Protect Your Rest – Protect Your Family

Last week, one of the leaders in our Bible study sat at my table, she listened as we went over our homework and talked about the ideas or thoughts we had regarding it.  When it came time for her to speak at our table, she let us in on something she thought we should really know:

She said she wished she had spent more time playing on the floor with her kids, had had dinner more often at the table, rather than spend so much time driving around town getting to their activities.  She said she was always in the car, the kids ate their fast food dinners in it as they drove to the next big thing.  And now, as she’s looking back and her kids are much older, she wishes she had lived this part of her life differently.

She wishes she had spent more time actually present with her children, rather than merely with them.

Regret.

I had this sense of despair listening to her story… none of us want to have regret like that, especially in how we raised our children!  But how can we keep from having the busyness of life suck out our time together as a family, appreciating each other?

Rest.

Rest is the antithesis of Busyness.  We need to protect our rest.  We need to have boundaries against how much we are pulled away from our family.  We need to guard our serenity inside our homes.  We need to stop getting our kids so insanely involved in every activity under the sun so that they’re exhausted – just exhausted – both physically as well as mentally drained.

We need to let go of any guilt we feel about our kids not being involved in everything, and embrace just one or two activities that won’t take over and steal the joy we have when we are able to rest with our children.

Peace is the opposite of Anxiety.

How many moms and dads need some more peace?  If you’re buying into this lie that we need to be as busy as possible, eat dinner in our cars most nights, spend every waking hour chasing something that we’re not even seeing an end to, then let’s come together and think seriously if this is what we want to be doing with our time.  We only have our kids for a certain amount of time, and from what everyone tells me, it goes by way too fast!

Living our lives running everywhere, never stopping for a break, never really getting to ENJOY our kids or life together, feels like living the life of a slave.  A slave to a life we think we need to have or achieve.

But God came so that we could have life, and live it abundantly!  Living abundantly doesn’t mean fast food dinners and regretting that we didn’t see our kids more – really SEE them.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  We are not slaves of this world, or at least, we don’t have to live as though we are.  We have freedom in Christ.

There’s freedom when you protect your rest – freedom to breathe, freedom to sit down as a family around your dinner table and enjoy for food for once!

Before we had kids, in fact, when we were pregnant with our first, my husband and I promised to each other that we would not over-involve our kids, and that we would always try to have dinner around the table with them.

Even with my son going to his sport’s practice 3 nights a week (excessive for us), we still have 3 hours together to play, relax, do homework, relax some more, and then eat dinner at the table before heading out to practice.  In that order.  Protecting your family’s rest will look different for each family, though.  A major factor of why we aren’t stressed even though we’re going out 3 nights a week to a field to practice, is because I’m able to be a SAHM and our children don’t have to wait for me to get off work. We can make sure our family has enough rest by altering our life or the activities we let them be involved in to ensure it.

You can’t give something you don’t have.  If you aren’t guarding your own peace and rest, how will you teach your children to?

I have those 3 extra hours that allows for my son to play, relax, do his homework in an unrushed manner, relax some more on the couch, then eat his dinner.  A working mother does not have that luxury, so a program that involves 3 nights of practice a week might not be what her family needs.  Protecting your rest will look different depending on how over-extended or busy you may already be.

But let’s not live our life with regret.  Our leader was a working mom, and she still admitted that there were times when she should have played more with her kids on the floor, or eaten with them at the table – so don’t use your career as an excuse for not spending enough time being really present with them.

Let’s show our kids how much we value them, and guard our family’s peace, protect our family’s rest.

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Giving in to Anger, is Gambling with Your Mental Health

“Anger is a distraction,” my mom said, “it’s a person’s way of distracting themselves from the real problems (or pain) in their lives instead of dealing with them.  And you pay a price for it.”

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about why people, especially women (myself included), will often fly into irrational anger – even if they seem responsible, calm, and kind in everyday interactions.  Yes, it’s irrational anger.  To be furious at something that is true, and then to feel the superior prerogative to attack someone out of anger, is irrational behavior.  It is one thing to be angry, it is quite another to lash out at others in your anger.

“And you pay a price for it.”

This is what ultimately is the key to avoiding giving in to unhealthy actions that come from feeling angry.  When my mom was in her 20’s-30’s, she had to learn to deal with her anger, and she admitted to me that she had a lot of it back then.  It was easy to fly into it, to express her anger, and she gave little thought to what expressing it cost her.  In the 1970’s, it was popular psychology to feel confident in expressing your anger or rage.  Now, from recent science on this subject, we actually know that when you express it, your anger doesn’t get better, in fact, it actually gets worse and grows into more and more… anger.  In extreme cases, giving in to your anger can cause abuse or even murder.  Indeed, even Jesus described an angry tongue as being capable of “murdering” someone, how much more so when one is giving in to their feelings of anger in a truly violent way.

It wasn’t until my mom came across a book by Abraham Low, Mental Health Through Will-Training, first published in 1950, that she learned that giving in to anger, is “gambling with your mental health.”

When you feel those feelings of anger or “temper” as Low describes it, your peace and inner solitude are disrupted… you’re rendered ineffective and distracted from accomplishing the tasks of your daily life well.

“You can pay the price of that for days,” said my mom.  It tangles you up, wastes your precious energy, and robs you of your mental strength and health.

***

A large part of being mentally healthy, is to understand how to remain calm, responsible, and how to deal with your own anger.

Dealing with your anger means simply not acting out in it.  It means having self-control.  Humility instead of “intellectual snobbishness” (the desire to show superiority).  To have enough character to behave courteously, friendly… in order to create good will with people you are required to do everyday life with, and strangers you may not know.  Being a mentally healthy person means you take all these things into account, and ACT accordingly.

Yes, being mentally healthy means having wisdom and discernment to know you are obligated to control your actions and behavior.

Being mentally healthy means you do not give yourself permission to lose your temper and lash out in anger against others.  To lose your self-control and pay the price of your peace, the embarrassment, the destructive temper feelings, and the shame that comes when you’re finished giving in to your emotions and realize the damage you caused.

I talk about my mom often on my blog, she was instrumental to a lot of the knowledge I have, and who I’ve become as a woman, wife, and mother to my children.  She really was amazing growing up, always giving advice and beautiful instruction on life.  It is wonderful to still have her here, and yes, she does know about & read my blog.  One of the things she did when we were young was to read a Proverbs chapter a day, based on the days of the month.  I’ll never forget the way she’d read the Bible to my brother and I as we were curled up next to her, and I’ll never forget hearing those words of wisdom as they are still with me.

Here are some of the great verses to remind us what God says about anger and losing our temper:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.  Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense.”  Proverbs 10:11-13

***

The lips of the righteous feed many with their instructions….  The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate….” Proverbs 10:21a, 30a, 32a

“An evil person is trapped by their rebellious speech, but the righteous escapes from trouble.

A man will be satisfied with good because of the words he chooses to speak....”  Proverbs 12:13-14a

***

“With the words of their mouth, the ungodly destroys their neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.

Whoever shows contempt for their neighbor lacks good sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.

“A gracious woman gains honor….  A kind person benefits their own self, but a cruel person brings disaster on themselves.”  Proverbs 11:9, 12, 16a, 17

***

“The thoughts of the righteous are just, but guidance from the wicked leads to deceit.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible.  

Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right….

There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever….

Those who promote peace have joy.

A righteous person is careful in how they deal with their neighbor….”

Proverbs 12:5-6, 16, 17a, 18, 19a, 20b

***

A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. ” Proverbs 14:29-30

***

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out (without self-control) folly.

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.

The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge….

A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.

The mind of the righteous thinks before answering, but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:1-2,4, 7a, 18

***

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Patience is better than power,

and controlling one’s temper, than capturing an entire city.”

Proverbs 16:7, 32

Healing From Emotional Wounds: Why Does It Take So Long for Some to Heal

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I’ve often wondered why some people are more capable of going through a crisis, or even a series of crises, and are simply able to heal faster, or are more open to accepting the necessary truths that lead to their healing, than other people?  What makes the difference between a person who heals faster through therapy or their own self-reflective journey, and the person who has been in therapy for years and still deals with feelings of hopelessness?

I have felt depression, isolation, anxiety, and devastated feelings of self-worth at only a couple of times in my life after family rejection or intense family problems, but when I did, I knew somehow that I needed help to get back to my old self. The first step is admitting their is a problem in your life that is causing you to feel a certain way, the second is motivating yourself enough to do something about it so that you can come to a solution for that problem, and consequently find sustainable healing.  I’ve been very quick to seek counseling from an adviser, mentors, or psychiatrist, and it’s always resulted in healing for me – very deep, profound healing, and within a short time frame compared to someone who needs to spend years in psychotherapy.

I actually enjoy sharing my soul with a mentor or a wonderfully skilled psychiatrist who can pick apart my brain with their objective lens to see or validate my feelings in crisis situations, or to help me see myself or others in the correct (true) light.  I embrace their honesty with me because when I go, I am earnestly searching for truth and healing.  Having that validation, especially from a skilled psychiatrist, that objective perspective of a stranger who understands people and behavior, is extremely reaffirming and rewarding.  I value learning the truth, gaining peace about the events that have happened in my life, and I’m sure people who take longer to heal crave this as well.  But why do they take so long?

It isn’t fair (but then again, life isn’t fair).  But why do some people heal from emotional wounds so easily, while others take so much time… or never do?  Why do some reject truth or solutions to their problems, continue to live in depression or denial, or keep high-walled barriers around their anxiety or loss of purpose?

Suicide is the culmination of hopelessness.  When a person loses their will to live, their sense of any purpose in life or feel that their presence here is worthless, that terrifying concept of suicide starts to enter their brains.  Having known people who have had these thoughts or acted on them, I feel completely at a loss as to how to rationalize the decision a person comes to when they try to take their own life.  I simply cannot comprehend it… perhaps I’m selfish, I greatly enjoy and value my life.  But I realize I have a great sense of purpose… I’m not simply living for myself, I have two beautiful children who depend on me.

And who would be devastated if I selfishly took my own life.

But even if I had no one, if by God’s purpose everything I love was ripped away from me, I would hope that I would continue on my journey of living a life of worth.  I would hope I would still find life worth living, search for someone to help, and create something to live for.

I read a passage while we were out at a lake yesterday that both brought up and answered all these questions.  From The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee,

If we were computers, solutions to our problems would be produced in microseconds.  People, however, don’t change that quickly.  The agrarian metaphors in the Scriptures depict seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growth, and harvesting.  Farmers don’t expect to plant seeds in the morning and harvest their crops that afternoon.  Seeds must go through a complete growth cycle, receiving plenty of attention in the process, before they mature.  In this age of instant coffee, microwave dinners, and instant banking, we tend to assume that spiritual, emotional, and relational health will be instantaneous.  These unrealistic expectations only cause discouragement and disappointment.

I have witnessed people become discouraged or disappointed that their results of peace or healing didn’t come as fast as they expected they would.  I’ve also felt the pain of discouragement and disappointment that comes when you are waiting for someone to go through the necessary growth they need in order to be healthy and mature.  I’ve desired reconciled relationships that just don’t happen, and have watched as people choose denial and falsehoods to mask their unhealthy behaviors so that they can continue living in a life void of growth.  They reject having a real, healthy relationship because ultimately, they reject the stretching or stress they’d need to undergo in order to change their behavior.

Growth is painful, because it has to be, in order to work towards any solution, one has to be willing to do the hard, dirty work of growing, anything less won’t result in true healing.

Our growth will be stunted and superficial if we don’t give proper emphasis to honesty about our emotions, affirming relationships, right thinking promoted through biblical study and application, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.

Some of us seem to respond to this environment of growth very quickly; others, after a few weeks or months; and still others, never at all.  Why the difference?  Why are some of us able to apply principles of growth so much more readily than others? …

Those who respond quickly may not be as wounded as others, or they may already be in an environment which has prepared them for relatively rapid growth.

Some of us are in situations where one of more elements of growth are in some way missing or lacking.  We may be trying to deal with our difficulties alone.  We may be depending on a rigid structure of discipline for positive change, instead of blending a healthy combination of our responsibility of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power.  We may be expecting too much too soon, and may be experiencing disappointment with our slow results.  Some of us may, in fact, be ready to quit the growth process entirely.

One thing I truly appreciate about my childhood and adolescence was the way my parents went about their parenting.  They were (and are) such wonderful people.  They were always kind, loving, generous, supportive, and were always available to talk to through any and every situation or question I had.  They were both open books, and gave me a world of knowledge by sharing with me openly and honestly, what they understood.  They both loved science and research, and had knowledge of the world outside of our small town that they frequently made sure I was aware of.  In many ways, they were almost liberal for being Christians, and yet their convictions were firm and deeply, beautifully grounded.

They both had their imperfections, but they gave me so much wisdom and knowledge through their honesty, openness, and love displayed when I was in their household.  This is more than likely the reason I have no problem at all finding deep healing in being honest with an objective adviser of any kind.  But what about the many who didn’t have great parents?  So many people have lived through abuse or neglect of some kind… does it affect the way they heal or their unique receptiveness to healing?

Those of us who can’t seem to get the light turned on have the greatest difficulty in beginning this process.  We can’t see our problems.  We may recognize that something is wrong, but can’t pinpoint exactly what.  Or our defense mechanisms of denial may be so strong that we’re unable to see any needs in our lives at all.

Those from stable, loving families are usually better able to determine what their difficulties are, and be honest about them, than those who are shackled by the defense mechanisms that are often developed in dysfunctional families.

Those from abusive, manipulative, or neglectful families have far more to overcome than those from a healthier home environment.  Alcoholism, divorce, sexual abuse, physical abuse, workaholism, drug abuse, and other major family disorders leave deep wounds.  Many people from backgrounds like these have suppressed their intense hurt and anger for so long that they are simply out of touch with the reality in their lives.  Therefore, just as a broken arm requires more time, attention, and therapy for healing than does a small abrasion, people suffering from deep emotional, spiritual, and relational injuries need more time, attention, love, and encouragement than those with more minor wounds.

“Why doesn’t just understanding these issues work?  Why isn’t knowledge enough to produce change?”

(Author,) “Man is a relational, physical, emotional, and spiritual being.  We develop and learn and grow best in an environment of honestly, love, and affirmation, where all aspects of our nature are given the encouragement to heal.”

A woman asked me, “What do I need to do to begin seeing some results?”

“Put yourself in an environment of growth, which includes all the elements of honesty, affirming relationships, right thinking, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and time.  I can’t tell you how or when growth will come – but I know that it will come if you are patient and persistent.”

Living in such a way as to be healthy isn’t so much a destination anymore, but a constant ebb and flow of life’s journey of ups and downs that come to us, in my opinion.  Life will always have problems or pain, there will always be something right now or in the future that we are going to have to work or grow through.  I love the McGee’s symbolism of the seasons of planting, weeding, watering, growth, and harvesting.

If we have the patience of the farmer as he waits for the seeds to germinate, the persistence of his dedication in tending to his garden by pulling weeds or pruning older plants of their dead or useless limbs, we will in time, harvest the fruit and beauty we’re working towards.

Breathe – Seeing Tranquility, Serenity, Peace, & Repose in the Overwhelmed Areas of Your Life

We view the story of creation in the Bible as being done in six days… on the seventh day, God rested.  I’ve always viewed the seventh day as being a day where nothing happened, a passive example of how we should take a break once a week in order to avoid burn-out.

Priscilla Shirer, author, speaker, and co-leader with her husband of Going Beyond Ministries, has released a Bible study called Breathe, Making Room for Sabbath.  One phrase that truly stuck out to me this week was the “Tranquility, Serenity, Peace, and Repose” that we are supposed to have in our life – not in just one area, but in particularly the areas that overwhelm or enslave us.  I’m one week in and already feeling the peace and serenity from the gems of truths it’s revealing.  This first week, we’ve been looking critically at what specific areas are causing us to have less tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.  It can be anything, even certain people, for me, I’ve realized it is Social Media & my Mothering my children.

Here are some other areas that might apply to you – none of these things are “bad,” however, sometimes, depending on our personalities, they can start to overwhelm or take over our life and peace we are supposed to have:

  • Shopping
  • Eating
  • Home Decorating
  • Social Media
  • Working
  • Ministry
  • Opinions of my friends
  • Opinions of people I don’t like
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Relaxing
  • Hobbies
  • Exercise
  • Weight
  • My appearance
  • Sleep
  • Obsessing over something I’ve lost
  • Other (anything you can think of)

Its quite a list!  And again, none of these things are individually bad or good, its simply when we use them incorrectly – without the boundaries that should be there – in order to fill the void in our life.

God wants us to have that “void” – He purposefully and intently created rest on that seventh day, so that we could fill it with spending time with Him.

When we let these things take over and start chipping away at our “tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose,” we “limit our Christlikeness and miss out on some of God’s greatest gifts.”  Priscilla even warns in the study that, in the words of Jeremiah 25:7, “we actually ‘provoke’ God to anger and bring ‘harm’ on ourselves (NASB).”

For me (and possibly not for you, this kind of thing is very personal), Social Media is an obvious pitfall.  I’ve had ruined relationships come from me pushing a debate or argument over topics when a person didn’t want to argue anymore, or in confronting people when I should’ve kept my mouth shut (it wasn’t my place to confront them) and given it over to God; and likewise, I’ve also had all these things happen to me (role-reversal anyone?).

Social media can be a mud-slinging jungle when you let it get out of control, and even though I’ve made a lot of progress in setting boundaries for myself in it, this study has made me realize I need to actually sit down, and write out a “plan” for its proper use.  I want to use it purposefully, not absent-mindedly or randomly when I’m bored; I want to have time limit boundaries of only allowing myself a short time period per week – I want to focus more on the relationships I have in person that are so much more fulfilling and deep.  And I want to establish a creed of exactly how I will act in certain circumstances that tempt me, I want to have it already planned out so that its easy to follow & not get sidetracked or drawn into pitfalls that diminish my tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.

With my mothering, when I don’t purposefully stop and create tranquility in this area, there is only chaos, hurt, and bad bedtimes!  When I let this area get out of control, it is not the memories I want to be making!  I wrote about this way back at the beginning of my last pregnancy here, and the changes we worked on then were great!  It was a good perspective shifter to sit down and declare who I wanted to be as their mother, here is an excerpt:

To be truly attune to my son – interested in him and everything he is doing and telling me.  To really listen to him and his concerns, his adorable thoughts, and most importantly, his questions.  He asks the most interesting and deep questions about life for a child who just turned 4 years old this summer.  He’s so intelligent and understands things beyond I’m sure, what I understood at that age.

To make bedtime like it used to be – before I was lacking energy, moody, and pregnant.  I’ve always thought that bedtime was the best time to have one last impact on your child’s day – to get last words in of counsel, or assurance, and a last attempt at praying and leaving them with spiritual guidance.  Even reading to them (which has always been part of our bedtime routine) simply shows them how much you VALUE them as people in their own right.  Without my husband being there for support and literal “back-up,” bedtime has been rushed and stressful at best, and tumultuous at worst!  I’m amending this… bedtime is supposed to be peaceful, reassuring, and that last push for connection and love that can last a lifetime of remembrance for my son.

To be kind, even when tantrums are at their peak and I’m thoroughly exhausted from what seems like endless confrontations. 🙂  He is the most assertive little one I know – whereas my husband and I are both extremely easy going people, our son (at this age at least) is definitely more head strong, and takes more energy to constantly explain and discipline.  Even though he may be harder in this one way, I wouldn’t have him any different, he is so wonderful and is such a complex mixture of tender-hearted sweetness.

Here’s to this journey of finding freedom from chaos, disorder, and misunderstandings as a result, finding time to breathe even in our overwhelmed areas.

Toxic People – How God Can Use Them & How You Can Deal With Them

omg poor dog - toxic peopleI read two articles recently on Forbes & Yahoo that explained how highly emotionally intelligent people deal with toxic persons in their life.  I’ve really messed up in this area by either trying to engage in communication with them, or confronting them on their unhealthy behaviors, when in reality, I should’ve been kind, but walked away sooner.

It’s amazing how God can use even nasty, difficult people to try to grow you in ways that nice, considerate people would never cause you to grow.  It’s ironic that we can learn some of our best lessons in dealing with truly mean, unhealthy people… because the nice “normal” human beings don’t dare push us that far.  He can use even our enemies to develop character in us that we wouldn’t have been capable of having if it hadn’t been for a “thorny” person (“thorny” is the word I’ve heard Beth Moore use in describing a person that’s difficult to love).

Thorny… you come away from dealing with them (or talking to them… even on the phone) looking like this:

omg poor dog - toxic people

It’s painful to deal with a “thorny” person.  They never seem to get it, nor do they seem to “care” about the real, researched affects they can have on you physically, your psyche, and even your spiritual well-being.

Maybe you’ve been this thorny person – I have 😦 … and the grief and pain I caused to other people was very real, no matter how I tried to explain it away or justify my actions.  I was undeniably wrong to make someone feel the way this poor dog must’ve felt above… it came from unhealthy behavior, and to try to justify or make excuses was truly arrogant of me.

If you realize you’ve been this person… this “thorny,” let me give you hope in that God can use that too!  Not only does He help the one hurt to develop more character in their trial, He can help you grow and mature if you realize and acknowledge what you were doing to others (& yourself).  Usually when people realize that they’ve been this “thorny” the first thing they want to do is apologize and try to engage in reconciliation.  Apologizing is beautiful, and forgiveness is wonderful, but don’t be surprised if the person you hurt doesn’t want to be close to you again.  It’s possible that you were too toxic and thorny to the degree that the other person feels a real necessity of getting you out of their life.  It honestly doesn’t matter if the relationship is solvable, the only thing that matters is for you yourself to grow and mature beyond it, to use it as a life lesson, to let God continue His work in you to become spiritually whole.

If you’re dealing with a toxic person…

(or have done so in the past), keep in mind that confronting them is probably not the best idea or plan of action. From what I read in the 2 articles mentioned before, and in my own experience, it usually never works to open their eyes to how they are hurting others (& ultimately themselves).  Continuing to try to talk with them them about their behavior will only exhaust and frustrate you, often tempting you to get angry and (like one article mentioned) act in a toxic way yourself.

The Yahoo article states that researches have found that,

“dealing with a toxic person causes your brain to have a massive stress response.”

A toxic person will often deny the stress they cause you to experience, saying that you’re just too sensitive, acting like a “victim,” or using your emotions in a manipulative way.  Ironically, hearing them say this will only cause you more stress!!  Isn’t it kind of comical – in a horrible sort of way??

The article further warned of the long-term damage to your brain that dealing with a toxic person in life could have if you don’t take the necessary measures to get them out of your life.  The Forbes article compared dealing with them to trying to set a mentally ill person on the street (who thinks they’re someone famous) “straight.”  You just wouldn’t take the time and effort to engage with a mentally ill stranger, and yet we always seem to expect toxic people to be mentally capable enough to understand reason, and be able to see the simple reality of the way they’re unbalanced or unhealthy.  The difference is obvious… it’s because we care about the toxic Thornies in our life, so it becomes valuable (or worth it) to try to make them comprehend.  They’re after all, in our life for a reason… they’re usually either a relative we need to keep relationship with, a coworker we need to be able to work effectively with, or a friend that we love, so it makes sense that we can exhaust ourselves in trying to get them to understand – however, the sad reality is that they usually never accept it, and often try to hurt us even more back.

Remember… they’re “thorny” for a reason.  They were thorny before you, and they will most likely stay thorny after you.

If you’re pregnant,

you need to be extra careful in how much time you decide to spend on engaging with a toxic person.  The fact that they’ve now proven that dealing with just one person like this in your life, causes your brain to have that massive stress response, can be not only damaging to you, but also to your child you’re carrying!  They’ve known for a long time now, that stress causes the hormone cortisol to be secreted, which affects the baby in womb (see article).

“In the later stages of pregnancy, extreme stress can lead to premature labour, premature birth and low birth-weight babies. The latest findings indicate that prenatal stress can also increase the risk of a baby being born with asthma or allergies.”  This article goes on to suggest pregnant women “Avoid people who irritate you.”

They’ve also recently been finding out that severe long-term stress in pregnancy is capable of causing enough to the baby’s brain to make them more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life.

There is simply no excuse to endanger the future health of your child by engaging with a toxic person.  They are usually too selfish to see the affects they cause, and will often insult you even more by turn it around on you (calling you manipulative, or saying you’re playing the role of a victim) if you even try to enlighten them with these facts.

My first pregnancy with my son was when we were under some pretty awful stress, we were both full-time students and were working in the apartment business as event or retention specialists for a woman who honestly wanted a couple with more time than we had to give.  The couple that filled our role before us was more able to spend more hours beyond the job because the wife was a stay at home mom.  The wife had tried to have a tiny side job, but realized that she needed to quit her side business in order to focus on the apartment job.  The woman tried to get another couple team (and had every right to – we honestly just weren’t what she wanted, and neither of us were willing to quit school so we could focus on this part-time job alone), and our manager managed to convince her to keep us.  But the continual stress of working under someone who really wanted more than we were able to give at that time, while trying to juggle upper level university classes, was very intense.

Our son ended up coming a month early, scarying everyone, and having to stay in NICU (Neo-natal intensive care unit) for 5 days.  Our doctor talked to us and believed that the stress I was under (physically and emotionally) could’ve been a major factor in why the baby came a month early.

This pregnancy has been so beautifully different.  I’m a stay at home mom, very content with our peaceful life, and while it isn’t that there is “no stress” (no mother of any amount of children is completely stress-free), and while my husband’s work schedule makes things a little harder at times, there is just no comparison to the amount of stress I was under with my first pregnancy.  My ob talked with me at the first pre-natal visit for this pregnancy, and I assured her that I was not under the same stress that I was with my first.  It is something I’ve learned to manage much better!

I’m relaxed most of the time, able to cook or bake anything my heart desires, in a peaceful house with beautiful calming music & access to around the clock air-conditioning, and fresh iced water (which to me, is like eating candy)!  I actually have time to make homemade treats with my son, go to our zoo or botanical gardens to relax out in nature.  We were just at the zoo with my mom this last Thursday, and my son was playing in their beautiful children’s outdoor play area.  My mom commented on how relaxing it was to just recline there … there was no time rush, no schedule … just simple beauty and serenity, and the benefits my son gets from experiencing that kind of outdoor play is immense!

There were school children there on a field trip, and they were so rushed, frantically trying to play a few seconds before their teachers told them to move on – none were allowed to get dirty in the sandbox, they didn’t get to have that same relaxed play my son was really enjoying.  This isn’t me trying to criticize, I understand field trips are stressful for teachers, and they absolutely need to stick to a strict schedule in trying to manage all those kids.  The difference is that going to the zoo to relax and play is normal for us – last year we went weekly – being a stay at home mom allows for you to make “field trips” that are mostly stress-free part of your daily week – indeed part of your life… and not something you feel must be crammed in and rushed.  When you’ve lived like this for while, you become accustomed to a peaceful, positive life surrounded by beauty that you actually have the time to really notice.

Man’s Fear

Men and women are so different (I hear Professor Snape’s voice in my head saying… “Obviously…”).  Our fears are even so uniquely different….

Men seem to fear these two things the most:

1) Being ruled over by a woman.  Instinctively, we know this.  No man wants a woman who controls or forces him to do whatever she wants – how unfeminine!

I’m not talking about being a “needy female,” that is also a turn-off to most men.

In our day and age, it is possible to be the strong, independent, working woman and still have a certain need for your man, to be feminine and desire his masculine strength, yet have your own inner resolve and strength as well.  He wants you to need him.  A woman that’s too independent projects a man-crushing aura instead.  He doesn’t want some superwoman who has utterly no need for his presence or help.

2) Not being enough, or the “anxiety of being found inadequate.”  I think one of a man’s deepest need is to be with someone who makes him realize all that he is, someone who makes him feel like a man.  Everyone has flaws, and I’m not talking about pretending someone doesn’t have any at all, but I heard a great (albeit strange) piece of advice when I was younger about men:

Don’t forget his flaws, just embrace him,

and like a deeply treasured & admired vase, turn him to the side of his best view

(look and display his best side).

Nothing is more of a turn-off than a woman who makes her husband feel less than.  Admire your husband’s masculine traits… if he works hard, supports his family, or takes care of his parents – he is a treasure & stepping up to the challenge of true masculinity – offering his world and his family his much needed strength.

 

FEAR.

To me, fear is one of the worst emotions a person can let get ahold of them.  And I don’t mean that it is wrong to feel afraid, there is a difference between feeling afraid and actually letting fear control your mind and actions.  It is not even the same as experiencing anxiety & its symptoms, although it can be mistaken as that.  Anxiety usually paralyzes you, or makes you “faint” in or with fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about right now, is fear that motivates a person to act, taking over your mind and pushing aside logic, causing one to make decisions that to others, make literally no sense.

Letting fear control you, destroys you from the inside out.  If you’re a Christian, you probably understand this already as its mentioned so often (365 times I believe) in the Bible.

Fear doesn’t always look the way you’d expect it to look.  I’ve seen people who are afraid, that unless you knew psychology & the way the inner-mind and motivations work, you’d think they were doing fine – brave even – since they were still in action.  But the Truth is in a person’s actions, you can tell when someone is afraid of being replaced, threatenend in their position, afraid of being found out, all by the basic way they act. 

It is extremely sad to watch someone who was once so loving, supportive and “normal” turn into someone who feels threatened at every turn, threatened by someone who might seem better than them, threatened by different opinions, and never at peace for long, if at all, they have to remain in control.  I’ve seen a person try to destroy those who were most loyal to them, because of a deep-seated fear that they were smarter, or better in some way. 

There was once an ancient king who lived at time when Jerusalem was ruled by Rome.  This king, who even endeavored to kill the Jews’ Messiah and “correct” the prophecy, killed his wife and 3 of his sons all in fear of basic disloyalty, fear of losing his throne.  King Henry VIII, driven by the fear of not having his own male successor, also gave in to maddening fear that caused him to kill the women he loved & married, a succession of them!  Fear of loss of control can cause you to hurt the ones you love the most – the ones who care for you the most.

The effects of a life run by fear are devastating – watching & learning these lessons have forever changed the way I think and act.

Just some food for thought, on an early Monday morning. 😉

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
    I gave Ethiopia[a] and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
    I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
    You are honored, and I love you.”    Isaiah 43:1b-4

God has made my life a testimony to this passage. 

Every word is true.