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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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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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Breaking news…Playboy has changed!

As I listened to the news headlines the other morning, I was shocked to hear that Playboy magazine is no longer featuring naked (we say naked in the south) women. I’m sure many the 13 year old boy side of many men is sad as are so aspiring women who hoped to get famous via this magazine. Honestly, I shouldn’t be shocked because on a regular basis I hear of teens, adults, etc. getting in trouble for viewing porn or other inappropriate images on their phones, computers, etc. People no longer have to pay for porn. Playboy didn’t have a change of heart, they had a change in their profits…

This is not a judgmental blog about pornography but I would like for you to consider the following statistics.

  • Nearly 80 percent of unwanted exposure to pornography is taking place in the home (79 percent occurs in the home; 9 percent occurs at school; 7 percent other/unknown; 5 percent at a friend’s home). (www.internetsafety101.org)
  • Youth who look at violent x-rated material are six times more likely to report forcing someone to do something sexual online or in-person versus youth not exposed to x-rated material.(www.internetsafety101.org)
  • Internet pornography was blamed for a 20 percent increase in sexual attacks by children over three years.(www.internetsafety101.org)
  • The fastest growing demand in commercial websites for child abuse is for images depicting the worst type of abuse, including penetrative sexual activity involving children and adults and sadism or penetration by an animal.  58% of child sexual abuse images depict this level of abuse. (IWF, 2008)
  • Data from the PEW Internet and American Life Project suggest that 70% of 15-17 year old internet users accidently view pornography “very” or “Somewhat”often.

Dangers of Porn in couples:

  • addiction, destruction of intimacy, decreased excitement and satisfaction, despair, warped thinking. *Addiction itself develops through progressively dangerous stages: addiction, escalation, desensitization, and then acting out sexually. The dangers of pornography are evident with every stage more destructive than the one before.(according to theintimatecouple.com)
  • 56% of divorces involve one spouse’s continued use of Internet pornography
    (Family Research Council, The Effects of Pornography, 2009)

Christians and Porn:

  • According to pastors, the 8 top sexual issues damaging to their congregation are: 57% pornography addiction, 34% sexually active never-married adults, 30% adultery of married adults, 28% sexually active teenagers, 16% sexual dissatisfaction, 14% unwed pregnancy, 13% sexually active previously married adults, and 9% sexual abuse.
    (More Sex, Please, Christianity Today International, Winter 2005)
  • 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. (Market Wire. August 7, 2006. ChristiaNet.com. December 7, 2006http://www.marketwire.com/mw/r…e_html_b1?release_id=151336)
  • 51% of pastors say cyberporn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, December 2001). 4 in 10 pastors have visited a porn site (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, December 2001).

The bottom line is Porn changes people negatively…Many studies have proven that it changes your brain function. A German study which found 3 significant addiction-related brain changes that correlated with the amount of porn consumed. It also found that the more porn consumed the less activity in the reward circuit, indicating desensitization, and increasing the need for greater stimulation (tolerance).Whether you want to believe it or not, the statistics and studies don’t lie. (www.yourbrainonporn.com). Also check out the youtube.com video “your brain on porn”.

Don’t take a chance for yourself or your family by trying to be the one who isn’t addicted…We are not strong enough in ourselves to fight certain evils of this world. Here are some thoughts to consider to protect yourself, your marriage, your children and your community from Focus on the Family.

Behavioral. Behavioral approaches attempt to prevent a scenario from developing in the first place. The house and grounds, for example, should be purged of all pornography. Media should be carefully screened for “triggers” that serve as gateways to acting-out. If the problem occurred with the Internet, a filter can be one of your strategies, although it can never replace parental supervision and involvement. Other common-sense approaches include moving the computer to the family room where others can easily view the screen, limiting the time on the computer so that no one is alone on the Internet, and developing a mission statement that directs the family’s the use of the computer and the Internet.

Cognitive. Pornography is propaganda and generates destructive myths about sexuality. Once exposed, it will be critically important that a comprehensive sex education gets underway, if it has not already been initiated. The child will need to learn what and how to think about sexuality. More than mere behaviors, parents will want to communicate the core values of sexuality, the multifaceted risks of sex outside of marriage, and their ongoing compassion for what it must be like to grow up in this culture.

Emotive. Sex is inherently emotional. Premarital sex has even been linked with codependency, where at least one person becomes compelled or addicted to be in relationship with another. The youth culture would lead you to believe that sex is not necessarily emotional for them – don’t you believe it. Sexual relations of any type bond the bodies, minds, and spirits of two individuals. At the conscious level, this attachment is largely emotional. Our children need to understand that emotional attachment is often involuntary, and especially when the relationship has been compromised sexually.

Spiritual. At its core, sexual integrity comes down to a spiritual commitment. The Christian message of how Christ loves His bride, the Church, is our inspiration. The prohibitions and consequences of sexual sin are secondary to the intimacy that one experiences in obedience to God. Our children need to see how our lives are different because of His love. With confidence, we can share with them that God’s true love will empower them to avoid the trap of pornography.

I know this is a tough one to read, but it is a serous one. Also remember that God is in the business of forgiveness and restoration. If you have a problem, his grace will cover you and there is help available. There are therapists who specialize in addiction, treatment centers, etc.

Have a great week,

Natalie

PS while looking for an image for this post, I found Halloween costumes for Hugh Hefner…please do not dress up like him! Lol.Unknown

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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