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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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.
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
We have been hardwired to have longings and needs. When we fail to acknowledge the longings within us we tend to cycle through a pattern of disappointment, trying to empower ourselves by usually using something that will make us feel half full (like eating junk food when we are hungry), followed by shame and penance in response to our bad choices. Basically, this is where bad habits and addictions start.
It’s time for people to stop ignoring their longings and start inviting God into the process of meeting their needs. Most people have no idea what they need, or they feel guilty and shameful for having needs as if having a need makes them needy. Having a need makes you normal.
God has hardwired you with needs so that you would seek out His love to meet these needs and so that you would allow yourself to be loved by others.
I tell my clients all the time that the very things that a child needs to thrive is the very things we need to thrive. Here is my own basic list:
1. Need to be Loved – touch, affirmation, mutuality, affirmation
2. Need to Create – art, music, writing, decorating, creating order
3. Need for Beauty – visual stimulation, color, beauty, outdoors
4. Need for Joy – a good laugh, life-giving people and activities
5. Need for Peace – quiet, alone time, things that bring you peace
6. Need for Passion – excitement, vision, new experiences
7. Need to feel safe and secure –stability, comfort, being able to depend on others
8. Need to impact our world and others – using our inborn talents and gifts to impact our world positively.
The next time you are stirred up, ask yourself what need you are suppressing that you need to bring to God. God promises to meet our needs. It may not fall in your lap, but it will come if we look for it, even if it is from the woman you meet in the grocery store.
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
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.