Posts made in June, 2012

The Rough Spots

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Faith | 0 comments

The Rough Spots

A woman was sitting with God, looking back on her life, becoming aware of all that He had walked her through, even the roughest spots, even when she didn’t know He was there.

God had a giant sifter, and in it He had the sands of her life. As He sifted, He separated all of the beautiful and soft sands of her self and life from the hard, rough pieces that had burrowed into the pure sand and didn’t quite fit.

When He was finished sifting, she saw herself fully separated from all of the rough pieces and jagged edges, the hurts and disappointments from past circumstances and relationships, the shame from her own past decisions and mistakes. She felt clean and renewed, free and at peace.

Then, to her surprise, God lifted up the rough, ugly pieces left behind in the sifter that He had separated from her now clean and perfect sand. The rough pieces were hard and covered in dirt, ugly and messy, but He didn’t throw them away. Instead, He carefully washed them clean, polished them, put His touch on them, and made them beautiful. Before her eyes, she saw Him turn all of her worst experiences and moments, deepest hurts and ugliest scars, into the most beautiful artwork she had ever seen. Then He reincorporated the now beautiful and redeemed hard rocks back into the soft sand of who she was. And it all fit together in the most perfect way.

She had always thought that feeling and being better would mean that those rough spots were completely removed from her life and memories. Instead, He showed her that the rough spots were an important part of who she was. Everyone has rough spots.  Hers helped her relate to other people, to help hurting people as they struggled through their own rough patches.  Now that she looked closely, she saw that it was actually the colorful and asymmetrical rough pieces that made her plain white sand unique and beautiful, that had shaped her into a strong and wise person, that gave her character and depth.  How had she neglected to notice it while she was collecting those rough pieces?  Each one was hard and messy when she picked it up, but it came with an opportunity she now realized, and once it was thoroughly sifted and redeemed, it was worth much, priceless, and she would not trade it for anything.

 

 

Vicious Cycle

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Mental Health | 5 comments

Vicious Cycle

I swear it feels like 1000 times a day I watch this scene unfold before my eyes…

Bug, running, screaming: “Stop chasing me!”

Bear, running, laughing: “Hahahahaha”

Bug, running, screaming, breaking into hysterical sobs: “STOP CHASING ME!!!”

Bear, running, laughing maniacally: “HAHAHAHA!!!”

And so it goes, round and round in circles, over and over and over. Repeat.

It’s a frustrating scene for all involved. Poor Bear thinks its all a big game, and an insanely fun one at that. Poor Bug can not understand, despite my repeated attempts to explain, that running away only fuels Bear to keep going because the more Bug runs, the more it seems like a game of chase. Poor me, no matter how hard I try to throw reason into the mix, I’m powerless to stop this vicious cycle of chase from hell. It will only stop for good if Bug just stops running, just stops doing what looks to Bear like playing along.

The whole scene is enough to drive a mama to the edge. It makes me a little nuts. But today it also made me think.

How many times do we engage in this same vicious cycle in our relationships? Someone is doing something that we desperately want them to stop, we keep trying to get them to stop, but then we simultaneously act in a way, probably without realizing it, that encourages them to keep going. Instead of extracting ourselves from the vicious cycle, getting out of the game, and no longer playing along, we just keep running and screaming, all the while sending a covert message to the other person that we are, in fact, playing their game.

The thing is, when Bug stops running, Bear can’t play chase anymore. The game is over, and Bear very quickly loses interest and moves on to something else. Bug’s unwillingness to react to Bear quickly brings the whole cycle to a stop.

Too bad Bug doesn’t really get this, and large chunks of our day continue to be occupied with hell chase. She’ll get it some day. The good news is, I got it today, identified a few people from whom I will quietly disengage, and decided to refrain from reacting to irritating games. And then I had a glass of wine to soothe my frayed nerves.

 

 

 

Guacamole

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Cooking | 3 comments

Guacamole

I love guacamole. I consider it a dietary staple. We eat it with almost everything. Sometimes I eat it from a spoon. I love it. Really, really love it.

My guacamole recipe is very simple, but every time I serve it, people rave about it and ask for the recipe. Here it is…

Guacamole:

3 small or 2 large avocados

1/2 of a jalapeno, finely chopped (adjust according to how spicy you like it, remove the seeds to make it less spicy)

1/2 of a small tomato, diced

1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 small lime, juiced

Kosher or sea salt

Peel and seed avocado, and mash in a bowl using the back of a fork. Add jalapeno, tomato, cilantro, and lime juice. Sprinkle generously with salt. Stir together, taste, and adjust seasoning to your preference – it’s the lime juice and salt that make it so good, so don’t go too light! This feeds 2-4 people, but the recipe can easily be increased.

I often make this early in the day and cover it tightly with plastic wrap to keep in the refrigerator until dinner – because of the lime juice, it will stay green and fresh. Serve with chips, or anything really, or maybe with Mexican Chicken!

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On the Edge of a Cliff

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Faith | 3 comments

On the Edge of a Cliff

Sometimes, life leaves you feeling like you’re hanging on the edge of a cliff.  Barely holding on and dangling from a ledge, white knuckled and fighting for your life, you feel the difficulties that you’re facing working to pry your fingers loose. The only thing that you can do is try to hang on, but it’s hard, and there’s a constant threat that you won’t be able to.  Fear is constantly whispering in your ear, trying to distract you from the fight for your life.  Helplessness and discouragement set in as your strength and energy fade.  Nothing seems clear and you see no way to get back on top of the rock that looms above you out of reach.

The problem with hanging from the edge of a cliff is that all you can see is the dark rock pressed up against your face.  Hanging there, holding on with all your might, there’s no way to look around and see what’s going on above you, behind you, around you.  That’s what makes it so hard to fight off fear, discouragement, exhaustion, and the temptation to quit.  You can’t see.

But you have faith.  You can’t see, but you can believe.  That’s what faith is, confidence in blindness (Hebrews 11:1).

Maybe the reason you’ve been able to hold on in spite of the odds against you is because God is there with you. You can’t exactly see Him with your face shoved into a rock, but He’s there, under you, over you, behind you, around you. Holding you. If you can muster up enough faith to believe that in any small way, then you can start to beat back fear and yell to the danger on the rock above you that you’re not going anywhere, you’ll win this fight.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”    ~Isaiah 43:13

You can be empowered with enough strength and courage to keep holding on.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.” ~Isaiah 40:29-31

You can have confidence that even though you can’t get yourself out of this mess, He can hoist you up and set you in a better place.

“I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.” ~Psalm 40:1-2 (Amplified Bible)

You can have victory instead of defeat.

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.” ~Psalm 18:32-35

Confessions of a Child Therapist

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Mental Health | 3 comments

Confessions of a Child Therapist

Before I had children of my own, I worked as a therapist with other people’s children. I saw (and still do) children of all ages as well as adults and adolescents, but for many years my primary clientele were children under age 5 who had been severely traumatized by abuse, domestic violence, or homelessness. I went through years of training specifically related to this population… 2 years of supervised work exclusively with very young children, a postgraduate psychotherapy program, and 8 years of work experience under the leadership of experts in the field.

I always assumed that all of this highly specialized knowledge and training would help me tremendously when I had children of my own… instead, I found myself holding a baby and drowning in a pool of too much knowledge that made me paranoid at every turn that I was “messing up” my newborn infant. Prior to having kids I thought I knew the exact methods, theories, and parenting books that I believed in… but with a baby of my own I found myself struggling to reconcile my own personal abilities and the unique temperament of my child with a by-the-book system.

The knowledge tormented me in a way. I just knew too much about all that happens in the first five years of life and all that can go wrong if certain needs go unmet. It left me incapable of taking ups and downs in stride, of forgiving myself for mistakes, of accepting my own shortcomings, and of just enjoying my baby. I neglected to realize that my work had been with children who had endured unimaginable and unspeakable traumas, losses, and abuses in their earliest, most formative years. The truth is, although far, far away from perfect, I was loving, supportive, and responsive enough that my worst moments of failing at motherhood weren’t going to destroy my child’s future. The truth is, I could never be perfect but I trust a perfect God Who can cover my parenting mistakes and compensate for my shortcomings when I entrust my children to His care.

I guess it was around the time that a therapist friend offered to lend me a book whose title I don’t exactly remember, only that it was something to the effect of “Why Therapist’s Kids are Crazy”, a lightbulb went off…

I’m not supposed to be exactly like a therapist with my own children.

The things that qualify me and enable me to successfully provide treatment to hurting children are not the same things required to mother children. While psychotherapy requires caring tempered by objectivity and great care not to insert too much of myself into the client’s process, mothering requires a real person who is emotionally involved and fully inserted in her children’s processes of growth and development. The very things I used to worry about harming my children – making mistakes and having to apologize, being imperfect, disappointing them, showing my feelings instead of remaining constantly calm and neutral – are now opportunities to model real relationship and real humanness to my children in the midst of an overall loving and secure relationship. When I make a mistake and then ask for my children’s forgiveness and God’s help in my life, they learn that I’m not perfect and they don’t have to be either, how to give and receive forgiveness, that feelings come and go but love is a choice, that we rely on God to love us perfectly even when people don’t.

Over time, I’ve abandoned most of my therapy training in the mothering of my own children. I’ve stopped applying theory and started applying prayer… for me, this illuminates so much more about their individual personalities and needs than any book knowledge ever could. I’ve held on to some things that I think are helpful, like…

Learning the ways my children communicate best and then speaking their language

Getting into their worlds and participating in the things that are most important to them

Helping them to understand and express difficult emotions by putting their feelings into words

Recognizing that behavior is communication and trying to discern what it’s telling me when they act out

Reading the above list, I find those to be things that mothers tend to do intuitively and naturally in the process of just being with their children. No special training necessary.

I think every mother today is in many ways burdened with too much knowledge and information. There are parenting books about every little thing, written from seemingly endless different and conflicting perspectives. It’s enough to overwhelm anyone. My mom and Husband’s mom often tell us they feel sorry for us in a way because of all the information we have at our disposal… in their day of raising children, I think the prevailing wisdom was “trust your instincts” and “mother knows best.” Somehow we all survived things that would be considered grievously dangerous for our children today. Maybe all of this knowledge and information actually gets in our way when we start to rely on it too heavily… distracts us from getting to know our children as the unique little people they are, trusting our own innate instincts, and relying on God to lead us in the best way to raise our babies.

“A few years ago, after reading the sixteenth parenting book that contradicted the first fifteen, I quit trying to become a better parent and decided to just become a better person.”

~Glennon Melton, Momastery.com

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