Let’s Talk

What Do I Say, Exactly, to be a Repairer
of the Breach?

Q. You talked last week about being repairers of the breach. But how does one start? What does one say?

A. Let’s Talk! The desire to be a repairer is great, and good conversations are a part of healing relationships. Every word matters— as does tone of voice, timing, and body language. We can explore more of what to say exactly in the weeks ahead, but today let’s talk about the most important two foundational pieces.

First, our hearts need to be right! Is our heart pure or prideful? Is it genuinely concerned or critical? Is our goal to help or to be right? Do we want to make things better or control things? If you are a God-follower, did you get a burden for a repairer assignment and a download from Him? Are you walking in that anointing or just your own strength?

Secondly, it is huge to ask permission to share your words with the one(s) you wish to make repairs. It can be a simple, “May I share a concern?” “May I share a possible solution?” “May I share an idea?” “May I share some feedback?”

As we inch into this subject of What Do I Say Exactly, please send in some scenarios for the next post and I’ll be glad to give you some ideas on what you might want to say. The scenarios can be real or imagined. I won’t ask. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from you.


For Deeper Reflection
I am repeating last post’s verses plus some, in order to widen our view of this compelling invitation to assist in bringing restoration to our own hearts and to others.

Isaiah 61:1-4 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.”

Isaiah 58:12 “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Keeping You Strong

KFourteen years ago, June 7, 2002, Gracia Burnham was forced to leave her dead husband lying in the rain on a soggy hillside in a Philippine jungle. As captives of the Filipino terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, American aviation missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham endured a year on the run across densely vegetated outlying islands.

Their Muslim kidnappers engaged in sixteen gun battles with the Philippines military up to that fateful June afternoon when the military surprised the rebels’ jungle camp, killing Martin and a Filipino hostage. A bullet ripped clear through Gracia’s left thigh and the government forces immediately evacuated Gracia from the tragic scene.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with Gracia via phone about her year of captivity and her life now as a speaker, author, and grandmother living in rural Kansas. Surviving as a jungle hostage only to have your soul mate killed upon your rescue might send many a person into a horrific tailspin. What has kept Gracia from giving up under such duress?

Gracia carries a 3 x 5 card in her Bible that Martin carried in his. Martin wrote these words from 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 on the card: “He will keep you strong to the end . . . . God, who has called you . . . is faithful.” Gracia explains that this Bible truth assures her that “I can make it after all. I can survive.”

Gracia talks frequently to audiences from cancer patients to school children about being brave and resilient beyond one’s own strength. “We can all look at our lives and see how we’ve gone through a terrible trial that we never would have chosen,” Gracia says, “but God does show up. He is still loving and good.” And as Gracia can attest, God gives fresh strength in the uttermost parts of the planet.

How has God shown up and given you strength when you need it most?

Brave and Resilient Tip #138: You can gain strength and make it after all.

Let’s Talk

Forgiveness in the New Year

Q. As I start the New Year, what can I do to help my relationships?

A. Let’s Talk! A great start would be to make sure you have cleared up any issues in your relationships. Maybe you have been faithful to take care of clearing up your part of the problem and asking forgiveness immediately “after” — but if not, here’s a review of the language you might want to use, PLUS a new important question at the end.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

“I was wrong to [name the offense such as “to be so unloving” or “to be so thoughtless” or “to hurt your feelings,” etc.] and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” Then you wait for the answer. Here is the new question I learned a few weeks ago from my dear friend Martha Wolfe. You ask, “IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

How utterly stunning! When you take the initiative like this in your relationships, you have gone beyond an act of obedience and are bravely going to a vulnerable place of restoration.

Martha had a few additional thoughts: “When you go to the person you are asking forgiveness from, make sure you have already forgiven the individual in your heart for any offense. This makes your heart clear ahead of time toward the person. You can now concentrate on asking forgiveness for YOUR wrongs. Of course unexpected things can come up in the conversation and you will deal with those as they happen.”

It’s both terrifying and freeing all in one to settle issues in a relationship, but if your heart really wants to restore that relationship, the resolution is worth it. Have a brave week!

Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 3:20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . . .”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

”Pray for Us”

I’m overwhelmed and my words feel as if they are tumbling out and sliding off my keyboard. Another multiple-victim shooting in our country? Earlier today the horrors unfolded in San Bernardino, Calif., where I lived for more than a decade post-college. Last Friday just about eight miles from my home in Colorado, another mass shooting ripped into our collective psyche. “Close to home” reaches a deeper meaning for me.

prayer - candle in handsThe words brave and resilient are increasingly intermingled in news reports and interviews with government and community leaders. Now is not the time for me to share my opinions on these tragedies in America and around the world. Instead, I am dedicating this brief message to ask for us to pause and pray. Would you join me in praying right now for all the people affected by these senseless murders? One of the women in today’s shootings sent a text to her father: “Pray for us.”

Her three short, tangible words remind us to put our busyness on hold for even just 20 seconds and ask for healing and help for those injured and those traumatized by these merciless shootings. May the grieving loved ones right now sense the closeness of the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) and may we never let these troubled acts become normal to us.

Bless you for blessing countless others through your heartfelt prayers.

Brave and Resilient Tip #126: Your prayers matter!

Leaving a Little Extra

IMG_4999On a recent trip to America’s Heartland, I sunk my hiking boots into the rich soil of a just-harvested cornfield. Scanning the remnants of the cornrows, I discovered a number of “missed” corn ears scattered across the ground. These ears didn’t quite make it to the grain elevator, but they will supply the local wildlife with nourishment over winter. I love how life invites us all to leave a little extra for others.

We read about this in the story of Ruth, the widowed Moabite who collected leftover crops in the fields of Boaz, a wealthy landowner. In her arduous work called gleaning (see The Gleaners oil painting by Jean-François Millet), Ruth followed behind the servant harvesters, picking up any grain pieces they missed. Boaz noticed Ruth’s dedication and learned of her sacrifice to sojourn with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem instead of remaining with her own people. Boaz directed his workers to look out for Ruth and make sure she could gather sufficient grain.

“As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, ‘Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her’” (Ruth 2:15-6). Boaz modeled leaving a little extra for others. Of course, the kind and perceptive Boaz won the heart of this peasant gal and their love story led to their being ancestors of Jesus, but that’s a remarkable story for another time.IMG_4995

I wonder if we are all called to leave a little extra, so others can glean from our insight, our possessions, our finances, our time. Maybe we share our abundance so that other people can benefit and be encouraged. Or maybe we offer more of a listening ear when we are tired or give another the last piece of chocolate.

Are we leaving just enough with the people or projects on our to-do lists or are we willing to let more of ourselves spill over a bit? Our world could use a few more Boaz types who are generous with extra grain, wisdom or dessert. Dare we be one of them?

Brave and Resilient Tip #125: Be brave and leave a little extra for others.

More Than Along for the Ride

Last weekend I hopped on my aging mountain bike and soared down my hilly paved street several blocks south to neighborhoods with flat, meandering asphalt. Of course, my ride back is an uphill challenge, but it’s always worth the expansion of my lungs and a slight burn of my calves.

A few minutes into my warm fall exercise, I turned a corner to find a little girl in a bright fuchsia helmet wobbling along on her coordinating pink bike. A few feet behind trotted her proud father. The training wheels were nowhere in sight and this excited grade schooler looked at me in my burgundy bike helmet on my coordinating burgundy bike and started yelling

My sweet friend, Maris, in her  early training wheel days.

My sweet friend, Maris, in her
early training wheel days.

“Hey, I ride-ED my bike! I ride-ED my bike! I ride-ED my bike!”

Talk about a moment of pure joy. As I passed by this beyond enthused big-girl- bike rider, I grinned and shouted to her, “Way to go! Congratulations!” Instantly, I flashed back fifty years to the memory of my first attempt without training wheels. I can still clearly see my mom and brother, Dan, trotting behind me on the soft dirt track at our local sports field. (I’ve been riding bicycles for five decades??? Get out!)

As I continued on my Saturday ride, I sensed a fresh lift in my soul (and no, it wasn’t my gasping for air on the incline home). I wondered about the things that keep me from cutting loose with the thrill of accomplishment or the joy of discovering new adventures. I pondered: What is holding back the adult me from childlike glee? How have I let the cares of being a grownup crowd out my celebrating even the little, everyday moments?

How about you? Are you ready like me for bravely tossing aside the training wheels and pedaling ahead with exuberant abandon? I challenge us both to be more intentional about adding some fun and freedom to our days and instead of just going along for the ride. Even if that means a bit more endurance on the hills home.

Brave and Resilient Tip #122: Break free and be brave celebrating new adventures.

Beautiful Yet Overwhelming

A 9/11 Widow Shares How She Finds Hope

Last week I interviewed Shelly Genovese again. The last time we talked was two weeks after her husband Steve was killed in the terrorist attack on New York City’s North Tower on September 11, 2001. I wanted to know how Shelly and her daughter Jacqueline (16 months at the time) have fared over the past fourteen years.

rememberThe most difficult question for me to ask Shelly was: Were you involved in the identification process? “Steve’s brother did that,” Shelly explained. “Steve was identified by his dental records.” How sobering. How does someone keep going after the only thing that remains of your spouse are portions of his teeth?

Initially in the months and years following Steve’s death, Shelly filled her emotional void with traveling and shopping and on-the-surface distractions. But nothing brought continual relief, except one thing. Her trust in God to give her “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“There were times when I felt I would never be happy again. Or no way that I could ever feel safe and not hate the world for what’s happened to me. But God restored all that,” Shelly affirms. “There is still hope after something so horrible happens in your life. When you don’t see that hope in the present, it comes down to trusting that God’s got a plan for you. I always knew to trust in God’s Word and to rely on that in every aspect of my life, but now I have lived it.”

Every November Shelly who moved home to Texas and has remarried, travels back to New York City with Jacqueline. Twice so far they have visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which Shelly describes as both “unbelievably beautiful” and “overwhelming.” That’s how I’d describe seasons in my own life. I’m sure you can relate. And when we can’t yet see “hope in the present,” Shelly reminds us to bravely keep trust when life feels both unbelievably beautiful and overwhelming.

Brave and Resilient Tip #119: Keep trusting when life feels both unbelievably beautiful and overwhelming.

 

Scooching Forward

From the Brave and Resilient Classic Series

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” Those words sear my memory, almost as indelibly as the time I first rode a bike without training wheels. I’m sure during my wobbly inaugural ride (of only a few feet), I chirped, “I did it! I did it! I did it!”

You, too, know the exhilaration of accomplishing something you weren’t sure about at the start. Doing well in the class. Getting a promotion. Giving birth. Working out more often.

oldLadyCroppedI know well the pendulum of I-can’t and I-did-it. Years ago while recovering from a hospital stay, my mom visited me while my dad attended a business convention. Our first morning alone together, I made breakfast while Mom dressed. When Mom reached the carpeted steps joining the bedrooms to my main floor, she hesitated. Three simple steps that take three seconds to descend suddenly appeared a cavernous pit to Mom.Even afraid to grip the hefty railing, she rocked a little forward, stammering, “I can’t . . . I can’t . . . I can’t.” The combination of Mom’s still weak legs and her new medication morphed her mid-60s body into a fearful child. Petrified to ease her foot onto the first step, Mom’s “I can’t   . . . I can’t . . . can’t” faded to a whisper when I suggested Plan B. With my holding her hand, Mom sat down and together we scooched our bottoms down each step.

Decades later I sit here writing to you, pondering how often I, and maybe at times you, stammer, “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” Our mortified doubts may not leave our lips, but we all have our share of inferior moments where we are adamantly convinced that we cannot do something. I can’t deal with this marriage anymore. I can’t stand the way my boss treats me. I can’t go another month without enough money. I can’t endure the chemo. I can’t hack being single this long. I can’t get through to my teen. I can’t live like this anymore.

I get your “I can’ts.” It’s why I’ve created this website as a respite for anyone who needs a little encouragement, a welcoming place for those “I can’ts” of life. As much as I identify with your “I can’ts,” God gets them even more. He already knows all about your reluctance, your uncertainty, even your skepticism. He also knows how brave and resilient you are—what you can handle and just where you need a hand.

So before the next cacophony of “I can’ts” rumble and roar, reducing you to an emotional slug, why not share those “I can’ts” with God?

Go on. And sit on your tush, if you need to. He’s already there ready to scooch along right with you. Ready to hear your “I can’t” break into, “I did it. I did it. We did it, God!”

Brave & Resilient Tip #2:  Do not give in to the “I can’ts” of life.   

What helps you scooch forward?

See the Tips & Help page for practical ways to keep scooching forward in your life.

Your Bravery Bucket List

Jumping off the high board. Selling lemonade. Riding a horse. Twirling and swirling on amusement park rides. Trying Dad’s latest barbeque sauce. Letting Mom put lotion on your sunburn.

Pies en el trampolnBravery flourishes in summertime, especially when we’re young and so many life adventures await us. I remember spending my summers making loop potholders and chocolate-covered bananas with my best friend and selling them around our little town. And my brothers “offering” me the role of test passenger in one of their many mini fabricated cars. Bravery knows no bounds when you’ve got two older brothers who give you the double dog dare.

As much as bravery builds its initial courage in our younger years, I think we’ve all got some bravery just waiting to bust out in our lives. Yes, even yet this summer! Maybe it’s that long hike or bike ride or even putting on walking shoes and making it around the block. Or, perhaps it’s letting your teen drive you to work or putting work on hold and taking that vacation. For you, bravery may even mean making amends with someone or looking for a new job. (Or, if you’re me, making and drinking a green smoothie.)

Summer will soon be coming around the home stretch, so now is the time to put some checkmarks on your bravery bucket list. What brave summer memories top your list? Which ones will you add in the next six weeks? We’d love to share your bravery best with your favorite bravery photos. (Use Your Thoughts below and then email your photos to beth@braveandresilient.com).

Bust a bravery move, then tell us about it. We double dog dare you!

Brave and Resilient Tip #114: Put some checkmarks on your bravery bucket list.

 

Live Like We Are Dying

The phone call. The knock on the door. Some unexpected bad news just never arrives gracefully. In an instant we learn that a loved one is terribly ill, injured, or already dead. One second we are zipping along with our daily routines; the next second life jerks us into shock, disbelief, and grief.

A young woman with a rope engaged in the sports of rock climbing on the rock.This happened to me afresh almost two weeks ago when I received an early morning call that a long-time friend and former coworker had died. An undetected medical condition turned his normally upbeat self on a dime and his wife called to tell me he passed. What??!!! Fine on Monday. Dead on Thursday.

Almost all of us can relate to receiving unexpected news of a loved one’s death. Some of us hunker down in denial. Some of us spill out our frayed emotions. Others of us swirl in a combination of numbness and outward angst. As mental health professionals advise, grief can tumble and toss us about with varied responses, all fluctuating throughout our days.

One thing I’ve learned over the years about sudden loss and grief is to give myself space and grace. None of us feel the exact same emotions in the exact same way at the exact same time. While grief is a shared response to loss, it’s also an individual journey.

I’ll never forget driving across the northern Kansas flatlands returning from one of my last trips to visit my failing dad in Nebraska. Tim McGraw’s hit “Live Like You Were Dying” came on the radio and I was both belting out the lyrics and bawling. “How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news. Man what ya do. And he says, ‘I went sky divin’, I went rocky mountain climbin’,…And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying,’ and he said ‘someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dyin’.’”

The unexpected phone calls and knocks on the door are a part of living on this planet. So do we tense in anxiousness over the likelihood of losing someone? How do we prepare ourselves? I venture that we live each day as it comes with appreciation for those we love. We look for the little everyday things to savor, the unexpected joys that make us smile. We choose not to focus on the some day, but focus on the right now. We live like we are dying.

What do you think helps us to focus on living the right now? What are ways we can live today like we are dying?

Brave and Resilient Tip #110: Focus not on the some day but on living the right now.