Dependence Issues

Q. Could you please share ways we lose our joy?

A. Let’s Talk! I’ve had so many questions come to me on this theme this week, so talk we will. First, fill in the blank: “I am happy when ___.” Did you list a person in the blank? A trip? Better circumstances? Having more things?

The fill-in-the-blank answer is the clue as to what you think can bring joy or happiness, but can also be the very thing to ROB you of your joy when you don’t have that item! Anything that you depend on to give you joy robs you of joy when it is taken away. When this happens, the thing you depend upon has a grip on you and you are not free. You also have no control over the someone or something. Is that how you want to live?

Most of us would say our goal is “to be okay” or joyful “no matter what”—no matter what the people in our life are doing, no matter the circumstances. So, what are we to do? Not have close relationships? No. People and relationships are gifts. But, we are not to be DEPENDENT on them for our happiness.

I’ve thought about this subject for many years and been tested in it even longer, and my truest belief is that being okay is a function of the Spirit. People can be a blessing; things can fill us for a season; but the only sure and lasting source of joy is spiritual. Can you, will you, ask the Lord to show you where there are unhealthy dependencies in your life and ask for freedom? It’s a great first step, though there is more. Maybe we can bookmark this and start here next post. Please send your comments or questions. Your thoughts matter!

For Deeper Reflection

Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places…”

James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. . . .”

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

#$@&%*! Pessimist?

I know a number of people who just get into a tizzy about our political leaders and the state of our union and world. I mean a real riled up mess about those making decisions about our society, our military, our money, our homes, our futures. These acquaintances are downright vinegary (what a grand word!) pessimists who rant on with #$@&%*! Communist, #$@&%*!, leading us into #$@&%*!. I totally agree that one look around our country and across the globe and much of what we see is dour. BUT . . .iStock_000017880252Medium

What brings me peace is that none of our rulers and upsetting situations is a surprise to God. Nothing slips past His notice. Nothing escapes His control. Am I willing to trust He has my good in mind or will I angrily fret?

I’m meeting with other women right now for the new Beth Moore Bible study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians and she reminds us that hindrances and afflictions were part of the people’s lives in the first century and are part of ours today. Beth summarizes to stay immovable and persevering in life’s obstacles (dare I say, brave and resilient?):

What if we really did come to expect fiery ordeals, not as pessimists
but as the prepared? What if we did come expect that life was going to
push us with pressure to compress us? What if we were ready to advance
for things like peer pressure, cultural compression, and religious
oppression? If we’re not prepared, when they push, we are moved. But if
we are prepared, we plant our feet, bend our knees, and hold tight with all
our might. The beautiful part is that Scripture doesn’t stop at telling us
we’ll have pressures and afflictions. It also tells us in advance that none
of them will be wasted. They’ll all work out for our good (Romans 8:28, 37)
. . . . Without a shadow of a doubt, our perseverance will be rewarded
(Hebrews 10:35-36).*

Take stock. Are you more pessimist or more patiently prepared? Don’t let the world’s #$@&%*! “fiery ordeals” go to waste in your own life. Plant your feet, hold tight. The good will come. Your perseverance will be rewarded.

Brave and Resilient Tip #82: Plant your feet and hold on tight. Your perseverance will be rewarded.

* Children of the Day, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Beth Moore (LifeWay Press), 2014, p. 80.

Let’s Talk

Coping With Physical Pain

Q. Would you please share some thoughts about facing chronic physical pain?

A. Let’s Talk! We’ve talked a lot about emotional pain this past year, and now we’ll begin conversations about physical pain. It matters that you hurt. It matters that someone you love is in pain. There is help.

One of my dear friends has had nonstop, excruciating pain for a long season of time, and I wanted you to hear from her. Brenda Hauser has weighed in on this post before and I asked her to tell us about her journey:

I suffer with chronic pain but I am not my pain! I want things to be different – the way
they used to be – but they are not and I have come to grips with that. I have learned
to live above my circumstances. Satan has tempted me to despair andI have prayed to die,
but God has said, not yet, so I know there is something left for me to do in this life.
Augustine once said, “Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to
happen. He either permits it to happen or He brings it about Himself.” So, every day
I get out of bed and get dressed like I’m going somewhere, even if I’m not. When
someone says to you, “You don’t look like you feel bad,” inside yourself shout a big,
“YES” with a fist pump!

I have attended a pain rehabilitation clinic and they helped me to change my thoughts,
emotions, and behaviors in relating to my pain. I am not capable of changing the pain,
but I can change my attitude about it. I don’t allow pain to be the center of my world
I don’t make/cancel plans based on how I think I might feel; I make plans! Medications,
a TENS unit, and a back brace have been prescribed, however, I also exercise (yes, even
when I hurt) and use distraction, humor, music, reading, Scripture memorization,
relaxation techniques, and deep abdominal breathing to deal with the pain. I also use
moderation and modification in how much I do at one time and how I do it. I pray and
ask others to pray for me because prayer changes things!

We all have a journey with pain on some level, so we truly invite your comments and reflections on your own pain experience. What helps you cope well with pain? We will continue to dialogue about physical pain next week.

For Deeper Reflection (also from Brenda)

Hebrews 12:1 “So, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus because this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.”

2 Corinthians 4:8 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, struck down but not destroyed.”

Philippians 4:6-7 “Therefore, be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:11 May we be like the apostle Paul and quickly move towards being able to say “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

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

Tips for Aging Well

Q. Could you please share some general tips for aging well?

A. Let’s Talk! Life doesn’t stay the same, does it? From birth we begin to age! What’s challenging is to do it well. There are some physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual pieces that help us.

Physically we can exercise, drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, etc. But you knew that part. We talked about emotions last week. The cognitive help is evaluating what you want in your life to age well and then considering what you are doing now toward this. Is what you are doing now (your choices) helping you or hurting you to do well? If not, what is your plan for making things better? This process is a quick peek at Reality Therapy.

The spiritual aspect is the treasure. No one else but God can fully comfort us when we have loss of independence, loss of friends to death, mounting illnesses, and the unknown changes in our futures. Who else but God can help us find meaning in our days? All of the diversions of travel, hobbies, funny movies, social events, and even a circle of friends cannot provide the serious adjustment needed to give us peace and wisdom to move forward “anyway.”

This isn’t just putting on a better attitude – it’s a transformation. Would you consider inviting God into your timeline and footsteps? He wants to walk with you, in you, ahead of you, beside you. Just because aging can be challenging doesn’t mean we stop doing what we can. Asking Him to help is something we can do!

For Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 6:13 [Amplified] “ Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”

Acts 17:28 [KJV] For in him we live, and move, and have our being…”

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.

 

Flourishing vs. Fainting

Sunday morning I’m reading in Psalms when I run across Psalm 92:12-13 and notice the word flourish used in both short verses. Flourish?, I thought. Hmmm…that is a descriptive verb I don’t see or hear often. What does it look like to flourish? Two hours later I was at church and the visiting speaker used the word flourish in the context of Jeremiah 29:7 and the exiled people being directed to help their city of captivity thrive. Wow! Flourish from on high three times in two hours. I perked up! I’ve been pondering the word every since.

IMG_3152This morning I photographed one of a few tulips already blooming in my yard. We had about an inch of snow last night and chilly temps. I forgot to protect this beauty overnight from the cold, but somehow in the light of day “she” is shaking off the chill and rising again. To me, this flower is a poignant example of flourishing when life presses for the opposite.

I jotted in my journal on Monday: What keeps me from flourishing? I summarized: Fear, Fatigue, Focusing too Far Ahead, and Falling Behind (out of balance with work, nutrition, exercise, etc.) Instead of flourishing like God encourages me to do, I sometimes schlep along with a “spirit of fainting” (Isaiah 61:3). I am learning to counter fear, fatigue, future-dwelling, and falling behind with a few practical steps. More sleep, more balanced eating, wiser choices in my schedule, and luxuriating more in my daily devotional time. When I focus on these essentials in my life, I return to flourishing.

The Bible inspires us to flourish like palm trees, tall grasses, and vine fruits. I don’t see tulips specifically listed, but I think tulips and even you and I are included in Isaiah 55:10: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater.”

Bud and flourish. I think we are invited to do this every time we are pressed down by adversity and stress. In the past 24 hours I’ve learned of several real-life burdens from my circle of friends that could make any of us choose to faint vs. flourish: young man strokes and is paralyzed from shoulders down; tornado demolishes home, killing father and two daughters; woman hospitalized, battling through intense chemotherapy;  mom fears her child is being sexually abused.

You could add your own list of flourish vs. faint scenarios that range from bothersome people to unrelenting pain. And I wonder. How do you flourish when life says faint? Please share with us your own tips for flourishing. What keeps you knocking off the chilly temps and coming back to life?

Brave and Resilient Tip #66: Bud on. Flourish on—even when you feel like fainting.

 

Step by Step

The following are insights by guest writer Nancy Parker Brummett. 

One thing I’ve learned volunteering with older adults is that it’s not how fast you go that matters. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, taking one step at a time, and enjoying the trip along the way that makes a long life worth living.

On the days I lead a Bible study hour at an assisted living facility, I always have to go around and gather up the residents, even though the activity is clearly listed on their weekly calendars. (Hey, I understand. At that age I wouldn’t want to look at a schedule either!)

senior womanOne of my first stops was always Lou’s room. Usually I would find Lou reading a book, thumbing through a magazine, or just lying on her bed gazing out at the mountains she loved. As soon as I asked her, “Do you want to go to Bible study?” she would say, “Oh, sure!” I would help her find a sweater and one of the two canes she kept stashed around, and off we would go down the hall.

But we were in no hurry, believe you me! Lou would always stop to chat with anyone she saw along the way. Poking her head in to the facility’s beauty salon, she’d tease anyone who was getting her hair wound up in curlers, or compliment anyone who was almost finished getting coifed. As we passed through the dining room, she’d stop to chat with a resident sipping the last of her morning coffee, or pass out a hug or two to the staff.

I so loved having Lou in class. She really sang the old hymns with gusto, and once suggested that we all march around the room singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”—and so we did—canes, walkers, and all! The very last time I entered Lou’s room, she was stretched out on her bed under the covers, but this time she wouldn’t be going to class with me. She had just gone to be with the Lord! I felt so blessed to be able to tell her goodbye, pray over her, and see such a peaceful look on her face—with just a hint of a smile. All I could think was, “Oh, Lou, now you are walking on streets of gold, and greeting everyone you meet with a holy kiss!”

I miss my friend. But her bravery in old age, resilience, and willingness to just keep putting one foot in front of the other day after day, will inspire me always. Step by step, Lou finished strong, and made it all the way to the throne room of God. By His grace, so can we all.

Brave & Resilient Tip #64: Our life’s journey is taken step by step.

Nancy Parker Brummett just published a collection of the lessons she wrote for her class in the assisted living facility. The Hope of Glory: A Devotional Guide for Older Adults is now available in print or eBook format on Amazon and is excellent for anyone over 65 and for leading groups in elder care centers or enjoying meaningful visits with older loved ones.

Persistence vs Failure

Thomas Edison, the master scientist failed two thousand times before he invented the light bulb. When a reporter asked Edison about how it felt to come up short again and again, the genius inventor replied, “I never failed once. It just a happened to be a two thousand-step process.”

Light bulb illuminated,Edison patented 1,093 inventions in his eighty-four years, and every one of them required skilled steadfastness and patience. Thomas Edison was persistent and tenacious. His resiliency brought us the phonograph (think early, early iPod) and the motion picture camera.

Brilliant Mr. Edison doggedly kept at it, refusing to stop at attempt #1,999. How do we view a circumstance that just doesn’t quite work out according to our plans and our hopes? Call it failure or call it one less attempt to solve a problem. Call it failure or one step closer to innovation, progress, and success.

There’s just something about hanging in there with persistence that flips a switch to our discovering better things to come. Are you tiring of hanging in there? As French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc Buffon exhorted, “Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.”

Today may shine with a light bulb moment. Who knows . . . you may be on attempt #1,999.

Brave and Resilient Tip #54: Let persistence light up your life, day after day.

Let’s Talk

Living in Plan B 

Q. How do I stay brave and resilient when I have so many daily disappointments?

 A. Let’s talk! It sounds like you have been detoured from your Plan A and are on Plan B . . .  or C . . . or D . . .  and it is hard on the heart. Every day has its challenges, so why do the challenges always seem to surprise us? Is it a test to see what is important to us? Is it a revealer of what is in our hearts? There is a great saying about this: What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket! Well, my well got tested a bunch this past week. One battle is that we want every minute to be good… look below.

 John Eldredge said in his 9/11/13 blog:

There is something you must understand about human nature – we just want life to be good. Nearly all our energies, every day, are spent trying to make life good. But of course – we were made for Eden; we were made for life to be good. This part of our nature is completely understandable. The problem is this – we do not live in Eden; that is not the chapter of the story we are living in. We live in a world at war; we live in a larger story that is far more urgent and noble and startling than “making life good.” And this is the other part of human nature we must understand – we just don’t want to face all that. We want to find some way to numb ourselves out of the present reality and re-create some level of the pleasures of Eden. We just want life to be good.* [You can read  the entire column by clicking on this link ]

So, this past week when my glasses broke, my computer didn’t work for days, when dear friends had serious health challenges, when my dog had serious health challenges, and more – there was a sense of living in Plan B. But, it is also a call to PERSISTENCE and reaching for the truest, surest anchor of all to help us ride the storms of life – our heavenly Father. I am content to experience Plan B days if I know I am in the hands of the One who holds Plan A for my life. There is no missing Plan A when we are in the shadow of His wing. (Psalm 91:1, though the whole chapter will comfort your heart!)

For Deeper Reflection

 John 16:33 “In this world, you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world .”

Isaiah 30:18 – 21 “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore Hewaits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”

Job 5:7 “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.”

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


*From Why We Are Urged to Remember, Ransomed Heart, accessed 9.17.2013, http://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/john/why-we-are-urged-remember

 

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.

 

My Name Is . . .

Lately, I’ve been contemplating my everyday encounters with strangers and especially those who provide a service. The store clerks, the receptionists, the customer service reps, the wait staff. I’m the kind of conversationalist who enjoys chatting with people and getting to know them. (A friend long ago observed, “Beth, you can become best friends with a person in the grocery store line.” Well, I guess I am kind of friendly, but . . . .)

Blank name tags that say HELLO MY NAME IS.Recently, I befriended two different Vietnamese manicurists who dolled up my digits before my nieces’ April and June weddings. In April the nail pro simply slid a business card my way with the words, “My name is Cindy. Thank you.” Cindy is a her Americanized name, and in our hour-plus together, I smiled and asked simple questions. Cindy nodded and smiled back. As she worked, I kept reassuring her, “Great job. Nice.” In response, Cindy would dip her head and broadly smile. Sometimes she practiced her non-native words “thank you.” I didn’t care if it sounded like she was saying “thang moo.”

Two weeks ago I met Haung in an Omaha nail salon the day before my oldest niece’s wedding. For the first 30 minutes, I didn’t know Haung spoke English at all, but once she felt comfortable enough to talk, we had a grand time. Haung has lived in America three years, is married with two college-aged kids. She works six days a week. On Mondays she takes off to study English. Tuesday through Sunday, Haung and more than a dozen other workers in the salon pack into a van for their hour commute. Compared to this humble, hard-working manicurist I have little in life to complain about.

So what are we learning about the strangers we meet? Do we catch names on name tags? Do we look people in the eyes and show our appreciation for their efforts to serve us? Do we remember to offer an appreciative “thank you”?

You never know when your smile or your two words, “thank you” will truly turn someone’s life around. Maybe that person felt so insignificant and passed over. Maybe so low that she or he thought about just checking out of this life.

Today may be your day to help someone else bounce back from a rough patch or make a wobbly step or even a tiny scooch forward. Let’s all show a little bravery and initiate a kind conversation with a stranger this week. And let’s don’t forget to sprinkle our words with a “thank you” or two.

Brave and Resilient Tip #33: A “thank you” communicates more than appreciation.  

Let’s Talk

 “Life is so hard . . . . ”

 

Q. Can you talk about how to walk in courage when life is so hard?

A. Let’s Talk! Life is hard. Wildfires. Stocks down. Foreclosures. Government scandals. Tornadoes. Businesses closings. Physical challenges. We each have a mental list of countless things that are not as they “should” be . . . just this week alone.

 So, how do we do life? I have hit on this theme here and there, but may I speak of it again? “Expectations” (how life SHOULD be) is a killer. Hard things in life almost always surprise us because there is such a deep expectation that life is going to be all good. Conversely, we aren’t really to walk around only expecting bad things to happen. How then do we walk this path? I have been pondering my answer to you for days. I’ve studied Numbers in the Old Testament all week, watching the Israelites grumble and complain, but not look to God. It is my grandchildren who have supplied the best example for me to give you concerning a right response to life being hard. Below is an e-mail from my daughter, who lives just one mile away from the voluntary evacuation line for the wildfires in Colorado Springs – and she tells of her three children’s response. Those darling children are ages 5 and twins that are 3. Listen in!

The kids are in Vacation Bible School all week, which has been a wonderful distraction. They are excited to be singing about ”don’t worry about anything but instead pray about everything.” It’s very moving. They are learning so much as this is going on and we have talked about what it means for there to be fires and for us to pray for God’s protection. Today they are collecting Gatorade, water, and snacks for the firefighters so they are learning to put their faith into action.

What a lesson to us! These little ones know there is trouble all around them, but they are praying for God’s help, provision, and protection. God longed for the folks in Numbers to turn to Him. Children get it most of the time. And they are not only praying but giving. That about sums it up: we look up.

 

For Deeper Reflection

Philippians 4: 6-7  “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (NLT)

Numbers 14: 11  “. . . How long will this people spurn Me and how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?” (NAS)

Matthew 18: 3-4 and Matthew 19:13-14 – Examples of His love for children and understanding of Him

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.