18/05/2018

To Heed or Ignore Advice

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 8:10 am by The Water Bearer

 

I can bet there’s not a day that goes by without someone giving you their input. Online, in person, strangers, family, teachers, neighbours, bloggers, Doctors and YouTubers. It seems almost everyone has ideas about how you should live your life.

Other people’s input can range from emotionally charged manipulation, to simply an opinion or perspective. It could even be prophetic insight, or plain profound guidance.

With so much rubbish chatter out there, we tend to ignore most stuff without much thought. But for those who value personal development and growth, how can you tell which advice needs to be ignored or what is wisdom that you don’t want to miss?

The other day I was driving home from school-pick-up with my daughter. We were discussing the feedback teenage girls tend to give each other. Now if you’ve ever been a teenage girl or spent any time with them, you will know that they are never shy about voicing their observations and issuing critical assessments of each other. My daughter was in the process of deciding how she felt about the most recent piece of feedback. She was just about ready to dismiss the comments as rubbish when I felt a wave of understanding come over me.

I asked her, are these comments only going to effect you temporarily, or could they have a long term impact?

She gave me a strange look, trying to figure out what I was getting at.

So, I reworded it.

#1. Will you care about this feedback in a year or five years time?

Then THAT look came over her face, you know the one, when a penny drops.

If someone says, “You’re too skinny, eat a cheeseburger”(teenage girl talk remember), Or even something nice such as “I like your hair like that” it’s a good chance that you are not going to care about this feedback in a years time. You definitely don’t want to wear your hair the same way everyday for the next year just because some girl at school likes it. You’re not going to start pigging out on cheeseburgers and be glad about it in a years time.

But if someone says, you haven’t practiced enough for our group assignment and we will fail, or you talk too much in class. Then in a years time when your grades are suffering and your teachers aren’t impressed, you may actually regret it. This is feedback that’s worthwhile considering and perhaps even doing something about.

I could give a thousand examples of how adults face similar feedback every day! You must breastfeed, but not in public. Take these supplements and that medication. Wear this, don’t wear that. Eat this, don’t eat that, and do these exercises but not those. Donate to this charity, join that group. Ask yourself, a year from now is there any chance I’m going to wish I considered this advice?

It’s actually a pretty easy question to ask and answer. Acting out how to apply the changes is the tough part, but the realisation that you actually care or don’t care is HUGELY significant to making positive changes.

Remember to give yourselves the freedom to change your mind even if you tried to apply some advice and found it wasn’t right for you. Just because you care about the result doesn’t mean the advice is exactly right for you. Consideration and self-awareness is vital, and a little confidence that you can make changes and steer your course in new ways.

And if that’s still not enough to help guide your decision, some other valid questions to ask yourself are…

#2. Is this going to benefit them at my expense or is this going to actually help me achieve my goals?

In other words, are they getting more out of this advice than me?

If you can assess that there is no hidden agenda and the advice is valid to you, you may have just earned a valuable piece of wisdom and understanding.

And how about this…..

#3. Are the risks worth the rewards?

Every new venture, and every decision leads to consequences, some choices are obviously riskier than others. Before making any drastic changes, weigh up the potential risks and the possible rewards clearly before you proceed. There is great value in simply pondering advice not just reacting to it (usually defensively). Get it straight in your mind before you decide if you should ignore it or if perhaps its right for you.

And finally…

#4. Does it allign with God’s will for me?

No-one else knows the secret conversations you have with God in the dead of a sleepless night. Nor do they know which scriptures God has brought into focus during your search for His will. Only you and God alone know these guideposts to your hearts purpose and path. So checking in with your position of faith is vital before swallowing any advice whole. Seek truth and it will set you FREE! 

So, as you go through life, wading through the deep waters of other peoples ideas and opinions, now you have a simple way to separate the rubbish from the gold.

These gems can reduce suffering, improve living conditions, encourage progress, increase inner peace, develop character, create a legacy and get you a little further along on your crusade towards Serenity!

We don’t want to go through life only ever valuing our own opinions. I’ve had so much terrific advice throughout my life that I’d hate to imagine how my life would be now without it. We always have more to learn and more to purge from the depths of our unconscious soul. To become complacent about needing sound advice could be the riskiest thing you ever do.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7 NIV

 

 

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01/04/2018

Media Madness & Tips to protect your children from it

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:18 pm by The Water Bearer

 

 

 

Warning: This post contains some explicit content.

I must admit straight out the gate that this is a topic I can get pretty passionate about. If you too find yourself throwing your hands in the air as a result of the current Media frenzy impacting our homes and our children, then this is the post for you!

CYBER-BULLYING, GET SERIOUS!

Today I saw yet another video of the horribly cruel things children have been exposed to over social media. Honestly, I say this with love and compassion that we know not what we do more than half the time. But some of the children bullied in this video were as young as 10 years old and all of them were under 16.

 

Please understand that I trust my teenage daughter as much as a trustworthy adolescent can be trusted, but I recognise she is not merely a small adult. She has not yet had chance to develop the maturity and sense of self-confidence required to withstand the impact such horrible comments can have on her mental health. She is still figuring out who she is and what place she holds in this world, and the negative effect of no privacy and constant peer pressure is not a risk I am willing to place on her shoulders.

 

For over 8 years I have held the stance that my children are not permitted on social media until they finish high school. Sure, I’ve heard the usual retorts that I’m too overprotective, that I don’t trust my child, that I’m preventing them learning life skills. These comments don’t sway me, because I’ve done the research. I’ve looked into the developing adolescent brain, and the stunted behavioural development that stems from online relationships replacing face-to-face ones. The reality is that I don’t usually go looking for trouble online either, but it sure as hell still finds me and impacts my soul. I’m very concerned about how many children need to suffer depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, self-mutilation, or become suicidal before we admit that Social Media is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18?

 

I’ve come to realise that the parents who get really opinionated with me, are usually the ones who have little to no control or knowledge of their child’s online life. It’s hard to keep on top of, especially if you work full time, it’s far easier to give in, and to justify it. Trust me I understand.

 

I agree, it would be nice to live in a utopian society where people don’t treat each other in these heinous ways, but the reality is that verbal abuse is all too common. And yet its not illegal.. Probably should be, but sadly that’s not the case. We must accept the true condition of our world as it is, and protect our children until this kind of behaviour is but a distant memory…

 

Thankfully I am now hearing parents changing their tune and wishing they could protect their children from it, and yet have no practical ways to combat the tidal wave of pressure to comply. Keep reading cause those practical tips are coming…

 

ADULTS GET CAUGHT AS WELL

Even adults struggle with the more serious impact of social media, let alone the less violent concerns like wasting their precious time, creating a temporary false sense of joy, and replacing personal interaction with impersonal clicks and comments. So why would we expect our children to know how to cope? Even the simple addictive nature of opening the app, click click, scroll scroll, is causing actual physical damage to our nervous system, our brains, and our bodies. It’s so mindless!

 

Another point to consider is all the photographs of children plastered all over their parents Facebook pages. Does anyone else feel this is seriously lacking in self-awareness and self-discipline? My sympathy if you fall into that category, which the numbers show you probably do. But ask yourself, were these children asked permission? Were they informed enough to understand that their entire lives would be on display for all to see and judge? That some of those in their parents “friends” list are people they don’t even know, yet they’re able to see images of their personal intimate moments? Could this be more detrimental than the paparazzi? Because at least the law forces them to stay outside our homes.

 

The line in the sand has blurred so much that children are now sending unsolicited images of themselves all over Snapchat without being aware of the consequences to their reputations, privacy and self-esteem.

 

Why am I the one left feeling awkward when I ask people to please take down photo’s of my kids, that have been put up without my permission or theirs? It is ridiculously hard to monitor! So why is this even legal?

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Neanderthal, I understand there are some precious memories that warrant photo evidence, and the cultural call to share triumphs, and world travel, weddings and so forth. Inspiring stuff right! An occasional pic (with permission) is not completely without merit. But WOW, it has gotten seriously out of hand. Can we stop it? Is it too late to hit the brakes? Rewind? Delete?

 

EYES ARE THE DOORWAYS TO THE SOUL

Its not just social media causing all the trouble either. Other forms of media have a lot to answer for!

Want a couple of mind-boggling examples?

 

During a NEWS program at dinner time, an advert for the trailer of the new 50 shades movie came on. I was sitting next to my young teenage daughter when all of a sudden, we are watching two people, mostly naked, in the throes of some pretty intense sexual activity. It’s honestly no wonder the line between consensual flirting and sexual harassment has become so hard to define.

 

I recognise that we have allowed the lines of morality to slur closer and closer to the abyss of ‘FREE EXPRESSION’, but when will we actually stop and look at ourselves and realise that we are watching people have SEX for our entertainment?! Not hidden behind closed doors, with the saddest, depraved, and sexually warped individuals, but out in the open! With our children!!

 

Many years ago, I used to watch the TV show Law & Order, I love the law and detective work, but then Special Victims Unit came along and all of a sudden we were watching children getting molested and calling it entertainment! Actual real life children are being given scripts to read, and roles to play where this is the story! Am I the only one who sees something very, very wrong with this? And don’t even get me started on some of the twisted content available on YouTube and similar formats.

 

Yeah, you say perhaps I’m just too sensitive. But I wonder if we know what exactly it was that our Saviour came to save us from? And do we even see the value of it?

 

My tears fall for all those who can’t see what’s going on! For the children exposed to images and abuse that corrupts their innocence and depletes their self-worth. I’m not sure how much longer we can sit by and watch this happen! So in the meantime, while we wait for the world to change, here are a few practical ways you can protect your family.

 

TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FROM MEDIA

Tip 1:

Be their parent not their ‘easy going friend’. It is perfectly normal for them to get moody and upset with you, you may feel fear at losing your ‘friendliness’ with them. But their tears won’t hurt them as much as certain forms of media can. When done right, you’ll end up all the closer for it.

 

Tip 2:

Exception not the rule. Set clear boundaries that Social Media is a unique privilege only for special circumstances, such as an overseas trip with school or sporting team or church. Refuse it if you can until last few weeks of high school.

 

Tip 3:

Prevention is better than the cure. It may be hard to hold your stance and you may want to cave under the pressure, but remember they never miss what they never have. Taking it away could be a far more difficult task. It’s much easier to stand your ground beforehand.

 

Tip 4:

Communicate. Explain your reasons and show them evidence of its toxic nature (they will also see the unwanted drama their friends experience). Regular communication is vital, listen to their side, and try to be compassionate. Yet stay the course.

 

Tip 5:

Consequences. If they do have social media and you see their behaviour, grades, or communication with you begin to suffer, use an app blocker to block certain apps as a consequence. Or confiscate their device for periods of time.

 

Tip 6:

Respect their Privacy. Create a private album for your Facebook photos of your children and only allow people they know and trust to see them. Remove any photo’s of them that they may not appreciate once they grow up.

 

Tip 7:

Value & Permission. Respect your child’s image by asking permission before you share photos of them online. Empower them to value images of themselves and not spread them mindlessly.

 

Tip 8:

Monitor & Follow Up. Monitor and put up firm parameters around your child’s use of internet and YouTube (Check the history regularly).

 

Tip 9:

Get Informed & Guide them. Use sites like IMDB to view the parents guide of all TV shows and Movies BEFORE your child has permission to watch them, and when something is rate PG or higher, (Parental Guidance is Recommended) Which means Parents watch with their child and guide them on how to think faithfully and healthily about any parts that are of concern.

 

Tip 10:

Fill Their Time. Find lots of good media content to fill the spaces so they still have the chance to enjoy a good movie, and the benefit of knowledge and research online, don’t go into cult mode. Have lots of physical activities planned for their spare time. Team sports, extracurricular subjects, and youth groups etc.

 

Tip 11:

Assess Your Child’s Growth. Be willing and open to discuss exceptions and pray for guidance on when the child is mature enough for the next stage, not just because “everyone else is allowed”.

 

Tip 12:

Outside the Home. Ask other parents to restrict their child’s access to social media and internet when your child is under their care. Inform your child’s friends that they are not permitted to share photo’s or information about your child online. Back this up with those awkward conversations. “Please remove that post and please don’t do it again”.

 

Tip 13:

Develop Trust. Teach your child to be able to monitor media content themselves and check in with you about it, and teach them to have the courage to say “I’m not comfortable watching this” or “Could you not put that photo of me online?”.

 

Tip 14:

Pray! Pray for the strength to hold to your stance! In spite of the possible hostility from your child, in spite of the looks of condemnation from other parents, in spite of the awkward conversations. Stand Strong!

Your child may not completely understand or agree right now, but they will learn to trust you more and more the longer you stick to your convictions, and they will thank you for it one day. I promise!

 


12/05/2017

Mindful Love

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 11:17 am by The Water Bearer

Do you struggle to Believe you are Loveable?

Whispers of shame that bully our thoughts, are as old as Fig leaf skirts….. Nothing New to See Here!

Knowing we fail, knowing we aren’t perfect leaves us feeling….. well……

Ashamed!

We then believe this equation –  “Flaws + Shame = Not Worthy of Love”

LIES! LIES! LIES!

These lies cause us to focus on inconsistencies of love from others, and then to doubt the love from God.

Plus it eats away at our love for ourselves!

This is not just my battle, but yours as well….if you’re really honest.

Why do we battle with shame?

Because our purpose is growth & upward motion towards our Best Self! And every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Shame pushes us down, preventing the growth and potential we were designed for.

We have simply met our opposition…

Because We Are Human

A fun fact of human life is that we all have our Inner Enemies. Lets look at the Inner Enemy of autopilot, and automatic thoughts.

The more time we spend mind-wandering and mind-less, the more permission we give to these automatic thoughts.

Autopilot has a lot to answer for….

But all is not lost, we do have other options!

When we make mistakes, autopilot begins to steer the ship towards shame.

OR

We can steer our thoughts towards repentance and

accept the abundant Grace of God!

When people fail to love us properly, autopilot absorbs their lack of love, turn that lovelessness in our direction, and

we withdraw from love…. all in an attempt at self-protection.

Or

we can side step their lack of love, and move on

focused on God’s love for us!

WILL WE LET AUTOPILOT DECIDE OUR WORTH?

All the evidence in scripture, science and life experience tells us that we are able to rewire our autopilot, to transform our minds, to be set free. Be Reborn!

So, who else will stand with me battling hard against autopilot!

Standing at war with shame!

Silencing the whispers that tell you not to love yourself!

Ignoring the lies that we aren’t worthy of God’s love!

It will be tough, and our autopilot won’t let go of the steering-wheel easily. It has allowed these whispers to dictate our negative self-talk for so many generations…

Yet in the moment we can  Stop, Breathe and Be!

We can Remember the Cross

And Begin to feel that Unwavering Grace-filled Love

Mindfulness meditation slows our autopilot, giving us back some control.

By practicing mindful love we learn to not only be present in the moment, but to turn that moment into our sanctuary where we soak up God’s love, and allow it to trigger bouts of self-compassion.

Instead of allowing autopilot to drive us to seek our worth and approval from others, let’s start accepting it from God!

Practice building that into SELF-LOVE! Seeing yourself as God sees you… WITH LOVE! 

SELF-LOVING DEFEATS SHAME!

Right Now, stop and feel the breath in your lungs, hear the sounds around you, feel the ground beneath you, feel gravity holding you here in this place, try to be so still that you can feel your heartbeat, picture your Saviour’s Love smothering you and now give yourself a loving warm hug from your Saviour and from yourself……

You may automatically feel silly and as if you may not deserve it, but if you don’t try to accept it and appreciate it, the incredible Cross loses its value, and the war that should already be won, fights on.

The trick is that we must take back control, and the more time we spend practicing mindful love the more chance we can actually reprogram our autopilot!

26/11/2016

Spiritual Hacking

Posted in Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:59 am by The Water Bearer

images

BREAKING NEWS….

We’ve all been spiritually hacked!!  

Check your protection software!

In my last post, I shared some thoughts on the need to perform a Spiritual Audit regularly, a self-assessment as to the condition of our hearts, our thoughts, our behaviour, and our relationship with God. This is especially valuable during times of suffering, because it supports our willingness to trust that God is using our suffering for our spiritual success and not as some form of twisted vengeance. Just as we give our computer a scan when it shows signs of not working correctly.

Are we afraid of the judgemental eye of the technician, wondering what we have been up to cause a virus to access our computer? Do we just ignore the virus out of fear of discovery?

Usually we see the technician not as someone to fear, but rather someone to detect the problem and give us the solution. Much in the same way as God can for us, through our spiritual audits.

Similar again to computers, a spiritual audit is required regularly, no matter how long we have been believers, and regardless whether we have had our sins cleansed once, or perhaps many times in the past. The reason for such scrutiny is because as long as we walk this earth we are exposed to sin. Sin has a viral effect upon the condition of the world through us, and the weakness of our flesh. We become exposed to sin, which creeps in between the cracks in our protective armour, makes itself at home and begins poisoning us from within. Just as the internet similarly carries maladies, sneaking under our radar, finding loopholes in our antivirus software.

The origin of sin is in our hearts and minds. Our minds are extremely clever at adopting thoughts, behaviours and habits into our subconscious nervous system, so that we need not have awareness of every single function. Scientific research shows that approximately 95% of our day-to-day functioning is directed by our subconscious rather than in our scope of awareness. That is a scary thought! For we are not as in control as we may like to think. This is a major reason as to why the spiritual audit is so vital.

Who remembers being told as a child “you are who you hang with”. This common saying has been a way for parents to warn children for many generations. Warning us that those we spend time with can influence us to think and behave like our friends do.

In order to understand how we have becomes spiritually hacked, and how these Inner Enemies of sin creep in, we can consider Brain Entrainment. “Entrainment is a principle of physics. It is defined as the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles. The principles of entrainment appear in chemistry, neurology, biology, pharmacology, medicine, and more.” (Neuro programmer 3). Entrainment is a method utilised in group meditation, as our brainwaves settle into Alpha and Theta frequencies during meditation. These frequencies are transmitted among the group, syncing up with the brainwaves of all, and helping those who usually have trouble meditating on their own, to calm their mind and reach that highly sought after relaxed state.

Lets consider the enemies of sin whirring all around us, in the shows we watch, on the radio, on social media, in the music we listen to, the environment around us, and even in the behaviours and thoughts of the company we keep. Through entrainment our brainwaves pick up these rhythmic cycles and our brain chemicals can actually change to synchronize with them. We begin to have thoughts and beliefs we didn’t have previously, or begin to mimic behaviours without our conscious consent. We see evidence of this when women’s cycles sync up, or when we witness a hearty and contagious yawn.

These prolific enemies are not just aimless wandering entities of sin, these are determined villans, adversaries of God. Malicious and intentional. Our ignorance only encourages and empowers them. Infiltrating us and the world round us.

Self-awareness and the willingness to Spiritually audit ourselves, a close relationship with our Messiah through the Word, and the integrity of the armour of God, are our best form of antivirus! By developing the armour of God we can obtain the Helmet of Salvation and protect our precious minds from adopting the sinful influences of the world around us. In this way we do not need to avoid the world, nor withdraw from it and the abundance of sin, we can overcome it! Amen!

 

helmet-of-salvation

 

 

 

09/07/2014

My Secret to Emotional Control*

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:13 pm by The Water Bearer

shhh

I used to believe that I was dead right about the way I assessed my emotions. I used them as platforms from which to bounce. I saw good emotions as reasons to smile, laugh and brag, and I saw negative emotions as an unacceptable state that I wanted to give away to anyone who would listen. I wanted to avoid and control negative feelings. I believed I was addressing everything and never “swept it under a rug”. I told myself this was healthy.

Realistically I was catapulting from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and stability was so rare I could barely recognise it enough to know I needed it. Truth be told, I used emotions as an excuse to be reckless in my pursuit of happiness. I thought life owed me happiness, I knew no different. I believed my pain wouldn’t stop unless I focused on it, gave it credit and tried to find a way to stop it. Little did I know, I was adding fuel to the unstable emotional fire.

It was very difficult to firstly accept this mindset and then change it.

It is important to understand that emotions are powerful catalysts to another dimension. A dimension where an alien can easily take control of our ship if we fail to handle these inner enemies with caution.

When we become aware of the destructive nature of emotional instability, we are on our way to laying a new foundation from which to bounce through life.

Try looking at emotions as an ocean, high waves and low, ripples that can carry on for miles, sometimes intense and sometimes peaceful but always temporary.

Acknowledge how you feel, and why, recall the evidence of past destructive tendencies, and remind yourself, “I am not to be trusted to make good choices right now”. Just like standing under an impending wave, keep your head down (lay low, try to engage with the world as little as possible), allow the waves to crash or wash over you and give it as much time is needed until the wave has passed. You may actually be surprised how much more quickly the emotions lose intensity once you learn to ride them out this way. Once it is safe to lift your head you will see how much more clearly you can think. A clear head space is vital for preventing the mess that is often left in the wake of uncontrolled emotions.

We can’t control emotions by stopping them or avoiding them, but we can control how much damage they cause us by controlling ourselves during those waves. Thanks be to God, I have noticed that I can manage the lows much better than I used to, and find long-lasting peace in the present, without all the emotions that only seemed to create temporary happiness.

Surfer ducks under wave as hurricane approaches

16/06/2014

Toxic Emotional Choices*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:26 am by The Water Bearer

decision ahead

There is no denying it, strong emotions easily influence our decisions, and not usually in a good way.

We’ve all experienced overwhelming emotions in varying degrees in our lives. Times when clarity evades us under a dark cloud of confusing heartache, desperation, anguish, guilt, fear….

Even enjoyable emotions can negatively influence our decisions, especially in relationships. We feel so strongly, emotionally excited, that we let our pursuit of those feelings misguide our ability to be logical and rational regarding the pace we let the relationship develop and how deeply or quickly we invest our trust. Not just in romantic relationships but friendships as well. Our desire to be loved and accepted can smother the logic that recognizes a red flag and should deter us from believing flattery and false promises.

Negative emotions can cause us to make rash reactive decisions, without evaluating at the time, we may not like the long term consequences. We have all made a decision in the heat of the moment only to realize we would have done things differently had we had control of the emotions effecting us at the time.

I suffer from a few psychological issues, mainly anxiety and a manic/depressive mood disorder. Unstable emotions play a huge role in my daily life. I am extremely guilty of letting emotions control my decisions in the past, and truth be told, they still haunt me sometimes.

So what has changed?    ….   Lots!

We may not be able to stop our emotions, but we can prevent them from poisoning our choices. Oh and don’t be confused here: Reactions are not choices. However, using our emotions to excuse our reactions is a choice.

Through many years of therapy and self-awareness I have learned not to trust my emotions. I have learned to accept them as a reactive response but I know if I act too quickly while experiencing the emotion I will regret it later. So I had to set myself some rules.

It is important to develop your own set of rules, by looking back over your life and seeing the patterns. If you know you always find yourself in the same predicaments over and over, seek a Councillor/Psychologist to help you establish some rules that are healthy for you and the decisions you want to make in future.

Look carefully at the people you spend time with. Are they empowering your emotions and encouraging impulsive choices? Or do they display self-control and rational choices? We are all influenced by the  people we associate with on a regular basis, but the beauty is we get to choose not to spend time with those who negatively impact us.

A stable confidant is vital to this transition, to detoxing our decision making.

 

detox

 

When dealing with volatile situations and strong emotions, get some distance from the immediate situation and speak to someone who you know has a calm, unemotional sense of reason before doing anything else.

Remember: A little prayer goes a long way. If you resonate with this post but doubt your ability to overcome your overpowering emotions, ask your Heavenly Father for some help, read His Word. Through Christ’s strength ALL things are possible!

christ

 

24/04/2014

Faithful Progress Isn’t Pretty*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:29 am by The Water Bearer

 

Huddled

Watching from the outside as someone you love is being put through the paces of a “life changing” experience can be quite nerve wracking. My Dad used to say “There can be no reconstruction without there first being deconstruction”, or simply, “No one can rebuild a better life until they go through the process of breaking down their current life.”

Friends, family and others can offer simple support or short term guidance to loved ones in crisis, but unfortunately sometimes certain attempts to help may actually enable the unhealthy patterns to continue. Offering comfort and attempts to fix or stop the suffering can prevent them learning the very important lesson which only rock bottom can teach.

When someone truly seeks Him, God is the ultimate designer of both deconstruction and reconstruction. The strategy in place is that before we can accept His blessings and have a productive, fulfilling and contented life, we must allow Him to shake things up, to show us where the problem areas are. Then we must learn to distance ourselves from the old ways we have been living and determine our minds to be renewed, through His word and an honest relationship with Him.

As you may have guessed, this is not a simple one time action. It takes many steps to undo all the unhealthy beliefs, habits and influences on our decisions, to completely remove their power over us. Sure enough, these steps aren’t all forward, we may take ten steps backwards before one faithfully productive step forward is earned. It can feel like we aren’t getting very far at all, and it can appear that way to those around us as well.

It can be tempting to get drawn in by those going through the ugliness of this phase, out of concern for the destruction we are witnessing, or our desire to prevent our loved ones from suffering. However, we may want to remember that progress isn’t pretty, and be reminded of how many times we had to fall and become a complete mess before we saw any progress in our own lives. Pray for them, love them, give them into God’s trustworthy hands, and try not to allow fear to motivate our contributions to their issues. Don’t let it make you lose faith in the possibility of positive faithful progress, which may be just around the next corner they take. Remember and believe that we serve a LOVING, FAITHFUL & AMAZING GOD!

 

18/07/2013

Through Child’s Eyes*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , at 10:23 am by The Water Bearer

What stands out most to you as you recall being a child, looking up at adult relationships?

Did you have two parents or grandparents who worked together through tough times?
How about your neighbours, family friends or your friend’s parents, were any a really good team?
Were you from a single parent family, where independence and struggle filled the years?
Did step parents join your family for a while and then leave without further contact?
Was compassion and grace obvious? Or was there bitterness and disappointment?
Was there respect, or insult?
Was there silent tolerance and unhappiness, or joy and companionship?
Rejection rather than acceptance?
Were there unresolved arguments?
Did family members gather around for support during the difficult trials of life?

Children absorb everything! Our own childhood effects so much of who we become and what behaviours we choose to adopt as we grow to form our own relationships. The behaviour modeled by the adults in a child’s life are powerful to say the least.

What will our children take away from their childhood? What understandings will they form from the behaviours modeled by us, and those we are in relationship with?

Will they come to believe Fathers are replaceable?

Will they believe the man should be the head of the household and given the respect to be so?

Will they think demanding and holding grudges is the way to make things change?

Will they be able to recognise a sincere apology and appreciate the value of such a thing?

Will they accept abuse as normality?

Will they view alcohol or drug use as a reward for surviving another tough week or even a tough day?

Will they understand and respect money, without letting it ruin them?

Will they cherish hard work and education?

Will they have the belief that they are valuable?

Will they have faith and hope that all will work out in the end?

These are tough questions…

They will grow into whom they determine themselves to be. Our mistakes may make them shudder at the thought and they may refuse to repeat them. On the other hand, they may follow closely in our footsteps.

They may make choices that take them so far from anything we came close to in our own lives, however the influences they received from their childhood will stay with them, deep in their hearts and memory.

Isn’t that worth thinking about? Isn’t that worth praying about?

None of us can claim to be perfect parents or to have perfect relationships, and that is why I believe it is so important for our children to have a concept of faith in the only perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.

I am not suggesting an upbringing with religiosity, with laws and punishment beaten into every conversation. Nor with judgement and focus on sin, which I feel is more damaging than encouraging. Those things they can learn and understand as they grow and begin to question for themselves.

However the precious unconditional Love from God is vital to our sense of self-worth. The concept deep within us that someone accepts us, forgives us, helps us, is watching out for us. Knowing we will never be rejected or forsaken, so long as we keep Him in our hearts. Having healthy, righteous behaviour modeled for us, that we can aspire to emulate in our own lives, is extremely beneficial. Plus the accountability that our actions effect the greater good of the world we have been invited to be part of.

Don’t our children deserve to have these elements of faith in their lives? If we are unable to always show up in the ways that are best for them, I am comforted and so grateful that God will never fail them. Open His word, learn about His Love, share it with your children and invite Him to fill all spaces where our humanity makes us fall short. May Gods Blessings be upon all the children!

Jesus & CHILD

18/06/2013

The Meanest Mother

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Teen Trials at 5:25 pm by The Water Bearer

Hmmmm this made me feel better….

Morning Story and Dilbert

I had the meanest mother in the whole world.

While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also.

But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did.

My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each time we had a mind of…

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12/06/2013

A Bleak Future for Intimacy*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:37 am by The Water Bearer

Keyboard

It is common to hear diatribes of drama and dysfunction from people sharing about their relationships and social interactions. Yes, relationships are tricky, however as experience is gained, overtime, social guidelines help us avoid so much of the non-sense drama of our youth.  In this past week alone, I have listened to too many examples of social immaturity and hypocrisy. We are not in high school anymore, so why does it often sound like we are?

Judgment without Grace,

Offense without Accountability,

Deception without Discernment,

Walls without Boundaries,

Conflict without Resolution,

Anger without Acceptance,

Passion without Humility,

Condemnation without Self-Reflection,

Battle without Courage.

Our ability to relate and connect is a fundamental element of being human, and yet our ability to achieve maturity in this area seems to becoming less and less apparent.

I am extremely concerned for the social development of our generation and the next, now that relationships and connections are being severely affected by the new ways to connect with family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers. Social Networking claims to make connecting better, easier, and more convenient. But is this “easier” way helping us to develop strategies to interact genuinely, intimately and develop social maturity? I’m not so sure.

For those who fail to stretch and grow through the discomfort of tricky relational issues, it is too easy to sit behind a computer screen and imitate genuine human connection. Are they thinking to themselves… “The real world is too painful, people are difficult, online I can block them, ignore them, hide from them or berate them. I can find someone to agree with and fuel my opinion, by giving only my side of any situation.” ??

Is this the type of social development we want for our children?

With all the technological ways we have these days, to gain our craved ‘hit’ of connection, why would anyone choose the harder path of learning to understand and accept human nature. Let’s give our children the opportunity to develop social skills first. Then, once they leave High School or even University, and have some sturdy social guidelines in place, social networking can become a fantastic tool. Saying “No” when your teenager asks you if they can create a Facebook account may seem unfair, especially when “All my friends are on there”. Yet, when your ‘No’ is deeply grounded in your concern for their social safety and development, it becomes reasonable and responsible.

I pray our children gain the skills to handle conflict resolution face-to-face, that they learn to pick their battles, and to create a filter so they know who to trust with their personal story, and whose story to believe. To experience the complexities of true relationships that grow and twist with time, changing them into deeper more compassionate and well-rounded human beings.

HUgs

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