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50 shades of grey christian counseling divine humor inspirational mental health pulling back the shades reading reedeming love sexual abuse sexual violence

50 shades of what?

Oh the women who’ve asked their friends this question over the past several years…Some have read it gladly, some have read it secretly, some haven’t read it because of guilt of who would find out, some haven’t read it for other personal reasons. Let me start out by saying we shouldn’t judge others and put ourselves on a pedestal for having read or not having read anything. This is not a judgmental blog, simply one I hope you think about…

The book 50 Shades of Grey, the book by EL James is widely popular. I agree with authors Stattery and Gresh of their book Pulling back the shades that the  “50 shaded” book addresses the needs of women to:

  • to be cherished by a man
  • to be protected by a strong man
  • to rescue a man
  • to be sexually alive
  • to escape reality

All little girls need to be cherished by a father, protected by a father, and then I think they grow up wanting the same things. Being nurturers by nature, we also want to rescue at times. God made us sexual beings and in the right context, it truly can be experienced as His gift to us. We also at times want and need to escape reality. However, outside of God’s plan and help many women seek to fulfill these longings in the wrong places. Our longings that God created will never be fulfilled out of his will and ways. Only when addressed according to God’s standards, do I believe these longings can truthfully be addressed.

The statistics on sexual abuse and violence are extremely horrifying. I do not agree with the “50 shades” book showing that the way to heal from being taking advantage of is to ask someone else if they’d willing let you take advantage of him/her. It definitely romanticizes many things about sex. One sad truth told is that if you don’t properly deal with your pain, you will transfer it to others, mostly likely the ones you love the most. God intended sex for wonderful things as a gift to married people. However, sadly the devil has perverted this wonderful gift in many disturbing ways and so many people are hurt, devastated and traumatized. But, I believe individuals don’t have to be forever damaged by these acts. I believe with God’s help, intensive counseling, and loving friends/family healing is possible.

Positive ways to be cherished, loved, and protected can be found in God. Read the Psalms and, let him love you. Let him protect you and He cherished you already more than you know. Let Him love you thru allowing others to help you. Look at all of the goods things in your life, James 1:7 says these are all from God. Realize how much you are cherished and protected by focusing on the good in your life. If you are married, be sexually alive with your spouse. God didn’t just intend sex for us to reproduce or else the Song of Songs wouldn’t be in the Bible…If it is difficult for you to enjoy sex in your marriage, get counseling! Lastly, if you need a way to escape reality, try reading Redeming Love by Francine Rivers or Divine by Karen Kingsbury or simply get out into nature and enjoy creation!

Have a great week and God Bless,

Natalie 🙂

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american sniper christian counseling counseling humor inspiration mental health military ptsd veterans

Not quite an American Sniper but a just as tough American Aircraft Mechanic!

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This past weekend, my husband and I went to see American Sniper. Scenes from the movie, thoughts about veterans, and mostly memories of my dad being in the military have replayed in my mind over and over the past few days. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but I highly recommend it.

I know I often write about my parents, and it’s honestly because I’m blessed to have some pretty amazing ones. My dad was an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 36 years. He served in Desert Storm and the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq during my childhood, teenage and young adult years. Honestly as a child, at first I hated him being gone because my mom was a drill sergeant when he was gone (as a mother now, I know why…dad was also the one who helped with homework…). The wives though are some of the truly unsung about heroines. Mom always said everything went wrong when dad left from water heaters breaking to snakes showing up on the front porch. I would have hated to see some of those terrorists up against my mom when my dad was gone. I watched her kill a bat with a broom and chop a snake’s head off with a shovel when he was gone one time. When he got home as a child, I wanted to know what treasure he brought me. He was gone sometimes 6+ months at a time. He also helped fight fires and things out west every year it seems. As a teen, I remember having nightmares about him in war. As a young adult, I remember meeting him at the airport once when he came home from a long trip to Afghanistan and I was so honored and so overwhelmed with pride, that I almost wanted to sign up for the Air National Guard so I could be like him. Who cares if he wasn’t a sniper, he and every service man and woman have very important jobs and do so to protect us and our freedoms!

I hope today’s blog encourages you to pray for our country, our leaders, our military, and anyone who fights for the freedoms we take for granted daily. I hope to inspire you to say “thank you” to service men and women you know, encourage the families of those who are here struggling while those in their families are serving or even write a congressman to support bills that fight for the proper treatment of veterans.

Lastly, support efforts to help veterans and their families adjust as they return home. PTSD is very serious and people suffering need our prayers, support and assistance whatever this means for you. Maybe it means volunteering, donating funds to aid in treatment of these individuals, paying for someone’s meal to say thanks, or simply saying thanks.

According to the http://www.ptsd.ne.gov site, An estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year. The traumatic events most often associated with PTSD for men are rape, combat exposure, childhood neglect, and childhood physical abuse. About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. An additional 20 to 25 percent have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD is only one side effect of service, many lose families, and much more fighting to protect us.

I’ll end with the words of Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘what are you doing for others?'”

Proud to be an American,

Natalie 🙂

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christian counseling counseling humor inspiration mental health Uncategorized

Traumatized by Kenny G…

For the younger readers..maybe I have one…:), the name Kenny G may not ring a bell to you. He is a talented musician and was popular in the 90s during my dating years. Of course, he was more popular with the adults than the teens…

Disclaimer: I do not apologize for sharing this story to benefit others even if it embarrasses my parents b/c they embarrassed me.. 🙂 I am not perfect, God is still working on me…I’m sure my kids will pay me back one day too..

It all began with me having a bad date with a guy who will remain nameless. He is probably the only one of my friends or acquaintances who doesn’t know this story..:) and may never know it… I wasn’t really that interested in him at the time which was really the only reason it wasn’t a great date. Anyways, I came into my home around 9pm and the lights were out all over the house. Still to this day, I do not know where my other two sisters were…one was 8 at the time, so she should have been home…maybe she was at a sleepover. At any rate, I walked to the back of the house where all of the bedrooms were and I hear Kenny G music playing from the parental bedroom…I banged on their door, said the music was too loud and hibernated in my room until I was 20…just kidding it was only until the next morning.

As you can imagine, this was traumatizing… the thought of my parents listening to Kenny G “love songs” all alone…Maybe they were just dancing…yeah right!?! This is only one of many stories about how my parents have traumatized me over the years. However, as I get older I realized these are good things to be traumatized by. I never doubted my parents love for one another, even when they argued. Their love for one another taught me so much and still is teaching me.

How can you traumatize those around you for positive things?

-Talk kindly about your spouse, your friends, your family, your kids. Tell a funny story about you and ______ even it is embarrassing. It makes you genuine and relatable!

-Don’t be scared to be affectionate to your kids, even when they are teens and adults. Teens may act like they hate you kissing them on the check in the car rider line at school but they honestly feel loved and appreciated when you do. Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about your dating or other life experiences and how you learned from them. Love them the proper way so they’ll know what to look for and what to avoid. Don’t just fuss at them…show them.

-Don’t be afraid to share your failures with others and talk about how you’ve overcame those failures. Failure is a part of the process, is is not who you are!

-Forgive even when it isn’t merited. Forgiveness doesn’t right a wrong, it just releases you from bitterness.

Proverbs 12: 6 is my words states that the words of good people can save the wicked. God’s words of wisdom spoken thru us can help those around us!

Have a great week,

Natalie

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Categories
christian counseling counseling humor inspiration mental health

Expectations of strippers

Disclaimer: Let me start out by saying that these stories are intended for humor not examples to live by, but also remember that whether or not these are true…humans judging humans doesn’t work. Judging behavior sometimes, but not judging the person. Ok, enough said…

Many moons ago, some friends while celebrating an upcoming wedding with a bachelorette party went to a local club that had dancing in one area, male strippers in another and female in the other. It was for everyone..fun right, lol. Anyways, these friends went to laugh and embarrass themselves and one another at the male stripper area. This is why girls go to these places, it isn’t for the dancers.. So the girls are sitting down, laughing as one stripper dressed as a cowboy comes out. Of course he was in good shape, a good dancer, but as he gets closer to the bachelorette party, the bride begins to have a strange feeling that she knows him…She looks over at her friend and says, “Oh my…that’s my neighbor”. This wasn’t exactly what she expected to happen at her bachelorette party. He looks down, says hello to the girl, and dances on…

Also, many moons ago, a different group of friends were taking another bride out for a bachelorette celebration and decided to surprise the bride with a visit to a male dancing place.. When the party arrived, they were welcomed in at no charge. When they walked in, they realized they were the only females there…They weren’t exactly expecting to be the only group of girls watching and laughing together while some dudes danced…They fled the scene after they realized the awkwardness…

Sometimes we struggle with situations, circumstances, experiences, relationships, etc because our expectations are wrong. We think college will be a party and an extension of high school without parental guidance. We think we will live happily ever after once we are married. We think once we __________, fill in the blank, everything will be hunky dory (as we say in the south).

No matter what your belief system is, you can probably agree that people are not perfect, this world is not perfect, and things in the world are not perfect. We need to expect challenges along the way and not just rewards or blessings. As CS Lewis states, “Whatever men expect, they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on (the devil’s) part, be turned into a sense of injury.”

As you continue through the day, think about your expectations for yourself, your marriage, your children, your job, your family, your friends, etc.. Are they appropriate? Author Donald Miller states, “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” Don’t expect anything except God to be perfect. Since you are not him, expect that you will not be able to fully understand something that is perfect. Don’t even expect a life with God to be without challenges. Just expect that He’ll walk thru them with you. Expect your job to have flaws, expect your marriage to have challenges, expect your children to be different from you. Change your expectations to realistic ones. Maybe that even means to expect good things to happen to you, if you are a pessimist.

Have goals, have expectations, have hopes, but make sure they are realistic and that these things don’t define who you are. Being who are you today is defining. My hope and prayer is that this means you are kind, loving, compassionate, giving, thoughtful,etc. You can be this kind of person with God’s help no matter what your expectations, circumstances, etc..are.

Have a great day!

Natalie

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humor mental health Uncategorized

Fighting isn’t always bad…

My niece loves to hear the story of the time I destroyed my sister’s and my Barbie doll house…Seriously, she asks to hear it several times a year for some reason. Being a middle child of two girls is tough but anyone with siblings, I’m sure can relate to this story… My sister and I shared a room and shared a Barbie doll house. One night, we were fighting about something (isn’t it funny how most people don’t even remember what they fight about?) and I was going to tell mom and dad! She pulled my pj’s which were purple and white flowered pj’s handed down to me 🙂 and she let go suddenly. When she did, I fell and demolished one level a time of the three level Barbie doll house setup in our room. It is much funnier now than when our parents came in after they heard the crash…

Many siblings fight even into adulthood, sadly enough. Many families in general fight. I’ve heard of the most idiotic reasons too why mothers or fathers aren’t speaking to a child or why a sister isn’t speaking to a brother, etc.. Mostly it’s over someone’s pride. He didn’t get what he deserved, she was always the favorite, he married outside of his race, she went to college, blah, blah, etc, etc…The truth is no one is perfect. None of us deserve anything honestly b/c we aren’t perfect. Personally, I think God is the only perfect one around and He gets to decide what happens ultimately because He is perfect and worthy to make such calls.

Perspective is very powerful. Imagine if we all had the mindset daily of the following:

-Every good thing we have is a blessing and undeserved

-Ending relationships with family and friends isn’t an option.

Just having the mindset of those two perspectives can drastically change people. If we believe everything is a blessing, wouldn’t we take care of our things, appreciate our health, jobs. etc.. much more instead of complaining and whining about what we deserve? If ending relationships with family and friends wasn’t an option, how much harder would we fight for one another, to get along, to get over stuff, to forgive?

Fight for good! Appreciate everything you have! Fight for your family even if you don’t always agree or like them.

Simple Ways to Fight:

-Fight to communicate regularly with your spouse

-Fight against busyness and peer pressure and spend time with your teenage children

-Fight for a worthy cause in your community by volunteering

There are so many other ways to fight for good…

Lastly, I want to say thank you to the Veteran’s in our armed forces in America for fighting for our freedoms!

Categories
humor mental health Uncategorized

Oh Happy Day is not a good song choice for a funeral

Humorous moments often happen by accident in my family…My maternal grandfather was a Baptist minister turned alcoholic. He left my grandmother and six kids way before I was ever thought of by my mother and father. God knew I was coming eventually, but they didn’t at that time. 🙂  Part of me is sad I didn’t know him and the other part is glad. I do remember however when he was on his death bed. My mom and her sisters went to visit him, offered him help from addiction, etc. It was a sad ending because he never gave up drinking even after receiving unsolicited forgiveness from his children. The funny part is for some reason my mom and aunts thought they should sing a song when he was ill in the hospital. Amazing Grace would have been appropriate since they were mirroring God’s grace at this time, but NO…they chose “Oh Happy Day”, which later on we all thought was hilarious. They didn’t mean anything funny by it at the time but that was one of those accidental humorous moments in my family.

I’m not going to give a list of ways people can cope with grief today. I’m simply going to say that in my life, I’ve noticed people grieving in a variety of ways. It is helpful for us all not to judge anyone who is grieving.

Some people get stuck and don’t move on, don’t go out of the house, etc. for a while. Some people move away, move on, or run period, etc. Some combine staying still for a while and then running, etc. Some are forced to seek survival, some seek therapy, some seek drugs, etc.

I’m a complete dork and I love PBS. While watching a PBS special the other night on the Roosevelt family, I learned that Theodore Roosevelt lost his mother and wife on the time day within a four hour period. His wife had just given birth to their first child four days earlier. When he heard the news, he came home, ask his sister to take care of his daughter, and he ran to the West. He couldn’t even speak their names. Many people judged him but he grieved the way he needed to and survived the grief in the end and was able to raise his daughter in the end and got remarried. Many people judged him I’m sure.

People who are grieving don’t need judgmental family members and friends, they need supportive ones even if we don’t understand their choices.

Have an Oh Happy Day,

Natalie

Categories
humor mental health

USA (United States of Anxiety)

 

anxiety-girl

Did You Know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Anxiety and Depression

It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety related disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Panic Disorder :panic attacks, etc.

Social Anxiety Disorder: kids who don’t simply hate going to school, it is much more than that…

Specific Phobias: fear of crowds, fear of going outside, etc.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): not just washing hands 50 times a day, others things also.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):  Veterans are not the only sufferers, victims of abuse also may suffer, etc.

Major Depressive Disorder

*Info from American Association of Anxiety Disorders

As you can see this is a major problem. If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety, get help by:

-Going to see a doctor

-Consider seeing a therapist/counselor

-Enlist a support system (positive friends, family members, church group, support groups, etc.) find people who can make you laugh and enjoy you for who you are.

 

 

Categories
humor mental health

Fear and boobs: version 2.0

What are your biggest fears? They are likely not the same as they were when you were a child. When I was a little girl, my wonderful parents (who still haven’t read my blog, I will use that in a blog on humility vs. narcism later on… 🙂 )… let me watch a show where a bear broke in a cabin of a family and harmed the family. As a result, I had nightmares about bears for a long time after that episode. I overcame this fear by going camping with a friend b/c I loved her and her family. As a teenager, I was afraid of cobras (I realize this is not a popular snake in NC, but it was still scary to me). I overcame this fear by being thrown off of a golf cart on the wrong side of a lake at a church youth camp. Good times, and lots of laughs in the end.

Facing fears often has a way of alleviating anxiety whether you do so by imagining a certain event happening and planning for worst case scenario or whether you actually face the fear. Probably the biggest fear I’ve faced wasn’t one I realized I had until it happened. Last year, I found a lump in my breast that my OBGYN was concerned about. Over a period of a month and 1/2 I was poked at, prodded at, and felt up more than I was during my dating years…(If my parents do read this, I promise it wasn’t that much…) I wasn’t afraid of cancer and dying. I was afraid of leaving my children because they are so young. They have a wonderful father, but I didn’t want them to grow up without a mother.

New Image is me and my mom from this year’s conference with TC Stallings from the movie the War Room. I highly recommend it.

New addition to this story: for those who know me, they also likely know the story that goes with my breast lump scare…I was at a conference for christian counselors (2013) and I was crying during one of the speakers who was speaking about his wife dying of breast cancer. Often times, we think the worst when we get bad news…After the speaker, a lady came up to me noticing my ugly swollen cry face and asked if she could pray with me. “Of course!” I said and told her what was going on, so as we bowed our heads and prayed she also put her hand on my breast to pray for my boob…Of course since I’m normally very silly, my tears turned into an inner giggle. I’m not opposed to people laying their hands on one another and praying together, but I don’t recommend a private body part. My mom said, thank God you didn’t have a cervical cancer scare. LOL. God loves me and knows I need this humorous moment. I know that lady didn’t mean anything but to be helpful, however, it was awkward and funny to me but God answered her prayers and am healthy!

This is a scary thing as a mother, but I had to face it in theory. Thankfully, everything checked out ok and apparently I just have weird lumpy boobs. Too bad the lumps aren’t bigger…:) just kidding.

Here are a few healthy ways I’ve found to deal with fears:

-Prepare yourself for worst case scenario but live like the best case has happened. For example, If you fear death and leaving a family behind, have a will, life insurance policy, family/friends who are willing to help with your children. Live today and have fun with those around you.

-Think like a statistician: I’ve heard it said that 90% of things you worry about never come true.

-Transition your thoughts: Start thinking about others more than yourself. Does a neighbor need help with a home project? Can you volunteer somewhere? Get busy doing for others and you’ll be amazed how much you don’t even have time to sit and worry about your own fears.

-Treat everyday as if it were the last in some ways: don’t call in sick and go bungee jumping but tell your family you love them, be kind to everyone, stop complaining, forgive others and/or ask for forgiveness.

-Lastly, for me personally, my belief in God encourages me by verses such as “Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you.”(1Chron 28:20) “Be strong and courageous…” (Deut 31:6)

Have a great week!

Natalie