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)
January is Suicide Prevention Month, and suicide has been heavy on my heart the last several weeks as I know so many people deal with depression during the month of January here in the northeast. In our neck of the woods, the world is cold, the days are short, and, as holidays end, people are feeling the lost sunlight and lost joy. I begin seeing the “heavy hearted” come through my office at the end of November when sunlight reduces and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) rises. It’s a powerless place to feel the heaviness of sadness and feel trapped by it. I can remember one winter years ago when the sadness of depression kept me glued to the sofa, powerless to make choices because my brain was so full of foggy thoughts. I, too, understand what depression desires to rip out of our heart: our joy. So this month has become the month I challenge people to fight for joy. To fight to find joy they fail to see as the fog of depression attempts to roll in and steal their sightline. I tell people if they feel the depression fog trying to roll in they need to change position so they can continue to see joy. This is the month to have indoor picnics, plan trips to the art museum, do crafts, try the new Thai restaurant, etc. You need to plan your driving route through and around the fog. It takes careful planning and careful driving to be aware of where you are driving through fog. As the fog of winter depression attempts to roll in, plan careful road trips with destinations of joy all through the next several months and invite others to join you. There is no greater medicine than the laughter of friends also trying to find their way through the fog with us and we need to reassure each other as we drive this path.
Dear God, In the next several months show us where to direct our eyes, show us who to travel with, and show us destinations of joy to move toward so that we don’t let the fog mess up our sightline.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10New International Version (NIV) 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Today I kicked a snake on my morning walk with the dog. I felt pretty proud of myself when I looked back to see what I had just stumbled over on the sidewalk. I let out a mini yelp when I saw the foreign object I stumbled over was a snake flicking it’s tongue, but then I thought to myself, “ why am I yelling? I already kicked a snake and there is nothing of which to be fearful of after the fact.” I would have been fearful of the snake had I seen it before I kicked it, but after the fact the same level of fear was not there.
This same phenomena is true with fear of many other things. We fear what could happen and yet rarely does that fear come true, but somehow a negative emotion from our past is what we associate with that fear and from that day forward, we associated the feeling of a negative emotion with fear and specific things. When I was a child I learned to fear roller coasters from a negative experience at age five and I assumed I did not like roller coasters. At age five I begged my mother to take me on a roller coaster at a small local amusement park and the ride did not turn out well. My mother could barely hold me into the coaster because the straps were not designed for a five year old and on one occasion I almost fell out of the coaster. Between my mother’s fear and my physical fear I was quite sure I did not like roller coasters for many years. I was avoiding the feeling I felt at age five that were quite traumatic. I tried roller coasters again at age 15 and discovered I loved the thrill more than I felt fear and I would have never known it if I continued to avoid that feeling of fear.
Paul says it this way in I Corinthians 13 when he talks of making decisions based on emotions. “11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” What are your childhood or adult fears that you continue to hold onto as a result of a bad experience? Under what conditions will you decide to release that fear? Here is what I know to be true when it comes to fear; in addition to avoiding possible negative feelings, we may be avoiding joy and empowerment too. Kicking the snake today made me slightly more empowered in dealing with my fear of snakes. Whether it was a fluke or not, kicking the snake made me feel more in empowered with my fear of snakes. What fear is holding you back from joy and empowerment? And by the way, I am pretty sure I will never love snakes.
Joy is trying to break into my house over the last several weeks. A little yellow goldfinch has been knocking on various windows in my house daily, and while I am not exactly sure why he is trying to enter my house, I smile every time I watch him cock his head in confusion when the window panel prevents him from entering my house. I am coming to the realization that he tends to visit when things are emotionally heavy and so I have named this bird Joy and believe that Joy is trying to break into my house. I have been talking to a lot of people lately who feel stuck in a hopeless and joyless cycle and find themselves focusing on all that is without hope or joy instead of all that contains hope and joy. Each day we have the choice as to whether we focus on moments of joy (or a bird named Joy) or moments of hopelessness. I choose the former but don’t get me wrong; I grieve, too, yet if I only focused on the losses, I would only see the losses. Each day I have to look for where Joy is trying to break into my life, because I will tend to see Joy when I look for it. Ask God to show you where joy is today and hope will follow on its tail.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.