Let’s Talk

’Twas the Week Before Christmas

Q. What can I picture this week to keep myself restful on the inside and focused on the real reason for celebrating?

A. Let’s Talk! My very favorite Scripture verse about Christmas that helps me is a word picture found in Luke 1:35: “The angel answered and said to her [Mary], ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.’”

I don’t know about you, but I need overshadowing!! To be overshadowed by God is a beautiful picture and a beautiful promise of the blessing, power, rest, and authority that believers walk in.

Isaiah 61:1 is another verse to keep us restful. These are Jesus’ words at the start of His ministry:

“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.”

For Deeper Reflection

So, at the proclamation of Jesus’ birth to the first day of His advent—the Spirit was promised. Today the Holy Spirit is promised to overshadow and indwell all those who belong to Him. If you are not sure you belong to Him, and if you want to make sure, you can pray a simple prayer inviting Him into your heart and life.

Here is the assurance we have from 1 John 5:11-13:

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Enjoy this beautiful reason and we’ll talk in the New Year!

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

 

Let’s Talk

True Joy for the Season

Q. Where do I find joy during this “joyful” season?

A. Let’s Talk! Underneath the tinsel and glitter of the season is a longing for deep and lasting joy that doesn’t end after Christmas or the next happy event. Where do we find true joy? In God’s presence is where we find joy! We can seek joy and find it any moment of the day by choosing His Presence (not presents).

My son, Dr. Bryan McIntosh, presented a sermon message this past Sunday on the distinction between happiness and JOY. We all know the song Joy To The World, and that’s what Christmas is truly about: it’s when JOY entered this world to give us His Joy, a loving, protecting relationship with our Creator, the security of eternal life, answered prayers, and endless more benefits.

(Visit http://www.fellowshipbiblechurch.info for more of Bryan’s encouraging words). Many of the verses below are from Bryan’s message. There is so much to chew on in the following scriptural passages — so am signing off this year with a feast for you. Blessings and deepest joy for each one of you! Let’s Talk more in January!

For Deeper Reflection

Psalm 16: 11 “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

1 John 1:2-4  “. . . and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

John 16:23-24 “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

Nehemiah 8:10,12 “Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. . .’ All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.”

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.

Let’s Talk

The Real Reason for the Season

Q. Would you please share how to handle sadness during this
“joyful” season?

A. Let’s Talk! There is the greatest of gaps during this season . . . all the highs and all the lows at one time. Especially when one is struggling on any level during this month, the perceived gaiety around us seems overwhelming to our hearts and can cause us to struggle even more. The holiday season is meant to lift us up, but it can take us down.

What is the sadness or struggle? Many of us came into the season feeling empty, lonely, broken, missing a loved one, depressed and oppressed. Life is just not like it is “supposed” to be. But! There is fabulous news. This condition we have is the VERY reason we have Christmas. Jesus came to earth in Bethlehem for the oppressed, the broken, and the dead to come alive.

The Christmas story of Jesus’ birth is told in Matthew 2 and Luke 2, but zip with me to Luke 4 for Jesus’ first public statement at the advent of His ministry, giving the REASON for His coming.

Luke 4:16-21 “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Deeper Reflection

His Presence is our present!!! What a gift. Let us purpose – when darkness tries to steal our joy these next several weeks – we will remember the reason Jesus came to Earth was to deliver us from this very darkness. Ask “the Light of the World” (John 8:12) to set you free.

Luke 2:9-14And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

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.

 

Let’s Talk

Slow Christmas

Q. Would you please share how to better navigate the anxiety-prone side to the Christmas season?

A. Let’s Talk! Yes, these are the days each year that we ask, “Can I do this well?” “Will I do enough, be enough, have enough…?”

There is a wonderful answer in Ann Voscamp’s book The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. On page 60, Ann writes:

In the thin air of Advent, you may not even know how to say it out loud: ‘I thought it
would be easier.’ And your God comes near: I will provide the way. You may not
even know who to tell: ‘I thought it would be different.’ And your God draws close:
I will provide grace for the gaps. You may not even know how to find words
for it: ‘I thought it would be . . . more.’ And your God reaches out: I will provide Me.

God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives . . . and we only need to
slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time: time in His Word, time
in His presence, time at His feet.

On the back the book jacket are some other thoughts worth sharing:

I don’t want a Christmas you can buy.
I don’t want a Christmas you can make.
What I want is a Christmas you can hold.
A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers Jesus.

One more excerpt to further answer your question is below. Note how counter-intuitive Ann’s thoughts are about “slow” in comparison to our normal frantic, hurried pace in this season. On page 70, Ann writes: “Like our own rich variation of the Slow Food movement, we could begin the “Slow Christmas.” Hurry always empties the soul . . . [go] slow.

Ann Voscamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.), 2013, 288 pages.

For Deeper Reflection

Luke 1:31-35 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.  Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”

May the power of the Most High overshadow each one of us this Christmas season.

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.

 

 

Let’s Talk

Healthy Boundaries for the Christmas Season

 

Q.  Could you give us your “Top 5 Boundary Blessings” for the season?

A. Let’s talk about helping our hearts to have peaceful memories in this next week and in the next year. Several times this year I have said, “IT MATTERS what messages we take in and what messages we give others.” So, let’s do a quick review of boundary suggestions to bring blessings:

• If your boundaries (setting a limit and saying no) are too weak, you might be enabling the poor choices of others or even your own. We are called to serve others, but not be a Christmas doormat in our permissiveness.

• It is not healthy to assume the responsibilities of others. We rob others from learning responsibility if we take theirs on. Many of us are “fixers” and like feeling important with a rescue, but what is the message to others? Ask for help this season if you need it, and resist rescuing others who haven’t asked for help.

• If your boundaries are too harsh, you might be sending messages to others to not come near you. Could your anger, demands, or fragility be messages to others that create distance this season?

• It’s OK to say “no” to others if you have an “uh oh” feeling. Listen to the quiet voice inside you.

• It’s OK to say, “I can’t do this, but I can do this . . . .” Negotiate! Let your voice be loving and respectful – but firm. Is it hard for you to say no? In some families, the “no” word feels harsh; but if said respectfully, it helps families establish healthy limits. Is your message modeling a healthy verbal exchange for other family members? That’s a gift exchange!

[We’ll continue this theme in January 2014!]

For Deeper Reflection

This season is about messages, as the message of Jesus’ birth pushes back darkness. May the breaking through of finding your own place and voice be like the dawn following a long dark night. Be blessed by the following message, condensed from the December 2013 newsletter of Ransomed Heart Ministries. John Eldredge writes:

Whatever else Christmas might be, it is a demonstration beyond all doubt that God keeps His word – He intervenes. He promised He would come . . . and He came. On a cold night in Bethlehem, in a far corner of the Roman Empire, when His people had pretty much figured the Kingdom would never come, He came. We have to push back all the other holiday messages for a moment and simply let the reality of the Incarnation hit us fresh again. He said He would come, and He did.

He is coming, soon, once-and-for-all. Yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. If you haven’t spent time in the woods through the last hours of the night, you might be surprised to know that it tends to get very cold right before the dawn. It can be a bit disheartening for the uninitiated, if you do not know that the bitter chill is merely a sign that things are finally turning, and the night is about to fade away. Dawn is coming, warmth and light and beauty are coming even though it just got colder than it had been all night.

John 1:4-5 “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

Romans 13:12  “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Imperfections

I never thought I’d own a Scratch-n-Dent Baby Jesus. When I bought my hand-carved wood nativity set in the Philippines in 1994, Baby Jesus and all His counterparts looked so regal, so pristine. All 17 pieces fit so well on the antique trunk/coffee table downstairs. But when I arranged the set a few years ago, I noticed how the tallest wiseman sported several pockmarks above his bearded cheeks. The next day I found Mr. Tallest Wiseman upstairs on the living room floor with chunks out of his turban. Either a woodchuck scampered into my house or my collie Logan regressed to his puppyhood chewing days. You guessed it. Mr. Lassie forgot about helping Timmy in the well and decided to dig a little deeper into the chew marks he left behind on his first Christmas when he was only nine months old.

IMG_2890I scolded Logan and returned Mr. Tallest Wiseman to his Bethlehem bunch. The next day, I heard Logan wrestling with the wooden figurines and caught him stealing the Baby Jesus. One look at me, and Logan immediately spit Baby Jesus out near two wooden sheep scattered on the floor. Fortunately Baby Jesus escaped with just a couple slight teeth marks.

So now I am the owner of Scratch-n-Dent Baby Jesus and I’m actually kind of grateful. This rosy-cheeked miniature Son of God reminds me of my own imperfections and my need for Him to heal the nicks and scrapes in my life. Restoring His tattered children to wholeness is why the Messiah came to our world in the first place.

So if you’re ever at my place around Christmas, I’ll proudly show you my shredded-head Mr. Tallest Wiseman and my pockmarked Scratch-n-Dent Baby Jesus. There’s just something about their blemishes that make you feel right at home.

Brave and Resilient Tip #51: Be grateful for your scratch-n-dent imperfections.