Marriage

Marriage help

Fight Right!

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I am amazed at how lazy our minds can be when we let them go!

Lazy in the sense that if we haven’t taught ourselves to dwell in positive places, places of clarity and light, we’ll most likely be tolerating negative looping thought patterns. And let’s face it, our minds seem to spiral lower and lower when left to themselves with no boundaries of enough is enough.

Like a kid left to play video games all day; like grazing on a bag of potato chips while thinking about the book you’re reading; like reacting to a put down instead of acting according to our own better judgement, a mind left to wander and sulk and replay pain and fear is really pleading to be redirected….for our own good and the good of everyone we know, especially those who depend upon our love!

If our minds were muscles (I guess they are in that we can strengthen them or let them go to the least resistant thoughts); if our mental conversation was audible (oh wait, what we think is apparent when we open our mouths!); if negativity effected our pay check or our looks or our standing with others (oh wait, it does all of that!). So if we know all of these things, why do we “let ourselves go?”

I think it is because we don’t believe that we have the ability to change our thoughts. And, because we think that no one else knows, it seems that the social pressure we may feel for being on our best behavior doesn’t count when it comes to our thoughts.

But it counts more than anything else!

And we do have the ability to change. Yes, it takes concerted effort! No less effort than lifting weights, no less than taking a shower every day and washing our faces and brushing our teeth. No less than putting a good foot forward at work or when we are with our friends. But it requires a higher level of integrity, because while our thoughts do show in every facet of our lives, they are primarily the fruit of the private relationship we have with ourselves. And is there any relationship as important as the one we have inside our own heads, with ourselves and with our Creator?

I know that this is the battle that means the most; it’s the place where all our battles are actually fought. And, I know the battle it is to believe that we can change our thought patterns and that the battle to keep at it day in and day out is real! And it can be won.

We must try not to spend our time fighting with other people, wanting them to approve of us or wanting public opinions to validate us! Those opinions aren’t the ones that truly matter in the end. We must validate ourselves. Make friends with ourselves. Make peace with God. Bask in His constant love and know that we are priceless to Him. {Don’t know that yet? Ask Him to let you know how He feels about you.}

We’ve got to fight right!

How much fight do you have in you?

Hold on and hope on and don’t you ever give up.

Sending you my love and my knowing that we were born to win.

Jacque

“I am the Master of my fate; I am the Captain of my soul.”
“I am learning to take better care of myself.”
“I like myself, I love myself.”
“I am precious to God.”
“I am interested in the world.”
“I find joy in my life every day!”
“I am in charge of my beautiful mind.”

A Saint

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“Mother Teresa was considered a saint because she was seen to personify an idea: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. And yet, what she did was so simple that each one of us can do it–in fact, must do it, if we are to obey the command of Christ: to feed the hungry, care for the sick, invite the stranger in, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, and quench the thirst of those who simply need a cup of water.”

“It was constant prayer that gave Mother Teresa the strength to keep going and caused her to produce such tremendous fruit. And it is prayer that must under gird all efforts to obey God, because as Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be the first to say, obedience is not always easy.  In fact, without God’s help, it is impossible.”

Eric Metaxis, 7 Women and Secret of Their Greatness

I just finished this book and, as you may have guessed, I recommend it! (Thanks for the referral Carli!)

In fact, I read it while I was flying to another state to assist some of my children and grandchildren. I was so tickled to be asked to come since I always want to be appropriate support to my kids– but would it be right for me to go barging in telling them when they need me?

As I read the chapter on Mother Teresa, I kept feeling stinging tears because so much of her life is a direct parallel to most every mother I know, like you!

Three things in particular that crystallized in my mind during this reading.

When we serve our children we are serving God. Getting a picture of Mother Teresa who wanted to ‘do something beautiful for God’ going about collecting the dying, the children who had been abandoned, the uneducated, the sick and dying, the poor, is so simple, yet so stunning that it moves me in profound ways. But I ask you, how is changing the diaper of your baby or wiping a nose or bathing and soothing any child different from the holy activities of Mother Teresa and her helpers? I grant you that it can be easier in a way to care for our own, but comforting is comforting. Feeding is feeding. Listening and understanding and rocking and caring are Godly acts and no less holy in your home than on the streets of Calcutta.

But, sometimes we get off in our thinking and we get a bit proud and think that what we do isn’t as important as what others are doing. Or we may think that because we don’t get paid (Mother Teresa intentionally lived in poverty with the people she served) or thanked or praised, that somehow what we are doing day in and day out is drudgery and beneath our dignity.

Or we may get lopsided if we are waiting to hear that our efforts have pleased someone.

Serving God, which is exactly what we are doing when our motivations are true, doesn’t require us to please others. And you will save yourself much grief and heartache if you can do your best and not get pulled into a game of giving in order to receive the recognition and thanks. It doesn’t work that way.

Hopefully, those you serve will reciprocate your kindness and be appreciative, but when they don’t (because they may be clueless about what you are giving) remember your focus and whom you are truly serving.

Lastly, the life we have chosen as marriage companions and as parents creating families is not an easy one and requires all we have plus some. Prayer, as Mother Teresa knew, will ‘change the night to day’ as we are striving to fulfill our commitment to Christ and his doctrines to succor and lift and bless. Prayer is our life-line, our refuge and our strength. Please don’t try to lift and build by yourself! Ask for the divine help you need and watch the blessing flow. There is power waiting to be given, but in many instances that help is predicated upon our asking, just as my children reached out to me and asked for the support that I am over-joyed to give!

Of course there are stark differences between being a nun or a service missionary versus being a parent and a spouse. A lot! But in this one point I think we can be secure: elevate your service and your motivations and you too will do something beautiful for God. Right at home.

Bless you!

Love,

Jacque

 

 

 

Prioritizing Motherhood

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I just read an article about a new book that has people excited and happy, and some excited and upset!

The book’s author discusses the neurological  importance of mothers being with their children, most critically,  for the first three years of life. (Thank you for the head’s up Shanna!)

The book is, Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, by Erica Komisar.

The Wall Street Journal article is mostly about the political reactions people are having to the science it reports and what it means for the conflict that many women feel about the demands of motherhood and the choice of simultaneously pursuing a career.

I would like to simply say that over a dozen years ago, I sat in a research class

and heard researchers report on the work they were doing then. One I remember in particular, was a project in which researchers were looking at stress responses in baby monkeys. Samples of the babies saliva were taken and tested for levels of the stress hormone, cortisol in different situations regarding the relationship between the mother and baby.

The scientists reported that monkey mothers who could calm and regulate their emotions, served as a calming and protective neurological and hormonal influence on their babies. When something in the environment was threatening or just new and unknown to the babies, the mothers would pull the babies close to them and the little monkeys stress response (measured by the level of cortisol in the saliva) calmed down quickly.

On the other hand, monkey mothers who had missed that calming influence in their infancy, did not instinctively know how to calm their babies and their own stress hormones were being kicked up in novel situations.

At the end of their presentation, the researchers were very careful to say that studies with monkeys can’t be generalized to human mothers and babies.

The memories of this conference were going through my mind as I read the WSJ article where Dr. Komisar reports on the cortisol levels in human babies and their response to their mothers. And now with human trials, it looks as if the mothers do serve as a central nervous system for their babies as they are developing.

The major take away, as I see it, particularly for anyone who is already committed to being at home with their children, is the fact that not only is it vital to be physically present for our children but emotionally well and present too.

Life is full of change and diverse situations that can try even the most stable parents! Mothers who are single or struggle financially, or experience any number of life changes can have increased loads of strain and stress. I don’t think it is realistic to think that any of us will always do right by our children in every situation. But the point here is to understand the why of doing our best to work things out to favor the healthy growth of our children. None of us are perfect, but having the ideal as a guide can help us to keep our priorities clearer and inform our most important decisions.

I remember an acquaintance whose husband announced that he was leaving the family and completely stunned her and their small children with his decision. She said she quickly felt grateful to have kept up her teaching certification current so that she could return to work to support her children, now as a single mother. She felt that being self-sufficient was the right thing to do. But when she prayed about the option of leaving her little people during the day, the prompting she felt was that she needed to accept assistance from her church and stay with her kids for the time being. As I read this article, I thought about her courageous decision to humble herself and follow the feeling that her children still needed her full attention, no matter how she thought others might perceive her choice.

We are all living with change and constant choices and no two situations are the same. Thankfully, we can pray for guidance and assistance when it comes to our biggest priorities and do our best to be available to our children because we understand that they need us.

If you need help in being present, not just physically, but also emotionally, don’t wait, find a way to get that help. Generations will be blessed for your efforts to be the healthiest version of yourself that you can possibly be. If you have kids, and you are struggling with your own emotional health, now is the time to get well!

It’s actually self-care that is vital to the functioning of your family. Absolutely vital.

If you think health coaching could be the support you need, please contact me! If you feel that a therapist is in order, please reach out to one today!

I’m cheering for your family’s success!

Be well.

Jacque

 

 

 

 

 

Safety First

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Enjoying relationships that are close and tender and trusting, or in other words, intimate, is the fruit of cultivating safe places.

Consider your words: Do you laugh at or criticize other people’s ideas or opinions? Do you, in word or expression or even with body language cause others to feel the need to withhold their real selves? (How I wish I could say no, never! to each of these questions!)

Our tender-sides are those we tend to protect! What self-protective behaviors might you be seeing in your spouse or children? Are they confident enough in your response to them to show you the small child that resides in them? To show their hopes and dreams, their fears and challenges? Can they trust you to keep their confidences and honor their wishes?

Self-protection looks like: withholding ideas or opinions and only sharing a guarded exterior self; keeping to themselves; not confiding in you; being careful, trying to say what they think you want to hear.

Do you know someone with whom you feel absolutely safe? Someone who gives you the sense that no matter what you say or what you’ve done that they will love you and withhold judgement of you?

If you do, you are blessed! That is a priceless friend and advocate! Because when we are free to be ourselves and to feel loved and thoroughly accepted, we can really learn! We can accept feedback because we don’t have to use up our brain power and energy on self-protection, we can just hear what is said knowing we are still loved the same.

I hope that some of these thoughts are helpful. They have come to me through the miriad of experiences I’ve had as a wife and mother, daughter, sister and friend.

May you be able to offer safe spaces to those you love, and may you be the recipient of generous and true friends— even, no especially, those within your family.

Much love,

Jacque

P.S. Crazy though it is, that critical and demeaning attitude we all can have at times is a self-protective behavior too! So while we’re trying to guard ourselves, we’re giving others the signal that they need to guard themselves from us! Aaaarg!!! What a vicious cycle! This is one more reason to practice declarations every day and to cultivate safeness with our own selves. If you are mentally cutting on yourself, you are going to be feeling defensive whether you realize it or not…and that will keep this defensive/offensive cycle running in your relationships.

”I can change.”

”I love myself and I like myself.”

”I am human and I forgive myself of past mistakes.”

”I am a good person striving to be better.”

”I love others as I love myself, with gentle kindness and true acceptance.”

 

Insight

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Can you choose your focus? For an hour? For a day? For a week? For a month? I mean, choose it and keep it! 

Of all the accomplishments we can shoot for, that single one, of choosing where you are placing your focus and then sustaining that focus, is the great  guiding, overarching, big win!

What will your focus be tomorrow? And this week? And this month? And what will you do to support yourself in maintaining your vision?

Be the powerful Lioness agent that you are and let me hear you roar!

Love,

Jacque