Have a Blessed Christmas!!
Kathy

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The TRUTH

Since it has been a couple weeks since my last post - we have had a lot of time to think about those lies! :)  Once we reveal the lies we have come to accept and believe about our self,others or God we need to correct them.

Basically, if you are saying and believing these lies - they are affecting your daily life.  They become part of who you are and that is not who God says you are.  I personally want to be in agreement with who God says I am so how do we do that?

The best way I have found is to write the lies in one column.  (you need 3 columns) in the second column you write what the truth is according to God's Word and the last column you write the scriptures that back up that truth.  It will look something like the table below.

 Once you have completed your "Truths"  you will say them to yourself everyday until they are solidly in your heart!!  When I lie comes into your mind you will immediately reverse it to a truth.

Do this and I will guarantee you will see change in your life.  As you notice lies coming into your mind write them down and write a truth.  Until we are aware of what we are thinking or saying we really don't realize how many lies we feed ourselves everyday.

Every week pick a scripture that is the one you struggle with the most and apply it every day to your life. 

Lies
Truth (based on God's Word)
Scripture
I’ve missed God’s best for me

My best is
YET TO COME

1 Corinthians 2:9



I can never be/do good enough

I AM GOOD
enough through Christ


 Philippians 3:12–14


I will always be passive

I am MORE
than a
CONQUEROR


Romans 8:37


I will always be stuck and never move forward
have a
HOPE
and a
FUTURE
Jeremiah 29:11




I am not accepted for who I am

I am “ACCEPTED” through
 Christ Jesus

 Romans 8:38 - 39,



My value is based of other peoples perceptions


I am the RIGHTEOUSNESS
of God
in Christ Jesus





 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where Do the Lies Come From

The last post we talked about the fact that as we are stopped by being successful, happy and content in life because of the "lies that we believe" about ourselves and God.  Today I want to look at where these lies come from.

The most obvious place these lies come from are from life experiences. This is what it looks like:

We have an experience in childhood mostly - in our family, in school, in the neighborhood and that experience early in our life creates a belief.  A belief about ourselves, sometimes others and sometimes God.

If that experience was a bad or negative experience then the belief will be bad or negative or in other words "a lie"  How do we know that a belief that you have about yourself or God is a lie?   If it doesn't line up with what God says in His Word it is a lie.

So then we go along in life believing this "lie" and then we begin to "expect" our belief to be fulfilled so we behave according to the lie we believe - then the end result is another experience that reinforces the "lie" that we believe.

Let me give you an example:

You have an experience of being abandoned early in life - your mom or dad leave - because of divorce or they just never were there or maybe even they emotionally aren't there - so your belief system starts to tell you "people I love will always leave me"  then you become a teenager and meet your first love and as usually happens it doesn't work - and they leave - the belief is now reinforced - now the "lie" that " everyone I love will always leave me" or "I will always be alone"  or "no one accepts me for who I am" and you now "expect" people to hurt you and leave you.......

So then to protect yourself you begin to build walls around yourself emotionally - making sure that no one get close enough to hurt you.  Those walls could look like anger or indifference or lack of intimacy.  In other words you have now adopted a behavior that pushes people away or sabotage's relationships so you experience once again those closest to you leaving or being distant or disconnected but now it's not because of them but because of your behavior.

So now your false belief is reinforced over and over until it is so entrenched inside your spirit and soul that it is part of you.

The way to stop the Belief – Expectation cycle is to intervene between the Experience and the Belief stages of the cycle. We must choose God’s truth as our new belief. When we replace the old lie with God’s truth, then the other parts of the cycle will change.

Think of an example of a "Lie" that has operated in your life. 
What experience got this belief established? 
What expectations and behaviors come out of this belief? 
Are you ready to change this belief? 

Next post we will look at how to recognize the lies..... so we can change them


And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  John 8:32

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Lies We Believe

In my few posts in the last couple months we have been talking about some of the things in our lives that will hinder us from becoming healthy, whole and free.  Free to be who God created us to be, to fulfill the purposes He has for us and live out the potential that is with in us.  We talked about codependency, destructive family patterns and discontentment. 

I had an opportunity to speak at a Ladies Retreat at Faith Outreach Center.  This is a very special church and group of ladies to me.  This is the church I grew up in spiritually and learned so much of what God has called me to do. 

As I prayed about what God would have me share with the ladies I truly felt it was the four areas I have found to keep us from moving forward in our lives.  These are areas that I work on often with my clients and when they really work on them and do the spiritual and practical work that needs to be done, there is change.

Two of the areas I have already talked about in this blog. 
  1. Destructive Family Patterns  
  2. Unforgiveness
The other two are:

     3. Any kind of sexual brokenness(past abuse, trauma or misuse)

And the one I'm going to talk about for the next couple posts:

    4. The LIES we believe

The lies we believe about ourselves and God.   Most of these lies come from other 3 above experiences:

Next post we will begin to look at the lies that we have embraced about ourselves based on our experiences, circumstances and our culture.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Being Content in Every Season of Life

There probably isn't anyone reading my blog anymore after a month of no posts but I am back and will try to be more consistent.  It has been a whirlwind of a month but it's all been good things so I can't complain....just couldn't keep up with a blog on top of everything else.

During the last month that I went missing.....I was on vacation....North Carolina for 2 weeks.  We usually go with our daughter and her family but they couldn't go this year so it was more quiet then past times and they were all greatly missed but it was a great time to catch up with my reading and spending some quality time with God and of course some quality time with my hubby.  :) 

When I returned home a couple weeks ago,  I was playing catch up for the next two weeks.  Lots of client appointments, a small group that I was leading, and a Ladies Retreat that I was speaking at. 

The small group I lead is a group of sweet young moms and wives, we meet once a month and this month I spoke to them about contentment in their season of life.  They are in a difficult season with small children, lots of financial pressure, still working through the challenges of marriage but in reality every season has it's challenges and one of the greatest skills we can learn to enjoy every season is "Contentment."


Contentment is a learned skill: To be chosen, adopted, mastered and applied.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t disappointments in life, it doesn’t mean we are in denial, It just means that we can resolve to be content and it will change our view of everything in life.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)
11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength

The Greek word for contentment in this verse means "inner sufficiency"  satisfaction found through the depth of ones own life with God independent of surroundings
A woman who is content is a woman who has chosen to be satisfied with what she has, who she is, and with where she lives.  Women of substance, satisfaction who has chosen contentment over displeasure.
How do you do this?  Easier said then done right?  Yes, like most things in this life contentment is a learned, practiced behavior - the more you choose to be content and enjoy where you are for the moment the more you will find it just becoming part of who you are.  In 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) it says,
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

When you can get the mindset that what you have on hand is enough that it is adequate and deemed by God as sufficient then you are ready to fully participate in the tasks set before you at this season of life.

So today: Ask yourself..."Am I embracing the season of life I am in? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Exploring Your Family Map

Creating a family tree (genogram) will help you to get a better picture of your family patterns.  As you observe relational patterns in your family, try to see if there are any you need to work on.  Sometimes, it's hard to see ourselves as others do so if you are really serious about working on yourself - ask someone that you trust and won't get mad at if they tell you the truth.

Some patterns to watch for are closeness of family members, communication patterns, behavioral or emotional problems, job problems, addictions, anger and even occupations of family members.

You want to go back at least three generations.  What patterns of serious problems do you see?  How did your family handle stress, what did their marriages look like, how did parents relate to children, what were some of the health problems in your family line.  Was there alot of emotional disconnection in your family line.  Did family member feel like they belonged?

Again, this is not to become depressed or angry at your family if there are some destructive patterns.  This is an opportunity to look at the reality of what may have been passed down to you and what areas you may need to work on.  The more you work on you the better chance your children have of not struggling with these same patterns or at least to a lesser degree.  The goal is for each generation to continue to get healthier in every way.

So what do you do with all this information -
1.  Look at what family patterns are continuing through you -
2.  Admit this is an area you need to work on.
3.  Ask God to help you break this family pattern and replace it with something positive
4.  Get an accountability partner to work with you on this. Come up with a plan.

If you do all the above and still struggle to get past certain family patterns you may need some inner healing in that area of your life.   I recommend Anothenlife Ministries to anyone that needs in depth help in this area of their lives. 

The process of genuine change does not occur by magic.  Breaking a cycle of family patterns happens not by waving a wand or by reading a verse but with the combination of the Holy Spirit, The Word, other believers in our lives and our own determination and will. 

Trust in Him at all time, O people; Pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breaking Destructive Generational Patterns

Last post we discussed the well know term "Dysfunctional" family.  We know what that is, may even know we were in one or are in one, but we don't often know how to change those patterns in our own lives. 

Most families have some sort of harmful patterns in them.  We aren't perfect people, and we usually pass these behaviors from generation to generation with out even realizing it.  We can't really blame anyone because these patterns usually started so far back in our family that when we really examine our family we will see our parents probably had parents that had alot of destructive behavior because their parents had them and on and on.  And most people from the earlier generations didn't talk about such things, they didn't have all the resources we have to heal and change and become free of these patterns.  So I never blame anyone for the patterns that came to me through my family line because as I have looked at it I totally understand and only feel gratitude for the good things that did come through and the positive changes they did make.

So how do we really begin to recognize what those patterns are that we may need to change in our lives so this destructive behavior does not keep being passed down?  One way is of course to just look at some areas in which we struggle and know it isn't healthy behavior but unfortunately we tend to have alot of blind spots and denial in most of us.

So the best way to look at truth and reality is to see it in black and white.  A tool I use with many of my clients to do this is called a genogram.   It is basically constructing your family tree on paper but once you have all the people in place - probably going to at least grandparents - you then write down the patterns that you know of next to the name of each person - you will continue to do this throughout the genogram until you get to YOU.  Then you list beside your name all the things you can see that are now still part of your behavioral pattens.  Now a great thing to do is later to put all the positives but for purposes of changing behavior you do focus on the negatives for now.

Here is an example of what it may look like:
Family Genogram


There is something about seeing a BIG picture in black in white that brings reality into our thinking. 
So now you can get depressed about your family or you can be really happy that you can change all those destructive patterns for yourself and your descendants.  Lack of knowledge and understanding doesn't improve our lives but understanding fully why we do what we do and realizing we have the ability through Jesus to change those patterns in our lives and in doing so it will set a new pattern for everyone else.  This is exciting stuff!!!

It doesn't matter what season of life you are in or how old - it is never too early or too late to bring positive, healthy change into our lives. 

Next Post: Some common patterns in families that might not be so obvious.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dysfunctional Family

As we talked about last post, the functional family teaches its members basic skills: To feel, to trust and to talk.  It is a "safe" place where you understand that you are loved even when you make a mistake or have a different opinion than the others in the family.  It keeps open, honest and loving communication flowing.

A dysfunctional family system simply lacks these skills because:
  • Someone in the family is emotionally or physically abusive or absent, or possibly an addict. Unconditional love is not present
  • Someone in the family is physically or mentally ill.  Not enough time or energy to take care of the members needs
  • Family secrets are the rule...the message is we don't talk about things - even among the members
  • One member of the family controls the others so they feel like robots
A family is dysfunctional if life skills are not being taught.   A family is dysfunctional if the members don't feel valued and protected.  Usually a family member knows something is wrong but the rules against expressing feelings, trusting or talking make talking about the problem very difficult so denial becomes the norm.  Denial is an unwillingness or inability to be honest about our feelings.  It can become a life pattern.  The result is growth and development as a person is hindered and a loss of identity can manifest.

Dysfunctional families don't work because they don't teach the skills needed to have happy effective lives.

The point of all this is not to blame because all these behaviors are passed down from generation to generation so if you want to cast blame it would probably have to be on your great - great - great grandparents and they probably got it from those before them.  The point is to recognize any passed down family dysfunction and change it in you so it will not continue to be passed down anymore.

We are going to take some time to see how these cycles begin in families and how we can learn to break the cycles and replace destructive patterns with Christ-honoring patterns of behavior

Next post we will talk about how destructive patterns creep into a family line.


Can you identify any harmful family patterns you need to change?



Teach God's teachings to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deut.  11:19

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Functional Family....What is that???

Co-dependency, functional, dysfunctional are all words that many of us have heard for years and yet I think we really do need to revisit what these words mean.  We live in a word that is so confusing in so many ways but especially in having an understanding of what a "healthy" functional family looks like or for that matter what a "healthy" functional person looks like.  Is there such a thing???

Well, we will never be perfect or even totally functional in this life but we can at least work toward at least knowing what functional looks like and work toward being the healthiest person you can be.

So....back to the question.....What is a functional family?   A family is a system in which each person's behavior affects all the other members.  This family unit is characterized by a sense of family wholeness.  Each family member has a feeling of belonging which contributes to their personal self-esteem.  They learn they can trust, feel, and talk about many - if not all - the issues in their lives.

One of the most important things we can learn from our family is how to have healthy relationships.  Three skills are needed to have a healthy relationship and they are the abilities to feel, to trust and to talk.

How are these skills taught:
1.  By modeling consistency and dependability trust is learned
2.  By respecting and talking about emotions, hurts and joys, we learn it's ok to express feeling.
3.  By taking time to listen and value what is said we learn how to talk in a open and healthy way.

A family should teach these truths:
  • That my worth is based upon who I am and I am loved and I belong
  • That my worth is not based on my performance: I will be loved even if I make a mistake.
God is the ultimate functional parent.  He loves us with unconditional love.  He says, "I love you because of who you are and I will continue to love you no matter what"

So bottom line:
1 Healthy families establish healthy priorities.

2 Healthy families ask for--and give--respect.
Members in healthy families know respect is a two-way street. In order to receive respect; you must first give it.

3 Healthy families communicate.

Happy families talk and listen to each other. They respect the other person's point of view, even when it differs from their own. In healthy families, members practice "active listening" says Mary Durkin, Ph.D., author, lecturer and mother of seven. In her book, Making Your Family Work, she says the following five qualities are common to active listeners.

* Giving the other person opportunities to express ideas and feelings--without interrupting.

* Making an honest attempt to understand these ideas and feelings.

* Setting aside preconceived opinions about the other person.

* Showing respect for the other person's right to hold a view different from yours.

* Demonstrating your appreciation for the effort the other person is making.

4 Healthy families have a sense of play and humor.Educator Dolores Curran surveyed 550 family professionals--teachers, clergy, pediatricians, social workers, counselors, leaders of volunteer organizations--asking them to list the top 15 traits common to healthy families. A sense of play and humor was number five on the list. In her book, Traits of a Healthy Family, Curran notes, "Good families seem able to keep their work and play in perspective. Like the people in the early agricultural communities, when they work, they work hard and when they play, they play hard. They feel no guilt when they reward themselves by relaxing. A sense of humor in the family also keeps things in perspective and works as an antidote to drudgery, depression and conflict within families."

5 Healthy families foster responsibility.Strong, secure families stress a sense of personal responsibility and obligation toward others.

6 Healthy families instill strong moral and spiritual foundations.
Healthy families find ways to cultivate strong spiritual and moral foundations. Some of the ways to do this is to find ways to teach good character traits to children through volunteering and helping others.  Being involved in church and/or groups that instill Godly values and principles all contribute to a healthy foundation.

Next post: The Dysfunctional Family

Monday, August 1, 2011

What is Codependency

 
What is codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of detrimental, behavioral interactions within a dysfunctional relationship. "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior" (Beattie, M., Codependent No More).

Sometimes, the codependent is in a familial or other relationship that involves alcohol, substance abuse, physical abuse, pornography, gambling, or other destructive behaviors. The codependent has learned to interact or behave in such ways that they believe will help but never does.

They often feel tremendous guilt, responsibility or need to "fix" by controlling the actions of others, especially the one who owns the original problem. The codependent develops intense feelings and will try anything to make the family or relationship survive.

It's very common to "cover up" the behavior of their loved one; this is called enabling. By enabling, they are allowing the behavior to continue and cause avoidance of natural consequences. Codependents don't want to "rock the boat." They therefore are willing to do most anything just to keep peace. This too is where other family members learn to function in this manner creating the all too common "dysfunctional family."

The codependent will often accept blame for the situation. For instance, in a dysfunctional relationship the codependent will either accept or proclaim that "It's entirely my fault; it's because of something I did wrong."

This fits the source, the dysfunctional person (the addict, abusive person etc) just fine since that person looks for others to blame for their actions. The dysfunctional person is denying, floundering, and usually very capable of using whatever means of escape possible. They are not beyond threats, coercion, or manipulation to avoid taking responsibility.

Bottom line definition:  Codependency is a compulsion to control and rescue people by fixing their problems.  it occurs when a person's needs for love and security are not met.

Codependency has three core behaviors and three emotional results.

Behaviors:
1. Lack of Objectivity:  the inability to see things as they really are. Past hurts keep warping our view of present events.
2. A Warped Sense of Responsibility:  not having good boundaries to tell us our responsibilities vs others responsibilities.
3.  Being Controlled and Controlling Others: Since we don't have good boundaries we alternate between invading others space and allowing them to invade our space and manipulate us.

Emotions:
1. Hurt/Anger
3. Guilt
4. Loneliness

Next post we will look at what a "Functional" Family looks like..

Sunday, July 31, 2011

and Life Coaching
I have neglected my Life Coaching Blog this month.  It has been an extremely fun, busy, crazy month and I just couldn't get the time to write.  When I did have time I was too tired to think so I decided it was ok to take a break but it is time to get back into the swing of things and start blogging again!

As I was gone this month one thing I realized is how many out of the country and out of state visitors I have.  I have a program that shows me when and where from people are checking my blog and while I was not even writing I have had 620 page views.  I don't get alot of followers or comments but I found this stat to be eyeopening.

So I'm saying all this to let anyone from out of state, city or country to know that I do Life Coaching/Biblical Counseling via Skype.  Your can check out my links to see the areas that I specialize in.

The way it works is you email me.  I will send you the forms needed to get started.  We will set up on appt that will be conducted on Skype and you will pay by Paypal before we meet.  Our first meeting will be a consultation which will include alot of questions so I can get an idea of how I can help you.  After that I will give you some thoughts as to what I feel I can do for you.  Then you will decide if it's a good fit and if so we will schedule our next appointment.

The price per session if it is a Skype appt is 42.50.

The 2.50 is what PayPal charges for their services.  I can keep the price lower on Skype because I don't have the expense of gas and time to go to the office. 

This is the link to the counseling centers I contract with and that I work under.  Our meetings will be under the guidelines one of these two counseling centers.  www.pathseekercenter.org  or faithandhopecarecenter.org .

I am also including my email in case anyone would like more individual information:  katcu7@mac.com

Next post I'm going to start a series on Co-dependency - what I consider one of the biggest problems among Christians and I don't believe that was ever God's plan for us.

"For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God?  Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."  Galatians 1:10

Monday, June 27, 2011

Change Your Life with Your Thoughts

OK, I'm stealing another article from someone else....but this is too good not to post.   I said in my last post that is we could just get our thinking about ourselves in the right place it would change our life, this post from Joyce Meyer is along the same lines.  It's understanding the huge connection between what we think and say - and what our life looks like.  

Change is hard but this kind of change is so worth it because it is the difference between being happy in whatever situation or circumstances you are in or being unhappy and constantly looking for someone or something to make you happy and fulfilled, which is so sad because that "something or someone"  will never be found -  happiness comes from within ourselves and it is our choice with God's help to make that happen.

by Joyce Meyer
The longer I live the more I realize how strong a connection exists between our thoughts and our words. I honestly believe that this connection is one of the most important things we can learn in our lives.
So many people's problems are rooted in their way of thinking, which can actually produce a lot of the problems they experience.

How does that happen?
Well, a negative mind produces negative words and, consequently, a negative life. Our words can actually become traps that cause us to continue our cycle of negative thoughts and actions.
Yes, we're all tempted to speak negatively, but we don't have to give in to that temptation.
To turn our words around, we need to start thinking about what we're thinking about, and then make some real changes.
Let me show you how.

The Trap of Negative Thinking

Because I allowed many years of negative thinking and speaking in my life, I became an extremely negative, sour person. My philosophy became "if you don't expect anything good to happen, then you won't be disappointed when it doesn't."
Have you ever felt that way?
Because I had encountered so many disappointments, I was afraid to believe that anything good could happen to me. I had developed a terribly negative outlook on everything.
If I had continued to believe those lies about never getting over my past, I never would've gotten over my past.

New Thoughts, New Possibilities

With God's help I am continually reminded that my past doesn't have to control my future. I don't need God's help in my life to give up; I need His help to keep going!
I now know how important it is for me to understand the fact that my life would not have gotten straightened out until my mouth did…
And since the two are linked, my mouth wasn't going to get straightened out until my mind did.
Changing your words and thoughts is definitely not an easy thing to do, but with God's help all things are possible.

Be Patient with Yourself

We have to choose to think and speak positively. It doesn't come naturally—and it doesn't happen overnight. In fact, it takes a lot of practice.
There will be days when you have setbacks, but just get back up, dust yourself off, and start again.
When a baby is learning to walk, he falls many, many times before he gains the confidence to walk. Failing from time to time—which you will do—doesn't mean you're a failure. It simply means that you don't do everything right all the time.
Well, neither does anyone else.
If you've been consumed with negative thinking and speaking, the pathway to your freedom begins when you face the problem without making excuses for it.
Be patient with yourself. As you change your thinking, your words will change and so will your life!

This article is taken from Joyce's audio teaching, Change.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Self-Compassion

I received an email from the director of one of the Counseling Centers that I work for and thought it was worthy blog material.  As I see many different people each week in my counseling practice - I see so much of what we as people struggle with is how we view ourselves and the messages we give ourselves. So I hope that if you have been beating yourself up for any reason or if that is just how you do life, I hope this article will give you a different perspective on God see you and how He wants you to see yourself.   These negative messages we allow in our head are called "ungodly beliefs" and they are lies according the Word of God.  Take those "lies" and replace them with "Truth" - God's Truth. 

The Discipline of Self-Compassion
by Mike Adams, PhD

What is "self-compassion"?  When I first heard the term, I thought it was some disguised term for selfishness.  But selfishness is when we meet our own needs at the expense of another's needs.  Self-compassion deals is extending compassion or grace to ourselves in areas that we are hurting, deficient, or suffering.  It deals with matters of the heart rather than whether I treat myself to that extra helping of ice cream or hit the snooze button two or three more times than I should each morning.  Just like compassion towards others, self-compassion is the giving of warmth, care, patience, and encouragement to our own mind.  Self-compassion is not about meeting our needs; it deals with the voices inside us.  By "voices" I mean the thoughts that run through our heads, the things we say to ourselves, and that thought process that seems to provide constant commentary on our lives.  In the Bible, the apostle Paul prays that the churches in Ephesus would grasp how wide, and long and high and deep the love of Christ is in their inner being (see Ephesians 3:14-19).  Self-compassion is allowing Christ's sacrificial grace, forgiveness, and ...well...compassion to permeate how we speak to ourselves.

Self-compassion is speaking to ourselves the way Jesus might speak to us.  Being compassionate to yourself does not encourage a selfish or self-focused way of being.  In practice, self-compassion frees us up to not be as obsessed about our needs.  Self-criticism seems to have more of an opposite effect in causing us to become more needy and demanding of the environment.  You see, inside of each person is an internal conflict, a war if you will, between a self-critical, debasing, devaluing voice and a compassionate, gracious, positive voice.  Self-compassion is learning how to give the encouraging voice more air time.  This voice doesn't excuse the areas of our lives that we need to grow but instead encourages us towards greater connection to God and greater connection to becoming more like Christ.  So, what types of things do you say to yourself?  Are they negative, discouraging statements?


Here are several questions to ask yourself:

1.  Do you find it difficult to accept that God has forgiven you for your shortcomings or past mistakes?
2.  Do you block yourself from being as compassionate towards yourself as you are towards others?
3.  Do you tend to be your "own worst critic"?

If the answer is yes to these questions, then you may struggle considerably with self-compassion.  When self-compassion suffers, we become bitter towards others and even judgmental at times, especially of those who are close to us.  We can only give the amount of grace that we have allowed ourselves to receive (see Luke 7:47).  If this is the case, work on bringing those critical thought patterns "captive" and create a series of more compassionate statements to replace them.  Can you imagine what life would be like without a frequent internal critic sitting on your shoulder?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rating the Way You Were Raised

I always feel like I need to put a disclaimer on these types of posts.  I always want to stress that looking at family background is not to blame or stir up anger toward our parents or caregivers.  If we have lived for any amount of time and especially if we have our own children we are very aware that most parents do the best they know how for their children and most of the "dysfunctional" traits that they exhibit come from their background.  So we look at these types of things in light of information and education not blame or criticism.  As I looked at this list I know I scored pretty badly as a parent - the goal is that each generation continues to get healthier than the last and works on those areas that are known to be unhealthy.

As discussed, unhealthy relational patterns tend to be passed down from generation to generation unless someone makes a conscious effort to change the course.

The ten questions in the inventory will help you judge where you've been so you can better judge where you are and where you should be in terms of relational health.

On a scale of 0-10 use the following statements to rate the way you were raised (0=not at all; 10=all the time)


My parents were:

_______1.  Like dictators, wanted obedience
_______2.  Rigid, forceful with strict rules, values, beliefs and expectations (shamed if we were different)
_______3.  Critical, judgmental with harsh punishment.
_______4.  Closed to talking about certain subjects; sex, religion, politics, feelings.
_______5.  Poor listeners about my thinking and feelings
_______6.  Like a machine with many demands (you should and you should not)
_______7.  Degrading with names such as "stupid" "lazy" "no good"
_______8.  Cold and indifferent toward me
_______9. Resistant to changes and learning new things (It was not easy to disagree with them and stay "safe")
______10. Distant (not close, not invited to do things with them regularly)

_______Total score.   Add up the numbers of your ten responses.

The higher your score (the closer to 100) the higher the potential for your having been raised in an emotionally unhealthy home,. 

Questions for further thought: 
How much "old baggage" do you still carry?  Does any of this "baggage" affect your current relationship to your spouse or children?

Some of the content of this blog post was taken from the book, "Making Love Last Forever" by Gary Smalley

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Healthy Relationship Sign #5

Our last Healthy Relationship Sign is, "The Personal Boundaries of ALL are Respected."

Honoring and protecting others "boundaries' is essential to the health both of the relationship and the individual. Think of your loved ones boundaries or personal property line as a fragile bird egg. If you care for it and nurture it you will see a beautiful healthy bird. But if you are careless and crack it the growing bird inside may die. Respecting the boundaries of your spouse means you honor that person.

We have talked about this in previous posts but I think it bears repeating. It is the one aspect of relationships that can make a huge difference in how healthy and enjoyable our lives together can be.

Another word for respecting boundaries and property lines of another is "honor" If we honor someone, that person carries weight with us. That person is valuable to us. When we honor someone we give that persona highly respected position in our lives. Honor equals love and provides the ability to stay in love.

What is the relationship between honor and love? When we honor someone we increase their value and then we feel the desire to love and do worthwhile things for that person. The bible say's, "Whatever you treasure, that is where your heart is." When we highly value something or someone we enjoy taking care so we don't lose it or harm it. We enjoy "being with it or them." The "feeling" of love is a reflection of our level of honor we have for them.

So how do you retrieve lost feelings of love? By choosing to increase the value that person has in your mind. Honor and love for your spouse grow best out of a healthy respect for yourself. When we have healthy respect for ourselves we are more apt to honor and respect others.

So healthy relationships are relationships that give others the freedom to think, to talk, to feel and connect with us. They show honor by respecting each person's uniqueness.

We all fail in these areas and the key is to develop healthy habits. No matter what your family background is or how unhealthy it was you can learn to be healthy - we can check our marriage vital signs regularly and move from unhealthy to healthy.

Next Post: An inventory that will show you if your were taught unhealthy relational skills. As parents we for the most part do that best we know how to do but when unhealthy behavior comes to light it is up to us as an individual to make the choice to change.

Question to Ponder: What do you honor and treasure most about your spouse?

"Making Love Last Forever" by Gary Smalley was used as a guide for these posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Healthy Relationship Sign #4

Sign #4  Everyone in the relationship feels meaningfully connected.

Your connected when you regularly share your deepest feelings with one another, when you are happy to see each other at the end of the day, enjoy doing things together and being together.

The opposite of this is in a situation where a spouse is either neglectful  (a workaholic or controlling) Neglect or control creates distance not connection.

We must have connection in our lives - it is a basic human need.  If we don't get the connection we need with the people closest to us in life we will most likely find a way to get that need met.  Many times this can be through destructive behavior, such as an unhealthy addictions, this can include over eating, over working, and anger.  This is a way to medicate the hollow feeling we have inside. 

Unresolved anger disconnects people.  It makes a person withdraw, not draw close.  If your spouse has anger toward their parents they will have a harder time connecting with you. Hidden anger sabotages a lot of relationships, and that's one of the reasons it's so important that we deal with our anger the right way, through forgiveness. 

A few ways to create connectedness in your relationships
  • Look within yourself - do you have an unresolved anger (toward anyone) that needs to be dealt with - if so go here and work through the process 
  • Look at how you treat your spouse - are you neglectful or controlling?  
  • Does your marriage have these four destructive behaviors in it - if so work on the part that you create.
  • Show honor and respect for your spouse, even when you don't agree with them.  Create a safe environment in your marriage.
  • Create shared experiences - take time to do fun, adventurous or helpful things together
Connection is healthy, lack of connection or distance is unhealthy.

How connected do you feel to your spouse, your children and other members of your family?  Or how much distance are you putting between yourself and those you love?
 
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
Ephesians 5:33 (The Message)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Healthy Relationship - Sign #3

In a healthy relationship you not only know your thinking and words will be valued and respected, but you also have the freedom to share your feelings.

An example of this is if someone shares their feelings and the other person states, " I can't believe your saying that! You are always so sensitive!" or one person says, "I'm worried about how this is going to work out" and the other person says, "Come on lighten up! You're making such a big deal about this!"

This is belittling the persons true feelings. As I'm sure I have stated in this post before we have to realize that feelings are real - they may be wrong but they still are real to the person experiencing the feelings. It doesn't mean we don't deal with our feelings but if a spouse is going to create a safe place in the relationship they have to validate that those feelings are real.

So how do we do this? We listen to the feelings of the person without making them feel like their feelings are not valid. We listen to the feelings of another without criticizing or belittling.

Most of the time we do these thing with out thinking. In a marriage it many times becomes a habit.
So today be aware of what you are saying to those closest to you. If they express they are feeling a certain way do you affirm those feelings or do you discredit those feelings?

This freedom to share feelings is one the clearest indicators of the health of a relationship.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Healthy Relationship - Sign #2


The second sign of a healthy relationship is "Everyone is encouraged to talk and know their words will be valued."

In a good and healthy relationship, you have not only the freedom to think, but you also are encouraged to talk and to express yourself.

When you talk the other person listens with the attitude that what you are trying to say is greatly valued, even if the two of you disagree.

Note: this does not mean it's OK to speak disrespectfully. With freedom comes responsibility and everything we say should be honoring to those we are talking to . Even strong opinions can be stated in a respectful manner.

Whatever type of communication was used in your family of origin that's usually the pattern of communication you will tend to use as an adult. Did you have a distant or controlling parent? Were you never allowed to speak candidly? Were the words, "I love you" seldom heard in your home? If you as an adult are now repeating some of these unhealthy patterns here is an idea of how to begin a new way of communicating:

Go to your spouse, children or close friends and say, " I wish I were talking to you more and listening to what you have to say but I wasn't raised that way, so it doesn't come naturally to me. In fact, it's hard for me. But I want to break these habits and do things differently in this area of my life. WILL YOU HELP ME?"

This does two things
1. Conveys that you are working on this issue and aware that it is a problem
2. Gives permission for the other person to let you know when they feel they are not being listened to respectfully
3. It makes us accountable for our actions.

It will take time and effort but the end result will be worth it. The pull of our past can be broken.

This is an area I struggled in for years. I had wonderful parents but they came from very dysfunctional alcoholic homes and passed many of those unhealthy communication skills to me - I picked them up and tended to be a controlling parent that would not always allow my family to express opinions that were different than mine. I wish I would have learned this earlier but I did learn it and I can tell you from experience you can reverse these habits and patterns we bring from our childhood home. Admit what they are and begin today!

*Take a few moments to think about the patterns of communication you had at home when you were growing up........

*Now ask yourself how are your current patterns of communication at your home different or the same to when you grew up......

What is one thing in communicating with your spouse that you need to ask their help in doing?

Next post: Sign #3 - Everyone has a sense of safety and value in sharing their feelings

James 1:19 "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."

Friday, April 29, 2011

5 Signs of a Healthy Marriage

Are my relationships healthy? What does that question mean? What does "health" mean in terms of relationship?

A healthy relationships is one that each person feels valued, cared for, safe, and loved. Each person is relatively content with life and is growing toward maturity.

In every relationship and especially marriage there are at least 5 generally accepted factors or sign of health in that relationships.

Sign #1

1. Each person feels safe to Think for Themselves

If they are told when you say something that "that's a stupid idea" or Just do what I say, stop asking questions!" the spouse will soon learn they are not safe to think for themselves or express their opinion. If this continues it can wear down the persons self-esteem and allow resentment to grow.

Some spouses make it very clear that if you don't think things their way there must be something wrong with you. Bottom line it is communicating to your spouse that their thinking is flawed.

On the other hand in a healthy relationship we encourage others to think. We want our spouse to use their creativity and intelligence, their God given personalities to compliment our own. Someone once said, " If both of us think exactly alike; one of us in unnecessary"

I hate to have to admit this but in my early years of marriage I was guilty of this and so was my hubby. We are VERY different people and really for years had a hard time understanding that the other person perspective could actually enhance our decisions and our lives. We spent many years arguing about things because we each thought our way of thinking was superior.

The truth of the matter is we both had good ideas and we both brought our own individual strengths into the marriage. Now we listen to what each of us has to say and if we don't agree totally many times we will come up with a compromise.

Today, think about the times when your spouse's ideas or counsel blessed your life, your marriage and perhaps even saved your from a big mess. Thank God today for the gift of your spouse.

Next Post: Sign #2 To be Encouraged to Talk and Know Your Words will be Valued

3 A house is built by wisdom
and becomes strong through good sense.
4 Through knowledge its rooms are filled
with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.

5 The wise are mightier than the strong,[a]
and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.
6 So don’t go to war without wise guidance;
victory depends on having many advisers.

Proverbs 24:3-6 (New Living Translation)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to Honor Your Spouse

We talked about honor 2 posts ago and today I wanted to give you some ideas on how to honor your spouse.

We talked about how "honor" creates safety and security in your marriage, that it is a 'gift' we give our spouse not something that is deserved or earned and that honoring each other is a "Choice"

This hard stuff if you have a difficult spouse or you have had years up built up resentment. First you probably need to clear out some of that resentment - I talked out that in my FORGIVENESS blog. If that is a problem go to that post and work through that process.

We also talked about - what we believe we will find evidence to support that belief - so we need to start by building the belief that our spouse is a great person and we are extremely blessed to have them!

Here are some things you can do to begin the process: (it would be great if you both do this)

1. Make a list of your spouses positives - what you admire about them - their personality, their values, their talents, their character, the way they do things - then post it somewhere you can see everyday.
If you place high honor on someone they will justify it!

2. Become a student of your spouse - What are their preferences? favorite food? favorite date night thing to do? How do they like to relax? What is their love language?
Do things they like, make your spouse feel valued.

3. Remember it's the small things that matter the most - Guys - fix things that need to be fixed, open the door, what ever small things that make her feel valued. Girls- clean something that he would usually have to do, make his favorite food, take the old t-shirt off before bed and put something sexy on :)
If you have been a student of your spouse you will know what makes them feel special!

4. Seek Forgiveness - A heartfelt apology without excuses. Being humble makes your spouse feel honored.

5. Stop being critical, judging and condemning - God is safe, merciful and doesn't judge.
Work on changing you not your spouse.

Ending thought:
You have the freedom and responsibility to change yourself but you do not have the responsibility to change your spouse.


13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.


Galatians 5:13 (New Living Translation)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Honor in Marriage

Last post we talked about creating "security or safety" in marriage.  One of the keys to creating safety within a relationship is something that Gary Smalley calls, "Honor."  So what does "honoring" someone look like?  To honor your spouse or anyone else is:
  • to value a person highly
  • to treat them as a treasure and treat them with respect
Honor is like many things - A Choice.  We can choose to honor our spouse whether they deserve it or not.

This is the hard part - when you do not feel your spouse deserves to be honored.  But the way you have to look at it is that honor is not earned - it is a gift.  It doesn't depend on your feelings or your spouses actions - it is something that you choose to give.

Just like many things in life, once you begin to honor your spouse, you will actually begin to see the good things that you couldn't see before.  It changes our thought process from a negative to a positive.
What we choose, creates how we feel.  So if we choose to honor someone the feeling of honor will follow over time.

You make the choice to value that other person, you choose to look beneath the behavior to find the value inside, you decide to treasure them and look at their pluses not minuses.  You keep in this frame of mind and your emotions will begin to fall in line.

Our feelings always follow our beliefs......

This is called, "Confirmation Bias"  (look it up)  Confirmation bias means that what we believe about someone whether positive or negative, we will find evidence to support that belief. 

If you focus on the negatives of your spouse, it is inevitable that you will treat them accordingly.  On the other hand if you look at the positive side and see your spouse as a wonderful treasure you will begin to place high value on them and your feelings of affection will grow.

Dr. John Gottman, a relationship expert, found that he can predict divorce by 99% accuracy just by observing whether couples honor each other.  Without honor you can not attain intimacy or security in marriage.


Next post: Some ways to honor one another...

"Be devoted to one another in love; give preference to one another in honor"  Romans 12:10

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creating Security in Your Marriage

I've been reading some books about marriage recently, specifically some Gary Smalley books, and the main concept of these books on marriage is the idea of "security" within a marriage.

"The foundational component of an excellent marriage is a truly secure environment-one that is secure physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally."

He states in his books that this is the key components to a happy fulfilling marriage.
The concept is that a deep, emotionally-based, intimate, best friend type of relationship can only happen when you feel safe and secure in the presence of the other person.

Many times in marriage we try so hard to create intimacy through, learning each others love language, emotional needs, being romantic, date nights, even attending church and conferences but still none of these methods will work if you do not have the foundation of safety and security in your marriage.

I do have the opportunity to work with couples in couples and marriage counseling often and I have found this to be true. All these methods are great at enhancing your marriage relationship but if you do not feel emotionally safe with that other person these methods will fail to bring true emotional intimacy into your marriage.

So what is “security” in a relationship? I define this as the level of comfort both people feel with each other. These are some aspects in which to assess the safe place in a relationship. They are:
  • respect
  • feeling heard
  • understanding
  • validation
  • empathy
  • love
  • commitment
In your marriage do you feel safe enough to open up and share who you really are, your deepest thoughts, hopes, and dreams without feeling you will be criticized, blamed, condemned, or judged? Do you feel you have to hide and protect your innermost self because your mate will not give you the safety of being open? Do you feel completely secure in your spouses love?

Well, because this is " A Seed of Hope" Blog we are going to take a few weeks to look at what it takes to build security into your marriage and create 'HOPE" that your marriage can achieve a greater level of "security" even if it's all up to you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butterfly Garden

The Butterfly Garden
Continuing to post about Spring things at our home, last post was about the play set we put up for the grand kids and today will be about my "Butterfly Garden"

Now, if you have followed my past posts for any length of time you know I AM NOT a gardener. In fact, I don't enjoy digging in the mud and getting my hands and feet all dirty and I hate the heat. I am surrounded in life by friends and family who LOVE gardening and planting stuff, I am constantly amazed at how they talk about how relaxing it is, peaceful and something they can do all day. I just don't get it, but then most of them don't get how I can spend hours on my computer either so..... :-)

So you may ask, why do you have any kind of garden? Well, I have found I do like to have very simple type gardens that take very little effort and have some sort of quick reward. I have discovered two of those kinds of gardens.

One, is an herb garden - a couple years ago my friend Cindy (also known as meems) at Hoe and Shovel went to Home Depot to help me create an herb garden and it is still growing and producing wonderful herbs to this day. This is truly a miracle. Link to that post

So, my sweet daughter Debbie, was doing some volunteer work at her daughters school and it entailed creating a butterfly garden. So she enjoyed it so much she decided to created on in her yard. She went to the store and bought milkweed plants and they had Monark Butterfly caterpillars on them and cocoons. The next day one of the cocoons opened up for a beautiful butterfly to emerge.

Well, I love butterflies and all they represent (change, transformation and freedom) so of course I was inspired to start my own butterfly garden. So here are a few pictures of it and my wonderful daughter also bought me a couple milkweeds with caterpillars on them. I have already lost a couple caterpillars to the birds but I have 3 more that I hope will make it.
The Baby Butterfly - Isn't it cute!!

The sibling

what used to be a failed veggie garden now is full of butterfly friendly plants
So to all my gardener friends and family I do now understand just a "little" bit of why you are so enthralled with gardening but I really like the end result much more than the process! :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Things!



We have just completed some pretty deep and heavy posts so today being the Sanquine I am.... I must take a break from serious stuff and talk about some FUN stuff! I am going to start a series on marriage relationships after this but for now.......

Spring is here! And although my favorite of all seasons in fall - I am also very fond of spring. The weather is still cool and everyone and everything starts getting out and being active again after hibernating for the winter. It's not so much like that here in Florida but this was a pretty cold winter even for us, so I think there was some of that even here.

So as spring starts at our house we had two projects that we wanted to complete. One was to build a playset for the grandkids and the other was to start a butterfly garden.

I will start with the playset. We found one for a great price at Walmart - it had to have a glider as that is Anna's favorite thing to play on. :-) We went down to pick it up and it was in two boxes. I asked my hubby how they fit everything in those boxes and he replied, "In many small pieces that I have to put together." : -) Fortunately my sweet and wonderful Son-in-law, Abel, volunteered his Saturday to help put it together. The two of them worked all day on it but the end result was lots fun and laughter for the grands and that is always the goal we have in mind!!

Here are a few pics of the workers, the playset and the kid's having fun!
Abel hard at work and a bit tired I think. :)
Finally getting to the bottom of the box!!
Kaitlyn and Anna finally on the glider!!
Even the big kids wanted to play
Matthew came to join us
A seat for everyone!
Many years of fun to come!!!
Next post I will tell you about the "Butterfly Garden" then back to the serious stuff!!