5 Ways to Ease Holiday Stress

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5 Ways to Ease Holiday Stress and Depression

It’s not uncommon to hear that the holiday season often brings stress, anxiety and depression. People are more likely to feel overwhelmed and difficulty managing their feelings during the holidays with all the crazy schedules, parties, shopping and “pressure to please” with that “just right gift” and expectation to show up for all the gatherings.

We’re learning more and more about the power stress has over people in general, but it seems to be heightened over the holiday season. Did you know that food high in fat and sugar (aka junk food) is worse for your health when you’re under stress or depressed?

The holidays are filled with reasons to eat, drink and be merry.  Temptations are everywhere, making it even more difficult to make good choices when we are met with the mentality, “it’s just for the holidays”…… especially when we have emotional connection to the holiday traditions, smells, and settings.

Here are some easy to remember strategies to manage your stress through the next few weeks of celebrations:

  1. Acknowledge what you are feeling and talk about it. Find someone you trust and tell them how you feel. Research supports this simple method of “talking it out” as bringing relief to overwhelming feelings.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, find other people to spend time with, even if it is just a short amount of time, changing your disposition and/or environment refreshes your brain to focus on the change its experiencing.
  3. Meditate and practice mindfulness. Make time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh your mind. Finding something that reduces stress has many positive benefits. Pray. Recite the words to your favorite scripture or lyrics that bring positive meaning into your life. Practice breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
  4. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed and even depressed.
  5. Don’t forget about your daily healthy habits. Balanced meals, exercise, and sleep.

As simple as these things seem, did you know the #1 day of admission to hospitals and emergency rooms for heart attacks is December 25th?

Why? Because we tend to lose sight of our nutrition, sleep, and time to refresh the most during the months of November and December due to all the holiday excitement.

If you, or someone you know, seems to be overly burdened by the stress of the holidays, please reach out to us for an appointment to discuss specific needs.

Holiday hours and phone appointments are available on an as needed basis

678) 920-2608.

Are You Addicted to TV?

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How much of your time is spent in front of a television? How much TV do your children watch?  Can excessive TV watching really become an addiction?  The average American watches 2.8 hours of television per day, however, watching six to eight hours per day is not uncommon here in America and many other Countries.

More than 60% of American homes have three or more televisions in their home and admit that the TV is on more than the lights.  What is the fascination?  Most cable or satellite TV providers know this, and fuel the craving with upward of 200 channels which are accessible 24 hours per day.  To keep you tuned in, they offer learning channels, documentaries, how-to shows, reality shows, and hours of sporting events, political rants, infomercials and consistently fill the viewing audience with negative messages, violence, sex, dysfunctional relationships and chaos within the family system.  Why?  Because the viewing ratings are high on high crisis or conflict shows.

What benchmarks of addiction apply to television?

  • Compulsive Use – Watching television 8-12 hours per day with difficulty turning if off
  • Using TV to change your mood – Finding shows that match your mood, those that are sedative, a distraction from how you are currently feeling and allow you an escape from reality.
  • Craving – Do you have to have a TV on when you walk in a room?
  • Loss of Control – Do you find yourself seeking out a TV when you are out in public to eat? Hang out? Or find ways to leave the room in your home when you are entertaining company to “check what’s going on on the TV”?
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences – Does TV interfere with your responsibilities? Do you miss what’s going on in the house because you are so tuned into what you are viewing?  Do you fail to hear those around you trying to communicate with you?

Robert Kubey, a Rutgers University psychologist lists six symptoms of heavy TV viewing:

  1. Using TV as a sedative
  2. Having indiscriminate viewing
  3. Feeling a loss of control while viewing
  4. Feeling angry after watching too much
  5. Having an inability to stop watching
  6. Feeling miserable or having other reactions/emotions when prevented from watching it

Let’s think about this in light of what we are seeing happen to our children, teens, families, relationships and general population.  If in fact environment is one of the factors that determines addictive behaviors and the abuse of drugs, has television become one of those environmental influences on our lives?

Consider the following:

Is what you are seeing a distorted view of people’s lives and how they solve problems?

  • Are solutions often violent?
  • Are the TV shows making it harder to make good decisions when bad choices work just as well without much consequence in being caught?
  • Is the portrayal of dysfunctional families and relationships the norm creating confusion for children, adolescents and young adults?
  • Are there sexual situations that involve risk or does the inappropriate behavior create a curiosity to initiate inappropriate sexual behavior?
  • Have the shows created any desensitization toward excessive reports of murder, violence, war?
  • Has it created a benign response in society toward fear, threat, or attack if we help others?

What about the development of tolerance?

  • Every year, adolescents spend 1,500 hours watching TV versus 900 hours in attending school
  • They view over 20,000 commercials
  • By 18 years of age, they have viewed 200,000 acts of violence and 8,000 murders

Like cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs and substances, the younger a person begins to watch/be exposed to TV in excess, the more extensive the problems in later life become.

WHY?  HOW? The brain eventually begins to tolerate the images that it is exposed to and it learns to ignore the emotional overload and/or feelings toward what they are viewing…..on TV and in real life.

  • How does this translate to you?
  • Is your family spending time in separate rooms watching different shows?
  • What about your time as a couple?  Spending time together or apart?
  • Communication?
  • Your family rules, boundaries, values and respect?
  • Your relationships and how you resolve conflict, take responsibility, commit, and honor?
  • Your dating, view of sex, and/or marriage?
  • How do you raise your children and teach them what is appropriate and inappropriate?
  • How do you and/or your children and teens respond to individuals needing help?
  • How do you feel about bullying, violence, and general disrespect toward people or authority?

Please let us know how we can help you and/or your family with these false messages that are being consistently implanted into your homes and lives.  Whether you realize it or not, the messages that get the greatest attention often influence impulsive reactions which lead to consequences.

To schedule an appointment call 678) 920-2608

Resources from Uppers, Downers, All Arounders – Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs

Childhood: Brain, Memories & Drugs

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Did you know that you are born with almost every nerve cell you will ever have for your entire life?

You start with about 100 billion neurons in your brain. Over time, your environmental influences affect the 100 trillion connections that develop along those nerve cells.  Current research is finding that it takes at least 20 to 25 years for the brain to become “hard-wired” in forming the major and vital connections associated in the “decision-making” part of the brain, which is the control circuit.

The environmental influences that you are exposed to are varied and can have both negative and positive effects on how you begin to form choices, such as not using or using drugs.

Some of the environmental influences that determine the use of drugs related to:

  • Sexual/Physical/Emotional Abuse 
  • Stress
  • Love
  • Nutrition
  • Living Conditions
  • Family Relationships
  • Neighborhood Safety
  • Quality of Education
  • Peer Pressure
  • Internet & Television Content

Research shows that interactions, particularly in the home environment, actually make new nerve cell connections, create memories, and even alter a person’s neurochemistry, thereby determining the level in which a person will or will not use psychoactive drugs.  Many studies are now showing a direct link between major behavioral health problems like addiction and serious mental health issues with traumatic life experiences such as an adverse childhood.  Dr. Kim T. Mueser at Dartmouth found that 90% of all behavioral health patients had at least one traumatic experience in their life, many of them had more than one.

The following environmental truths make psychoactive drug abuse more likely:

  • Stress is the norm rather than the exception
  • Physical/Emotional/Sexual abuse or trauma occurs
  • Drinking and/or other drug use is common in the home
  • Healthy ways of processing stress or anger are not modeled & learned (self-medicating occurs)
  • Societal influences (TV, Internet, Peers, etc.) make drinking, smoking, drugs normal escapes
  • Easy access to legal and illegal drugs
  • Pre-existing mental health problems that are aggravated by the home environment stressors
  • Nutritional deficits during brain developmental years

Since your brain takes about 20 to 25 years to become “hardwired” in the decision-making (control center) part of your brain, an adolescent who disrupts this process by drug use becomes vulnerable to making poor decisions  and damaging impulse-control behaviors like drug abuse.  This is important because changes that occur, in the brain, in the first 10 years of life are the most influential, especially if they were changed by a traumatic event.

Children who grow up in chaotic homes, and are subject to excessive emotional pain, remember that pain and begin to medicate that in different ways such as:

  • Trying to find people to help them understand why it happened
  • Learn they must face and accept what happened
  • Run away
  • Become hyperactive
  • Make jokes about their circumstances
  • Use drugs, overeat, gamble, or do other things that temper the pain and/or discomfort they feel

If the stress/pain a child feels continues long enough, the counter-behavior that they learn to “cope” with these feelings becomes ingrained into the brain as well.  The brain remembers the counter-behavior with just as much clarity as it remembers the stress/pain or trauma that they have experienced.

Here’s the good news:

Because the brain continues to both create and lose connections throughout a person’s life, the ability to change is always possible.  However, the older a person becomes, the more difficult it is to change.

At the Counseling, Coaching & Education center, we uphold the belief that God, when He intervenes, is capable of anything within His Will and calling upon your life.

He has Plans for you regardless of your circumstances.

 “Before I shaped you in the womb,  I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you……Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG). 

You have been chosen, with Purpose.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight….Ephesians 1:4 (NIV)

If you are interested in learning how to restructure your thoughts and renew your mind, we can give you life application strategies and suggestions, along with biblical instruction, on how to re-ignite the power center of your brain = your thoughts.  (Appointments only- call 678) 920-2608).

Philippians 4:8 is considered to be one of the most powerful and healing verses in the Bible as it gives instruction on how to begin taking control of your moment to moment thoughts, so that with the help of God, you can take more control over your behaviors. 

Neuroscience teaches that every time you have a thought, negative or positive, your brain releases chemicals.  Thoughts truly do influence your life and the choices you make! Think about that……..if you focus on negative thoughts and believe them 100% as truth, then you act as if the lies in your head are true……but if you focus on positive thoughts, healing begins.

In the last 40 years, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has developed = the correction of negative thoughts…………… God knows what He’s doing……..and this is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, relationship problems and yes, even for addictions with a proper team of intervention.

To schedule an appointment for assessment of your specific needs, call 678) 920-2608.

Resources taken from Uppers, Downers, All Arounders: Physical & Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs, 8th edition, by Darryl S. Inaba, Pharm.D. & William E. Cohen (2014).

 

What are the roots of Spiritual Abuse?

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Isn’t it interesting how individuals quickly shift the blame toward others when they’re either just about to get caught, or when they actually are caught?  Shifting the blame to God, or even to someone else is much easier than taking personal responsibility for making poor choices.

The practice of spiritual abuse and shifting of blame has existed since the serpent in the Garden of Eden lied and managed to create enough doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve to cause them to question the character of God and begin to shift blame.  All humanity thereafter, has struggled with this same problem when wrestling with moral decisions and trust with those whom we place in positions of authority.

Whom do we often place in these significant positions in influencing whether we grow spiritually or not?

  • Church Leadership
  • Parents
  • Mentors/Peers
  • Significant Relationships in the home/workplace/school

Have these people upheld a tradition of Christian influence for you? Shaped how you form thoughts about God and appropriate boundaries for life choices? Unfortunately for many, those in these positions have failed to uphold scripture and have created confusion in how choices in life are approached.  They have misrepresented their God given position in your life and distorted how you view God in relation to your level of struggles.  Ultimately, God does allow sin by freedom of will in making choices.  However, He is just and will punish those who have spiritually wounded those who are His followers (Romans 12:19).

What is spiritual abuse?  It’s the mistreatment of a person by someone in a position of spiritual authority which leads to the potential downfall of a person’s spiritual vitality and growth.

These significant people can influence how we think about God and how we feel about ourselves when making decisions if they are not spiritually aligned with scripture.

How does this become a problem?  Within the boundaries of biblical standards, God gives us each a responsibility in choosing how to live our daily lives. How we make decisions throughout the day, how we represent ourselves to others and conduct ourselves in both private and public circumstances.

What are the symptoms of being spiritually abused?

  • Low Self-Worth
    • Do you feel like you must accept abuse?
    • Blame?
    • Criticism?
  • Fear
    • Are you afraid of disapproval?
    • Authority figures?
    • Conflict?
  • Excessive Guilt
    • Do you feel like a failure?
    • Have a sense of shame?
    • Have a heavy heart?
  • Unresolved Anger
    • Do you feel frustrated from a need to be perfect?
    • Struggle with not keeping all the rules?
    • Lose patience with yourself or others?
  • Limited Transparency
    • Do you feel a need to hide the “real” you?
    • Feel as if others would not like you if they knew who the “real” you is?
    • Do you avoid getting close with others?
  • Troubled Relationships
    • Do you struggle with saying no?
    • Struggle with forgiveness?
    • Continually compare yourself with others?
    • Keep others at a distance?
  • High Self-Sufficiency
    • Do you try to earn love by doing well at all times?
    • Do you try to do things “just so” to avoid being rejected?
    • Feel a need to be in control to find a sense of significance?
  • Misplaced Priorities
    • Do you have difficulty setting boundaries?
    • Do you place importance on outward actions rather than on inward needs?

What relationships would you identify as spiritually abusive? Once you identify the thinking patterns that led you into the relationship and kept you in that relationship you can better evaluate your wrong thinking patterns, change your thoughts, change your behaviors, and ultimately change your life.  What you think about does have direct impact on how you feel and ultimately make decisions.

The apostle Paul gave this warning……….”watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them.” ( Romans 16:17)

Spiritual authority is to be respected, but obeyed only when it aligns with God’s truth.  You are accountable to God first and to human authorities second (Galatians 1:10).  Consider how the spiritually abusive attitude of others has impacted your spiritual growth and attitude.  This includes your relationships with family members and friends and then separate yourself from these abusive situations and seek help from those who are encouraging and wanting the best for you and your life  (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

If you feel that you have been spiritually abused and God has been misrepresented to you as anything less than loving, full of grace and forgiveness with a plan and purpose for you, please reach out and allow us to share the truth with you (John 8:32).

To learn more about how to break free from a negative pattern of beliefs, call 678) 920-2608.

Resources taken from Hope for the Heart, June Hunt, Spiritual Abuse:Breaking Free from Religious Control, 2015.

Grand-Families

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Raising GrandchildrenSpring brings a lot of people outdoors to enjoy family time together. It also brings a lot of end of the school year activities where parents are either absent from their children’s lives or have passed away and grandparents are filling the roles in care-giving.   The family dynamic has shifted away from what was once considered a nuclear unit to a now, extension of that unit in others stepping in to help raise children left in the gap for one reason or another. Although God designed the ideal model family system as parent and child, He knew that not everyone would be able to achieve that.
We live in a fallen world with many choices that bring many different consequences. Marriages dissolve, spouses leave the family or pass away and relationships suffer because of the change in dynamics. Because God knew in advance that humanity would be challenged by sin and consequences would enter the family system as a result, He also gave us the promise that “He can renew, restore, and rebuild that which is broken or destroyed”, (Job 5:9)

All over the world, the family system is growing and changing as life shifts people from one unit to another in effort to support one another by any means possible.  Grand-families mean extra support, in wisdom through teaching and instruction, in economic assistance, and in day to day activities in raising children.

According to the Pew Research Center analysis of the 2012 Census Bureau data, 18% of families in the USA today now include parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts all in effort together in raising children in the home. (Jean S. Barnes, Purposeful Parenting, 2012).  That’s about 28 million assorted families all pooling their resources together to live under the same roof in the United States alone.

As Christians, we have a responsibility in training the children that have been left in our care, (Proverbs 22:6) but sometimes that leaves us wondering how to fill in that gap when people and resources may be sparse.  That’s where your local Church can step in and help the family and assist in raising children.

How can church members assist parents in raising children?

Support the children in your youth ministry and congregation

 Participation in presence is important when developing relationships with children. As you serve, take note of the children that may need extra support in their developmental securities and allow them to see your sincere interest in them by being present each week in your service commitments, such as choir, Sunday school, or other groups.

Have conversations with the child or children

Conversations will help them develop skills necessary in communicating effectively in relationships as they grow and allow them to experience other adults and interactions other than their parents.

Model appropriate responsibilities and self-discipline

This will help teach appropriate boundaries for both self and others in tasks and in socializing.

Pray for the children

Apostle Paul prays for the church, that God may give them “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

 

Pour Yourself Out

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Pour yourself outLife.  It has a lot of power, doesn’t it?  When was the last time you actually took a few moments and thought about what that word means.  Life…….what does it mean to you? To those around you? To those in your family and friend circles?  Does it share the same meaning?  Have the same value?  Resemble the same tenets of your Faith?  What does it look like?  Has it always looked the way that it does now, or has it changed?

Life has a way of extracting the breath out of us.  The condition of our current day world has a direct impact on the condition of our souls.  Thereby, it has the power to add boldness to our living or extract that boldness directly from us.  Have you thought about that?  On any typical day, what does your schedule look like, what does your home look like, your children, your marriage, your finances, your health, your friendships, your morals, your worship, quiet time, quality time?  Where do those things fall in line…….life has the power to extract the breath out of us. And, yet, we have the power to change that at any given moment, and we choose to remain silent and still.

Have you ever considered why you exist in such a time as this?  God knew when He created your being that you would walk in the latter days, that you would see the chaos, the depravity, the hatred.  He knew you would walk in the days when our Christian principles would be removed from the foundation of our American blessing, that you would live to see prayer removed, God removed, right to worship and speak the name of Jesus removed.  He knew you would live in days of abortion, gay marriage, pornography, false doctrine, war, disease, moral depravity, family separation, loss of respect for what is good, noble, moral and pure (Philippians 4:8).  He knew that.  When we cry out to God for our family, for our children, for our Nation, do we ask Him to send someone to turn that around?  OR……do we realize that He’s already done that.  He sent you. He sent me.

Do you realize that within you, as a child of God, you have the power within you to make the winds of change move in a mighty way that could cause the revival this world needs?  It is not accident that you exist in such a time as this.

It’s time we stop asking God to make us comfortable in these circumstances and ask Him to give us Courage to stand up, speak up and make change happen.

The Bible is not a recording of history as in ……….that may have happened years and years ago, but………  It is the living and breathing Word of God that has existed for years past and is walking off the pages in our lives in much the same manner as it did years ago.  God had it recorded then as a warning for us now, that this too will come to your doorstep.  It’s a manual. A tool for our families to prepare for the battle that is raging around us and yet, we don’t open it.  When we purchase something at the store and it requires direction in order to operate and function with ease, we read that don’t we? Why? Because we want to know how it will work, and what it will do for us, with the least amount of trouble.  Why then, when we have a manual for life, the Bible, are we choosing to leave it closed? Unopened and unused when it will tell us directly how things will work, what will happen, and how we can apply it make our lives more functional?

Instead, we fall victim to habits, hangups, hurts, addictions, disease of body, mind and soul and consider our hands tied.  Not true.  Life will not be what God intended it to be for you, for me, or for this world until we have the Courage and Faith that gives us the Boldness to speak up.  It’s time to stop asking God to make us comfortable in these circumstances and ask God to make us Courageous.

In Christ, we can ask Him to move the mountain for us, or we can ask Him for the strength we need to climb to the top of that mountain ourselves.

The Bible says in Acts 4:31, “When they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken, and all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak messages from God boldly”.

When Daniel stood in the Lion’s Den and faced the lions – he prayed God not me, you…..he poured himself out and the Holy Spirit was able to fill him. (Daniel 6).

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego  stood in the furnace engulfed with flames – they prayed God not me, you….and poured themselves out so the Holy Spirit would walk with them and fill them. (Daniel 3).

When Joseph was sold into slavery and betrayed by his family he prayed, God not me, you….and poured himself out and the Holy Spirit filled him and blessed him. (Genesis 37).

When David faced Goliath, he prayed, God not me, you…and poured himself out and the Holy Spirit filled him with courage and boldness. (I Samuel 17).

Life will take the breath out of us if we allow it.  But if you pour yourself out and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you back up, there will no room for you to fall victim to the things that are out of control any longer.  God will empower you with the boldness to conquer anything or anyone that forms against you.

Depression – Anxiety – Addictions – Disability – Disorder – Habits – Hangups – Hurts – Abuse – Secrets – Family – Children – Marriage – Finance – Stress – Worry – Mental Health – Physical Health – Worry – Work – School – Dating – Purity – Fear – WHAT IS IT?  Pour it out. Let God pour His Spirit in.

God can give you everything you need, and more, to battle whatever it is that has found you empty. Be Blessed as you prepare to make Change happen and let God move in your life in a mighty way.

 

RECOVERY by Brooke McCollum

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Recovery

Life is not as easy as it seemed

And the weight of this world has me

Crying on my knees.

A weight so heavy there feels like no escaping.

Questions that haunt and tear me apart in my head.

Why do I not love myself?

But there’s a good, good Father and He tells me:

 

My darling, can’t you see?

I am here with you, so come be free with me.

Come find my peace.

Come running to my arms.

I knew you before you were born.

I chose you through marvelous grace.

Come be free.

No looking back.

You are my beloved.

Come and be free with me.

 

And I sit here crying but I know He hears me

Because tears are prayers when you cannot find the words to speak.

My God is with me like a mighty warrior

And I no longer have to be afraid.

I choose to be a warrior,

Not a worrier because

I am His and He is mine.

You have promised me to bring

Victory over worry.

You are more than

Any mistake I have ever made.

I am searching to find a recovery.

My recovery is found in You.

 

You are here with me.

You love me every day.

I am free, and

My father knows me by my name.

I am running to your arms,

No looking back.

Your reckless grace is

My greatest hope.

I want to be buried in Your grace,

Because there is no greater place.

Help me to hold myself accountable to a standard of

Grace and not perfection.

When days grow dark and weary

I will trust in You.

I no longer have to feel

Ashamed

Unworthy

Fearful

Unimportant

Or insecure.

You are my security.

There is no else but You.

The world is grabbing at my feet,

But the chains are nowhere near as strong

Compared to You.

My shame tells me I am flawed and undeserving,

But my Father’s grace tells me although I am flawed,

I am forgiven and

I am cherished.

And perfect love casts out all fear,

No one can touch me now.

My God is for me,

No one can stand against me.

You are my recovery.

 

The journey is long and hard but

The God of Heaven is faithful

And there has not been a single day

That I have been alone.

I choose to accept my inevitable flaws

Because being beautiful is not defined by others.

Beauty is defined through the eyes of my Creator.

I choose to love myself.

I am not here because I needed another day,

I am here because someone out there needs me.

Storms don’t last forever

and although the oceans may rage

there is no being afraid.

When I was brought to my low and felt empty

You showed me that You are enough.

You are my recovery.

 

I am here with you.

Come to me and find your peace.

Come be free.

Come running to my arms.

I love you.

Come dance and spin around.

Come find your hope in Me.

You are beautiful.

You are the daughter of a star breather.

I know because I made you.

I will never leave you alone.

Remember to whom you belong.

Come be free.

Come find Me.

Come be free.

Come with me, my beloved.

Can’t you see?

I am your recovery.

Where God Plants You

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Pastor John Hagee reminds us, “Where God plants you, is where He will bless you and provide for you”.

I have seen that in my life over and over again as many of you have.  Looking back over the past 50 years I can see where my journey has led me through times that felt like I would never recover, and times that I felt like I had all the strength in the world to do whatever task was in front of me.  But in both, God knew exactly where I was and blessed me with mercy, patience, and grace.  He provided me with unconditional love where I felt there was none to be had, strength to persevere in the toughest conditions, and hope to move forward knowing He had everything in His control.

Over the past few years, I have heard stories of individuals, young and old, who have found themselves lost in the cracks of life and unsure of how they were going to ever move forward and grow from their circumstances.  People are hurting. Pain discriminates against no one.  It falls upon each of us at some point in our lives.

Just in the past week, people have shared these cracks of life with me.  These are just surface cracks some that will allow them to move forward fairly quickly, yet others cracks are so deep that they are caverns in their soul that shed very little light into finding any way out, ever.

These cracks have names. You know them well, you live with them day in and day out.

Abuse – Addictions – Adultery – Alcohol – Anger – Anxiety – Bitterness- Bullying – Cancer – Chronic Pain -Co-dependency – Depression – Death – Divorce – Drugs – Eating Disorders – Emotions – Family – Grief – Guilt- Loss – Hallucinations – Homosexuality – Illness – Marriage – Loss – Low Self-Esteem – Non-Forgiveness – Poor Self-Image -Pornography – Rejection – Resentment – Self-Injury – Stress – Suicide Attempt or Completion – Worthlessness

Can I tell you?  Where God plants you, is where He will bless you and provide for you.  You answer, how can God bless me and provide for me in any of these cracks of life?

Because, whatever you may believe or wherever you find yourself in life, it does not dismiss the fact that when you were conceived, God knew your name. He knew what was ahead of you and He knows what lies behind you.  Yes. Regardless of whether you know Him or not, He knows you as found in Scripture in Psalm 139: 13-16,  

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

Did He hope for you to hit the cracks and/or get stuck? No.

His plan for you is found in Scripture in Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

How do I know this is a plan that can work for you?  Because, Scripture says so in John 3:16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”

Beloved, that’s you.  That’s me.  Life is full of pivotal moments.  Moments that find us standing at a crossroad in which only we can choose the direction we will take from that moment of impact.  Which way will you go from here?

Can I tell you?  Where God plants you, is where He will bless you and provide for you.

He has you at this pivotal moment.  You are in the cracks of life.  You have this choice to stay in the crack, or reach for a way out.  My prayer is that you will have the strength to stand in your cracks and face whatever is challenging you with this assurance, that God will bless you and provide for you.

Reach out and learn to face these battles, obstacles, and cracks in life with faith in God that He will see you through. Faith is the key that unlocks the power of God in our lives. It enables us to live by His promises and experience personally, His blessing in our lives.

      Philippians 4:7

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 41:10 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Philippians 4:19 

 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

The Empty Nest

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The morning was quiet, the sun began poking it’ rays through the trees in our yard, the birds were chirping and the small, dull roar of the interstate miles away could be barely heard. My attention was drawn to a small wren who kept flying around frantically as I began to rock in the porch rockers and I noticed, she, or he, was trying to tend to a nest that was just above my head in a big Boston fern hanging on the post. As she began to chirp more and more intentionally, another wren began to fly in and out of the porch, landing on different rockers and brick postings as if to be sending warnings. As I left the rocker to step away from the porch to get a better look, I realized that in that nest above my head, were two baby wrens, skin still visible, yet freshly covered by feathers, but strong enough to begin fluttering about their nest.

As I stepped back from their nest, the adult wrens took turns flying in and out of the nest to feed their young and care for them. The adult wren, however, upon sharing a bit of nutrition, began to push around one of the wrens so that it began to flutter around the nest and out onto the fern leaves. As she continued to push the little ones, I realized that today was the day that they took flight and left their nest. They were being taught how to fly and take their place in the environment that was theirs to begin exploring.

My thoughts were then turned to our heavenly Father, who cares for us with such intention, hope, and aspirations to fly on our own into a world that He has created for us to explore. What that feels like to a parent, some of us can truly identify with, and others have yet to experience that. But God………what must that feel like for Him as He knew our name before we were even a thought in our parent’s minds. Scripture says in Psalm 139: 15-18

15 “You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!

17-18 How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me.[a] And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!”

As I watched these little wrens find their strength to leave the nest, I felt the emotion in being a parent myself of four beautiful daughters who are all taking flights of their own. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6) came to mind not only as I pray for my own children, but in recognition that God Himself, weaves that into His thoughts for humanity as He watches us all take our own flight to find our place in this world.

When He, God, takes place in our hearts and begins to nourish us with scripture and comes to our side to hear every thought in our mind, He makes Himself available not only for a moment, but for an eternity. There is a hymn, “In the Garden” that says in the second verse, “He speaks, and the sound of His voice, is so sweet the birds hush their singing, and the melody that He gave to me, within my heart is ringing. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”

This is a relationship, with such love and hopes for each of us to grow strong and take flight into this world, and with that, fly freely with no intimidation or worry. However, since the Garden of Eden, humanity has adopted a free will. That free will (sinful nature) has created flight patterns in much of humanity that have led us farther and farther away from the safety of provision of our heritage. That heritage of saving grace, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” found in Ephesians 2:8 seems to be a faint whisper in minds of many who choose to ignore the sound of God’s voice as He sends warnings through the heavens that He is returning soon to claim His own.

“But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power,” 2 Timothy 3:1-5. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places,” Matthew 24:7.

As we wake each day to the fall of humanity, as we witness those turning their backs on Scripture, Prayer, Marriage between a man and a woman, and falling into the clutches of false religions, oh how He (God) must sigh a heavy sigh that His children have left the nest and have fallen away. Again, how His heart must long for that time in the garden alone with each of us.

May our prayer be His prayer as we go forward each day in hope for those that have fallen from the nest and taken flight into dangerous and destructive patterns that they will hear that still small voice God’s voice calling them home, directing them to return to their heritage that has been bought with a price for their freedom, their joy, and their eternal gain………