Categories
christian counseling

Does it really make a difference?

Sometimes, when I consider the vast brokenness of the world in comparison to the seemingly small things I try in order to make a difference, I am overwhelmed. Sure, I’ve asked many times, does it really make a difference? Have you ever asked this question before?

Maybe you have contemplated, does my vote count? Does one dollar make a dent in the cost of this object? If I can’t stop the war, why try to win a small battle? Would it even matter if I forgive the person? Does this small act of kindness matter? Will counseling or talking about my problems actually help?

Sure at times we may say, yes I believe it matters, but often we simply don’t act because we don’t believe it truly does. Actions always speak louder than words.

Recently, my youngest son and I went to be a part of Christmas camps with Ukrainian refugees. We visited four different orphanages that had evacuated from their homes and took refuge in other countries during a war in their home nation. Did we stop the war? No. We we able to provide a loving set of parents to each child? No. BUT we were able to share the love of God with people who’ve essentially lost everything. We were able to spread the joy of Christmas with children. I was able to listen and care for adults who had to leave their homes and families at times to take care of orphans. These individuals and this experience showed us that yes every small thing matters. Simply listening to those who are hurting does help. Giving hope in any way matters!

So today if you are considering whether or not to go an extra step, do a small deed, donate a small amount, leave a kind word, etc. DO it. Let God do a mighty work with your simple act of obedience because as the song goes I grew up singing “Little is much when God is in it…”

Dr. Atwell

Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.

Categories
christian counseling

Transitioning…

This is a hot topic and also a controversial one, but for now, I’m not going to talk about what most think this term refers to in certain settings today. I’m simply going to talk about some of the transitioning we all need to do at times. Maybe you need to transition from skinny jeans to flair leg, OR from soda to water. Just kidding, maybe…

Instead of talking about the transitioning that happens in times of major life events such as a wedding, starting college, becoming a parent, becoming an empty nester, or losing a loved one, let’s contemplate the transitioning of mindsets and attitudes. This is the point in reading, or for me writing, where our minds often think of who could benefit from reading this…Let me challenge you to instead focus on yourself. What mindsets, attitudes, or maybe even relationships do you need to change or let go of?

Our mental health is actually brain health. It impacts our entire body. If we have negative mindsets, attitudes, or hurtful relationships, our entire lives, bodies included, are impacted. You may be thinking, what do you mean?

Here are some examples of negative mindsets:

1-I have NO control over my situation.

2-Life is so unfair.

3-I have zero power to change ___________.

4-I deserve this _________________.

5-______________ (ailment, weakness, mental health struggle) defines me.

What about negative attitudes?

Can you be inattentive, inflexible, jealous, impatient, insincere, irresponsible, indifferent, or heartless?

Finally, review your closest relationships.

Are these people understanding, available, kind, supportive, responsive, reciprocal, and friendly, OR are those you surround yourself with negative, competitive, nasty, gossipy, expect you to be there but they can’t reciprocate?

Now when it comes to transitioning negative mindsets, attitudes, and relationships, the first step is to do what you hopefully just did–identify them.

Once you’ve identified your negative mindsets, attitudes, and relationships, next consider how to transition!

Here are a few positive mindsets to try instead of the ones above:

1-I may not be in control of all things, but I AM in control of some aspects. I can control my reactions and responses to people 2 Timothy 1:7).

2-Fair is not always equal. While I may feel I’m experiencing inequality in one area or another, I will choose to be thankful for the good things in my life. I will also choose to treat others HOW I want to be treated even if I’m not being treated the way I’d like (Matthew 7: 12).

3-I have the power to change __________. I may not be able to fully change things today in the direction I would like, but I can change __________ aspect (Philippians 4:13).

4-I am thankful for the blessing in my life. I choose to be humble and not have an entitled mindset (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

5-I am not defined by my struggle or weakness. I can find strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Attitudes:

Today I will be attentive, flexible, excited for others, patient, kind, sincere, gentle, loving, responsible, and selfless in my attitude and subsequent actions.

Relationships:

Today and in the future, I will choose to surround myself with positive people who speak truth in love, who are friendly, kind, supportive, understanding, positive, and who are there for me as I’m there for them.

I also choose to let go of friendships or other relationships that are pulling me down and influencing me negatively. I pray for family members who I may need to set boundaries with and will consider seeking counseling to learn how and when to do so.

I realize transitioning mindsets, attitudes and relationships are not easy, but it can be as simple as what I have stated. My promise is that if you make these transitions, it will be worth it!

Have a great rest of your week,

Dr. Atwell

Categories
christian counseling

Understanding Transitions

Change is inevitable. We will all go through multiple transitions in life. During the fall season, the leaves in many places change colors on the trees. Some have children going off to college. Some are the ones going off to college and parents of new teens are freaking out of bodily changes… Others are beginning new jobs, trying new activities, etc.

As we have all settled in for the fall in one way or another, it may be important to understand the phases of transition that most people will experience. Transition generally follows this pattern: denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment.

1-Denial: In this phase, you begin to question the change. Was it the right move for us? We begin to feel disbelief that we have decided to make a change of this nature. We may also withdrawal from certain things, activities, etc.

2-Resistance: In the next phase you begin to resist as you become negative about the change. You being to focus on your emotions and personal impact or feelings associated with the change. You may even become less productive or make up excuses for being absent.

3-Exploration: Once you reach this phase, you begin to try new things, experiment with new people/places and possibly take new risks in your new setting. You may also seek answers to your questions during this phase about your transition, etc. This phase will bring about a new excitement and comfort for the change.

4-Commitment: In the final stage of transition or change. You begin to feel more comfortable with where you are and are now able to focus on the future without looking back. In the final phase you accept your new role and set new goals.

As you go through change in life or as you help another go through a transition, remember these stages. People go through these at different rates of time but it is important to know that the feeling, emotions, questions, etc. you have during the phases are normal. Change is a natural and healthy part of life but that doesn’t mean it is always comfortable. However, we will never grow as we can and should if we stay within our comfort zone and never embrace change.

From a faith perspective, we can know that God is the person who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and will be tomorrow. We can hold fast to his word and person as we deal with the transitions of life.

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Don’t fear change,

Dr. Atwell

Categories
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

Categories
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..”

Categories
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 🙂

Categories
Uncategorized

I stabbed my husband with a butter knife

I realize that those of you who do not know me personally think I am completely nuts simply for reading the title of today’s blog. Well, you have made a good judgment. 🙂 I am not perfect and so thankful for God’s grace which the only way my husband can deal with me.

Speaking of nuts, I was making a peanut butter sandwich for my son one afternoon and was also tired from a long 6 mile run that morning when my husband decided to come up behind me and grab my calf in an attempt to scare me. First of all, men beware of a women with any type of kitchen utensil in her hand. My calf was sore and my reflexes were highly functioning so I jerked back and accidentally stabbed my husband in the arm with a butter knife. He actually still has the scar over a year later. Personally, I think he should have it tattooed on so he will be reminded to be treat me with caution. Amazingly enough, we are still married.

I started with this funny, true, story but unfortunately many spouses and family members are victims of real abuse everyday. Home should be your place of comfort, rest, enjoyment, and quality time with family. However, this isn’t the case for many families. Safehorizon.org reports that 60% of domestic violence incidents happen within the home.

If you are being abused:

-Get help by contacting a local shelter or at least by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1−800−799−7233 or visiting the website at http://www.thehotline.org

-Let others help you instead of thinking you are alone.

-Remember you are worthy of true love and respect which never includes violence from a partner.

Many of us also may not be victims, but we have friends or family members who are suffering and we want to help. Here are some tips:

-Be a friend and ask how you can help.

-Don’t offer to be everything to him or her, the person needs to decide to get help of his or her own. He or she may simply need a listening ear until they decide they are ready to leave or get outside help from authorities.

-Don’t be afraid to contact the authorities and let them handle situations instead of you trying to be in the middle which may result in you getting hurt too.

-You can find more specific tips online and are advised to do so.

God Bless,

Natalie

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