The Abundant Life Blog
The Abundant Life Blog is here to encourage and inspire Believer's to live emotionally healthy lives. Using the Word of God and the principals found within, we will apply concepts to the challenges of daily life.
Occasionally you will see a blog focus on Chain Breaking. At Out of the Woods, we recognize that sometimes our history and our habits work against us -- creating chains on our soul that keep us held back. These blogs are specifically designed to break those chains.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on October 15, 2019 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
It's coming.... After months of study and work, When She Cheats is headed to the editor. When She Cheats was born out of a change I was seeing in my practice. More and more women were reporting that they had cheated on their husbands and in addition to that, the reasons women were reported were not what I was expecting. This sent me on a search for more information and I was shocked by what I found.
Infidelity amoung married women is on the rise. The studies vary, but the trend is clear. More and more married women are having affairs -- not just emotional affairs either. More married women are having physical intimacy with men they are not married to and they are admitting that they do it. This got me thinking why. I'm a curious person so once I got started on the question I couldn't stop.
Then I started wondering, well what do we do about this. Surely if this is happening in the world, this is happening as well in the church. It would be nice if the church led the culture, but the reverse is actually the case. So then the question becomes....
What does the Christian wife caught up in adultery do to get back in relationship with Christ and with her husband?
That is the question I went about trying to answer in When She Cheats. Prayerfully available January 2020.
|Posted by email@example.com on April 23, 2019 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
It's the newest fad in mental health treatment -- support animals. All around the country, therapists are being overwhelmed with requests from anxious, depressed, and socially fearful clients seeking a letter stating it is medically necessary for them to have an animal with them in places where animals are not normally allowed. (I'm not talking about taking a dog to a hospital or nursing home. That's different. It has been around for a while and we know it is effective.) Lots of people say having a support animal is incredibly helpful. They report the animals provide comfort and relief of symptoms. People report they are helpful with phobias like being on an elevator or flying. They reported the animal reduce anxiety during testing situations and interacting with new people. The research is new, but it does (at least in the short-term) support that mental health symptoms can be reduced when animals are present. All that being said, here at Out of the Woods, we do not support the use of support animals. Here's why.
We Don't Know the Long-term Effects
One of the problems with fad therapy interventions is that they are by definition based upon recent, short-term research. Where is the 25 year long study on the efficacy of use of support animals? Where are the studies standardizing which animals are the most effective and what do do if a support animal dies? It is possible one day we will know this information, but in the meantime, almost everyone who is practicing this is a guinea pig. (Pardon the pun.)
Add to that the fact that we do have very effective treatments for the same struggles support animals are supposed to cure. Why not use what we know is effective. Well, a lot of what we know is effective is also uncomfortable. It requires some work on the behalf of the client. It means making changes and we a race really do not like to make changes.
A Support for One Person is Someone Else's Big Problem
Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but nothing drives me more crazy than when someone has a pet I am allergic to in a place I have a right to be. My first encounter with this was a take your pet to work day about 15 years ago. Someone thought it was a good idea to put their pet in my office while I was out for the day. I sick for over a week.
It's not just allergies either. What happens when your pet snake that brings you so much comfort causes some else to have a panic attack? What happens when your support dog decides to protect you by becoming an attack dog? (Which actually has happened.) My point being that sometimes having a support animal is an inconvenience to someone else. If that is the case, by choosing a support animal over any one of a number of other interventions, the supported person is being selfish.
Is that being unfair to those who are using other types of support animals? No. When a guide dog is used to lead the blind it is because that has been determined to be the most helpful intervention. Further, a lot of care is taken in choosing which dogs are trained to be guide dogs so that they really are a service animal not a comfort animal. When a dog is used to predict and assist someone who is having seizures, it is because we don't have another way to do that. We have other ways to deal with test anxiety, fear of flying,
The Comforter is Our Comforter
As believers we really need to focus on what the bible has to say about how to deal with the challenges of life. We are told very clearly what we are supposed to think about so that we can live lives of peace. We are instructed how to take our thoughts captive and how to trust in the God as we focus on His Kingdom instead of our daily, temporal concerns.
Further, the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. It is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for calming our fears and boosting our confidence. Any time we use some other intervention we are moving away from the divine intervention that is perfect and would never bite our neighbor. We have to get back to seeking the Holy Spirit to comfort us. Yes, deep breathing works. Yes, positive self-talk works. Yes, sometimes, support animals work. But really, do you want a hamster to try to do the job of the Holy Spirit?
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on February 12, 2019 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
Perhaps one of the most devestating forms of child abuse is when a child is abandon and left to fend for themselves. Most often this does not occur because a mother left a baby on someone's door step. Instead, fathers and mothers get upset with each other and leave the child in the hands of the person with whom they just can't get along. Other times it is out of our control and illness, death, or incarceration separate parent and child. Abandonment is real, but it doesn't just happen to children.
Abandonment happens to adults as well. Spouses after decades of marriage are leaving with just a text message and sometimes not even that. Jobs that promised security leave former employees with everything but that. The reality of life for many is that sometimes we get abandoned.
From the church comes a common refrain... God will never leave you. It's supposed to be comforting. It's supposed to be encouraging. It's supposed to make us feel better. What do we do when it doesn't. What do we do when the reality that God is present does not heal the hurt that humans created?
One of the key parts of healing from abandonment is reconnecting, not just with God, but also with the imperfect people He created. He has created us to need one another. Hwebrews 10:24-25 is very clear that connection is necessary. We do need one another, even though there is a risk of being abandoned again. Healing occurs when we are able to put ourselves in the same situation -- one in which we could potentially be abandoned and God is able to use that relationship to bring about healing.
This does not mean that we run into relationships with anyone and everyone. We are to carefully consider with whom we interact. ICorinthians 5:7-8 warns us of how a little leaven can ruin a whole loaf. We do have to be watchful and alert when it comes to connecting with new people, but we do need to connect with new people. Take some time to get to know people before they become a part of your inner circle. Do they attend church? Do they treat their co-workers and employers well? Are they kind and generous? Can they control their own anger? Do you see the fruit of the Spirit at work in their lives? These careful evaluations prior to letting someone in your heart can help prevent some, but not all future abandonment.
Ultimately, the Lord knows all and works out all things for our good. He is able to sustain us when we have been abandoned, but we cannot reject His method for receiving fellowship which includes connecting with others.
|Posted by email@example.com on July 5, 2018 at 4:05 PM||comments (1)|
Earlier today and young, bright college student came to my office seeking counsel to cope with anxiety and depression which had taken over most of his adolescent and adult life. One of the struggles she mentioned was with his fantasy life. He recalled fantasizing about all sorts of things – positive and negative from his past in a way that kept open old wounds and scared away his ability to sleep. Perhaps fantasy has not impacted you to this extreme, but believers often struggle with the reality of a problematic fantasy life.
Its not just romantic fantasy
Generally when we think about an unhealthy or unhelpful fantasy life, we are discussing sexual fantasies for men and romantic fantasies for women. However, an unhealthy fantasy life can take on many different shapes. In the case of the before mentioned student, the fantasies included reliving painful events and his own struggles with sin. Such a fantasy life had him stuck in unforgiveness and guilt. Since we are commanded to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), it would follow that engaging in such fantasy is more than an unhelpful thought process, it is a down-right dangerous path.
What's the solution?
In Victory in Spiritual Warfare, Tony Evans provides a solution:
Fantasize about God's truth. You read that right – fantasize about what God says in His Word. Let it become as real to you in your thoughts as whatever you see all around you. (pg. 73)
That's a novel idea. Let's take back the fantasy process and make it work for us. God has given us an imagination for a purpose. It allows us to create and grow – invent and discover. Why not reclaim this process for God's glory and for our own spiritual growth?
How? By using our imagination to envision how God's word can be implemented in our lives. What does it mean to turn the other check when I am on the road and full of rage? What would it look like if I submitted to my spouse? What kind of things would I be saying to my co-worker if I really sought to encourage her? Far from New Age visualization, this is using the imagination as God intended to move us towards Himself and His ways. Instead of fantasizing about what I could have said to get back at him or her, let's fantasize about what I'll say next time to point the way to Christ.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 30, 2018 at 9:05 PM||comments (0)|
Recently my father-in-law came from Nigeria for an extended visit. We enjoy him and I particularly love to hear his unique view of American traditions. His presence also exposes me to things I rarely pay attention to anymore. This week it was Entertainment Tonight, the television show, which has been chronicling the missteps of Heather Lockhear's struggles with addiction and suicidal thoughts. I usually don't watch such shows, but he does during our dinner time, I've been watching. Tonight the hosts ended their piece with well wishes that she obtain the help she needs. It left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. It seemed to me that one way they could help was to stop tracking her every misstep and broadcasting it to the voyeuristic, judgmental masses. A view that I will admit is somewhat judgmental itself.
It got me thinking.
ET is merely copying what we tend to you when someone we care about is struggling. We carefully monitor all their missteps. We broadcast it to others under the guise that we care. We offer our thoughts and maybe our prayers too. But what do struggling loved ones really need?
It really does. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our struggling loved one is to ask them what they need. Sometimes the go-to service or intervention is not the best thing. I often see marijuana users sent to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Why? Because the meetings are free and easy to find. It's easier to find NA meeting than a Marijuana Anonymous meeting. It's easier to send someone to a meeting than to identify why they are using marijuana and addressing the need.
I recently found out a friend of mine from many years ago is in a lot of trouble. While it really wasn't appropriate for me to reach out to him, it was appropriate to intervene – via intercession. It's not easy to repeatedly take a request before God and wait for His intervention. So often I feel like a broken record. I imagine you have experienced that too. Still we are called to be faithful and persistent in prayer. (e.g. Luke 18:1-8). This sometimes means weeks, months, or even years if necessary.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 10, 2018 at 3:30 PM||comments (0)|
We are becoming more aware of how traumatic experiences impact how we live our lives. Just knowing that it is a problem can be a big step towards limiting its impact on our lives. While overcoming trauma can be hard work, but it is possible once we know that it is there. Here's what we need to know to get started.
Lots of different experiences can result in trauma.
Perhaps we are most familiar with how the trauma of war impacts people. As a society, we are beginning to do a better job of recognizing the impact of war on those who fight them and as a result, more have begun to recognize how seeing death and having one's life threatened has a lasting impact. We are beginning to see greater sensitivity the victims of crime and the terror they experience long after the crime is over. There are other experiences that cause trauma as well.
Anytime some experiences an event that threatens their health and safety, trauma can occur. An actual danger does not have to exist, the person simply needs to believe there is a danger. This is why an effective horror movie can cause someone to have nightmares months later. My mother used to tell the story of her life after going to see Psycho. Showers at her dorm were never the same. The students kept the shower curtains drawn back all the time. (Just think of the mold problem that would cause.) We see trauma can occur when there are severe medical problems and the victim is constantly thinking about their own death. We see trauma when a community is riddled with crime. It's more than just war.
Trauma's Impact is not necessarily immediate.
Yes trauma can immediately cause sleepless nights, loss of appetite, and extreme anxiety. It also can cause struggles that start gradually and increase with time such as distrust or hypervigilance. Symptoms can show up weeks or even months after the trauma occurs. Many times, one has to deal with the aftermath of the trauma and does not even notice the symptoms are developing. When trauma is experienced, those around the victim of the trauma need to be aware of the possibility of a problem. Keep eyes open. Notice changes in sleeping patterns, eating patterns, and moods. Are there changes in how the person interacts with others? Are they avoiding people or activities they used to love? Are there changes in personality?
Trauma does not have to destroy anyone's life.
Talking is such a big help when someone has experienced trauma. It really is the first step for almost everyone. Believers, however, have access to the Holy Spirit who knows exactly what happened, what it means, and how the believer can recover. Our access to the perfect Comforter means no one has to be a victim. We can all become overcomers.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 5, 2018 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
Once again the headlines are filled with the announcement of a celebrity suicide. Today's announcement featured fashion designer and business woman, Kate Spade. Again the question must be asked. How can we prevent suicide. Let's keep this real easy.
If you are feeling suicidal there is help. Call 1-800-273-8255 ASAP. Its that simple.
If you believe someone else is struggling with thoughts of suicide, push aside your fears about offending them or giving them the suggestion and just get some help. That can be through talking with the person directly, a teacher, a parent, a spouse, an adult child, an employer, a counselor, in fact getting support from anyone could be the trick. Tell the person you care about them and show them your concern by your reaction. Don't forget them. Don't say you will pray and let it slip.
Let's get a hold of this. Suicide is a preventable. Let's prevent it.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 1, 2018 at 8:05 PM||comments (0)|
Getting out of the house is absolutely critical to overcoming depression and some forms of anxiety. We kind of know that instinctively, but as a client mentioned earlier today, "If I go out, I'm going to spend money and I don't have money." Let's think about that though. Is that really true? There are free things going on around us. Just to prove the point, here's a look at what is going on for FREE in the Jonesboro area. Now, stick with me even if you don't live in Clayton County Georgia because if a small town like Jonesboro is doing all of this... chances are there's something similar going on in your town too.
I just counted 32 churches in the 30236 and 30238 zipcodes and I know I did not catch them all. Churches are great sources for free things to do. Of course that gives you something to do on a Sunday morning, but churches do so much more during the week. The largest churches often have small groups meeting during the week. There are two churches that I know of that have gardens for you to walk through. The gym at First Baptist Jonesboro is free to all.
City of Jonesboro Sponsored Community Events
Did you know the city sponsors a wide range of concerts during the summer? Yes there will be vendors, but it is free to head out to Lee Street Park and enjoy them. You can also head there on Tuesday nights for "Turn It Up Tuesdays Bootcamp." At 6 PM you can work out with a couple dozen of your neighbors for FREE. Want to feel safer? How about joining the Neighborhood Watch.
Lee Street Park
Even if you do not have children, there is some value to heading over to the park. Walk around -- get some exercise in a place full of children. Their laughter and energy is infectious! Head over there and watch them for a while.
Meet Your Neighbors
Before you need them. Before there is a fire in the neighborhood. Before there is a break-in. Before the nasty events that pull neighbors together start to pull you together, go next door, knock and meet who ever answers. Already know your neighbors? Ask one to go with you on a walk? Go out for coffee. (Soon the Fig Tree Cafe will be opening on Main Street. The coffee there is great.)
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 29, 2018 at 7:05 PM||comments (0)|
A few years ago I wrote a blog called Toxic Television – my contribution to myriad of voices in the mental health community encouraging folks to turn of the television and to embrace forms of entertainment that were less toxic and less destructive to mental health. One of those recommendations was to get news from the radio instead. The idea was that without the constant, repetitive imagery, the toxic messages would have less effect. Now three years later, I have to take it back.
Television, radio, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Huffington Post, Yahoo News – it does not matter where you turn in the media the toxicity prevails. It is everywhere. We have to turn it off. Let's talk about how to make the adjustments.
Monitor and Purge Social Media Feeds
Not everyone needs to be a friend. Not everyone needs to be followed. We bring some of the problem on ourselves when we follow people or news outlets that we know full well are up to no good. One of the things I did on Facebook was to pick the persons/organizations that I wanted to be at the top of my feed. I no longer have to flip through everyone's post to see what great things are happening at New Life Ministries for example. Their post are right on top.
Some need to de-friended not just ignored. It's hard to do, especially when the person bringing the toxicity is family. One friend of mind de-friended everyone and started all over. Extreme? Yes, but it did the job.
Turn Off Talk Radio
Okay. If you have been in my car, there have been only three things on the radio – Political Talk Radio, Praise and Worship Music, or Adventures in Odyssey (It's a kids program... long story). Most of the time its the first. I am learning though that my need to know what is going on in the world is not worth my own mental health and peace of mind. Yes, I need to know what is going on in the world in order to be an informed voter. I can also research candidates online myself. Yes, knowing all the bad stuff going on allows me to be able to pray about it. However, the Person I am praying to already knows what is going on and I really don't have to tell Him about it. My point is, we don't really have to listen to this stuff.
Replace, replace, replace.
One of the joys of not having cable is that we have rediscovered a wide range of retro channels. Our evenings are now peppered with Little House on the Prairie and Super Password. Television shows with real character development and real plots. Game shows that challenge one's knowledge of history and science.
Another joy of not having cable has been the use of our backyard. The children are out there. We are out there. Just now we were enjoying a rainbow that came courtesy of Tropical Storm Alberto. We have so many entertainment opportunities – technology related and otherwise. Perhaps we just need to get back to enjoying the rest of life and getting ourselves away from the media for a while.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 28, 2018 at 2:50 PM||comments (1)|
In the late 80s it seemed like every teacher, parent, and child was becoming enlightened as the terms ADD, ADHD, and Ritalin became part of the hip, well-formed crowd's lexicon. With the turn of the century, it seems the new fad is for everyone to be "bipolar". While I would argue that it is great those outside of the mental health field are beginning to recognize that mental illness is real and is common. By throwing around terms like bipolar, we have lessened what it really is and the plight of those who suffer with it.
Mood swings happen. They happen to all of us. They happen with and without notice. They happen to women and to men. The old and the young have mood swings. Mood swings are normal. So what happens when we see a mood swing and reply, "Oh you so bipolar!"? That depends.
That statement -- the label itself starts us down a very unhealthy path. On the one hand, the person may be going through a normal, health mood swing and we have made it into something it is not. This can cause the person to become defensive, teach the person not to be themselves when around others, or even cause someone to question their sanity.
The later often happens in my office. Someone will come for the first time and express concern that they have bipolar disorder because "my family keeps saying that I do." As part of my intake, I walk through the diagnosis process with clients and rarely are we looking at anything related to bipolar disorder.
Suppose the opposite is true. The person really does have bipolar disorder. Now what? They have learned that it no okay with you. That you look at it as a problem. They may feel something private and personal has been revealed without their consent. While they may be working hard to control the symptoms, they have discovered by way of the statement, that it is not working.
I have also seen this pattern play out in my office. Someone who has been doing well has a short mood swing or gets upset about an injustice and those close to the person accuse them of "being bipolar." One client notes, "I work so hard to not be bipolar. I don't know why I try if I'm just going to be treated like I'm bipolar no matter what."
My point is, there is nothing good that comes out of calling someone bipolar. It is just a label. It's a label that is helpful to insurance companies and psychiatrist and few else.
Bipolar is more than an occassional mood swing. It is a pattern of behavior with specific features collectively called "mania". Yes mania can include agitation and going from sad to happy or happy to angry quickly. However, mania is so much more. It include risk taking behaviors, being hypertalkative, feeling rested with very, very little sleep, changes in eating patterns, changes in shopping patterns and host of other behaviors.
The point is that only a through assessment by a trained mental health professional can diagnose bipolar disorder (and its not easy for us either). So lets stop calling every mood swing bipolar disorder and start sharing compassion with the person who is having the mood swing instead. That is much more helpful.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 26, 2018 at 3:10 PM||comments (0)|
Perhaps you are like me and the beauty of creation inspires you to praise the one true Creator. Or perhaps it is the lyrics of a song that says what was in your heart. Perhaps God’s love and grace shown in Scripture fills your heart with praise. Whatever the source of inspiration, there is certainly a place in the lives of all believers for the spiritual discipline of praising God. This is particularly true of the one who is breaking chains in their lives.
Praise helps us to stay focused on the One who is breaking the chains and His power and ability to do so. When we are going through things in life, it is easy to stay focused on the problems. Afterall, many problems in life are very time consuming. Problems sap our emotional energy and sometimes our physical energy and financial power too. I cannot blame anyone for falling into the natural tendency to focus in on what is wrong because what is wrong often demands so much of our attention. Praise helps us to stay balanced. It is a process that demands we consider the possibility of hope.
Praising God feels good. Much of chain breaking does not feel good. Chain breaking often means denying self, facing conflict, and making major changes. It is difficult work. That feeling of connection or satisfaction or just pure joy that accompanies praise can be an oasis in the desert providing the encouragement and nourishment necessary for the next leg of the journey.
Many times, a component of chain breaking is time management. Stick with me for a moment here. Let’s suppose someone is addicted to tobacco. They are chained to the nicotine. A great job comes along that does not allow for smoking breaks. Now their normal smoking break time is replaced, albeit by force, with productivity on their job. By managing the time, steps are being toward breaking the chain. So where does praise come in? If we spend our time, praising God it is time not spent stuck in unhealthy habits and thought patterns.
Another component of chain breaking is obedience. We don’t like that term too much anymore. We tend to think of ourselves as independent and free from rules and commands. Yet Scripture is clear that we need to praise God. Check out Psalm 150 for example:
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
It can’t get any more clear than that. If we want to be obedient, we need to praise God. This act of obedience can lead to others including those that will break chains.
Happy Chain Breaking.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 24, 2018 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
As I was crisscrossing Clayton County this morning, trying to meet the demands of the new hands free law and answer the phone and figure out where I was going, it occurred to me that this trip was anything but peaceful. I had put on worship music to help, but the combination of red lights, a limited amount of time, distractions, and wrong turns stripped me of my normally peaceful demeanor.
When I returned to my office, I was confronted by a sign, initially designed to prod my clients into a peaceful state. It read... "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts You." That's right you know the scripture, Isaiah 26:3. Talk about conviction. The sign silently and loudly pointed out my error. In another version the words say, "fixed on You." That's the version I know best. I was guilty of not fixing my mind.
The sad part about it is I know how to do it. I know how to fix my mind on Jesus. In fact when I started the trip, that was why I put on the worship music. So what happened?
Well, the first distraction was a result of poor planning. By not looking up the address where I was headed and planning an appropriate amount of time to look over the route and actually get there, I set myself up for making the wrong turns. Which brings me to my first point... We aren't at peace because we are always so rushed. At least I am. The phone that is supposed to help me get from place to place on time, has become the number reason I am late... "Oh Google Maps says it only takes 10 minutes. I have a few more minutes to finish this," I reason. What is the result? Running late again... rushing... forgetting stuff I really need... not being at peace.
I get to blame my husband for the next distraction. Well, sort of. He called. The bluetooth wasn't on. I had to pull over. That made me more late and more rushed and then he told me about something that seemed to be big deal, but when I thought about it some more, the vendor had made a mistake and it wasn't a big deal. Here's the second point... We aren't at peace because we make unimportant stuff really important.
Now I'm really getting to a place were I am just bearly going to make it on time. Then I realize the Google Maps is just trying to get me to make a U-turn. I pull over again to get a better idea of where I am going. I look over the entire trip. "Wait! I know where this place is. I didn't need Google Maps at all."
I look at the estimated time of arrival. I had planned to get there 15 minutes early, left in time to get there 10 minutes early, and now my phone tells me I will be 3 minutes late. I begin the "what ifs". What if they start right on time and I am obviously late. What if I miss the very thing I went there to learn. What if I make a bad impression. What if they do not let me in at all. Here we find the final point. We aren't at peace because we are too busy pondering the negative. As it turned out, they didn't start until 15 minutes late. I was far from the last to arrive and the information I wanted to know was not presented until the second hour of the program. What a waste of my emotional energy.
Thank God for grace. Lord willing, I will have lots of opportunities tomorrow to be at perfect peace again when I'll be driving to 6 different appointments.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 20, 2018 at 9:05 AM||comments (0)|
The cover of Atlanta magazine this month features a tall glass of amber refreshment and a headline hearalding The Rise of Georgia Beer. I only noticed it because as I was preparing to pile it on the rest of the magazines in the office waiting room. "What does it look like when your counselor -- who among other things rails against the dangers of addictions -- puts such a magazine in the waiting room?" I pondered this deciding this particular issue did not really belong there. It got me thinking though. The rise of craft beers and homebrewing has changed the general perception of beer drinking.
When I grew up in the late seventies and eighties, the perception of beer was different. It was a man's drink. It was associated with sports (especially football), playing cards, and what you did after you mowed the lawn. As I child, I could have named many men in my family and within my parents' circle of friends who drank beer. Not one of them was a woman.
Things have changed. Even before I glanced through Atlanta magazine's articles I could recall seeing a female brewer being interviewed on television recently. Another female brewer was featured in Atlanta magazine's coverage. They note, "Women and people of color are not only consuming more craft beer; they're making more of it, too."
I would contend that there is something less crass or less harsh about drinking a craft beer as compared to picking up a Budwiser. It is more an exploration of an art form. Like wine drinking, we are hearing more about the "notes" within the beer and "hints" of this or that. The experience appears to more sophistocated than knocking back a few brews. Perhaps the high cost is part of that. We tend to stop to enjoy that which costs us the most. Perhaps it is also a reflection of the new favors, notes, and hints. We tend to more careful evaluate that which is new to us.
So what does all this have to do with emotional health and living the abundant Christian life?
I would suggest that changing attitudes towards beer in the culture at large inevitably leads to changing attitudes with the church community. (Yes it is supposed to be vice versa, but it's not.) As a community of believers, we need to be carefully monitoring our own attitudes towards the role any intoxicant is playing in life of our community.
There is a local radio host who is a proud Christian and proud supporter of the phight of craft brewers in Georgia who struggle to compete because of the way Georgia law is structured. I believe there are genuine arguements supporting the Christian's ability to drink alcohol without sin. I disagree with these arguements, but I do believe they theologically sound and genuine. I would suggest that there are other issues -- issues with which we all agree upon that deserve more attention. It is not so much that supporting the rise of craft brewers is wrong as it is supporting other issues is right. I would love to see this radio host take on the issue of homelessness, for example, with as much passion and resolve.
I hope I am terribly wrong, but I fear that I predict that as the shift in public opinion towards beer changes, I will see more women in my office facing an addiction they did not see coming as craft beers are seen as mainstream and culturally acceptable the alcoholic demon hiding within them will begin to show itself.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
We know as believers were are filled with the Spirit and one of the evidences of that indwelling is a sense of joy. Scriptures like Philippians 4:4 encourage us to be full of joy at all times. It can be very frustrating when the circumstances and trials of life get us down. Today we look at three ways to lift your mood. This is not three suggestions on how to cure depression. Nor are we examining three ways to solve the problems of life. Rather, we are looking at three practical steps we can take to move our moods in a positive direction.
#1 Get Outside
Maybe it is the fresh air. Maybe it is the Vitamin D. Maybe it is the act of getting out of the house itself, butthere is something about getting out of a man made building and getting into God’s creationthat can instantaneously lift one’s mood.
Take going outside to the next level and go for a walk. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Chat with a passerby. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the beauty you see or the ability to walk or the freedom to go where you please.
Softly or at the top of your lungs break into song. Hum or whistle. If you are tone deaf like me, play the music really loud so you can’t hear yourself singing. Use headphones to drown out your voice. Or, and this is my favorite, learn the sign language to your favorite tune.
My children know they are in trouble when I start singing the first verse of “No Not One.” It starts off softly, “Jesus knows all about my struggles.” If my struggles continue to annoy me, “He will guide till the say is done,” comes out a little louder. While singing this song serves as a warning for them, it serves as a reminder to me. It is a reminder that whatever it is that is upsetting my mood is
something my Savior already knows all about.
#3 Count Your Blessings
I know. It is cliche, but it is cliche for a reason … it really works. Start a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to think of 5 things you are grateful for as you brush your teeth. Let counting blessing become a part of daily life.
We tend to overlook so much especially when trials and circumstances get us down.Quick as you can, list 10 things you are grateful for.Right now, I’ll wait. Getting stuck? How about adding that you either have the ability to read this blog or have the technology to have it read to you or have someone caring enough to read it to you. While you are at it, add internet access to your list. The idea is to really recognize the small things that really do make a difference in your life.
So these are my three mood lifters. Perhaps you have others that work well for you. Please share them. It may be just the encouragement someone else was looking to find.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 18, 2018 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
Becoming emotionally healthy often does not come naturally. It takes work…. hard work…. consistent, hard work. Here are 6 habits that are critical for emotional healthy Christians.
#1 Emotionally Healthy Christians Connect with Others
We were made for interacting with others. We need each other. Unlike some members of the animal kingdom, we are born dependent on our parents and throughout our lives we need connection in order to function well.
Several years ago Vickie Winans had a hit entitled, “Long as I Got King Jesus.” It was an attempt to give God glory by noting that people are not trustworthy like God is. Here’s the chorus: “But long as I got King Jesus, long as got King Jesus, long long long as I got Him, I don’t need nobody else.” Sounds good, but here’s the rub. King Jesus needed His disciples. We see in scripture that he looked to them for support (Matthew 26:36-46 for example). Now I imagine the Lord of the Universe could have completed His mission without the disciples, but I also believe He was showing us how important it is to experience life with others.
Isolation can contribute to a variety of mental health problems. Depression, for example, becomes more prominent when the person withdraws from others and is left alone with their depressing thoughts. Interacting with others really is a key part of being emotionally healthy.
#2 Emotionally Healthy Christians Forgive Quickly
We live in a society that often tells us it is okay to be unforgiving. It is often disguised as being entitled to be hurt or as fighting for your rights. However, Scripture is clear that forgiveness is a requirement (Matthew 6:12) and staying angry over time is unwise (Ephesians 4:26). When we take our time forgiving, we miss out on being free from the burden of unforgiveness for an extended period of time. We miss out on being in God’s perfect will. We run the risk of becoming bitter and cold hearted. It is not necessary to wait for an apology or a certain amount of time to pass. There is nothing good about waiting to forgive.
#3 Emotionally Healthy Christians Guard their Hearts
Guarding our hearts simply means that we do not allow anyone or anything to be so ingrained in our innermost desires that we no longer follow God’s will. Many times, we think of this in reference to romantic relationships, but there are many areas of life that can trip us up as well. We all need to examine what our own temptations are and what may be able to to interfere with our heart for God. Money, food, jewelry, good looks, boats, power, just about anything can derail us.
#4 Emotionally Healthy Christians Guard their Minds
Guarding the mind is a little different.In guarding the mind, we are focusing our thoughts on the things God would want us to focus upon — things that are lovely and good, true and praiseworthy. (See Philippians 4:8. It’s worth memorizing.) There are entire fields of psychotherapy based on this concept — that if we can control what we think about we can control how we feel and therefore control mental health symptoms.
Here’s how this works. If I am feeling depressed and I think about depressing things, it would follow that I would feel more depressed. The same goes for feeling anxious or feeling angry. If I am prone to be angry and I fill my mind with thoughts and ideas that foster anger, I am going to feel more angry.
I am reminded of the children’s song, “Be careful little eyes what you see…” We do see so much in this age of information. Guarding what our minds are focused on can go a long way to keep us emotionally healthy.
#5 Emotionally Healthy Christians Pray Consistently
I can’t leave this one out, but it also seems like this one doesn’t need much comment. It remind me of the old hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Verse 1 says it all for me:
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
#6 Emotionally Healthy Christians Take God’s Word Seriously
It could be argued that this is the most important. We can avoid a wide range of emotional problems by living life the way God has spelled out in His Word. When I look back over the most painful parts of my life, I can often find that my own sin contributed to the emotional turmoil I later felt. I imagine I am not alone in this.Things are just easier when we do things God’s way.We can’t know His ways if we don’t dig in and find out what he has to say.
When we take His Word seriously we can also rest in the peace and hope within it. His Word is filled with promises designed to comfort us and give us peace if only we would embrace it.