• Category Archives joy
  • Dealing…Which car should I miss?

    Continuing this theme of being candid about what
    it is like to live with MS. It seems to target the nerve or nerves most
    critical to your lifestyle. It’s weird like that, unique in some ways to the
    individual and some things the same across the board. Fatigue, for instance.
    Every MS patient I have met has to fight this. Not everyone loses their vision
    or their balance. It hit my optic nerve; hit it hard. For a teacher that is a
    death knell, a career stopper.

    Image courtesy of Microsoft


    Driving is a symbol
    of independence. So giving up the car keys was another hurdle. What helped me make that decision was that I realized that driving myself to pottery class
    used up all my energy and left none for doing what I went there to do. That was
    dumb. I had to drive extra distance to make a left turn so I had a stop light
    because I could not tell which one of those three oncoming cars to avoid. Yes,
    I saw three cars when there was only one. Every drive was a “white
    knuckle” event. Dumb again. I asked the husband of one of the ladies in
    the class if he could please drop me off at my husband’s office. When I told
    him the reason he saluted, said he’d be happy to and thanked me on behalf of all the drivers on the
    road for my eminent wisdom!    
    Image courtesy of Microsoft

    depth perception? Well there is little to none. I feel for the curb with my toe. It all
    looks flat to me but the curb is often clearly marked so I know it is there. The
    first step is a hard one! The pain memory from a couple times of stepping off
    as if it were flat helps you remember to check! You only do it once or twice.

    And the Lord calls me to be a writer knowing all about these difficulties! I
    have taken the stance that I want to learn everything I can learn from this
    disease–milk it for all it’s worth! I believe that God only gives good gifts
    and even things that don’t look like gifts to me might contain some gold so I
    didn’t fold up and sit in a pity party (not for long anyway). I will not judge
    God or His Word by my experience; rather I will judge my experience by His
    word. He is good. I figured if He asked me to do this then I either already had
    the resources, needed to use the resources I have differently, or He would
    supply what was yet needed. The computer is a great resource. I enlarged my
    fonts and made the lines at 1.5–viola the lines no longer run into each other.
    Image courtesy of Microsoft

    Just talking or thinking about the difficulties makes me tired. I have much
    more energy if I keep my thoughts joy filled or if I dialogue with God as I am
    doing a task. It is as if I can draw energy from Him whereas when I focus on a
    difficulty it is like letting go of my energy source. Consequently, I don’t
    talk about it much. And this is about enough for today…I need to get back  into
    joy or I will lose the rest of the day! I hope this gives you a bit of insight
    into what my life is like with a chronic condition.
    St. Paul said that he gloried in his infirmities. I look at that and
    shake my head, confiding in God that I am not there yet and don’t know if I
    ever will be. One day in the kitchen sweeping, the thought flew through my
    head that I wondered how God saw all of the derailments and hard things in my
    life. About two hours later I gasped because I was looking at all those events
    from His point of view. I don’t know how He does that—must be like a Vulcan
    mind meld! All I could do was say, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you!”
    From His point of view each place that I had felt would “be my home” and I
    would stay there for the rest of my life—each place was a temporary assignment.
    I assumed it was a place to put my roots down deep. Erroneously I thought I had
    come into my destiny, so when the assignment came to an end and I had to move
    on I was hurt and confused. It was a temporary assignment to gain a skill set
    or hone a skill and gain expertise that I would need in the next assignment.
    The final derailment was this MS attack. From God’s point of view it works
    perfectly to give me the time to write the things that are on His heart, and
    that truly is my destiny: to be His friend and scribe, to stay just one step
    behind Jesus so I won’t get lost and am close enough to hear what He says and write it down
    without the distractions of a teaching career, papers to grade, committee meetings and assignments…politics
    (ugh). I am closer to glorying in my infirmity than I have ever been before. At
    least I am grateful, and I have found my way back to joy.
    How about you? How are you dealing with the “hard thing” in your life? What
    helps you keep your faith and perspective? I would love for you to share your story of how the enemy meant for your destruction but God turned things around for you. It would be a big encouragement to us all!
    Blessings, Carol…making it plain
    Author of The Mystery of Spiritual
    and Highly Sensitive

  • Joy Starters

    I’m so excited about this new project I can hardly stand it! Learning fascinating new stuff is one of the
    greatest joys of writing!

    Recently I was asked to join a multifaceted
    writing project. Shepherd’s House,
    a counseling and training ministry, is behind the creation of a leadership
    training project called THRIVE. The training literally trains the brain how to remain relational regardless of what is going on.You train your brain in all
    the skills you need to return to a state of joy from scary or
    upsetting feelings. Joy is defined as “happy to be with you.” There is also some teaching because as an American you want to know the what, why and how of things!

    Training is different than learning. Learning is cramming
    information and concepts into your head. Training is developing reflexes—doing
    something over and over again until it becomes automatic, a default response.

    It turns out that your brain functions best in an
    environment of joy! You might think, “So…?” So, the problem is that joy is
    often in short supply. Far too many don’t have the brain skills needed to
    get them to joy much less back to joy from scary stuff. “And why is that” you ask? It is because brain skills are
    passed on from your parents or care givers. If they don’t/didn’t have those
    skills, or were not inclined to interact with you as a little one, it is highly unlikely that you will
    get them on your own.

    Where you experience trauma your brain shuts
    down—it is overwhelmed and cannot process what is happening. It will store the
    traumatic data somewhere and come back to process it later when it is safe and you have
    the resources to process with. But during this shut down there were skills that you
    should have acquired, leaving a developmental hole. Following this
    traumatic time you will avoid coming even close to the emotions that were
    happening at the time of the trauma. The brain screams, “Pull up! Pull up!

    You say
    you want relationship but somehow relationships never seem to work out…or you
    self-sabotage. People wonder at your behavior, why you run the other way, or why
    you fall off the wagon yet again.

    Is it possible? Could it be that the solution to
    these chronic relational problems is to train or retrain the brain and give it
    the skills it needs to do relationship?

    Scripture says that nothing can separate us from
    the love of God. But loving God or loving another person means that there is a
    relationship. If satan can create enough chaos and/or trauma in your life, you
    will miss out on acquiring these essential life skills. If your brain does not
    have the skills needed for relationships satan can separate you from the love of other
    people and from the love of God. You will feel like you cannot hear God; that
    you are unworthy. It is not the truth of course, but that is how you feel nonetheless.

    Training in the the brain skills of relationship could revolutionize the Church! Can
    you imagine a church full of joy filled people? Can you imagine committee
    meetings where individuals have the skills and the maturity to disagree and still remain relational? Can you imagine youth feeling safe enough with adults
    to seek their wisdom as the youth is learning how to come back to joy from his
    or her scary places?

    The THRIVE relational brain skills also work on the factory floor and
    in management…it rebuilds people. It results in leaders and authority figures that can
    lead, supervise or manage from the authority that is who they are rather than the
    title they put on and wear. And the neat thing is that when you acquire these
    skills you can not only use them at home but pass them along to extended
    family, friends, co-workers…you too can be a joy starter!

    For more about THRIVE training go here: http://www.thrivetoday.org/

    By Carol Brown
    Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive
    Sassy Pants and Sassy Pants Makes Amends

  • Upside Down Kingdom?

    I’ve been thinking
    that God’s kingdom is rather upside down and backwards. For one thing, up is
    down in His kingdom. The rich are poor and the poor are rich. The foolish
    confound the wise. And the one who wants to be great must be servant of all. We
    are advised to love our enemies and rejoice when they persecute, revile and
    slander us. We are to work to accumulate rewards in heaven and are not to worry
    about food or clothing…getting ahead. Now how does that fit with the social
    norm of being upwardly mobile?

    Maybe it is we who
    are upside down? And maybe backwards?

    Ya, the bit about
    backwards! There was a time when I was asking God why I seemed completely
    unmotivated—to do anything! I had no energy, and energy I learned comes from
    joy. I was unable to feel enough joy to motivate myself to do what I needed and
    wanted to do.
    How can I
    be a believer, have Jesus resident in my life, He who is the origin of joy, and
    not be able to experience enough of it to be able to function, at least to a
    minimal level? This is serious in light of Nehemiah 8:10, which says that the
    joy of the Lord is my strength. Not much strength…and the dip stick on my joy
    tank was reading mighty low! His response to my question was quick. I had no
    sooner asked than the following verse came to mind.

    “But he said to me, “My
    grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
    Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
    Christ’s power may rest on me
    (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

    Well, if that Scripture is true,
    I am in some way not accessing or availing myself of resources that I already
    have. His grace is sufficient, yet I certainly seem unable to boast about or
    glory in my infirmity! How can I be grateful to God for my
    infirmities? What needs to be different?

                 The focus.” What? Say again, God!

    God speaks without words and
    explains: “Your equation is backwards! My equation reads: Weakness
    + abiding in My joy = strength. Your equation reads: Strength + abiding in My
    power = joy.

    “You think I should flood your
    body with strength first, then your life would demonstrate the power of
    God and you could go about serving others, and that would produce joy. However,
    that would actually enable your flawed humanity!”

    “The belief that you must earn
    love and belonging is not the truth, but that is your foundation! If I gave you
    strength and power first, you would have the energy to continue to perform and
    do good works. You would think and feel that you were demonstrating the power
    of God, but you would do so from a foundational belief that love and belonging
    must be earned. Yes, good would happen, but you would also reproduce that
    foundation in others and perpetuate the erroneous belief that love and
    belonging go to those who serve Me.” Pause for a “Selah” moment.

    “I want to give you a new
    foundation, one built on truth. You were first conceived in My mind—I loved you
    then and you belonged to me then—only later were you conceived in your mother’s
    womb! I have given you love and belonging from the moment I conceived you in my
    mind! Nothing you can do will ever make Me love you more—or less!”

    This whole business of thinking
    God thoughts and living God values can turn your life upside down and really
    mess with your mind! It feels to me like God could make some big changes real fast.
    He has pulled up all the tent pegs, thrown all the feathers and fur out of the
    nest and sticks are poking me. I’ve read that eagles make the nest
    uncomfortable like that just before they make the young fly on their own. Change is in the wind. I have
    a suspicion some flying lessons are about to be scheduled; it’s a little unsettling!
    Exciting, but unsettling nonetheless.

    How has God messed you up lately?
    Share with us by dropping a note in the comment box.

    Blessings, Carol
    Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity, Highly Sensitive
    and The Sassy Pants Series http://sassypantsco.blogspot.com

  • Chameleon Syndrome?

    Identity can be a slippery thing for all of us, but it is especially difficult for highly sensitive people (hsp’s). Hsp’s (highly sensitive people) have an innate “chameleon” reflex, subconsciously morphing into whoever or whatever the strongest personality needs or environment calls for. The result is a fluctuating, unstable picture of who we are!

    I am thinking, if we can become aware of the phenomena we will learn to sense when we begin to drift with it. Perhaps, the sooner we spot ourselves drifting the quicker we can come back to our personal emotional base line.

    To give you an idea of what I mean. My husband and I were invited to come to Canada on loan from Elijah House Ministires, USA to help train some Canadian counselors. The currency exchange was keeping some folks from receiving the help they needed. I determined that I was not going to pick up a Canadian accent since we would only be there a couple years. I worked hard to not say “eh?” But after being there only two months it slipped out effortlessly and appropriately. I finally gave up. It took too much energy to monitor every word. The Canadian “eh?” is with me still. This was not imitation or mimicking. I sort of absorb the sound and now years later thinking about friends there will bring out the accent effortlessly.

    Another example is our youngest daughter, a burden bearer through and through. I always knew who she had been playing with by her behavior when she came home. For about a half hour she “was” her friend. She used her expressions, inflections and vocabulary–even the acting out behavior was the same. One particular friend had a rather “sailor-esq” vocabulary and was emotionally and verbally abusive toward her mother. We would quickly have a little sit down talk.

    • Were you playing with ***?
    • Yes.
    • Were she and her mommy having an argument?
    • Uh, huh.
    • Well, Sweetie, you and I aren’t angry with each other are we?
    • No.
    • Well, then you don’t need to act toward me like your friend does toward her mommy. In this house, we don’t say mean things to each other. We don’t use those kinds of words. They just are not appropriate. I know *** says those things, but our family doesn’t. How about we pray for her and her mommy and ask Jesus to help their home become more peaceful and happy.

    Within a half hour of prayer she had returned to her sunny self and left the “Salty Sally” persona behind! She had found her way back to her joy base. By herself she could not sort out the difference between her own emotions and those of her friend, but with help she could shortly return to her emotional default, her own emotional baseline that was true of her. Without such help it took much longer for her to return to her self. Without help at all a person can become lost to self and have no sense of who they are.

    Like a house, our identity needs a “true” foundation. A house that is a few degrees off plumb at the foundation will be several degrees off at the roofline. The walls of our house will not be straight up and down–the house will lean. They will not be as sturdy or dependable in a storm as straight walls are.  Our self-image can also become skewed when we are given a picture of ourselves which is not true; which prevents us from living life with joy and confidence. Life can batter and then we crumble because we are not as “study” as we might otherwise be.

    In the next few blogs I want to share some of how our identity is formed with an eye to identifying what is either missing or in need of repair. Share with us, if you will, ways you see yourself morphing into either people or your environment.

    Blessings, Carol