What are you going to give up this year? How about your SELF?

sunset 2It’s easy to look at the scale or the food you eat and think about what you want to give up to be healthier physically .  It is NOT easy however, to look at what to give up to make your heart and your soul healthy!

Galations 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

We no longer live, it is Christ who lives in us.  But He can’t do amazing works in you if you don’t deny yourself and your sinful nature first.

What is God asking you to give up this year? Do you have a nagging feeling God wants you to turn something over to Him so He can refine you? God is always refining us, always fine tuning, molding, shaping. God takes people out of our lives and puts them in our lives for a purpose, we are transforming.  How is God transforming you?  Are you willing to be molded, shaped, changed for His purpose? Or are you holding on to you because it is comfortable, easier to take control of your own life?

To refine us, we need to give some things up.  Because we are sinful by nature, we need to intentionally make an effort to DENY SIN in our lives.

What does this look like for you?  What has the HOLY SPIRIT put on your heart to give up?

Let me give you some examples and see if any of them sound like you…

Do you have a negative, critical attitude? Do you always see the down side of things? If you are not sure if this is you, ask those around you!!

Do you complain often? Don’t think you are much of a complainer? Again ask your friends and co-workers if they think you complain (by the way, it’s often called VENTING).

Do you worry often?  Are you anxious? Give it to God.  As my pastor said “If you are worrying, then you are not trusting God, if you are trusting God, then there is no reason to worry!”

Matthew 6:25 says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Are you impatient? If Jesus were to follow you around and see all of your interactions, would he see an inpatient nature?  Do you often think of your time as your own and think other people are wasting it?  Try using the extra time you spend waiting in line at the store, waiting for your check at a restaurant or in bad traffic to pray and find something to be thankful for! Trust me there is plenty to be thankful for!

Are you selfish?  Do you want the best for yourself and not really think about how it affects others? When people ask you how you are doing, do you go on and on about yourself?  Maybe you don’t even think about it.  Try going for a day without talking about yourself! It’s hard because we are selfish by nature!!

What about self-pity?  Do you think that you are a victim of your circumstances?  Do you blame others for your sin?  When you make a mistake, is it easier to admit your own guilt or to make excuses and claim your innocence?

Most importantly, do you need to deny your PRIDE?

God detests Pride (Proverbs 6:16).  Simply put, pride is feeling that you deserve better, more, or taking credit for God’s work.  God considers pride an ABOMINATION – that is, something that causes disgust. Unfortunately it is our nature as humans to put ourselves first.  Put someone else first for a change and DENY YOURSELF.

I implore you to take a hard look at yourself…What can you give up this year?  How about all of it?  Let God transform you!

Start off the new year by cutting out SIN, deny yourself, and letting Christ live in you!

 

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A spouse won’t “complete” you but GOD will!!

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It’s easy to think that if you could just find “THE ONE” that you will be complete.  But if finding a spouse is more important to you than pursuing GOD, then you’ve got it backwards.  GOD is everything you need, He always will be.  

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

When you find your spouse, it’s because that person is God’s provision for you.  God has put them in your life because He entrusts them to you to love and cherish for the rest of your life.  A spouse can’t give you spiritual peace and overwhelming joy that God can.  It is not possible for a human to meet all of your needs.  And thinking a spouse will make you happy is a trap, trusting God and His wisdom and His timing is the only thing that will give you more than momentary happiness.  God designed you to need HIM, everything you will ever need is in Christ.  When you are overflowing with Christ’s love and mercy then you can pour it into others and especially your spouse!

 

When did suicide become the answer to bullying?

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As a mental health crisis counselor, I see more suicidal adolescent patients than the average person and here is what I have gleaned from my work as a counselor:

Bullying DOES cause suicidal thoughts and depression. It is a pattern I see very consistently in my field.

Bullying is RAMPANT, unfortunately our culture has failed our students in providing a safe environment to learn and worse, many victims of bullying lack the sense of self-worth and coping skills to know that the bully does not define who they are.  The victims of bullying lack the mental maturity to see that they can be validated by other things, (ex. artwork, hobbies, a sport or activity they enjoy) not just by the external validation and approval they crave from others.  Victims of bullying also do not see a way out.  They lack the ability to see that although things feel terrible in the moment, they do not have to endure bullying for a lifetime.  They will not be in high school forever and thankfully, the college environment is a lot more accepting of people who do not fit in at the high school level.

Long term it’s also possible that being a victim of bullying can place a child in a position where he or she is more in tune with his or her emotions and feelings as well as higher “emotional intelligence.” In the long term, these students may develop an increased capacity to empathize with others and increase their desire to help others who struggled in ways they did themselves.  Some students even use their experience of being bullied to reach out and help other students in the same situation by join a campaign or start one at their school to raise awareness about bullying and what students can do to stop it.

Bullying in most cases will lead to distorted self image which can lead to depression. Depression causes lack of motivation, even anxiousness in social situations, and depressed persons often isolate themselves from others.  This mean that unfortunately the same children that are already being excluded or bullied may find it even harder to interact on a social level with others.  It is a cycle, bullying can lead to depression which can cause a child to isolate which will allow them to be further bullied because they have alienated themselves to the point where it becomes too socially risky for others to reach out to them.

On the plus side though, even if a child is bullied, just having one or two friends that will stick by their side, sit with them at lunch, walk with them in the hallways can distract them from the influx of negative messages they hear.  Sometimes a child just needs one good friend and suddenly the bullying becomes less impactful.

Possible reasons bulling has increased:

Break down in family structure – Families spend less time together, parents may be less involved because they simply do not have the time.  When you add parents work schedule to their children’s activity schedule, oftentimes the only quality time a child will have with a parent is in a car where they cannot even interact face to face.  Simply put, parents do not know what is going on.

Lack of discipline – parents wanting to be their child’s buddy and not the ‘mean parent.’

Websites that protect the identity of the bully, technology allowing 24 hour anonymous access to anyone anytime.

Lack of coping skills- In an upcoming blog I will discuss a positive re-framing activity that has worked wonders for me, even as an adult!

Parents whose values are things OTHER than their children.  People make time to do things that are important to them. Raising children that make the RIGHT choice should be important but in this culture business is a way of life and there are only 24 hours in a day and with more dual income families, there is less time for teaching values.  Children learn what they see.  The things people make time for are their values.  For example, If people value material possessions more than they value time with their children then who is teaching their children healthy values?  Teachers can only do so much.  In my opinion as a counselor, it It is okay to be the snooping parent or the parent who sets boundaries or who disciplines.  Your child will not hate you forever because they got their phone and computer taken away even though they say they will! 😉

Bullies believe that behavior was not meant to be hurtful because they were ‘just joking.’  This is perpetuated by parents who agree that their child was just meant in a joking manner.  Words INCLUDING JOKES hurt others.  Words have caused victims of bullying to commit suicide. Teach children to ask themselves, could anyone possibly be hurt by what I am going to say?  If yes DON’T say it.

If a child already has made fun of another child or acted in a hurtful way, don’t assume the school took care of it.  Bullies need to have consequences, even if it is writing an apology letter to the victim.  I recently did a google search for anti-bullying images and an image came up of a child (probably in front of a school) who was forced to wear a sandwich board that said “I am a bully, honk if you hate bullies.” Quite the creative consequence I thought.

Parents are in denial about their own child’s ability to cause harm to another child. In my experience as a crisis counselor, children will be one way in a room by themselves with a therapist and then act completely different when interacting with their parents.  Children will minimize and manipulate and even lie when they feel there are consequences and that they are in trouble.  I’ve seen it many times.   Children’s demeanor changes based on their environment.

Once a child is found to be the perpetrator of bullying behavior, resist the urge to allow them to be bullied as retaliation.  As appropriate as it might feel, bullying the bully is not benefiting anyone.    Children need instruction, that is how they learn.  Schools AND parents need to address the bullying, give a child relevant consequences (ex. Have the bully write an apology letter as well as a statement that they will not repeat the behavior.  Put the letter on display and have the bully physically apologize to the student and the student can forgive them and hopefully both will move on).

Children can change and learn from their mistakes, think about how God loves us, His children.  Of course, we all make mistakes, God does not shun us from society because we made one mistake.  Teach children grace and forgiveness.  That is a skill that will last a lifetime and be invaluable long term.

Please post any other techniques you have found helpful.  My goal is to raise awareness and empower people with knowledge to take a stand and STOP BULLYING!!

Is he The One?

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Marry your best friend, find the person you can laugh with, find the person with great character. Character traits such as patience, gentleness and selfless are priceless. Find the person who adores you and will cherish you and hold on for dear life. Sadly our generation is saturated with selfishness and expectations. I hear people talk about relationships being 50/50. Don’t let this be you, and don’t give 50 percent in a relationship as you will only get 50 percent back. Find the person who will sacrifice 100 percent for you & your happiness and you will want to give 100 percent back:-)

Photography 101: A Primer on Color Photography, Part II

Love these pictures!!

The Daily Post

Yesterday, Ming Gullo, the photographer at A View with Ming, introduced the basics of color photography. Today, she continues her discussion and talks about hue, saturation, lightness, and contrast.

A look at hue, saturation, and lightness

Hue

Hue is what we usually define as color. The images below illustrate shifts in hue:

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Bullying

Definition of bullying:
There are three components,intent to harm, imbalance of power and behavior is repeated.

Research has shown that when other students intervene in a bullying situation — more than half the time, the bullying will stop within 10 seconds!

Many students are against bullying, but they may not know what to do when it happens. Educators and counselors, PLEASE TEACH YOUR STUDENTS TO INTERVENE !!
Bullying

My First Blog

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Marriage will bring to light your sinful nature, forcing you to address and overcome each other’s sins so you can show grace and forgive. If you ask, God will give you the ability to forgive and show His grace even when you didn’t even think you could!!