Thursday, November 7, 2019

enjoy



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


This is the last post from the 31 days of October five minute free writes. I know, it's a week late, but better late than never. I'm also not going to time this one...

One of the keys to better emotional health is learning to live your own life, and not someone else's life. This also means learning how to set boundaries so that you can effectively communicate with the people in your life. This leads to being able to have discussions about what should and should not be a part of your life. 

I cannot keep my integrity in my own life, if I allow others to dictate what they think my life should look like. It has been a long year of discovery, but I know I am on the right track. I've never been much of a journal writer, but one of my friends said that's sort of what my blog is like. To a point, yes. There are things I will not share here that might or might not go in a journal. Life is to be cherished, and that also means protecting those I love by not over-sharing here.


Today's word is enjoy.

Sounds safe enough. Here is a list, in no particular order, of things I enjoy.

A mug of good-quality hot chocolate on a cold day

Brisk walks through the autumn leaves.

A medium-well ribeye steak - oh yum!

Belonging in a small group of friends

writing

Photography, especially of nature

long walks on warm sand at the beach

quiet time by myself

flowers

more flowers

a spring walk through the woods looking for the first shoots of edible plants and the early rosettes of wildflowers

a baked potato with butter and sour cream

Listening to someone sing

Christmas - all of the lights, songs, snowflakes, and celebrating the birth of Jesus

creating art - especially with pastels, or flowers

The empty pages of a new calendar or notebook

walking hand in hand with my husband or our daughters

watching a football game

spending time with wool - dyeing, spinning, creating

Dinners with friends

long conversations and catching up chats

a real leather belt and a solid pair of boots

being warm, not being cold

eating fruits and vegetables

colored pens 

When God speaks to me through His Word

a good hug

watching the sunset

a good night's sleep

a warm blanket on a cold day

flannel sheets

Christmas Carols

helping other find joy

wearing my favorite pair of jeans

my new heated vest on a cold evening

the hush of snow

birdwatching with my husband

watching fish swim in an aquarium

target practice

making books - cutting pages and sewing covers

pumpkin pie with whipped cream 

watching a good movie with my girls

picking and arranging flowers

traveling

coming home again

the scent of lilacs

a bonfire, with s'mores

sitting by the shore of the lake, or on the beach, and hearing the waves break



What do you enjoy?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

memory



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


What are your favorite memories?

One of mine is from our family trip out West when I was in middle school. We were staying a few days in Yellowstone, and I remember standing on the boardwalk and watching Old Faithful erupt. 

Another one is from my early childhood, like right before I turned three - and we were visiting our soon-to-be-finished house. I could sit on the floor and look out the window in the living room - it was amazing! I was little and those windows were big.

It is important that we hold on to the good memories. Some days we will be overcome by the memories of things that went wrong. If you remember the good memories they can help you get through those tougher days.

Cherish your life. Appreciate your friends. Love your family - even the ones that drive you crazy. 

You are making memories today - focus on the good that is happening around you. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

practice



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


It takes practice to learn how to sort through your emotions. We see so many people around us each day, and I bet we often think "wow, they don't have a very good handle on their emotions." I wonder how many people have thought that about me in the past?

So what can I do? Stop, think, sort, and try again when I fail. I also need to focus more on offering grace and less on how I think about others are behaving. This trip towards better emotional health is about me getting myself better, not about trying to fix others. There will always be struggles around me, but I am working on having less of those intense struggles within myself.

I can practice being gracious and kind. I can practice speaking the truth in love. I can practice sharing the love of Christ with those around me. I won't get it all right today, tomorrow, or next week - but I can take steps towards where I know I want to be, and where God wants me to be. 

Life is a journey, and I am taking the creative route to get there - it may not be the fastest route, but I hope it can be a joy-filled one.

Monday, October 28, 2019

test



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


If a test was offered to measure how emotionally healthy you are, would you take it?


What if that test brought to light things you'd been trying to hide? What if it showed you were the one with the problem and not someone else? Would you stile willing to take the test?

Let's be honest with ourselves and think about life as a daily test of our emotional health, and thus, how deeply we can delve in our walk with Christ. If our emotional health is a wreck, we cannot move forward as God wants us to. We have to fess up to our own mistakes, and then ask for help.

Maybe your life hasn't turned out how you imagined it... mine surely has not, and yet, when I came to the realization that I would not have that storybook ending, I became emotionally healthier. There are good and bad parts of marriage, of parenting, and of being a boss or an employee. When we admit that our lives, our crazy, messy, hopefully joy-filled lives, are not going to look like a movie from The Hallmark Channel then we can embrace where we are, and look to Jesus to help us move forward.

Life is more than the pictures you see on someone's social media pages, it is real, messy, and can be wonderful even in the midst of a storm. That's what happens when God takes the test for you!



Sunday, October 27, 2019

better



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


Getting to better emotional health takes time, but it is worth the journey. At several points along the way you should experience a greater peace that was missing before.

I have learned to set boundaries, and how to say no more effectively. I also now realize that sometimes I set goals for myself that are unrealistic, and that is where I not only need to re-evaluate those goals, I need to offer myself a big ole' heap of grace!

When I said 'yes' to writing for 31 days in October, I really didn't think through how much I should prep ahead of time. That's why recently there have been sets of days where I didn't get anything posted, and then I work hard to get caught up, or at least close.

It is important to me to finish out the 31 prompts, but I'm not making any promises it will happen by the 31st. That's offering myself grace. I want to finish on time, but knowing that I will be working, and doing other activities along the way this week means being realistic.

What can you learn to be better at? I'm learning to be better at offering myself that same grace I extend to others.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

accept



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health

How can we learn to accept the situations around us that cause us pain, or that challenge our resolve to be loving and kind? 

Does accepting my current situation equal contentment? No. Contentment is deeper that acceptance. I can accept that some people will never change, that I may or may not get a promotion, or that it will rain next Wednesday. But that doesn't mean I am content with them.

Contentment is so much deeper than acceptance. It has to do with the giving up of ourselves and entrusting our present and our future to the Father who wants the best for us. That requires sacrifice. Can I truly trust that God knows what is best for my life, what will bring Him the most glory? Oh - that's a hard one to swallow some days. 

I want to walk this journey with a confidence that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead can raise me out of my grave as well. Can I turn my eyes away from the things of the world and keep them on Jesus? Oh Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!

I will accept the things I cannot change, but more importantly, I will keep on learning how to be content, safe in the presence of God, and living in newness of life.



Friday, October 25, 2019

wait



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


Oh! How hard it can be to wait.

Wait for dinner, wait for a job, wait for God to answer your prayers...

Are you being changed during the waiting, or are you stuck in limbo - doing nothing?

Earlier this year, when our church was focused on better emotional health and how finding that frees us to pursue God and live a life filled with peace, joy, and purpose, our pastor gave a sermon about waiting. What happens during the waiting? Is God stretching your faith? Are you growing to trust Him more? Or are you simply pushing the pause button on your life?

Life is too precious to waste the waiting time!

As I wait for Him to reveal if this is the answer He has for me, I will continue to grow, I will learn to trust, and I will open my hands joyfully for Him to fill them with peace.



Thursday, October 24, 2019

different



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


Oh, to be different!

That has been my goal for so long I cannot remember when it started. It might have been tempting to be popular, but I really wanted to be different. It was not because I found fault with how others were living or dressing, it was because the creative bent inside of me longed to be free.

I wanted to be different. I did not fit any normal mold growing up. I still do not. Thankfully I have a few close friends who love me and all of my quirks!

Do you long to be different?


Not only do I want my life to look different, I want my soul to be different. I believe God does not want me to live an ordinary life. Rather, He desires for me to live an extraordinary life! I am still on that journey to find out what that entails...

The statistics are ordinary: I am married and we have two children. We both work, and occasionally, we save enough to go on vacation. From the outside my life might look boring - but it rarely is!

I see the beauty in the little details - that's thanks to my artist dad. I see patterns in nature and numbers - that's thanks to my mathematician mom. I can choose to meet every deadline, or ignore them all depending on which part of my quirky self is taking charge that day. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all that goes on in my brain and need to take a break.

It's okay to be different. Being different leads to extraordinary things!




Wednesday, October 23, 2019

need



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


What to we really need?

As children we are taught that we need: air, water, food, shelter, and clothing. But is that enough? While these things may sustain our physical bodies, we are more than just bodies, we have souls, we have emotions, we have an innate need to be loved.

Too often we think about what our children need in the physical sense, but forget what they need for emotional health. As adults, we often struggle to show and receive love because we did not receive it (well or at all) as a child. Now, I have the best mom ever - but there were times when I needed her to love me in a new or different way, but I did not know how to express that need. Today I have young adult daughters. How might they need me to love them differently than when they were 5, or even when they were 15?

Our needs change, because we change. One need remains, the need to be loved - because being loved means we belong. Everyone wants to be loved. 

Don't just yearn to belong somewhere, find a way to express your need to be loved, and find those people who will accept you and love you. 

God loves each and every one of us. It is up to us to accept that love and choose to belong to Him.



Tuesday, October 22, 2019

sense



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health



When you get a sense of who you want to be, or what you need to work on in your life, what do you do as your first step towards that change?

I've realized that I need to spend a lot more time in prayer about things I want to change before I actually start changing them. It's not shoot, aim, adjust, shoot - it should be aim, adjust, then fire.

So what am I praying for or about? I need to seek God's wisdom on the parts of my life, both physical and emotional where I want to see change. Instead of jumping headfirst without looking into a change, I want to be grounded in His love, seated in His presence so that I can hear when He tells me yes or no, and which way to proceed. 

There is a verse in Isaiah that I have always cherished. Even in the midst of adversity and pain, God was promising to be with the Israelites:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." ~Isaiah 30:21


In order to hear that voice I have to be listening. If you're ready to change things in your life, get alone with God, be still, and wait until His voice tells you to turn to the right or the left.



Monday, October 21, 2019

person



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health

I was not the person I wanted to be.


That was my first realization about needing to address my emotional health. Not only was I simply too busy in terms of number of activities, I was staying too busy as a coping mechanism for not dealing with tough emotions.

Something had to change, and thankfully, it was me.

I have set some boundaries, and I am no longer afraid to say no to something that sounds good in order to have time and strength for something even better.

So who do I want to be? That is the 40 million dollar question! I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and I want my love of God to be evident in the way I treat all other people with respect and kindness - even, and especially, those who do not treat me with respect or kindness. 

I know that God has something important for me to do - but it may not look important to you - and I'm okay with that. My husband and I often disagree - that doesn't mean I've stopped caring for him, stopped loving him - it just means we disagree.

Part of this journey to emotional health was me learning that it is okay to disagree, and to speak my mind - as long as I did it clearly and respectfully. So no, you and I may not agree on the best color of paint, whose political candidate would do the most good, or what to eat for dinner - but we can do that with grace and respect. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if more people learned those skills?!?

This person I'm becoming, that God is making me into, is different than I was before - and I like her!

What kind of person are you becoming?



Sunday, October 20, 2019

tell



31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


Five minutes to tell you something worth reading...

We tell our stories to others to share a bit of where we've been, and sometimes, a part of where we want to be going. I'm sharing about better emotional health here this month because as I sit back and look at how much work God has done in me this year I realize that there are probably plenty of other people out there who are sitting in a dangerous rut of poor emotional health. Are you one of them?

If you are afraid to talk about your true emotions, then yes, you're one of them. If you hide your emotions to keep the peace between people, but the peace is not happening inside of you, you're one of them too. We were created to be people in fellowship with others. We cannot love each other as Christ loved us if we don't share life - and life includes emotions.

Are there situations you keep to yourself, but share with close friends? Good, that's as it should be. Not every emotion you feel needs shared with the crowd, but you do need to sort through them all. Find a friend, a sister, even a therapist if needed. Even if someone else in your life won't get help, don't let it stop you from getting the help you need to move to better emotional health.

Five minutes. Life is short - live it well!


Saturday, October 19, 2019

strong


31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health


How strong do you have to be to deal with the emotions of others? Sometimes really strong, and sometimes, just really humble. 

One of the things I've learned along this journey is that I can choose whether or not to let the emotions of others direct how I act and feel.

Sometimes the other person is just plain wrong. That does not give me the right to accuse them of something nefarious, or even to respond at all. I may need to simply let their words rolls off my back without letting them bowl me over. How do I decide which it is? It takes some sorting.

Being emotionally strong means being able to differentiate between your feelings and emotions and the emotions of others. Just because everyone around me is upset by something ( a burnt pizza, a lost football game, the rainy weather) does not mean I need to join in their pity party. But it also means I can choose when and where the situation warrants me doing something.

If a lot of people around me are upset about something unfair, I can choose to be the one to organize the group to make a situation better. I can choose to be the person who speaks up about a problem in the workplace or how a group of teenagers behaves at a volunteer event.

Can you be strong emotionally when you are still working to learn how to process your own emotions? I think the answer is yes. Each step we take towards understanding our own emotions gives us a little push forward towards being able to better handle the next encounter. We will still make mistakes, but we are headed in the right direction.

Be strong, not because someone else empowered you, but because you know your Heavenly Father has granted you all that you need for life and godliness - He has given you Jesus, and that is always enough!



Friday, October 18, 2019

active


31 days of five minute free writes, emotional health

Life is not just about what you see and own, but what you do. One of the best practices for emotional health is getting outside on a daily basis. And by getting outside I do not mean the mad dash from your front door to your car door - I mean actually going outside an enjoying nature!

Walking is thera peptic for me. It gives me a chance to clear my head of whatever issue I'm dealing with (at least for a while) and focus on my surroundings. Sometimes when I walk I work to cover a lot of ground, other times I just need a stroll in the woods to focus on the natural beauty: acorns, pine needles, the colored leaves. Each day and each walk is different, but they all help my emotional health.

Occasionally I take my issues with me and I pray about them while I walk or hike. God says if we ask for wisdom, and do not doubt, He will grant it to us. (see James 1)

If the God of the universe is willing to grant me some wisdom on how to handle my emotions, and how I react to others, I need to be smart enough to accept it! Some people like to run, others swim or ride bikes. Truly, it doesn't matter if you prefer a stroll in the park or a game of ultimate frisbee - what matters is that you get ad stay active.

Exercise will not solve all your emotional problems, but it surely can help your body deal with the stress in a helpful, practical way. Get active, and remember to pray.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019

scared



emotional health, 31 days of October, facing our fears


I think we don't talk about our emotional health, and how it relates to being Spiritually mature, because we are scared that if we open the Pandora's box of our emotions there will be no end to them.

While there are often a lot of emotions to deal with, because we've been ignoring them and stuffing them inside for so long, there is an eventual end. Getting there is not an easy road, but keeping our emotions bottled up inside of us is even more difficult.

I knew I had a problem when I stopped being a compassionate person. I was curt and unsympathetic, I would often think to myself "so what, I have my own issues to deal with, let someone else listen to them." Ouch! That is not the person I wanted to be, or the person I knew God wanted me to be.

How do we go from scared to trusting?


One small step at a time. Often, it is three steps forward and two and a half steps back, but at least we have started moving in the right direction. While you can get your emotional health back in control with just God and yourself, it is easier if you have friends. Of course, that takes work, because to have a friend you have to be a friend. For me, a big part was joining a small group from our church. Our group is a family, and we share not only discussions about God and Jesus, but real life as well. It was important to me to find a group that did both. I've been studying my Bible for decades, I needed a group that would challenge me to live out what I had learned!

When I finally stopped trying to hold all my emotions inside and started sharing them a little at a time in safe spaces like our small group, I re-learned that there is a lot of freedom in speaking the truth. Jesus told us that the truth would set us free and He was right!

Don't stay scared. Start the journey from fear to faith today. God is waiting with open arms to help you.





Wednesday, October 9, 2019

join



emotional health, 31 days of October, boundaries


On my way to understanding what needed to stay and what needed to go in my everyday life in order for me to find a better emotional health I had to think about the outside activities I choose to be involved with. It was a little bit easier than in the past since our daughters have both already graduated high school and I don't need to base my decisions on their schedules as well as mine.

Here is what I discovered: too often we join groups because we have a fear of missing out, not because the group will actually be beneficial to us, or we will be beneficial to the group. So I started taking a hard look at what I do besides work. The activities I now join in with are limited, not because I stay at home all the time, but because I actually need some time to stay home and relax. I somehow had the thought that I should be doing it all - but it is not my job to keep the world running - that is God's job.

So now, when someone asks if I want to join a group, or go on an adventure, I stop and think more deeply than in the past. Will this be a good experience? Will I learn, grow, be challenged mentally or physically? Or will saying yes to this activity simply take away my margin time to decompress from work and other responsibilities? It's not always an easy answer.

Before you say yes to the next "thing" - stop and ask yourself, and ask God, is this the right activity for me? Learn to be okay with setting boundaries to protect your time and emotional health. You cannot draw water from a well that is dry.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

gather


emotional health, 31 days of five minute free writes, letting go

Along this road toward better emotional health I have found that I need to do the opposite of gather, I need to let go. In life we tend to gather things that we think will be helpful, like when you gather up the towels, cleaning bucket and spray bottles before you clean the bathroom. With emotional health it is more about sorting and letting go.

I've gathered enough in my life - books, clothes, pens...what I needed to realize was that sometimes I gathered material things because I was avoiding dealing with my emotions and the processing that needed to happen to let go of them.

As I have been walking this path, I have found a lot of anger, and am letting go. I have found disappointment - in myself and in others, and I am letting go. Each time I process through another emotion and decide if it stays or can now be let go I find greater freedom. 

In having less emotional baggage I find that I also need less stuff in my material life. I am decluttering my heart and my home. There is more room for the things that matter.

If you are the type to gather emotions and hold them inside please realize this - you are building a shaky wall, and eventually it will crumble. It is so much better to take time to sort through those tough emotions and let go of the ones that lead you away from peace.

Jesus knew we would have trouble here on earth, He warned his disciples about it, but He also offered peace. If you want that peace that He offers, you have to stop holding on so tightly to your past hurts and open your hands to accept the gift.