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Are You Embracing Winter?

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.

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

How Do I Know When to Help?

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.

Fall is Here so New Can Come

 

I love the season of fall to take walks and hike because there is something richly exhilarating about the crisp air that has not yet become frigid, the sky which seems to be vividly blue due to a lack of humidity in the atmosphere, and the lovely colors emerging in the leaves that were once green. I find myself pondering transitions in life as the leaves slowly change color and drop to the ground, and today I was pondering the idea that nature sows its seeds for the next season as the pods of plants drop to the ground in fall. Most people perceive spring to be when new life emerges and yet spring is the product of fall and new is the product of nature releasing old. In order for us to embrace new in our lives, we have to release the old. So what does that mean for you and me when we look at the transitions happening in our lives? We may need to look at some of the things falling away in our lives as the transition to allow new into our lives in the next season. Be it children heading off to to college or to pursue their dreams, deaths, changes in jobs or even relationship changes, while the seasons change, they do not stay the same and new comes again. Are you grieving losses right now? Though the season change there is God whose love remains the same.

Ecclesiastes 3 1:15 New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.

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.