Thursday, October 17, 2019

consistent



31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health


How can we learn to be consistent in our daily life? What steps should we be taking each day to lean into God and trust Him?

When I was a young wife, I heard an older woman from the church say she took time each morning to take her Bible, journal and tea and spend time with God. At that time I was working for the Post Office and regularly had to be at work between 1 and 3 a.m. You really can't get up earlier than midnight and still call it sleep. How was that going to work in my life? Simple - it wasn't!

But how could I learn to be consistent in spending time with God? I learned to read my Bible at night before going to bed. It was an off and on habit I had developed in college. I needed to get back to it.

Life ebbs and flows. Then two little girls came along and I truthfully cannot tell you when I read my Bible other than Sunday mornings at church, but I sure had a lot more things to pray about!

If you are struggling to be consistent in your daily time with God, remember this, it is not how much of Scripture you read each day, but how much it affects you that matters. Earlier this week I was reading in Acts 13. It wasn't the bulk of the chapter that made me pause and think about my own life. It was the one little verse at the end of the chapter. It talks about what happened after particularly difficult time that Paul and Barnabas had been having. Verse 52 says this:

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Wow, just wow! If Paul and Barnabas could be filled with joy even at the end of a difficult time, then I can be too. 
Right now, it does not matter if I remember anything else from that chapter, because right now God is wanting me to be consistent in my time spent with Him. He alone can show how to be filled with joy, even during the hardest times.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

avoid



31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health

One of the things I learned pretty early on when learning about emotional health and how mine needed to change was to stop avoiding the difficult conversations.

Are you avoiding dealing with someone or something in your life that you know is a problem? Stop and think about why you are avoiding it. The problem is not going to go away if you keep avoiding it, it will likely get worse. 

Choose to take the problem to God in prayer. Ask Him for wisdom in how and when to talk to the other person. Ask God to go before you and soften the person's heart. Sometimes the situations we are avoiding because we dread the outcomes end up being no big deal after all. On those occasions where they are still difficult to work through, at least you will be calm and thoughtful because you asked God for peace in the middle of the storm.

Those storms of life will keep coming, so learn to trust in the One who knows the end - and learn to dance in the storm. Open your heart, your hands, and your life, and learn to drink in the refreshing rain that comes with the storm.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

open



31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health


Oh, I don't think I want to open up my heart and look at my emotional health - it might be too scary! That was my first thought, and then I had a second one - what if I could find a way to be comfortable being myself again? That would be worth the scariness right?

Learning to open up can be a really hard part of the journey to better emotional health. In a country filled with churches, but also filled with broken people, we wonder what went wrong, or what is wrong with us that we are one of those broken people. As we learn to open up that Pandora's box of our emotions and share in a safe situation, we are reminded that the church is suppose dot be a place of healing for the sick, not a showplace of perfect people. How refreshing it was to be reminded that no one here is perfect, and that others sometimes have the same struggle I was going through - am still going through.

If you do not have a place where you can honestly share your life and emotions, then you NEED to find one. If the church you attend is not encouraging compassion and generosity, then maybe its time to look for a new church. We need to be real and honest, with others, ourselves, and especially God. It can be difficult to open the door and let ourselves spill out, but oh! the freedom found in an honest conversation about our daily struggles amongst friends.

Find your friends, and be genuine with them.


Monday, October 14, 2019

voice



31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health


Learning to give voice to my emotions took some time. I had to learn how to feel my emotions, sort out whether an emotion required a response, or just an acknowledgement, and them learn how to respectfully share my emotions.

Seems like a lot of hard work. At first, it really was. I'm a pretty positive person by nature, and can spend time cheering others on, but I had been struggling with how to be my own cheerleader. I had a voice when writing for the newspaper, and a voice at work, but not so much of a voice at home anymore. I had to do some un-learning of bad emotional choices and them learn some better ways to handle my emotional responses. I also had to learn a lot deeper trusting of God than I had been practicing.

When you are unsure how to voice your emotions, you need to stop and take a few minutes to pray - okay, some times you only get a few seconds, but you still need to pray about it - ask God how you are supposed to voice your needs, boundaries, and desires. Some days I did better than others, but I am learning to keep trying and not give up.

It can be hard work to be honest with ourselves. Some of my friends journal, I spend time praying, walking through the woods and talking to God, or typing something out on my laptop. On rare occasions I have written something particularly difficult out on paper and them sent it through the shredder.

Do not be afraid to use your voice. Respectfully and firmly let others know what your emotional health boundaries are, and that they may NOT cross them. Self-care is not selfishness. That might be the hardest lesson for moms to learn.



Sunday, October 13, 2019

reach



31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health

When you think about how you're emotional health affects those around you, your first thought is probably to your immediate family nd close friends. But the way you handle and process your emotions can have much more far-reaching effects.

Who do you interact with on a daily or weekly basis? Let's call this your "reach." These are the people who might notice a different win your emotional health, even if you think they're not paying attention. The clerk at the grocery store, the person in the cubicle next to you at work, the UPS man who makes the afternoon deliveries. You might think these are small interactions and they might not notice a change in you for the better to the worse, yet, they probably do.

So who really benefits when you work towards better emotional health? A lot of people!

Unfortunately, our world is filled with a sad, angry, and hurting people. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change our own little corner of it.

Each day that I allow God to help me work through my emotions in a healthy ways another day when I can be compassionate and kind to others.

Each day that I step forward on this journey is an opportunity to pour some that hope I have received into the lives of those within my reach. That sounds like a good day to me!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

first


31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health


When I started digging deeper into my emotional health, I realized that the best way to have time to sort through my emotions and seek God's wisdom on the next step was to take a step back. This summer I wrote precious little for my blog, and limited my other writing avenues to my newspaper column and state fair features.

I imagine some of my readers were surprised, but I knew I wanted to focus on what was going on in this area of personal growth. What would I have left worth talking/ writing about if I did not deal honestly with myself and with God? Not much.

I had priorities that had to do with my own health and my family relationships. It was freeing to spend extra time with our girls this summer. We made great memories, and shared a lot of time just being together. In a world where everything is go-go-go, it was refreshing to just be still.

If you're wondering if you need to step away from the busy-ness of everyday life to sort through your emotions, the answer is probably yes. Finding even small chunks of time alone to process, evaluate, and think through your emotional responses can help you see the areas where you need to let go, and the areas where you need to learn something new. 

I encourage you to take the first step: pray. Ask God to show you where to carve out time alone. Ask God to show you where you have hidden your feelings and to teach you how to make better, honest responses in the future.

Life is a journey, not an event. Take the first step, and then the next, and soon, you'll be able to see how far you have traveled.




Friday, October 11, 2019

deep


emotional health, 31 days of October, boundaries, emotions


Emotions run deep. Hurts last until we can find a way to overcome them. Joys take us to the mountaintop, but we cannot stay there forever because we live in a fallen world where another event or emotion will come along soon.

How do we deal with the emotional roller coaster of everyday life when we haven't yet processed yesterday's emotions? It isn't easy. 

The way I have found is to start by having an honest conversation with God every evening before I fall asleep. I read from the Bible app on my phone. I have it set with low light on, so it has a black background and the words are white, but not glaringly so. Often I only read a paragraph or two, to understand the next part of what is being told, and then I click my phone off and lay back to think about what I have read.

I think about the story the verses have told, and imagine myself in the situation. What would my emotions be if I were there when Saul was confronted on the road to Damascus? Am I like Peter, who needed God to tell him three times that no person is common or unclean and that they all need to hear about Jesus?

Then I think about my day. What happened that drew me closer to God, and what got in the way? I ask God to show me how to let go of the hurts, and to hold on to the good. I ask for peace as I sleep, and strength for tomorrow. It has been a challenge to have these nightly conversations with God - it makes me look honestly at my own heart and actions from each day. Some people journal their day, I have learned freedom in praying through it and asking God to make me more like Jesus. I have a long way to go - but the road is being paved with peace, trust and joy as He removes the fear, anger, and insecurities of the past one conversation at a time.

A reminder that I often need on this road to emotional health:

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To your glorious rest above
Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus 
'Tis heaven of heavens to me
And it lifts me up to glory
For it lifts me up to thee
Oh, the deep, deep love of jesus 
Spread his praise from shore to shore
How he loves us, ever loves us,
Changes never, nevermore


Songwriters: Mark Ladd / Samuel T. Francis
Oh, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc