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Who Are You Listening To?

Who Are You Listening To?

Doing new things can be scary. In fact, most people sit across from me saying that they don’t like change and I tell them, “You are pretty normal. Most people don’t like change.” In fact, most people would venture to say that while they want to change their lives, the changes necessary for change are daunting and overwhelming. It feels more comfortable to do things as we have always done things; however, when we examine the emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational costs of not making changes, the price is much higher than if one never made adjustments.

There is a story in the Bible about what happened to the children of Israel when they arrived at their promised land after being released from slavery and abuses of all kinds. They had lived as victims for generations, and while they saw God’s hand repeatedly rescuing them as they exited their abusive captivity, it was hard for them to visualize being able to take the necessary steps to receive the promised land. Twelve were sent into the area to see what God wanted to give them and, of the twelve, only two were confident that the same God who had rescued them from slavery would enable them to be strong enough to make the changes necessary to access the promised land. You can read about this story in the book of Exodus.

It’s hard to think differently than we have been taught. We are taught how to live by our parents, our grandparents, our teachers in school, friends, our culture, etc., etc.. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we are making decisions based on things that someone told us repeatedly that weren’t true. The children of Israel had been told lies about their worth in captivity, and so when they were brought to the crossing over point, they could not do it because of their old beliefs about who they were won over what God had been telling them and showing them. God literally had to keep them in a holding pattern for 40 years until all of the old ways of thinking had died and the next generation who had not lived as slaves knew their worth. They saw God as their daily provider and were able to make a choice to make changes.

What about you? Are you looking at crossing over into the promised land and your old thinking is keeping you from making the necessary changes? Where did those thoughts come from? Where did you collect them from in life? Do they match what God says about you? In my own personal experience, each time I come to the threshold of new, I have to invite God into my listening process, or I could easily listen to the old recordings from my past. Rarely do I see how each thing will play out as I make decisions, but as the Bible states, “ the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord.” Each new step I take into a new promised land more is revealed and released that I would never have seen until I crossed over. Like Joshua and Caleb (the two of the twelve that knew they could cross over), I need to surround myself with friends who believe the same things so that their thoughts and words can spur me on to new.

Change is hard. Whose beliefs are you listening to today? God is bigger than anything you have to change.

Summer: When the Kids are Home and Moms Go Crazy!

Help With The Feelings of Summer

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.

What Happens in The Quiet

What Happens in The Quiet

This morning, I got up early and walked the dog as I always do before I came to work. I savored my alone time on the walk, and then on my drive into work as it was the first quiet, non-stimulating alone time in five days. The holidays are exciting because we spend time with people, and have special foods, specials concerts, and stimulation of all shapes, sizes, and textures. However, my walk this morning told me I desired the structure of my alone time more than I realized. This year I have valued my solo pre-dawn walks of the dog so much that I went out of my way to ask for a Christmas gift of a unique, heavy-duty coat for walking in the extreme cold. It’s long, heavy, and it has this fantastic, all-encompassing hood that kind of makes me look like the grim reaper; however, it gives me the coverage to continue below zero walks of the dog. When I take the time to be in the quiet, I organize my thoughts, perceptions, needs, and desires in a manner that makes me feel empowered in my life. When I fail to take the time to be in the quiet, I am more disorganized, forgetful, less spiritually focused and I put aside the things that I need without taking the time to recognize what I need to pursue. I am a more focused and happier version of myself when I include daily periods of silence.
In my line of work, I hear all the reasons why people cannot have the alone time they need, but not all the ways they are working to make it happen. Many people desire the quiet at the same time they fear it. We need calm. We were designed to value quiet so that we would pursue that which impacts our body, soul, and spirit. However, many people fear the quiet and the alone because their tormenting thoughts invade the space of the quiet. Tormenting thoughts are the signal you need to process your thoughts on paper with God or with someone like a trusted friend, pastor or counselor. If you ignore the feelings that come in the silence, they will grow louder and will begin to be heard by you in your interactions with people, your work, and your family relationships. The holidays are winding down; I look joyfully to the reboot of peace and structure of the new year. How about you? Are you dreading the silence of January? Do you have tormenting thoughts to be processed so that you can embrace peace? Isaiah 30:15 b says this about quiet, “In return and rest you will be saved; quietness and trust will be your strength, but you refused.” It’s important to understand that many of the individuals that achieved much take the time to retreat into the quiet to build their strength instead of running harder to get to their goals. If you are training to be stronger spiritually and emotionally, it’s essential that you begin to incorporate quiet into your day. Make the decision to face down the elements that prevent you from entering the quiet and equipping yourself with the necessary tools and boundaries that make quiet possible.
Start asking yourself and God why you prevent yourself from being in the quiet and make a plan to move toward it.

I Am Woman! Hear me…Meow?

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.

John 16:13
“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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q0P94wyBYk

Pushing Beyond the Waves

Have you ever tried to navigate a boat from the bay to the open ocean? It is not an easy process depending upon how large the waves that are coming in are sized. Fighting against the waves is a complicated process, and many choose not to push through the waves to the freedom of the open sea. Instead, they stay in the calm waters of the bay. The same goes for choices in life. Many make decisions based on the amount of resistance the decision will incur, not on the freedom on the other side of the wave line. The waves can be like so many things that resist you moving to freedom and, let’s make this clear, waves only move in one direction. They do not change course; you have to wade through them to get to the other side of the wave line:

1. Your psyche that has been doing things the same way for years on end.
2. Your family or friends who like what you do for them and resist your making changes.
3. Your psyche that feels guilt and shame when changes are made, and people are upset.
4. Finances that seem stuck in holding patterns.
5. Jobs that do not create opportunities for advancement.

The list could go on forever, but the theme is the same. There will never a time when the waves of life are not preventing you from moving forward, be it emotionally, socially, behaviorally, financially, etc. So how do we have hope to go through the wave line to the freedom of the open seas that will take us to new destinations? The answer is hope. Hope is like the lifeline of a life preserver – that when I cling to it, I do not go under the water but stay on top. What you put your hope in becomes the larger question. Is your hope in your attitude, your hard work, your plan, your family, your friends? Your government?

I put my hope in God, and God becomes my flotation device as I face the waves that come my way. There will always be waves, but there will always be a true God and I put my hope in Him.

A psalm of David when he fled from his son, Absalom.
1 LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” 3 But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. 6 I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side

Relationship Change is Exhausting and Invigorating – Just Like Moving.

Around this time last year I moved. It was exhausting and difficult, and every day I crawled in bed close to tears. Change is hard on so many levels and this is true in relationships as well as household changes. I was recently reflecting on how difficult it can be to change how you relate to your spouse when you have related in the same ways for so many years. Like moving, transition in relationships can be hard. You have to decide what you are going to keep and discard in your relationship transition. As people grow and change, what they need in the new relationship is not necessarily what was needed in the past. Many changes in the course of a marriage will impact what the marriage needs and what each person needs as time marches forward. Births, deaths, illness, the ages of your children, the work status of each person, spiritual crisis, emotional crisis, extended family issues, holidays and many other things will impact how your relationship needs to transition. The new relationship will require both parties to move around how they had positioned themselves toward one another. Rare is the occasion when how the furniture was positioned one house can be positioned in the same way in the new location. In all relationships moving, to the new way it is to exist will require some difficult conversations often filled with pain and hurt. The pain and hurt is usually so large that it is exhausting for the couple and yet they must push through the pain and exhaustion to get to the other side. One person cannot move the relationship alone. You just cannot carry the relationship to the new without both parties doing the heavy lifting and feeling the pain, but that is a hard task. Rare is the person who embraces emotional pain and allows themselves to sit in it until it can be moved and yet it is what is necessary to make the move together. Relationships cannot be moved to the new alone, but they require heavy lifting, pain and exhaustion close to tears. We cannot do it alone. We need the supernatural medicating power of God to assist us through all transitions as he has the power that we can lean into when we do not feel it in and of ourselves.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

My Break-Up Letter with Fear

WELLSPRINGS SOLUTIONS, LLC·WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2016

The other day, some friends and I were sitting around a table talking about the person we want to be and the goals we have in life; however, fear always seems to stand in the way like a controlling partner. In the course of conversation, my friend Cristina declared, “ I just feel like I need to write a breakup letter with fear!!” and all of us exclaimed in unison that we felt this to be a great idea. I, of course, thought it to be a wonderful therapeutic exercise for clients. So this is my break up letter with fear and it is dedicated to Cristina, whose idea birthed much truth. Go write your own break up letter with fear after reading mine.

Dear fear,
This letter has been a long time coming and I am finally strong enough to say goodbye to you: GOODBYE! I hate you and what you have done to me!! I don’t need you anymore and I don’t want you anymore! I used you to protect me from scary things for so long, that letting you go feels scary and freeing at the same time. I remember how I used you to get comfort from people by telling people about what you were doing to me and people would bring me comfort. I would use you as an excuse to not do things I didn’t want to do and I would use you to keep me in a controlled little box that felt safe. But, no matter what, you kept me alone and abandoned when I was in your box. It was a sick, sick relationship!! It makes my stomach turn when I think of all the things I let you do to me. I let you control who I talked to, when I talked to them, and what I would talk about. I let you control when I went out, when I went to bed, where I would go, what I would eat, and how much money I could spend. I let you determine my worth, my value and my honor because I would always be thinking of what you would think about it if I let those things come into me. Fear, you were always in my thoughts! I ran everything I said and did through your twisted filter. Every education decision, career decision, relationship decision, etc, etc.. I am so tired of you running and ruining my life and I am not going to let you manipulate me any longer! You manipulated me to comply to you so many times I can not even count and you shamed me and accused me of things that were not true to get me to comply to you. The sad truth is that after being with you I wouldn’t know what was right or wrong! Seven people could be telling me one thing and you could be telling me another and I would believe you and trust you more than seven other people telling me loving things! You are evil and no longer am I going to choose evil over the voice of love!! I am choosing love and all that means over you. Love will kick you out and love will make good decisions for me! Love will propel me toward my future and will not abandon me! And most of all love will give me hope that no matter what happens, He will work it out and things will be to my benefit. Love honors me, values me, protects me, blesses me and love has never failed me.
So fear, this is your official break up letter. Do not try to contact me again because I do not want to converse with you any further! You will only try to confuse me into believing you are right, but I see the fruit of my relationship with you and it is rotten. By the way, that person named Love, His real name is GOD and He rocks my world!

1 John 4:18 The Message (MSG)
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

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.

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