Mental Wellness & Winning – Part II

As explained in Part I, for the purpose of this article, clutter is described as the frequent presence of memories of bad experiences such as failures, loss of something or someone which has left you broken and scared, disappointments, fear and anxiety and toxic environments.

Have you ever been at a place in your life when you were making the effort to replace your negative thoughts with uplifting thoughts and your family, friends or co-workers saw it necessary to stir up memories that accomplished the opposite? Toxic environments can be created by just any circle of association or groups, many times it is unintentional.

Consider Frank and Lisa once more. Frank finally decides to move on; he now practices Recognition, Dismissal and Replacing of negative thoughts with positive ones. It is not easy however. Lisa is often seen crying as she grieves over her loss. It has been now over three years but it has been difficult for her to move on. Frank’s closest co-workers would noticeably avoid any discussion relating to babies or pregnancy or any other related topic, once he is around or appears on the scene. They would apologize unnecessarily making Frank feel uncomfortable. Frank’s Mom would constantly warn him about getting pregnant again as she was scared that his misfortune could strike a second time.

All three sides of this scenario helps to create an environment that is not conducive to building a healthy mind. Instead, the behaviour of his family makes it difficult for Frank to let go. Frank would have no choice but to clearly communicate his concerns to his family. Here we take the steps of Acknowledge, Dismiss and Replace, to another level.

As difficult it may be to admit, Frank acknowledges that his family and co-workers are the greatest contributors to his inability to let go and move on. He arranges to meet with them and tells them exactly how he feels. He then forgives them and seeks to put it behind him, expecting to see a difference. Moving forward Frank begins to positively contribute to conversations with his wife, his family and co-workers by speaking words of affirmation and faith. He further supports his positive words with action. Frank begins to focus more on enjoying the company of his wife, suggesting fun things to do together to help her focus more on living.

It takes effort but in order for us to climb out of that ditch we must be determined and willing to do what it takes. It is imperative that we seek to place ourselves in a safe space where we could begin to blossom again and bear fruit.

I must hasten to add that sometimes it is not that easy to address the negativity that is corrupting our environment. Many times we have to resort to prayer and fasting, counselling and therapy. It is important however to do what it takes to ensure you are healthy.

Don’t let your negative experiences be the end of your joy, hope and living.

Mental Wellness & Winning – Part I

(Featured picture taken from google images).

Have you ever felt that you needed to de-clutter? When I speak of de-clutter, I am not speaking of your wardrobe, your personal documents or your desk at work. I am speaking of the mind. In order to keep focused, to maintain meaningful living and to advance towards God’s purpose for your life, it is critical to have a healthy mind.

I wish to describe clutter as the frequent presence of memories of bad experiences such as failures, loss of something valuable or someone which has left you broken and scared, disappointments, fear and anxiety and toxic environments. In addition to these contributors, lack of proper nutrition, fatigue and stress can further compound this situation and make it more difficult to overcome.

Let’s take this topic slowly to really give it the attention it deserves allowing ourselves to benefit greatly from the discussion. Let’s call this article Part (I). Part (II) would follow.

If we linger or dwell on negative experiences of our past, we would undoubtedly restrict our ability to think creatively, and to express our God-given gifts and abilities in a manner that would lead us towards GOOD SUCCESS. We would be more likely to feel demotivated, disinterested and doubtful about our ability to do things we once enjoyed or anticipated doing.

The process of lingering or dwelling on negative experiences involves overthinking or allowing yourself to think often about something that has happened in the past that makes you sad. An experience or the memory of an experience that you would prefer to erase from your mind; something you wish never happened. It is the practice of regurgitating those unpleasant memories within a mood of self pity and many times bitterness and ungratefulness.

The clutter is formed as you allow your mind to be bogged down with memories of these negative experiences leading to you withdraw into your pain and away from hope. Have you ever found yourself drifting in thought and had to literally shake your head after realising where you were and where you were heading? Shaking your head symbolises that desperate desire to be free from those unproductive thoughts that slows down and weakens your ability to think creatively and productively.

Be mindful of the danger of dwelling or lingering on the bad experiences of your past and instead acknowledge them for what they are, recognise and embrace the lessons learnt from these experiences and use them to become a better person and to build a healthier mind.

It is going to take some practice and determination. Whenever these memories occur, acknowledge them for what they are and dismiss or diffuse them by counteracting these thoughts with positive thoughts. Here is a practical example:

Frank and his wife Lisa anticipated the birth of their baby boy. However due to complications with the pregnancy, Lisa had a miscarriage when she was three months pregnant. This was devastating for both Frank and Lisa. Frank has lost his drive to pursue his dream of being a Dad, as well as other dreams, and would often find himself going over the details of that fateful night. He often wondered who was to be blamed for his baby boy’s death and whether he did enough to save him. It is now four years since and Frank is having difficulty moving beyond this experience. Frank needs to de-clutter and begin living again.

Solution: Acknowledge, Dismiss, Replace with positive thoughts.

Acknowledgement: I lost my baby boy, it hurts. I feel sad and weak.

Dismiss: He is not coming back and worrying about the past would not help me.

Replace with positive thoughts: I am grateful to still have my wife with me. Many others have experienced what we have experienced and they have made it. There is help available! I can choose to trust God with our lives; He has a purpose for us. While I do not feel it now, I shall be stronger as a result of this experience.

Additionally search for verses that helps you to maintain a healthy mind. Here are two verses I have found useful.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Romans 12: 1&2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

To be continued……

Making Trades with Jesus – By Carrie Rogers

It has to be at least five years now since I met Carrie. It was during a Women’s Conference on the Island of Grenada, my homeland. Carrie was one of the Guest Speakers visiting all the way form Texas. Ever so often I am inspired by her postings on Facebook. This one in particular caught my attention and I remember thinking my friends should see this. So I recently reached out to Carrie and was honoured when she allowed me to share this special post with you. I describe it as short, sweet and from the heart..

Making Trades with Jesus – By Carrie Rogers8th April, 2021

Monday, on my morning walk, as soon as I rounded the first corner in my neighborhood (out of nowhere), tears welled up in the corner of my eyes. I quickly brushed them away (like I always do), and in reflex, troubleshot with God about the reason for my tears. (Mainly why they flow so freely these days, almost without cause.) “Here I am again, Jesus, apparently heavy and burdened and oblivious to my own need, but desperate for an exchange.”

Then I smiled at how often lately I come to Jesus to make a trade and how willing He is to meet with me. My burdens and confusion for His peace. My weakness and exhaustion for His strength. My doubts and fears for His faith. These are the good gifts available to me when I run to Him, so I do, over and over again.

And then I couldn’t help but think of you and wonder if this is one way you view prayer too. Is it the dumping ground that becomes holy ground where you make trades with Jesus? Your not-enough for His more-than-able. Your I-can’t-do-this-anymore for His I-promise-I’ve-got-this. Your heartbreak for His healing hands.

Because if it’s not, may I recommend my good friend Jesus to you. He really is the best listener, and He makes the absolute best trades.

Carrie Rogers is passionate about God’s Word and its impact on the lives of women. She is the founder of Carried Away Ministries, which seeks to encourage women of all ages to engage in a passionate pursuit of Jesus. Carrie and her husband, Erik, along with their three children, reside in McKinney, Texas.

Carrie’s Website Address: www.carriedawayministries.com

Thank you for reading and please do not forget to visit Carrie’s Website!

Self-development – Development of one’s own capabilities or possibilities – Webster Dictionary

One of the things that puts a skip in my step, a twinkle in my eye and new energy in my being, is the opportunity to witness someone’s growth and development or transformation. There is nothing more fulfilling than to be involved in such success. These experiences often allows me to step back in gratitude and say “wow”!

In order to grow from one level to another, however, one must work, sweat and exert effort. It starts with the willingness to be honest about one’s bad habits, flaws, unpleasant characteristics or behaviours.

Here is a brief true story that inspired me when it happened.

One day I left my office and on my way to another section of the building I encountered an employee who appeared to be upset. The employee was expressing their anger out loud in the presence of non-employees. I went up close to the employee and quietly asked them to calm down pointing out that the environment was not the right one for such expressions. The employee listened and calmed herself and proceeded to complete what she was doing.

About 15 minutes after, she reported to my office in tears and proceeded to explain what transpired before. She indicated that she had an encounter with another employee and did not like how she was spoken to; she became really upset as a result. I listened to her story and then proceeded to point out that she needed to be assertive enough to tell the person how she felt.

I proposed that she proceed to do so as it can help the individual to grow. The following morning I heard a knock on my door, it was the said employee coming to inform me that she did take my advice and was pleasantly surprised how well she was received. She was apologized to and the person who offended her even requested her to act as her “buddy-checker” . As a “buddy-checker” she would be responsible for pointing out similar behaviours if and when it rises, keeping the person in check.

There is much more I can share but I want to pause here and zoom into the take-aways from this incident, providing tips for self development.

TAKE-AWAY NO. 1 – Do not shy away from confrontation when it offers you an opportunity to address something that is making you uncomfortable or is hindering you from developing a healthy relationship with someone else. Don’t stifle the discomfort hoping that the unpleasant behaviour experienced never occurs again. Initiate a conversation.

TAKE-AWAY NO. 2 – When someone approaches you and begins to express how you have offended them, be sure to fight the urge to become defensive. Listen to what the person has to say and immediately try stepping into their shoes; switch places in an effort to understand their perspective. Don’t allow pride to takeover.

TAKE-AWAY NO. 3 – It is a great idea to ask someone to help you develop by being the one to promptly pull you aside and alert you when you are slipping or showing tendencies of repeating unhealthy behaviours. It can be that nudge that is needed to help you outgrow bad habits and develop your character.

TAKE-AWAY No. 4 – Many times the opportunity for growth is found when we are willing to examine ourselves and admit that there are some things about our behaviour, personality or character that are unpleasant; selfish behaviours that fail to uplift others. Do not be ashamed to embrace the cracks in your life that needs fixing. Seek to be more concerned about becoming more like Christ and thereby building healthy relationships with others.

In addition to the take-aways above look for books or articles to read that would help you to grow. You can visit this blog for more inspiration!

Relaxation should be part of daily living

Just a quick motivation today on RELAXATION! Remember to create a balance for yourself.

Work is great, it is a healthy, godly practice. Working allows you to grow in various areas. It keeps you engaged and alive. It allows you to meet others and develop relationships. Working teaches you to cope with challenges of all kinds. Yes! Working is good but relaxation is just as good or rather just as important.

I often struggle with finding that balance; even to this day. What I have found however, is bite size ways to relax while on the roller coaster.; while at work or during a work week or period when it seems impossible to dedicate significant time to relaxing activities.

Here are some ideas:

Try to take your full lunch hour break if you are working traditional 8-4 jobs or 9-5. Use this hour to take a walk, listen to relaxing music with your eyes closed or just meet up with friends or work colleagues and chat about anything else but work. Choose the lighter conversations that would help you to relax.

At the end of the day, take off your clothes and just remain in your undergarments. Lie on your bed for fifteen minutes before dressing again and getting busy with home matters.

Sit outdoors in the shade where it is windy and enjoy one of your favourite treats/snacks. I love ice cream. What do you love?

Journal – Yes pull that journal out and just pour your thoughts into the pages.

Dance/exercise – I love putting on up-beat gospel music and exercising or dancing.

Explore a hobby by browsing relevant sites on the internet. For example, I love interior decorating so I get a thrill from just looking at great modern houses with great interior designs. I love to look at vidoes of great Do-it-yourself decorative projects. It is an awesome way for me to relax and all I need is about fifteen minutes.

Call a family member and just chat.

While I know sometimes what our body really needs is a two or three week break from it all, a day at the spa or a long walk on the beach, realistically sometimes it is a bit more challenging to achieve. It would be helpful then, to consider these everyday relaxation tips as we seek to keep our mind, body and soul as healthy as we possibly can.

Trust God while waiting (Part II) – How to wait joyfully!

Waiting joyfully is not impossible but it can be tough at times especially when you have been waiting for a while. But there are practical things we can do to help us focus less on “the waiting”.

Seek to live in Gratitude. Living in gratitude helps us to place our mind on the things that are happening for us, the blessings we have received, the lessons we have learned and just the simple things we enjoy every day. We should make the effort not to complain and to ensure that we are emanating a spirit of appreciation that is evident in our interaction with others. We can strengthen our ability to live in gratitude by what we read, the company we keep, the music we listen to and by posting verses, quotes and various statements of affirmation on our bedroom walls, in our offices and even in our vehicles. In other words, saturate your environment with reminders and positive enforcements.

1 Thessalonians 5: 18 says “In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Think about this verse, we are commanded to always be thankful. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are expected to choose gratitude even when things are not going well. You are commanded to choose gratitude when you may have lost your job and you are desperately seeking new opportunities, when you have tried to succeed at your dreams and experienced failure or when you have lost a loved one.

It is a choice that we make daily! It begins with what we believe. If we believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God, we would be able to remain anchored, stable and confident even when we are waiting for answers from God. The joy of the Lord stays in our hearts when we choose to actively believe His promises.

Trust God while waiting (Part 1)

Many of us know what it is like to be on pause. Your foot is on the brake paddle and you have received no directions for moving forward. There are signs that something is happening behind the curtain, you can see a flicker of light every now and then, but it seems like it is taking forever. Despite the discomfort, you know deep within you that your God can be trusted. He has proven it before, not once, not twice, but many times. But no matter your history, it is still difficult to wait.

The good news is there are strategies we can learn that would help us to exercise patience in waiting through-out our lives. If you are able to wait and be joyful and content while doing so, you have accomplished something significant.

Look at your rear view mirror at a time when you planned a date with your girlfriend or a family member. You both agreed to meet at the coffee shop for 8:00 a.m. You arrived 8:55 a.m., it is now 9:20 a.m. and you are still waiting. You are waiting outside of the coffee shop which faces the east, so about that time the sun is hitting you head-on and it is blazing hot. You considered entering the small coffee shop, but it is crowded. On your shoulder is a bag which contains a number of books you are returning to your friend; the bag is quite heavy. In your left hand is your phone and in your right a cold bottle of water. Your hands are getting numb so you are switching both items between your left and right hand. In addition to that, the slippers you are wearing are uncomfortably tight.

You decide to call your friend or family to find out how much longer your wait may be. Your friend/family says to you “I will be there in five minutes”. You waited for an additional twenty minutes before they arrived. The most important aspect of this scenario is that you did not prepare to wait and this made it more difficult for you.

This scenaro allows us to reflect a bit on our behaviour while waiting on God to answer our prayers or to show us what’s next in our lives. We need to be more prepared to wait and we need to utilise our time well, while waiting and while making every effort not to complain or become grumpy. As we experience the waiting periods, we can choose to worship, to reach out to others, to build relationships, read a good book, get involved in “do it yourself projects”, get therapy, work on a healthier you and more, but we must never just sit and wait. It is in the joyful waiting that we grow, learn and are able to influence others positively when we least expect it. Joyful living even through difficult times helps us to cope during the times when we do not have answers or directions.

Let’s make that effort to wait joyfully and never let go of the promise that He (God) will never leave us.

(In part two we would talk more about practical ways to wait joyfully – Please feel free to share tips we can all practice while waiting).

Support for the bereaved

No matter how old we get, no matter how often it happens, losing a loved one through death is no easy experience to get over. However, if you are surrounded with family, friends or acquaintances who are sensitive to your needs, it can make a huge difference.

Here are a few things to remember when seeking to support a friend or family who has lost someone through death.

1. Give them space – Avoid calling during the first two days. You can opt for sending a message instead. This would allow the person to read the message and respond in their own time. When some time has passed and you wish to call, avoid calling too early or too late. Suggested hours are between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Many times when individuals are grieving they may wish to sleep in or just stay in bed. They may also wish to retire early; this is absolutely normal. These adjustments are all necessary as they seek to cope with their loss.

2. Avoid asking sensitive questions surrounding the death such as: the cause of death and how it transpired, funeral plans, family travel plans, whether or not there is a Will etc. Keep in mind that the individual is grieving and may not wish to discuss such details at that point. Your aim should be to make them as comfortable as possible. Keep your conversation along the line of comfort and support. Seek to uplift and assure them that you are available if they need anything. For example: You can say; “I wish to extend condolences on the passing of your sister. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am praying for you.”

3. Avoid visiting during this time as we are still experiencing a pandemic. However, if you must, be sure to contact them first to confirm that it is o.k. to visit. Never turn up unannounced. Try to keep your visiting party very small with a maximum of three persons. Be sure to wear your mask and adhere to all COVID-19 Protocols. Keep in mind also that once you decide to visit, the bereaved becomes the Host and would want to be able to accommodate you well. Being a host to visitors requires cleaning, preparation of a refreshing drink and of course the energy to engage your guests. You can consider taking off some pressure of the Host who is also the bereaved by doing the following;

~Offer to help them with a daily chore eg: Cut the grass, wash the dishes or rake the leaves.

~Offer to provide refreshments that they can serve to their guests.

~Call in advance and find out whether there is something they would like you to bring from the Supermarket.

Individuals who are hurting because of the loss of a loved one appreciates our ability to place their needs above our needs. It is a sign of true care and empathy. Having understanding family and friends around, allows us to relax outside of pressure and demands and it assures us that a support structure is there for us when we need it.

My new year’s hope for you!

Happy New Year! It is by the grace of the one and only Almighty God that we have entered into 2021. I am so happy we both made it.

This is my hope for everyone!

I hope you and I remain or become discipline in setting goals and pursuing them. God created us to create, to dream and to build. Don’t let anything deter you. Nothing must stop you from achieving the goals that God has birthed in you.

I hope you and I mature to understand what true love is. It is not selfish, proud, impatient or unkind. Love is unconditional and allows us to uplift others, sharing when we have much or little. It directs us to put others’ first, to empathise, to listen, to patiently rebuke, lovingly pointing out the implications of poor quality decisions. Love does not divide but mends and unite. Keep this in mind as you relate with your family, friends and even enemies.

I hope you and I prosper financially. It is great to be independent to be able to handle your business on your own and in a timely manner. Be wise with your income, spend after thinking carefully about it. Develop a reserve or emergency fund, keep building your savings. Remember always that your finances are a blessing from God and never allow it to become an idol.

I hope our family relationships grow closer. May you seek to appreciate the family God has blessed you with, whether you see them as good or bad. May we demonstrate Christlikeness at home first before we seek to show it to others on the streets.

I hope you and I remain employed or find employment. Whether self-employment or otherwise. May we seek not to offer meagre service but rather our very best. Seek to do your best at work always even when you do not feel appreciated.

I hope you and I consistently seek to keep our mind and body healthy. Exercise is necessary for healthy experiences daily. Find a physical activity or programme that you are comfortable with but would bring you results. Never tolerate toxic thoughts about yourself or others.

Finally, I hope our pride does not hinder us from glorifying God with our lives. May we never be silent when there is a need to speak. May we never speak when there is a need to be silent. May we learn to recognise the voice of God by building intimacy with him. To be intimate with God, we must allow ourselves to find a quiet space where we can communicate with him without distractions. This begins with a relationship with God where we choose to believe what His word says about us:

that we are sinners in need of the gift of Salvation, and Jesus the Son of God died so this gift can be offered to us. We accept by simply repenting of our sins (turning away from lifestyles and behaviours that he does not approve of) and asking him to be Lord of our lives, committing ourselves to obey his teachings, seeking to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit daily.

I hope, and where there is life and a God who majors in doing the seemingly impossible, it is a worthwhile hope. Now let’s do our part to make our hopes reality, starting from this minute.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Pursue wholeness!

Have you ever experienced a newness that propels you to do all the things that you wanted to do for years? All of a sudden you find the motivation to move, to act and just like that you start living your dreams. This wave sometimes come after years of spiritual stagnation or being told you can’t, or telling yourself you can’t or a struggling illness or toxic relationship. When it comes, don’t ask why, embrace it.

Sometimes the wave of newness is short-lived, other times it brings sustainable change. What is important to remember is that when the newness is short-lived we should not become demotivated. Instead, keep persevering.

Maybe you are experiencing what I am experiencing now; a new wave has come over me and I love it. It is renewed confidence, renewed drive, renewed hope. It is the next level where my mind seems, more than ever, to embrace the seemingly impossible as possible. It is that time when negativity cannot stick, its got to go. It is that position where I look forward, more than ever, to wholesomeness in Christ, more than popularity and material possessions. It is that blessed space where the inner peace I feel abounds and I can’t find the words to adequately explain it. It even comes at a time when challenges are very present, but I don’t see the challenge as an obstacle, but rather as a golden opportunity to grow.

It is a sustained moment of gratitude that allows me to be content and remain joyful when everyone else is restless and discontented.

I urge you to pursue wholesomeness by accepting the flawed you and the existence of an Almighty God, who really thinks about you and wants you to enjoy unconditional love, joy, and peace, right here, right now, and even after you have ceased to exist on this Planet.