School summer vacation has an immense undercurrent to it these days. Below the surface of the joy that the children feel about summer vacation from school, there exists a hint of angst when parents think about children being home in summer. It is rare though when a parent openly shares their negative feelings of shame and guilt associated with children being home. There is less structure, less mom time, and less money available because food, entertainment, camp, and vacation expenses go up. Moms, in particular, feel more guilt and shame over not being able to be the fantastic mom portrayed in social media. Therefore, they find it difficult to focus on the positive aspects of connecting with their children and find summer to be a struggle. Two conflicting emotions are colliding! However, God desires to empower us in all the losses and negative feelings we experience during this season. We love our children; however, we may need some assistance in processing our feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and powerlessness that get stirred by the summer break. Join host Sharon Wegman and her guest host Jesukah Beachy (mom of four girls) as they discuss how to bring empowerment to the negative feelings tied to summer break.
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You Cannot be Knocked Over Easily When Your Water Bottle is Full
I am not sure if anyone ever told you that you were a water bottle, but you are. When your water bottle is full, it cannot be tipped over easily; however, when your water bottle is empty, you will be more readily knocked down physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When you are born your body is about 78% water, and by the time you are an adult, men need their body to have a water hydration level of 50-60% and women need their water hydration levels to be 45-60%. Water runs all of the systems of our physical body including our brain, and we need to take in water to keep our systems running in a healthy manner. This is a good correlation to keeping yourself hydrated spiritually and emotionally; if you’re not hydrating yourself in these way, then when troubles come, you will be knocked to the ground easily. When you are hydrating yourself emotionally and spiritually, you will make better choices in the care of self and others, but when you are not…well, the consequences are apparent. I believe that from the moment you are born, you have needs and longings that are hardwired into you from your very creation. From the moment a baby is born they are crying to have their physical and emotional longings fulfilled, but somewhere along the way, we learn to suppress those longings and we use addictions and control of various things as a means of suppressing those longings. However, no person can fulfill all the longings of another, and thus we have a puzzle of how to let in our spiritual creator and other safe humans to take care of these longings. Proverbs 13:19 states that a longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but most people who have no idea what they have natural longings for because they have been suppressing those longings for so long. When your needs and longings have received the emotional and spiritual water they need to to be healthy, you will make better emotional and spiritual choices and will be less likely to medicate or control things in life. What do you need today to fill your water bottle? Here is my general list of emotional and spiritual elements people needs. What would you add to the list?
⚪Healthy Touch like a safe hug, a comforting hold, holding hands, snuggling
⚪To be heard- talking with someone who listens so I feel valued and heard
⚪Affirmation – need to hear something good about myself
⚪Joy – a good laugh, doing something I love, being with people who are joyful, having a spiritual experience, singing
⚪A need to create – art, music, dance, write, decorate, cleaning, organizing, building, fixing.
⚪Peace – quiet, alone time, a nap, a bath, etc.
⚪Beauty – Outdoors time, beautiful things, color
⚪Passion – something to get excited about, vision, new experience, new knowledge
⚪To feel useful- to feel like I am making a positive impact on my world
You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abound in glory that just pours out into eternity. Phil. 4:20 (MSG)
Are You Embracing Winter?
Here in the Northeast, we start dreaming about tropical climates and Island getaways by the beginning of January. By the end of February, we are pretty sure we will buy a beach home, and by the end of March, well, we won’t go there.
For most of us, it is hard for us to embrace winter, both in the natural and in the emotional and spiritual. Spring and summer are easy to embrace because everything is new. New growth, fresh fruit, and new beauty. We need winter in the physical and in the emotional and spiritual because in winter the pests die. It is in the winter that we are forced to deal with the conditions on the inside. So, for all those who are in a “winter” season in their lives, be reminded that winter is only a season. Thank God it doesn’t last forever!
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (NIV) There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.
Did you ever wonder why it is hard for you to maintain new habits once you have started them? Be it an exercise routine, an eating plan or a cleaning plan, it can be hard to maintain new and we wind up cycling back to old. I have a very bad habit of not putting away my clothing when I change out of clothing, and quickly amass large piles of assorted clean clothing. It’s a habit I am capable of changing; however, the problem is my belief system. I believe I am messy with my clothing and, while organized in most other areas of my life, this one belief has been hard to change. How about you? What are the beliefs that cause you to resume old habits because the belief systems are what keeps us stuck? If we want to change our circumstances, we are going to have to change our beliefs. Maybe we were verbally abused by our parents so our belief may be that people can say disrespectful things to us and we just have to allow it. Perhaps people in your developmental years were constantly living in lies, and you were taught not to question your gut experience of things. Or maybe you were sexually abused as a child and learned to treat your body with shame by mistreating it in some way. Our worldview is formed by age 12, and many of still allow the child inside of us decide how we will behave and how we will allow others to treat us. It’s time for the adult to start deciding what they believe about themselves and acting out of that truth instead of allowing the child to drive your life. In my life, my spiritual beliefs of how God views me have caused me to change my beliefs about myself and how things can change in my life. However, there are many people who were taught God is a punishing and vindictive God, and they still live out of that belief system which keeps them stuck in a cycle of perfectionism or shame with God. There is no easy math equation regarding beliefs in life when trauma and loss enter into our lives. However, it is possible to begin to understand what your beliefs are that keep you stuck and begin to change the way you think. Unhealthy beliefs will result in unhealthy choices and circumstances. Healthy beliefs will result in healthy choices and circumstances. Choose today whom you will let drive the car of your life; the child or the adult will drive the car. The adult in my life has a clean closet more days than not because I force myself to own the belief that I am capable of putting away my clothes. Each time I do this simple habit change, I think to myself, “You are an adult who likes a clean and environment and this habit brings you peace and joy. You can put away your clothing each day.” While, you, the reader may be irritated with my analogy of cleaning up clothing, it’s a simple analogy to underscore that even small habit changes can bring life to areas that once held shame.
Romans 12:2 (MSG)
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I remember a commercial from my childhood vividly in which the woman proudly declared she could bring home the bacon, take care of the home, and extend value to her relationships because she was a woman! It was an empowering message for women in the 1980’s who were breaking out of the constraints that had been placed on them by society, but it was a myth that grew in strength and has created a loss in many when they were not able to be everything to everybody. Every choice has positives elements that bring peace or life, and every choice has losses that are tied to that choice. For example, as a working woman, I may decide that I do not have the strength to make a homemade dinner and might opt for takeout. The choice is positive for me in that I have extended self-care to myself by the choice takeout has brought me, but the loss is in finances and maybe health quotient. So how do you make decisions when each decision brings loss? This is where I, as a woman, have to include my spirit. This is where I consult the higher power of the Holy Spirit because the Bible says the Spirit of God knows what we need when we do not. I will be honest: there are times I want with all my heart to make a choice for self-care and ignore the losses, but only caring for self can sometimes numb the loss. On a recent afternoon, I arrived home exhausted and laid down in my dark bedroom and watched “Christmas in Connecticut” thinking there was no way I could make dinner. However, as I gave myself care for that half hour things evolved and when I asked the Holy Spirit about making dinner, I felt encouraged to make dinner and did it with an ease that had not existed the previous hour. Where did that strength come from? God. It says in the Bible that Jesus is before the throne of God interceding for us and supplying our needs, but what we need changes daily and we have a God who knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows the power inside of us when we do not. Next time you are questioning what you should choose, ask God to show you. He knows what you do not and can direct you to deal with things you did not know you could deal with today.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
1980’s commercial I referred to in my post
Watching someone die is very difficult. If you have been through the process with a loved one you know exactly what I mean by that statement because you, yourself, have walked through that valley of the shadow of death with someone you love. As the onlooker, all you can do is try and bring comfort to the process, but rarely can you empower the dying individual in ways they do not desire to be empowered. Rarely can you change the ravages of what the disease is doing to the person. Walking with the dying is a powerless place to be and yet we, as the helpers, try to do all sorts of things to try make ourselves feel more powerful and less powerless. This same journey with the the dying can be replicated a thousand times in our daily life with those with whom we have relationships. Be it parent, child, spouse, friend, coworker or stranger there are people all around us dying emotionally in one way or another through various means and we try very hard to not feel that emotional pain with them. Be it the friend who cycles through one bad relationship after another, the teen that makes impulsive choices, the spouse who numbs themselves through isolation, the family member who fails to take responsibility for their actions, or the coworker who always blames others for their mistakes, we feel their pain with them because their choices make us feel powerless. So how does one not feel powerless when most of us were taught to give care to others? People generally do one of two things: they create strong emotional boundaries to prevent themselves from feeling vulnerable, or they do a lot of self-medicating. Neither option promotes good mental health because rock solid boundaries prevents good from penetrating the hard exterior and self-medicating in excess usually brings forth some sort of self-sabotage to your own personal goals. Being around other people’s pain and feeling powerless will affect us, but you have the choice of how much you allow it to affect you. Medicate in measure and use boundaries in measure. I am sure you have heard the phrase, “not my circus, not my monkeys”, but how does that apply to how you interact with those you love? The following are five questions to ask yourself when faced with the pain of others:
1. Does this situation require me to be involved?
2. If I am required to be involved, what are the boundaries I need to establish so I take care of myself?
3. If the situation doesn’t really involve me, what is my motivation for getting involved?
4. What are the costs to me and my family and friends if I do get involved? Emotionally/ Financially/ Socially/ Physically, etc.
5. What are the costs to me if I do become involved?
Life is not about just caring for the masses, but caring for yourself and your own purpose. Jesus himself many times left the care of others in other people’s hands as he went off to care for self. When it doubt, prayer and meditation often helps to determine what your place is in the situation but in the end, you will be the one who determines what power you give away in the process of walking with others through pain.
Recently, my brother returned from Papua New Guinea where he and my parents have been working with local leaders to build a Bible School that is focused on creating leaders that will positively impact their community and culture. One of the founders’ beliefs is that if you want to change a culture, you have to train people in things they have never been trained. Papua New Guinea is one of the poorest nations in the world and they have not been educated in so many areas that they do not know what they do not know. The people of the country literally would not think to do things differently because they have never lived any other way.
In their first graduating class (pictured here), a woman by the name of Mazo graduated and had an amazing testimony of pushing through obstacles for she had never attended school a day in her life; she arrived at Bible college with neither the ability to read nor write nor speak in English, the language in which classes were taught. In western culture we would not permit her to stay in the Bible school because she had not met the prerequisites of education, but her classmates rallied around her and taught her to read and write and speak English and she was able to complete her first year of Bible College. The female student had no belief that learning how to read or write or speak a new language would be hard, so in the course of one year, she learned all three.
There is no such thing as impossible in the ways of God. God has empowered us to win. We limit ourselves with our beliefs and understanding of things that we have been taught by our western culture and our family of origin. What does society tell you that you are capable of doing? What did your family tell you about yourself by how they treated you or how did they model how you were to do things by how they behaved? When I was a teen I had a belief that I was not good at math. It was a belief that had been handed down to my by my mother and my grandmother and it caused me to have poor grades in math because I literally believed I was not able to understand the concept. In my second year of college I was forced to take Statistics class as part of my required curriculum and by that point in time my belief system regarding what I was capable of doing had changed and I did relatively well in the class because I believed I was capable of learning and understanding the material. Our belief system limits us in ways we do not understand and many times we do not even realize what we do not know about ourselves. Trust me. I have been doing this counseling thing 20 years and I have never met a person who fully understands their belief system or how their belief system is impacting them. It’s time to allow our fellow classmates teach us what we need to know so we can graduate to the next level.
”Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
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
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!
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
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.
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