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christian counseling

Under Pressure

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1378717/7766413

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christian counseling

Critical theory and mental health

Critical theory (from which critical race theory was derived) has been a popular buzz term this year. However, it a theory that has been developed for over 40 years. In my honest and humble assessment of the theory, I’m sure the creators and those who believe in the theory, rather or not they even know it is a theory or not, likely want to help oppressed groups. However, I would ask that the considerations be given that this may not be the best way to free the oppressed.

As a mental health therapist, one of my concerns with critical theory and in particular critical race theory is the attempt to categorize people. One of the main tenants to the theory is that individual identity is inseparable from group identity. I’ve been blessed to meet many people in an individual setting over the years and I can tell you that in my experience, it is extremely difficult and arguably impossible to fit each individual perfectly within a group. Personally, I believe God designed us all in a unique way and we are to seek our identity in being the unique creation he intended. You can’t honestly say all hispanics are the same, all black people are the same, all white people are the same, all gay people are the same, etc. Specific to oppressed groups, you can’t say they all have the same experiences or even are ok with being considered oppressed. I can’t effectively treat individuals struggling with mental illness, family concerns, etc. by using critical theory and grouping people. It just doesn’t work. I have to treat people as individuals. I may use some of the same techniques from time to time, but I seek to tailor these to the individual. Consider being a parent, sibling, or friend. Are all of you the same? Trust me, my siblings are I are definitely different even coming from the same home. As a parent, even the same discipline strategies as times don’t work the same for each child of mine.

Another concern I have with the theory is that tends to focus more on emotion than thought. Emotions are powerful parts of human beings but we must be aware of using emotions only to make choices outside of thoughtful analysis. We have amazing control centers in our bodies called our brains. We should be teaching others to use their brains to filter emotions. We have pushed agendas on others way too often these days instead of asking questions that make one another think. Daily, I have conversations with parents and young adults who can’t even talk about differences without fighting. Could it be that the young adults have been taught to go off of emotion in critical theory which is embedded within our educational systems? Could it be that parents have taught their children the value of thinking instead of just doing what they say? Do we teach them why we believe a certain tenant, etc? I see families splitting generationally, a lack of respect for the elder generation, and people only expecting to be heard instead of also taking the time to listen. It is truly heartbreaking, but I know it is a spiritual war and not so much a cultural one. The devil is the father of lies and he has planted lies that are causing division not unity and these lies certainly will not lead to freedom.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are oppressed people in our world, there are poor people, there are racist individuals, etc. We are sinful people who fall short of God’s design and plan. However, the way back to true freedom isn’t found in a theory (which is a word that in definition means that it hasn’t been proven to be true). The way to truth is simple. I’ll agree it is narrow and against the grain of the world. However, I speak truth in love by stating, the way is Jesus.

If we have a relationship with God through his son Jesus, we won’t dwell on the past, we will learn from it. We won’t worry about tomorrow, we will plan for it. Personally, my parents didn’t need critical race theory to teach us to fight for those who are less fortunate. The Bible teaches me that we are all individual, amazing beings created in the image of God who out of his love for us will care for the poor, speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves (Prov 31), and will preach the path to true life. True oppression is seeking to find identity and be grouped into something outside of God’s plan. By the way, Jesus is the one who said, “If you abide in my word (his character, who he is, his life, his law), you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” People love to quote the latter part of this verse, but we need to know who said and what it really means…John 8:31-32

Praying you will “…be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Dr. Atwell

PS. This year while sharing some fun stories at the beach, I learned that one of my sister’s, wrote her senior high school paper on “Revelation and The End Times”, while her husband wrote his on “Why we should legalize marijuana.” Could they be any different?! Now, my brother in law doesn’t believe this anymore, but it is funny now and yet again proves my point that we are all different and maybe that we don’t know everything at 17 or 18 years of age…

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christian counseling

Episode 3: One Sweet Day, an talk about grief

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1378717/5716885

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christian counseling

My youngest wanted to do a podcast with me…

Maddox and Natalie’s first podcast!

It’s only about 5 minutes and a little rocky for our first one, but entertaining nonetheless (hopefully).

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Uncategorized

Happy, Happy, Happy!

No, this blog has nothing to do with Duck Dynasty but I do love the catch phrase…. Lately, I’ve been encouraged to pray for and seek wisdom. My word of wisdom this week has been how to be happy. I’m generally a happy, silly person, but life is hard and I see so many people seeking after happiness the wrong way. You see I love school supplies and my recent purchase of erasable colored pencils are currently making me happy, but this happiness won’t last b/c I will settle into my Statistics book and the colored pencils I’m sure will not keep my happiness going to page 1000!

First of all, I believe happiness is attainable. Second of all, I do not believe you will be happy if happiness in and of itself is your goal. Third, I think most people are ultimately living to achieve it.

I’ll start with my third thought…the world is full of people trying to find a mate, a career, a calling, etc.. all to be what? Mostly likely, they are looking for happiness. Second, I believe what the bible says about happiness… Consider this:

Matthew 5: 1-12 (my paraphrase and the Message too)

1-The person who stops seeking after selfish things, but wants more of God is blessed/happy.

2-You are happy when you can truly allow yourself to be embraced by God which can be when you’ve lost what is most dear to you.

3-You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. (the message)

4-You are happy when you want God more than anything you could ever want to eat or drink.

5-You are happy when you truly care about others.

6-You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (the message)

7-You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.(the message)

8-You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom…Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You are happy when you speak truth in love. (the message and me)

You see I’m learning that happiness is a byproduct of doing these things. If you try to do these things with God’s help and focus on these things, happiness will result. If you seek only happiness, you won’t get anything but dissatisfaction. So, get busy caring for others, seeking to be right with God, teaching people to cooperate, being content, choosing God above all else no matter what anyone thinks, and you’ll find true happiness.

“Shoot for heaven and you’ll at least get the world, try for just the world and you’ll likely get nothing” (Tim Keller).

Have a happy, happy, happy week!

Love,

Natalie

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encouragement Uncategorized

Putting Courage In others…

This is the definition of encouragement. Are you putting courage in others?

Recently, I had a friend talk to me about trying to find a new mattress. She and her husband went to 6 or 7 mattress stores. Some were in the same chain…This of course made me wonder why there are so many Mattress stores, which sparked my most recent internet search. Yes, I was the kid who actually love going and pulling the encyclopedias off the shelf to look up things..

An article in the Chicago Tribune stated, “In its best markets, Houston-based Mattress Firm aims to have a store for about every 50,000 people. ‘If you think about how mattresses have been marketed, it’s all about health issues. If you read the ads, mattresses cure everything but balding,'”. This article also said it was an easy purchase during the recession and an increase in infestation of bed buds also promoted sells in recent years.

My friend needed some encouragement to make a needed purchase after 16 years of marriage and one mattress. I put courage in her by recommending a locally owned smaller mattress place and they finally made a purchase!!

I realize this is a silly store to talk about encouragement, but small things are important to God too. He wants you to rest in Him ultimately and help others to find his rest and peace. Encouraging others in big and small things in life can help them to find God’s peace.

Put courage in someone today. Strangers, family, friends, co-workers everyone in your path. Sometimes all it takes is a smile.

Have a great week!

Natalie

I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up..”

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All this talk about gender…

Now that’s a tough topic in the Charlotte/NC area… In most circles I avoid this conversation. So why not blog about it, right?!?

Many people who read this may not agree with my stance and that’s ok but don’t quit reading.. Because my stance isn’t the point to this blog.

First of all, I believe (reminder this is a Christian counseling blog) in God’s design in the Bible. In Genesis, God the creator made man and woman in His image and it was good! Why question God’s design is my thought. I don’t believe we should always trust our feelings and that we should as followers of Christ trusting what he says and not what we feel or think because we aren’t perfect. Life is short here on earth and I don’t want to risk eternity choosing my own ways.

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen/sin cursed world and we are given free choice. This choice doesn’t always reflect God’s plan or his ways, which I believe are  the best choices because we were created by God. As believers we are supposed to live in the world but not to be of the world. We can’t retreat and try to only be around those who believe like we do. 

So as we live among people who may not believe like we do, there is a simple life changing thing we can do… Love them!

If you really believe the gospel of Jesus, love is the theme… for God so loved th world which includes transgenders. If you believe, if you have God in your heart, love should ooze out of you!

Vote your convictions, write your legislators, AND love the people around you. Quit expecting people to act like you if they don’t have the same beliefs. 

Lastly, Suicide is a real issue for many people inside and outside of the church. How many transgenders or other people’s lives in the world could be saved if we got busy loving others instead of judging? Would the bathroom issue even be questioned as is, if everyone felt safe because people were loving instead of being bullies?

Love you all,

Natalie

Remember you were created in your mother’s womb in a fearful, wonderful and amazing way.

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christian counseling positive thinking Uncategorized

What superpower would you like to have?

Counselors often ask weird questions like, “if you could have a superpower, what would it be?” A woman whose suspects her husband of cheating might like to have the power of being invisible so she could spy. A traveling businessman may like to fly so he didn’t have to wait at the airport. Having boys, I have been asked this question too. As a matter of fact, one of my boys asked me which superhero was my favorite and I said “Captain America” (honestly because he’s the cutest) and my son being the wonderful judge of character he is, said, “why because you want to kiss him?”, No I said…”because I’m patriotic and love my country;  besides, I can only kiss your daddy like that ;).” Kids…

Here’s a thought on what I consider to be a true superpower, LOVE. We see images of love all around, we see things in then media that look like love according to some, we hear songs about love all over the radio, etc. Let’s look at love as a superpower and maybe it’ll help you through a Thanksgiving dinner or other fun and challenging moments in life.

1 Corinthians 12: 3-14 gives a completely different definition of love than what were are often exposed to in this crazy world. It introduces the definition in verses 3-7 by saying “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Do you have this superpower? Love has the power to transform lives, free people from pain, heal, and much more. This is much more effective than being invisible or flying. We long and need to experience this superpower. ry this definition of love and see what happens!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful for the love of Christ who showed this definition of love by laying his life down for me,

Natalie 🙂

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He’s just a negative person.

Do you know this person? Maybe it is a she in your life. Negative people. The cup is half empty, not half full. They always have the worse case scenario perspective. What does this mindset and attitude do to one’s health?

Let’s explore… (for more info. read “How do Thoughts and Emotions impact health by Karen Lawson, MD)

-Chronic negative and repressed feelings can upset the body’s hormonal balance which can deplete the brain’s chemicals that lead to happiness.

-Negativity can cause gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, infections, anxiety and depression

-Negative attitudes also contribute to relationship problems. People don’t want to be friends with negative people, they don’t want to work with them, they get tired of being married to them, and the kids grow up to resent them.

-There are many more scientifically researched effects and simply effects you have observed about the danger of a negative attitude.

Can this person change? Sure, I believe anyone can change. If I didn’t, I should find a new career…

-One can change their attitude first by be grateful for things instead of complaining. Be thankful for the job you have. Be thankful for your health. Be thankful for your frustrations that are helping you to be more patient and understanding. You can turn all of your complaints into thanks if you try.

-Forgive those who’ve hurt you. Forgiveness isn’t about saying what someone did was ok, it is about releasing the bitterness in your own life for that person. The bitterness is only hurting you.

-Seek a counselor to help you deal with your repressed emotions and feelings that may be causing you to be negative.

-Pray and ask for God’s help in being more grateful. Gratitude leads to joy.

-Change your thinking. Think about true things, lovely things, noble, right, pure, and admirable.

Psalm 28:7 -The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

Thanking God for rain today even though I want some some sunhine,

Natalie

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Sometimes you have to act your way into a feeling…

What in the world does that mean, you may be thinking… Well let me explain. This morning I had a conversation with a lovely, beautiful lady inside and out who encouraged me to write something based off of our conversation (probably joking, but at any rate here we are). We were discussing working out being a part of my weekly routine, eating healthy…not so much. I love healthy food, however, I also love sweets! No your muffin top does not make you a cute cupcake in case you were wondering. As a counselor, I know how to make change, but putting it into practice is a whole other thing.

I find that often times what keeps people from changing is that they are waiting on something to happen (New Year’s Day, a wedding to plan for, or a variety of other things). Mostly, I believe people are waiting until they feel like changing to change. Well, good luck with that plan. Feelings are misleading. They should not be dictators of your actions. If so, I’d be on an episode of my 400 lb life. Let’s face it, salads are great, but nothing warms your mind and belly like a chocolate chip cookie. So, sometimes I believe we need to act our way into a feeling. Make a choice to change, then take actions, and hopefully the feelings will come. This is applicable to lots of situations if you think about it. For example:

-Act like a good spouse, and maybe you’ll start feeling something again

-Fill out your application to go back to school, go to class, and then you’ll have a degree which feels good.

-Act like a good parent (discipline your kids, spend time with them, love them) and you may experience a good feeling one day.

-Make an appointment with a counselor and deal with your stuff, after the hard work, you will start to see positive results.

However, remember these important tips too:

-Things that are worth it are never easy.

-Results are not immediate. You didn’t get here over night nor will you likely change in a night.

Praying for you to make a positive change,

Natalie 🙂