Those That Have Trodden The Same Path

Dear Readers,

Those that have trodden the same path that you are on are the best ones to understand what you are going through, now. Others may try to understand you or, heaven forbid, try to shame or criticize you. But if you happen to bump into the “others” first, please don’t let this make you to decide to cut off all humanity. Seek for the one who has trodden the same path and ignore the shame and criticizing voices for, unfortunately, those will be plenty but the ones who truly understand will be few.

When I Look Back

Hello Readers,

I had just added a blog that I had shared through Facebook and decided to also share this one that I had written earlier today (after reading a disturbing email):

When I look back from all the trials I had went through, surely I will say that it was nothing. But when you are going through it, it feels so terrible! I love sharing encouraging words wherever I go. I have become so spiritual in the last few years that, really, all these frivolous things that we often get so caught up in is really nothing. I thank God for the book of Job in the Bible. Although people may stop me and try to sit me down and talk to me of how God must be punishing me for not doing or having something, I am able to see from another perspective and say “God, what is your plans for me?” I want to live for God every day. I want to walk in His will every day. And, seeing the judgmental faces or the confusion of others seem to get easier when God places me at the right place and time to help at least one person; by my writings or whatever. That is what I have learned to live for. I know, one day, I will be able to do more. Until then, this is my life and I’m grateful for it. Thank you, Jesus, for your wonderful gift of life!

Reference to lessons on the book of Job: http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/16d

Don’t Wait To Do What You Can Do Today

Don’t wait to do what you can do today (i.e. be a helper by sharing, giving, comforting, loving, etc.) by waiting for a better future for yourself. My story:
Months ago, I knew we had moved into this neighborhood for a reason. So far, I have been able to help two of my neighbors by just bring myself. As my fellow Southern Adventist University alumni (or is it “alumnus”?) know, I am a resource junky (I love to hoard research and resources that can help my future clients). And, yes, we can all keep wondering why I didn’t become a social worker instead of a counselor (God knows what He is doing). Well, anyhow, back to my testimony.😉 I was able to give resources to a neighbor who has an autistic son. Without going into further detail, the neighbor thanked me a lot. It took me a while to give the neighbor information because I had to find it, first, and also believed the neighbor already had that information. I guess my own current health situation caused me to realize that I needed to hunt down that info and give it to the neighbor NOW because tomorrow is not promised (no, I will not die with my health situation; it’s just an inflamed throat – pharyngitis, acute). The information included group support for parents and a number for parents to ask for assistance (legally, medically, etc.). It’s for those that live in Tennessee but I’m sure there are places nearby for parents that have a child with autism. If you are a parent in this situation, I applaud you and I’m here to tell you that there are people that care and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The other neighbor (I had mentioned there were two) I had helped by watching her two boys while she went to work. It was such a nice experience that I told her if she ever needed someone to watch them again (pay or no pay) I can do it; even if she just needed a break. Unfortunately, or fortunately for her, I connected her with some other agency that could help her with child care. So it’s either that or her previous child care is able to help her again. So, as of now, I haven’t been asked to watch those two again.

So, to make a long story short, don’t wait until you are better of (financially, emotionally, socially, etc.) to make today a great day for yourself or for someone else. You never know what you can do until you try.😉

Daring Greatly – Book Recommendation

Hello Readers,

While taking the clinical mental health counseling master degree program at Southern Adventist University, a professor had recommended my classmates and myself Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Brown. That was almost three years ago. Since I didn’t have the money to buy the book, I had saved it on my Amazon wish list. Determined to save the little money I now have, I decided to look for books on my wish list at the local public library. I had found two on my list and Daring Greatly was one of them.

What I had liked about this book is the author is a shame and empathy researcher who has spent the last thirteen years researching on subjects such as vulnerability, worthiness, courage, and shame (see her website at brenebrown.com). Therefore, she has “the know” on these topics. According to Daring Greatly, BrenĂ© has “spent [her] entire life trying to outrun and outsmart vulnerability” (p. 7, para. 1). She has observed this in the cultures of communities, organizations, and even families. Those who are the most resilient to shame, and believes in their worthiness, BrenĂ© calls them Wholehearted people. She has created ten “guideposts” for Wholehearted living (p. 9, 10):

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Along with this list, she shares her definition of Wholehearted living: “cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough” (p. 10, para. 3). And when one goes to bed at night, he or she thinks “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging” (Ibid).

Although BrenĂ© has written in earlier books (including her dissertation) about vulnerability, she used some of her time of writing Daring Greatly to discuss vulnerability. She has found a relationship with vulnerability with other constructs like belonging, shame, and worthiness (p. 12, para. 1). “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences” (Ibid). It is defined by BrenĂ© as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (p. 34, para. 1).

When it comes to organizations (i.e. workplace or school), shame is often used as a management style. As a result, engagement dies. “We have to rehumanize work” says BrenĂ© Brown (p. 15, para. 2). “When failure is not an option we can forget about learning, creativity, and innovation” (Ibid).

According to BrenĂ©, shame is more likely to be the cause of narcissists behavior. For example “I am only as good as the number of ‘likes’ I get on Facebook or Instagram” (p. 22, para. 4). The yearning of knowing that what I do matters may cause the drive of narcissist-ism. In other words, if one doesn’t drive to be extraordinary, does that mean the person fails to exist? Many communities are plagued with phrases “Never __________ enough” (ex: never good enough, never powerful enough, or never smart enough). to get to the point of saying “I’m enough” is what BrenĂ© Brown attempts to help the reader develop. This is called to dare greatly because the person has to make choices that challenge the social climate of scarcity.

BrenĂ© also shares several personal examples from her own life experience. With that in mind, she states the difference between vulnerability and oversharing, purging, indiscriminate disclosure, and “celebrity-style social media information dumps” (p. 45, para. 4). When someone overshares, it’s often like one is a deer staring at headlights; very overwhelming! This is why BrenĂ© Brown explains that vulnerability requires boundaries and trust. For this type of example, BrenĂ© shares how she had to guide her then third grade daughter after a painful lesson of what happens when one shares with someone who isn’t trustworthy. To connect with people, BrenĂ© said that it’s like placing one marble at a time in a marble jar; one private information at a time. Then one has to see if the person is trustworthy. If the person is disrespectful, mean, or shares our secrets, the marbles come out of the jar. People who keep the marbles in the jars are those that are trustworthy.

The final thing that I had wanted to share about Daring Greatly is the gremlin concept. Everyone wants others to respect, like, and even admire what they have created or produced. However, those that are not shame resilient connect self-worth with their creations or productions (ex: if others don’t like my painting or project then I have low self-worth). Shame is what keeps one afraid, resentful, and small. Shame is what causes the gremlins to fill our heads with messages such as “Dare not! You’re not good enough!” (p. 66, para. 2). BrenĂ© shares in detail about the gremlin concept in Daring Greatly.

Shame starts as a two-person experience (ex: parent, teacher, or caregiver) but, as one gets older, one often learns how to do shame all by him/herself (p. 66, para. 5). One is unable to embrace vulnerability if shame continues to suffocate the sense of worthiness and connection. How to deal with shame? BrenĂ© had found men and women who had high levels of shame resilience and shares the similarities within this type of group (p. 74). I will not go into detail because it’s better to read it from the source. But to give some hope to my fellow readers, I will say that “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive” (p. 75, para. 1). Another tip is to have self-compassion; talk to self as a friend and not an enemy—be gentle with self in the midst of shame.

Brené Brown has written other books; has her own blog; and TED videos. Read more about her at her website: brenebrown.com.

The Wilderness Experience – Easy Does It (Part 2)

Hello Readers,

About two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my wilderness experience: https://belovedgeliebt.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/the-wilderness-experience-easy-does-it. I would like to share an update.

As the previous blog had mentioned, I had a Pidgeotto (the evolve version of Pidgey) who, under the right conditions, can evolve to another Pokemon. But I needed three more Pidgey candies to do this. However, unknown to myself, I had captured three more throughout those two weeks of not writing another blog here. So, this week, while I had captured another Pidgey, I had looked at the total amount of Pidgey candy and realized that I had 51 candies and not just the 50 candies required to evolve Pidgeotto.

This caused me to think from a spiritual point of view. We may become so used to the battle part of our spiritual journey that we may often miss out on the blessing that is right before us. Of course, we are to be aware that we are in a spiritual warfare and the devil is like a roaring lion trying to devour us (see 1 Peter 5:8). However, we may become so fixated on what the devil is doing that we forget to view what God is doing and has done for us. We might count our struggles more than our victories.

Watching a Pokemon evolve reminds me of how our bodies will change when Jesus comes back again.

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The only thing I saw different in this evolution of a “new body” is that the Pokemon is registered into the Pokedex after it is changed (as in receiving a new body).

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But, thinking it over, I see that, after we make a change, in deciding not to sin anymore (repent, confess, forsake, etc.), we are registered into the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). As long as we remain faithful until the end, our names will remain there (Revelation 3:5).

So here is my strongest and most recently evolved Pokemon, Pidgeot.

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Pidgeot’s CP and HP has dramatically increased. The wilderness experience for him was of a great gain. As mentioned before, my wilderness experience has included Bible verses (currently reading over and doing deep studying of Daniel 9 and Ezekiel 16), job applications (waiting on responses and submitting more resumes), reading (just finished The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome and Codependent No More two days ago), and volunteering to work with clients at Foundation House Ministries. Reviewing this list in detail, I see my great gain; my spiritual and mental knowledge (HP: Hit Points) has increased. And, now having two options of connecting with a Titus 2:3-5 woman, my CP (Combat Power) has also increased.

So the next time you pick up your smartphone to play Pokemon Go, just know that it can be more than a game. It can be life changing.

The Wilderness Experience – Easy Does It

Dear Reader,

It occurred to me that my moving from Ooltewah, TN to Cleveland, TN caused a pause in my leisure play of Pokemon Go. Yes, I am one of those that have this game app.

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Unfortunately, I was unable to place the app onto my Windows smartphone. I am only able to play Pokemon Go on my iPod Touch. Therefore, I can only use WiFi to access the Internet (I do not have data on my iPod because it’s not a phone). Where we live, there are barely any Pokemons and absolutely any Pokestops to gather Pokeballs nor any Pokemon gyms (Pokeballs are needed to capture Pokemons; I have about 20 Pokeballs left).

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So I am experiencing something that I have spiritually known as “the wilderness experience.” I had learned about this concept from Kanndis Geter; a lady who I had once done medical missionary work with. She had me to recall the story of Moses. After Moses had fled from the face of Pharaoh, he dwelt in the land of Midian (Exodus 2:15). While in Midian, he “kept the flock of Jethro” in the desert (aka: wilderness) (Exodus 3:1). The previous lifestyle Moses was used to was no longer available for him to access (just like I can no longer access the Pokestops at Southern Adventist University). While other things are no longer accessible, I am using this time to keep my “flock.” In the Pokemon Go app, my “flock” are my previous Pokemons I had already captured. Two of them, I have been able to grow and strengthen because I am able to capture the pre-evolve versions of them (need those to 1. increase their strength, called CP, and 2. evolve them).

Pidgeotto, the evolve version of Pidgey, has only 176 CP. I say “only” because I have viewed how those who are more serious in their Pokemon Go experience has their Pokemons’ CP in the four-digits (ex: 1,284). So, while in Cleveland, TN, I have been able to capture a lot of Pidgey Pokemons and, after transferring a Pidgey that I captured to Professor Willow, I receive one Pidgey candy. As you can view below, I only need to capture three more Pidgeys to evolve my Pidgeotto.

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As for Raticate, this Pokemon is in the highest evolved state. However, it is on 312 CP. To increase the CP, I simply need to keep using the “power up” option.

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So how is this associated with the “easy does it” (an old saying from Alcohol Anonymous) that is in my blog title? It is a slow process to increase the CP. The exact meaning is “Combat Power.” Combat power is needed to fight against another Pokemon in the gyms. When I think of combat power, I think on a spiritual realm. Moses was given a type of combat power. He learned how to deal with the children of Israel while they were experiencing their wilderness experience (Exodus 13:18) because he had kept the flock of Jethro’s for many years. I understand from those who have own sheep that being a shepherd is not an easy task. God had given Moses an important task to watch over His flock (Exodus 3:10) but, prior to this, God allowed him to experience a wilderness experience.

Are you also going through a wilderness experience? Is God preparing you for a future spiritual combat? To prepare, one must continue to put on the Christian armor (Ephesians 6:10-18). Avoid pessimistic and irrational thoughts. Continue to move upward and onward. One day at a time. Easy does it. For me, it’s literally one Pokemon at a time. In my realistic world, I have been taking it one verse at at time (encouraging verses found in the Bible), one job application at a time, one book at a time, and (while doing volunteer work at Foundation House Ministries), one client at a time.

And if you are in the process of recovering from any event or situation, I want to encourage you to take it one day at time. “Easy does it.” Don’t give up. Keep collecting your Pokemons and watching over your “flock.” Let go and allow your Higher Power (that is greater than yourself) to have control over what is out of control in your life. Let this Higher Power restore your sanity. Know that you are not alone and there is hope and help to conquer your despair.

Alcohol Anonymous

Steps in Recovery

Codependent No More – Audible Version of Book

The Best Part Of Downtime – Relationships

Hello Readers,

While reviewing phone address names and bloggers on my list, I just realized the best part of having downtime: relationships. Last week, I had called someone that I haven’t spoke to in a while. I encouraged her and she encouraged me. It was great to play catch up with her.

Not to re-hatch what I had previously written today (yes, two blogs in one day), I will refrain in explaining how downtime itself can be an opportunity. Instead, I will say this, relationships often die because we fail to keep in touch. So, if there is someone that you haven’t spoke to in a while, do not just send them a message through Facebook, Twitter, or even through a mobile device. Give them a call. Hear their voice. Or even Skype them to see their face expression. Reconnect with acquaintances and friends. Or, you will have years past by and will not be able to connect with them again because of change of address, phone number, or even death may hinder a reunion.

I’m trying to reach one person myself. Hopefully I will hear from her sometime next week.