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Throughout our Wellsprings offices, you will find many pieces of artwork with beams of light coming into dark areas, such as forests.  It is the “picture” in my mind’s eye of what counseling can do in people’s lives if they allow truth to penetrate the dark areas where they are constantly hurt.  When we are emotionally blinded in an area, we we are not sure what is going on because we cannot see what is around us.  We feel things very clearly, but we are unable to distinguish what reality is and how to move around in it because the room is dark.  Several years ago, there was a show on TV in which people were forced to complete tasks in utter darkness and many participants had extreme fear because they could not see clearly what they were really dealing with or touching.  The only thing they knew is what they were told.  One individual might perceive they were walking across a beam 40 feet in the air because they were told that was their truth and they were strapped up as if they were walking on a beam, but in reality they were only 12 inches off the floor.  How did they know what was real or not?  They could not see and depended on what they were told.   They walked through the darkness in extreme terror not realizing they were believing lies.  Sometimes the messages we were told as children verbally and nonverbally have created large areas of darkness in our lives because what was said or done to us was not really truth.  I continually challenge those in my office to examine what is truth and make decisions on truth, not on the words of those in our past or our present.  Words alone are not truth.  Words alone are intentions or manipulations.  Actions are truth.  Words and actions combined can be a  powerful light in darkness.  Choose to be a person who focuses on the light today.  It will bring illumination to the dark areas of your life.  Make a list of things from your childhood you know are not true, but that you continue to walk according to in your life.  These are the areas where you need truth revealed via praying and asking for God to show you truth or asking safe people in your life what is truth.

 

Mark 4:22

“For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.”

Did you ever purchase something new for your home and find that as you added the new element to the room, the things that were older in the room became glaringly apparent? Be it freshly painted walls, new carpeting or a new sofa, suddenly old became very distinct; however, rarely can everything be changed at once. Usually, it takes time and resources to change all of the other “old”.

Sometimes we get frustrated when we gain a new truth in our lives and the old way of doing things or seeing things becomes glaringly apparent. We get upset because all the changes are not happening at once and we become frustrated. Just like the natural order of changing how a room looks takes time and resources, so the same is true with making internal changes. Give yourself a break today! Truth takes time to change all of the old.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (TLB)
18 But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him

Turning Anxiety into Excitement?

Turning Anxiety into Excitement?

On a recent trip to NYC, I had the privilege of meeting with a Broadway star with the group of students I was chaperoning. The actress had played the lead female role in plays such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Little Mermaid, and other amazing shows and she chose to share with the teens how she dealt with anxiety. She made an interesting statement by stating to the students, “ I figure the anxiety I feel when I go out on the stage is the very sign I need to acknowledge. My feelings of anxiety is not really anxiety, but the thing I was born to do and then I take that anxiety and turn it into excitement.” I am pretty sure most of the teens I was with had no idea what she was actually stating to them, but as I sat there with my typical therapist analysis running through my thoughts, I pondered to myself, “Yes, that is very true. The very area in which there is tension is the very area we need to move toward, because the area that holds tension and resistance is generally where we need to go.”

Now gentle reader, do not jump ahead of me in your anxious thoughts. I am not speaking of becoming a snake handler when we fear snakes; however, I am speaking of the areas we fear confronting inside of ourselves and others. Resistance and anxiety, and how we avoid them, are fears wrapped up with a bow preventing us from acknowledging what could happen if we successfully dealt with our fears. In our story today, the woman who faced her fears became a Broadway star. What will happen to you when you face your fears? What will happen when we come to see that the anxiety that is stirred to the surface regarding a person, place or thing is really a shadow of what light can come? Every shadow we feel or see comes as a result of light. Every feeling of resistance within us is the shadow of the freedom and light that could come. Spiritually, God says that when we are weak, He is stronger inside of us because His light and His power can be shown to us and to others when we still move toward that thing we fear.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 12: 7 -10 The Message (MSG):
7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Turn your anxiety into excitement. You are moving toward the light. You are moving toward freedom. You are moving toward who you were created to be.

6 Tips for Empowering Your Summer

Empowering Your Summer Tip 1

Create a daily schedule. Scheduling will reduce whining because children will know what is coming and be empowered to know when they will have time to do what they want to do. Scheduling will also reduce the ” out of control” feeling for mommies too!

Empowering Your Summer Tip 2

Have fun with your kids!

https://www.care.com/a/101-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-this-summer-1305030150

Empowering Your Summer Tip 3
Start making your schedule for your children’s plans now. The best laid out plans are the plans that are likely to succeed. If you want to create a structured summer, make a plan for that now. Schedule out day trips, free movie and library events and fun afternoons on the calendar to ensure the events will happen. Make a plan for some fun events like water balloon wars and neighborhood talent shows but make the plan now so that they will be on the calendar and likely to happen.

Empowering your Summer Tip 4

Make sure your children continue to connect with school friends throughout the summer so that going back to school will be easier. If your children do not have school friends close by, make sure that you have weekly or biweekly school friend play dates. Regular contact with school friends will reduce back to school anxiety. When my children were younger they attended a private school and most of their friends did not live in the same school district. We developed a schedule where we invited school friends to either a play day where we met children at a local park or invited friends to come to the swimming pool with us. It was good socialization for both the mommies and the children. The weekly schedule was given to friends prior to the end of school so that other mommies could incorporate it into their summer schedules. Park days would run from 10-12 AM and pool days from 12-3 PM.

Empowering Your Summer Tip 5
Summer Boundaries!http://www.boundariesbooks.com/boundaries-with-kids/7-tips-summer-boundaries-with-kids/

Empowering Your Summer Tip Number 6

Many mothers feel extra stress the first two weeks of summer because of all of the new elements of summer hitting their households at the same time. School work has ceased, siblings are together more, bedtime and wake times shift, etc, etc, etc. I often challenge mothers to not react to the new realities of summer “togetherness” for the first two to three weeks of summer. The entire family is responding and reacting to all the changes in their daily schedule; thus, the first two to three weeks are the transition weeks into the new way of living. If you prepare ahead of time with structure and boundaries as described in the Empowering Your Summer Series on our Facebook page, you will be positioned to keep reaffirming to yourself and to your children that these are the pains of transition, the labor pains, and this will not be our reality for the coming weeks and months. By constantly restating that transition to the new ways of summer is occurring, you hopefully will reframe your current reality and not be powerless, fearful or hopeless in your reactions to the changes going on in your household . The positive byproduct of your reframing will be teaching your children that change does not come seamlessly. Birthing new ways of living in your summer schedule and routine many times has labor pains attached to it.

Secret Garden

When I was a child, I loved to read and one of my favorite books (besides the Nancy Drew series) was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The story details all the discoveries of a girl when she moves in with distant relatives who she had never met. One of the main character’s discoveries is that of a secret garden that had been locked up and untended for many years due to the pain of loss tied to that garden for her family. I had a similar discovery of a secret garden recently when doing yard work at our new home. For whatever reason, the previous owners allowed the weeds of the wetlands that back up to our house to take over a rose garden that had been planted and landscaped; we did not realize the rose garden existed until things began to bloom and we began tending our flower beds. It was a small discovery that brought me joy on a number of levels because it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books. It made me wonder to myself what else has yet to be discovered! The concept of secret gardens exists in people as well as gardens. There is so much beauty that has been locked up, hidden and undiscovered due to losses individuals have endured throughout the course of their life. I am constantly challenging individuals to pull away all the weeds and briars that they have allowed to cover up the beautiful aspects of their being. The painful briars that keep the beautiful things guarded are the same painful briars that keep us from enjoying the beauty. Most people will respond to my challenges by saying it’s just too painful or too hard to remove the walls, but when given assistance by those around them that also want to see the beautiful parts of the individual uncovered, they can allow the progress to occur. Finding discoveries of hidden beauty in people is not uncommon but finding assistance in helping to remove the painful briars of protection can be. When was the last time you complimented an individual on something emotionally, spiritually or physically beautiful about that person? We need people to pull the beauty out of us and with us; otherwise, the weeds of life that come with loss and trauma slowly choke out the beauty. God can help us, but we must also tend to our gardens, The Bible says it this way: 1 Corinthians 3:9 Amplified Bible (AMP) 9 “For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.” Go pull some weeds today so that the beauty of who you were created to be can be visible to yourself and others. Stop keeping your beauty in a secret garden.

 

Are You Looking Back or Looking Forward?

Do you know anyone who spends a lot of time reminiscing about how good things were in the past instead of creating good in the present? We tend to skew our perception of reality when we long for things of the past to be in the present. Rarely can old ways be contained in our new reality because in order for things of old to be part of our new present reality, those things/people of old have to become new, too.

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 9: 17, “Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Stop looking behind you to see what people from your past are doing and start moving toward people who are in your present and your future. Just like Lot’s wife in the Bible who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at her former life, you, too, will become stuck and unmoving.

Engage with Your Creator: Do Something New Today!!

Sometimes it is sooooooooo hard to keep new habits. We all want to create new and updated versions of self, but alas, the realities of being stuck in the ruts of old ways are hard to break. I started a new habit in January of trying to write blog posts twice a week. At first I was able to keep the habit, but then I decided a more reasonable goal was to write a blog once a week. Then my speaking engagements for the spring picked up speed, and I was spending all of my writing time prepping for my speaking time. My new habit was slowly being phased out of being a habit and, unfortunately when I was finally healthy, did not have house company, wasn’t speaking somewhere, and able to write a blog again, I forgot about even trying to write. That’s the nature of new things. They are hard to maintain when you get sidetracked. My new strategy is to write on a Monday afternoon and, if I am unable to complete that task, I will aim for finishing on a Wednesday afternoon. Doing new things is a really important value to me. Every time I do something new, I am seeing more of who and what I am capable of being. Doing new things is a spiritual process because we are engaging with the creator. We are creating new where once there was old. Engage with your creator this week. Do something new.

Isaiah 43:19-21The Message (MSG)

16-21 This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.

Do You Recognize Your Water Bottle?

Do You Recognize Your Water Bottle?

Do you Recognize your Water Bottle?

Most of us have perceived images of what a water bottle looks like; therefore, when water is presented in a different container we tend to not recognize it for what is in the container.
The same can be true for life giving people in our lives. We have an expectation/perception of what they will look like and fail to recognize what is contained within them. How many times do we keep people who are life giving out of our lives just because they do not meet our perceived expectation on the outside?
Perhaps we need to adjust our expectations when looking for emotional and spiritual water. It does not always come from the source we perceived it would come from.
” Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary
is a letter from a long-lost friend. ” Proverbs 25:25(MSG)

I’ll Never Do That Again!!!

Did you ever get to the end of a day and say to yourself, “I’ll never do that again!!!” We all have moments of great frustration that cause us do start setting stronger boundaries for ourselves or others. Unfortunately, we do not always allow ourselves to be taught by the mistake. Many times, we allow others to try to convince us that what we feel or think is not truth. Deep in our soul we know better, but some of us are well accustomed to taking care of others more than self, that sometimes we fail to recognize our “smoke alarm” signal. Don’t toss out your truth when someone disagrees with your truth alarm signal. The truth you have learned for yourself is God’s warning signal to help you learn where your boundaries need to be set to protect yourself and to protect those around you.
James 1:5 (TLB) 5 If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it

Five Phrases that will Bring You Greater Emotional Connection

In the world of counseling, we frequently discuss relationships and how to interact with people in positive ways. I regularly am directing people to learn new communication skills that promote positive emotional connections in their relationships. Learning a new way of how to speak to others is often like learning a foreign language. It takes a long time to learn how to connect with people on a more intimate level when you are learning a foreign language or when learning how to speak in an emotionally connecting manner. Most of the people I meet were raised in homes where neither languages were taught.
The following are five positive phrases we can use with friends, family members, and coworkers to connect with them in positive ways:
1. “You should be proud of yourself for __________________ (fill in a behavior or action).” When we focus on the fact that the individual should be proud of themselves, it causes the person to take ownership of their actions instead of just hearing the ways we are proud of them. Although we may state that we are proud of them, our main focus needs to be that the individual is encouraged to take ownership of their good choices.
2. “I am sorry that you have to deal with this______________ (fill in the blank).” “That must make you feel_________ (fill in the blank with an emotion).” People need to hear that we have empathy for their situation so that they do not question the validity of their own feelings. All humans need to feel understood in order to feel emotionally connected to another person.
3. “You are good at _________________ (fill in a skill or a behavior) and I benefit from your strength in this way_________________(list how their strength impacts you).” All of us need affirmation and to know how we are impacting our world in a positive way. Are you telling people how their strengths impact you?
4. “Everyone makes mistakes, myself included, and this is what I did that was similar __________ (share a similar mistake)”. We need to hear that our mistakes are part of the normal human condition because when we do make a mistake we tend to blanket ourselves with shame. We need other caring individuals to help remove that shame by letting us see that we are not defined by our mistakes.
5. “I notice you______________ (fill in a positive action or attribute).” All people need to be recognized for their positive contributions that they bring to the world and when you recognize another individual for their contributions, they will feel loved and valued.
I have no doubt that most people reading this post wish to be more loving individuals, but most people were not taught the language of emotional connectedness. Try to introduce one of these phrases each day this week.
8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults.[a]