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10 Ways to Recognize Safe Counsel

10 Ways to Recognize Safe CounselThere are people in my life who have earned the right to be blunt, honest, offering constructive criticism and feedback, and I receive it because of history, trust, love, and mutual understanding.

On the other hand, there are other folks who regularly cross that line and yet have not earned that place in my life or space in my head. I may love them deeply, but they speak from insecurity, negativity, and/or a lack of self-control. They are not voices God wants me to let in.

Along those lines, I frequently tell my children:

“People who put you down do not deserve space in your head and heart. Be kind but don’t engage. You are worth more than the voices of insecure speakers in your life—and I am too.” 

It’s a hard call at times, isn’t it? We should be open to feedback, but some folks are not healthy enough to offer it safely.

Know what I mean?

As I “grow up” in Christ, I am learning more and more that there are some voices I need to shut out and others that should be let in. I am growing in the discipline of asking God first: “Lord, she is saying this. Is this true? Is it from You? Should I take heed or put through Your filter and discard?”

God loves us so incredibly as a parent that He wants us to hear correction safely, gently, and with grace. And voices that don’t reflect His tender care need to be checked in with Him. For that matter, all voices do. Sometimes I have been caught in the web of someone’s honey offering when really they were simply waiting to build trust so they could crush it with unkindness.

Because we lack the ability to see other people’s motives, we must consult God and trust in His protection.

One of my favorite Proverbs on this topic is the entirety of Proverbs 4, a beautiful message written from King Solomon (son of King David) to his sons. Consider the wisdom here. There are at least 10 amazing guiding principles in the way the father counsels his children. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Diagnosis Sin: What Festers When We’re Not Looking?

diagnosis-sin-what-festers-when-were-not-lookingIt was such a relief to be wheeled into a private room (one of the benefits of an expected flu diagnosis) after a week of high fevers, chills, night sweats, vomiting, and massive body pain. God even delighted me with a feisty, redheaded nurse who got what little humor I had left in the humility of fluids coming out of me in all the wrong ways.

Earlier that day I had sought refuge at the clinic in town, only to find out I had been taking too much Extra Strength Tylenol for a few days. In my mind, you manage the flu by taking Tylenol around the clock as needed. I didn’t stop to realize Extra Strength Tylenol had different rules. Oops.

The visit there was an epic failure. The doctor spent more time berating me for my accidental overdose (later determined to not have damaged my liver after all) and treating me as if I had a pain med addiction than she did listening to my symptoms. Because none of my symptoms followed the logical order of the flu, she said everything was inconclusive and sent me home with strong orders not to take any pain meds for many days. Um, okay. Thanks for nothing. No chest x-rays ordered—just some blood work to make sure I shouldn’t be entered into a Tylenol recovery program STAT.

You see, she had tunnel vision. She was maybe six months out of med school with the script on her diploma just now drying. I am fairly patient with the learning curve, but she didn’t do her job completely that day.

As my husband can attest, I took my little plastic stomach acid depository in the car with me and contributed quite a bit to it all the way home uphill, in his very jerky stick shift car. I was in so much pain, it was all I could do. I threw fluids down my throat regularly and laid down again in agony, so defeated after a week of suffering and no answers, only to discover that without my friend Tylenol, my fever went to high levels; I was no longer able to manage my body temperature. I frantically called my husband back from dance and basketball drop-offs to collect the kids and get me to the emergency room. Operation Stop the Tylenol was not successful. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Power Over Mind Games

Power Over Mind GamesToday, Espressos of Faith is delighted to have guest blogger, Bonnie Sue Beardsley of More Than Just Coffee. If you pay even a little attention to me, you can see we are not only name but also coffee twins, joined at the hip by our love for God, and secondly, writing.

I drew so much wisdom from this post of hers. It somehow reached into an old, rusty wheel that turns once in a while inside my mind and heart and oiled it with God’s Truth.

Don’t we all resurrect those old negative voices now and then? See how Bonnie encourages you to follow Scripture to shut out the self-talk that holds you back. She shares what lies just ahead of pushing through. Blessings!

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“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

I’m sure when Paul wrote Philippians 1:21, he was talking about physical. What I learned is this verse is one of the most powerful truths to ending the negative self-talk. We let it run amuck in our heads everyday.

For to me to live is ChristA couple weeks ago a good friend and I had an argument about me being able to write fiction. I felt like there was no way I could do it. He just told me to get out of my head and do it. Yes, I have a BIG problem with listening to the voice inside saying, “You can’t do this,” or “You wouldn’t be good at that.”

It doesn’t matter if I know Philippians 4:13 says that I can do all things in Jesus. It is when I let the voice get in my way and stop me from even attempting to try to do something, like write a fiction piece.

This week there was a challenge in a post to write a spontaneous piece to a picture in the post. My first thought was there is no way I could do that. Then as I sat looking at the picture thoughts of what was going on in the scene started popping into my mind. I pushed past the negative thoughts and wrote down what was going on in my mind about the picture.  When I finished it, I could not believe what I wrote.

Did you notice what happened? I had to die, put to death the negative self-talk to do what I thought I couldn’t do.  When I died to my thoughts of not being able to write fiction, then I became alive to new God was working in me.

 

What are some of your mind games you need to die to, so you can live what God has planned for you?

 

 

Here is my spontaneous piece (the picture that inspired it can be found here):

 

The ship is back!  She threw open the sash.  Leaned out, with hope that she could see the face she long to see once again.  She scoured over every face on the deck until finally her eyes met his.  Her heart leaped to her throat and tears started flowing down her cheeks.  He’s home!  She couldn’t wait to hear his stories of the trip.  She wanted to run as fast as she could down to the ship but she couldn’t stop looking into his eyes.  The fear of if she stopped he would be gone again.  How her mind raced; “How was her appearance?  Did she have everything needed for his favorite meal?   How much longer until she would be in his embrace?”

 

Bonnie Sue Beardsley

 

For years I have been comfortable serving in women’s ministry behind the sound booth.  When we move to Texas,  I lost that hiding place.  Soon after we moved God placed  on my heart to write devotions for women.  I fought with God over that.  I was a busy wife and homeschooling two boys.  Didn’t God know I didn’t have time to write.  Ten years later several friends asked me to start my own online study.  He never gives up on us.  Now I write for Him.

 
 
*This blog was first featured at More Than Just Coffee. Join Bonnie at her Bonbon ‘n’ Coffee Link-up Party each Thursday!

**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkupand Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

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When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

 When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

To begin, I want to ask us all a question: Do we feel we have to answer the door every time there is a knock or doorbell ring?

If I’m not expecting someone, I don’t always answer, especially if answering means grabbing a robe, hurrying out of the bathroom, or interrupting something going on that needs my full attention. I will fully disclose that I’m not much of a phone or drop-in visitor person; however, if a knock sounds urgent, I usually make an attempt to answer it. Otherwise, I don’t feel I have to get to it just because it’s a noise beckoning me. Same thing with the phone ringing.

So, I got to thinking:

Why do we feel we have to entertain negative voices when they come along?

Why do we let them in, help them take their shoes off, hang up their coats, and invite them to take up space in our living rooms?

Why do we mislead them into thinking they are welcomed and may cross our threshold any time that suits them?

Fear.

We are often afraid:

  • to offend
  • to lose the relationship
  • to not meet expectation
  • to hurt someone without meaning to
  • to deal with repercussions from anger

But I would like to suggest it’s dishonest to let them (the negativity, not necessarily the person) in unless we plan to join them (and I surely hope we don’t). I also think it’s easier to be passive and open the door.

It takes courage and action to say: “No, we’re not going to go there. That is not a place you may make commentary or cast judgment upon,” or “It’s lovely to see you, but rejection, disrespect, and discouragement are not on the menu today. What else would you like to talk about?”

I have been pondering this quite a bit recently as several friends shared some relational struggles they were having with others. We all have them. These were my thoughts:

Boundaries aren’t for shutting people out, but they are defined as being unwilling to remain in dysfunctional, dishonoring patterns, but simultaneously inviting the other person to come along and engage in—or at first learn—new, healthy patterns of relating. We can invite people to get on that train, but we cannot make them ride it.

Now, this all sounds like I have this under control and sit above everyone else doling out boundaries right and left. Quite the contrary. I learn much from those who have drawn them for me over time. Sometimes, their boundaries may be out of over-self-protection, but I still need to observe them. At other times, lines drawn in the sand for me have at least indicated where the relationship could or could not go.

Boundaries are like navigational tools to help us know how to relate better with someone. They provide a map of safe topics and interactions and clue us in, if we’re willing to listen, to where we should and should not tread. If we’re careful about communicating, our boundaries should do the same for others.

But, bringing it back to negative voices: We don’t have to allow them. Plenty of naysaying goes on in our lives every day—some of it constructive but much of it destructive. When people want to go down Toxic Alley with us, we don’t have to permit it. In fact, they are often looking for us to provide some guardrails for the relationship, and if we don’t, they are like children who don’t know the rules in their own homes: insecure and lost. Not only that, by being passive, we give negativity permission to come in and stay a while. Once it gets in the door, it often takes over the relationship, gets into our heads and hearts, and hijacks everything that could be good or constructive.

That doesn’t mean we shut the person (or people) out, necessarily—just the behaviors that are destructive.

This can also be true when nobody real is knocking at the door…only our own negative voices from the past. I write a lot about this in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New DayWhatever we have let in and made welcomed will keep coming back. Guaranteed. When we swirl around in negative thinking, we’ve already let the first thought in the door and offered it a cup of coffee.

So, how do we stop the madness inside our minds and hearts? The perseverating? Bitter chewing? Stewing in ugly thoughts of insecurity, misunderstanding, misconceptions, wrong assumptions? How do we stop them at the door?

We don’t let them in.

Just because negative voices knock on our doors, bang into our minds, and try to take up space in our hearts,

we do not have to let them in.

Here are some answers I draw from my faith in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. The first selection talks about how not to be anxious (bring it!). Really, doesn’t negative thinking contribute to anxiety, and vice versa? It’s an ever-hungry beast.

What’s the remedy for stopping negative thoughts and voices at the door?

Rejoice.

Let your requests be made known to God.

The peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds.

Think about good things.

Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

God gave us a spirit of self-control (sound mind).

We need to ask Him to help us do this. These are His promises for those who believe in Him.

Negativity will keep knocking on our doors. It’s part of what tries to invade and keeps our focus off the love of our Savior. There will always be a battle there: either from others or within our own selves.

But we now have a loving answer—one with structure, safety, boundaries, healthy relating, and a Savior who spread His arms out on a cross as His pledge and promise to always help us defeat the dark things that plague us.

Why?

Because He’s already defeated them.

And He’s got our backs.

Philippians 4:4-9, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 10:5, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control*.

*The King James Version says “sound mind” for “self-control.”

**This blog has been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Testimony Tuesday, Women With Intention WednesdaysGrace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

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Eating Pipe Cleaners

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It’s true. My dog eats pipe cleaners. There’s no need to call the dog authorities. I hide the craft supplies my younger children enjoy, but Samson the Ornery Shih Tzu manages to find them anyway. I usually have an intense eye on him because of his puppy superhero abilities to be everywhere at one time, but the truth is, one or two small wound-up ones (wound-up circles that used to be antennas? or eyes? on some odd project in my house) came out with the other contents of his stomach. They are so balled up, they aren’t scraping anything on the way down or back up again, but I have to wonder: Why, Samson, why?

It completely perplexes me why he would keep trying this. When I have a rough experience with a local food chain burger, I don’t tend to repeat it for a while.

But then I think about the human tendency to feed ourselves things all of the time that are not good for us, and we know it as we consume it. And I’m not just talking about food.

I’m a crime show freak. I have not one scientific thought in my head pretty much ever, but forensic shows fascinate me. In and of themselves, they are not bad. But I know sometimes I consume too much of the macabre, the darkness of the crime, the visuals that television provides. And it seems to me, at times, that I’m eating pipe cleaners.

Then there are those people in our lives sometimes that spew negativity. Are we wrong to be their friends? No, they need friends too, so that hopefully they once in a while respond to encouragement and look up to the Light of God instead of sitting in their pit of dark. But if we give them permission to define us, our moods, our time, our thought lives—there we go eating pipe cleaners again.

How about the comparison game? I feast on that from time to time. In fact, I make a regular meal of it. Super-Career-Mom-Does-It-All-So-Why-Can’t-I? with a side of Rehearse-My-Failures salad with Her-Family-Lives-Nearby-and Watches-Her-Kids-All-of-the-Time-for-Her dressing. Swallowing down some major pipe cleaners there.

I’m not sure what it is I think is going to happen when I do that, but I know I don’t have too many more brain cells functioning than Samson does when I continue to consume that which isn’t a diet that nourishes. And after a while, if Samson keeps eating rolled-up pipe cleaners, they could straighten and scrape. So can things we take in or feed on. We know they really aren’t to feed our minds, hearts, souls, or bodies, but we do it anyway. And we scrape ourselves along the way.

What pipe cleaners can we stop chewing on today?

Colossians 3:1-2, Apostle Paul speaking

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

 

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