Jun 052013
 

With mixed emotions I write this post, as my last post for Standing on Peace.

It has been a blessed journey indeed!

Being a part of Standing on Peace came at a time in my life when I needed meaningful connection with others and needed to be affirmed as a therapist. I was just starting out working with clients after several years off and an unpleasant internship experience. My confidence was low. Processing through and writing about what it means to experience a peace of mind solidified the knowledge I had gained from graduate school. For this I am forever grateful.

But alas, seasons change. As this year with Standing on Peace comes to end I began to feel tugged in too many directions. Through Bible studies this year, Heidi’s challenge and my own challenge I heard the Lord’s call to simplify. Although I am a very part time therapist my heart deeply remains at home. The Lord is calling me back. My body may have been at home but my mind was not. He is leading me to be more intentional with my time and to make choices that follow my hopes for my family.

I will continue supporting the community of Standing on Peace as a reader and will keep you in my prayers.

Sarah

Share
May 292013
 

As I was thinking and praying about what to write this week, I had a strong desire to write about something positive and uplifting.

Many of my posts have dealt with some hard stuff but today I want to focus on hope.

There are many books that have left a lasting impression on me but two of the most significant are The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Both of these books literally changed my life. They helped me change my thinking and how I see the world.

The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith walks you through the journey of discovering who God truly is by looking to the person who knows Him best, Jesus Christ.

Smith suggests that we all have ideas (narratives) about who we think God is and how He works in our

imgreslives. However, many of our ideas about God are incorrect even though we may not be aware they are faulty.

For example, I held a belief that I would never be good enough for God. That He held high expectations for me and I would never live up to His expectations.

Smith helped this false truth come to light. He helped me to understand God’s unconditional love.

One of the most amazing things about Smith’s book is that at the end of each chapter he shares a “soul training” exercise. An activity or concept to work through to help you develop true narratives.

For the first time, as I read a book I experienced the hope of actually adopting the new information to my life. So often books share wonderful ideas but leave you hanging as to how to make lasting change.

The second special book is Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It opened my eyes to all the blessing around me.

For years I had been wandering around wondering where my joy was. I felt lost and guilty that as a Christian I was not more joyous. I had met joyous Christians and read about joy in Scripture, but I was at a loss for truly experiencing a lasting joy.

When I started reading Voskamp’s book I felt like I was reading my own journal! Her words, her feelings, fears, where just like mine. For the first time I did not feel alone.

In her amazingly poetic voice, Voskamp shares how thanksgiving comes before the blessing. That is, to experience joy we must give thanks and recognize all the blessings around us. Even give thanks for the tough seasons in life, for the little things and the not so fun things like dirty dishes and laundry.

Voskamp points to many places in Scripture where the key to being joyful in all circumstances is to give thanks. Naturally I would like to think I am a person that is thankful but I was blown away to see Scriptures that I had read several times, jump off the page. I had missed it. To be joyous is to be thankful.

I followed Voskamp’s leading and started a blessing journal, writing down each thing I was thankful for. Not only did it help shift my focus but it also encouraged me to take time throughout the day to notice. The birds, flowers, the little things that often go unseen.

Am I forever in a happy go lucky mood?  No!  Even though I wish I was. That it is not me. I am however, better equipped to experience joy. I give thanks more often and I pay closer attention to the little things.

What books have impacted your life?

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
May 242013
 

The first part of my challenge was to create a Life Mission Statement. If you haven’t had a chance to read that post you can read it HERE.

The intention of writing a Life Mission Statement was to help us focus and center ourselves on what we dream for our lives.

All to often in my own experience, I find myself wanting one thing in life but I make  choices that take my life in a different direction.

Writing out my own Life Mission Statement brought me clarity to what is really important in my life and what I want to make a priority.

The next step of the challenge is to learn to evaluate our life choices in light of our Life Mission Statements.

What does that look like?

Keeping your Life Mission Statement in mind, are you making choices to support your mission statement? Or are you making conflicting choices?

For example, here is my Life Mission Statement:

To pursue Christ with my whole heart, mind and soul.

To love and support Jeremy (my husband), so he can be all God has created him to be.

To play with my girls. To be their encourager. To help them learn and grow into women that love Christ.

To create space in my life to allow for creativity and to cultivate an intentional home.

To live a life that inspires others to live as children of God.

What I need to ask myself: am I making choices with my time that allows me to pursue Christ with my whole heart, mind and soul? Am I making choices to allow for play with my girls and time to be creative? Or am I getting distracted by the wrong choices, i.e. too many commitments, outside responsibilities, playing on the computer, etc.

Unfortunately, the answer is yes to the last question. I am getting distracted and making the wrong choices.

With this challenge it is not my intention to guilt myself or you because we have made wrong choices, but to shed light on our choices.

If we deeply want something for our lives than we must train ourselves to make choices consistent with our desires. Otherwise we run the risk of running too fast in the wrong direction and becoming unsatisfied.

My suggestion is to run each decision you are faced with through the Lord’s filter and through the filter of your Life’s Mission Statement. From there make choices that follow the Lord’s leading and that support your Life Mission’s Statement.

This is something I am just learning to do myself. It comes from the place of too many years, doing too many things and feeling disappointed that I do not have the time to do what is most important to me or what the Lord has laid on my heart.

Will you join me?

It is my hope that we will discover a greater Joy.

 

 

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
May 222013
 

Last week I shared five of the ten most common cognitive distortions and how they influence the way we feel.

The remaining common cognitive distortions are:

6. Emotional Reasoning: Assuming negative emotions reflect reality. For example, “I feel stupid therefore I am stupid”.

7. Catastrophizing: Exaggerating the importance of things, such as mistakes or difficult situations. For example, missing one day of work due to illness then believing the boss will hate you and fire you as a result.

8. Personalization: Believing to be the cause of a negative external event. For example, a child brings home a poor report card, the child’s mother concludes that she must be a bad mother. 

9. Should Statements: A common way of thinking in negative self-talk. I should have… or I shouldn’t have… Shaming oneself into performing. For example, “I should have cleaned the house today or I shouldn’t have eaten that, now I’ll gain weight”.

10. Labeling and Mislabeling: Extreme over-generalization. Instead of acknowledging an error or poor choice in yourself or another, negatively labeling self or the other. For example, loosing a baseball game and concluding that you were born a looser.

Although these cognitive distortions are often automatic thinking, one can change them.

Just as in my posts about negative self-talk, it takes time and hard work, but if you continually work at it you can learn to recognize your thoughts.

If you suspect that you have a cognitive distortion or two, here are 6 steps that will help identify and at least slow them down:

1. Recognize and isolate the thought: Extreme words like “never, can’t, always” or strong negative words like “stupid, hate, idiot”  are good clues of a cognitive distortion.

2. Write it down: Writing the words or phrase down on paper brings it to light and will help you identify it the next time it happens.

3. Ask yourself: Is this thought reasonable or unreasonable? If you heard a friend say it out loud, how would you respond?

4. What kind of cognitive distortion is it?: It is important to label the cognitive distortion so you are better able to recognize it in the future.

5. Write down a more reasonable thought: Writing down a more reasonable thought will aid you in thinking more positively the next time you are faced with a similar situation.

It is important to know that we all have cognitive distortions at one time or another and that even if you become more aware of them, they are not going to go away completely. However, learning to identify them and shift your thinking will help you have a more positive outlook.

 

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
May 152013
 

Our perception of reality and what we think about our circumstances significantly impacts the way we feel.

For example, if I walk around focusing on the things I wish I had in life I will likely start to feel unsatisfied with my life and all that I do have. Such feelings of dissatisfaction could lead to feeling depressed.

The mind is a powerful thing. And sometimes we do not think clearly about our reality. Such thinking is known as Cognitive Distortions.

Cognitive Distortions can be defined as “exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of psychological states, especially depression and anxiety”. ***

Cognitive distortions are largely unconscious and automatic thoughts. Often people are not aware of their distorted thought processes.

Dr. Beck, a pioneer in cognitive therapy, was the first to theorize about cognitive distortions.  He believed people are born with the potential for rational and irrational thinking. He also believed some people have a predisposition to think more positively or negatively.

This, however, does not mean we can not change our thinking. The first step is to become aware of our thinking patterns.

There are several cognitive distortions but there are 10 that are most common.

This week I will share the first 5.

1) All or nothing thinking: Seeing things in black and white. For example, a straight A student receives a B, then the student perceives oneself as a failure (this was me in high school!).

2) Jumping to conclusions: Coming to a negative conclusion about a situation even though there are no definite facts to support the conclusion. For example, a spouse is upset from a hard day at work but his wife decides he is mad at her.

3) Disqualifying the positive: Changing or rejecting neural or positive experiences into negative ones. For example, a co-worker says you look nice. Instead of accepting the compliment, you think “they’re just being nice, I look awful”.

4) Mental filter: Picking a negative detail and dwelling on it, thus only focusing on the negative and ignoring any positive details. For example, a dancer performs on stage and makes one wrong move. The dancer focuses in on the one mistake concluding she is a horrible dancer.

5) Over generalization: Seeing one negative event as never ending. For example, after a job interview a woman finds out she did not get the position, she concludes “I’ll never find a job. No one will hire me”.

Becoming mindful of our thoughts and their impact on our feelings will likely help us experience life more positively. Learning to recognize these common cognitive distortions will help us understand ourselves and others better.

Do any of these distortions ring true for you? If you are unsure, this next week pay close attention to your mental response to situations.

***Wikipedia

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
May 102013
 

Part of living the life we long for is being intentional and focused. So often we fail to make choices that support our goals or the ideal we would like for our lives.

As we all well know, life is FULL. Too full. It is easy to lose site of what we are really living for with the many distractions in life and overloaded responsibilities.

In order to help us stay centered and hopefully guide us to make intentional choices, we are going to write a Life Mission Statement.

Mission statements are often used for business purposes but are very helpful in any area of life.

A mission statement is defined as “a statement of the purpose of a company, organization or person, its reason for existing.”**

In essence a Life Mission Statement will help us identify our purpose.

To develop your life mission statement you will need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What roles do I have?
  • For whom do I do it?
  • What are my priorities within each role?
  • Which roles are most important?
  • Which roles are a necessity?
  • What do I hope for?
  • What do I want to be remembered for?

As an example here are my answers:

Roles:

Wife, Mother, Etsy shop owner, Crafter, Counselor, Christian 

Roles in Order of Importance:

Christian, Wife, Mother, Crafter, Counselor, Etsy shop owner

To write a clear Life Mission Statement we must narrow down our roles. Although all of our roles are important, we can not focus on everything. The hope of a mission statement is to help provide focus when life feels scattered.

For example, my Life Mission Statement will include my roles as a Christian, Wife, Mother and Crafter.

Next we need to dream. What do we want to be remembered for? What do we long for?

Here’s my dream:

At the end of my time here on Earth, as I enter the gates of Heaven, my soul longs to hear ”Well done, good and faithful servant”, Matthew 25:21. I want Jeremy to think of me as a loving and supportive wife. I want my girls to think of me as nurturing, supportive and safe. Being creative is very important to me, so I want time to create, to establish a home that encourages creativity. I want to have fun with my girls. I want to inspire them to grow into women of God. I want to encourage Jeremy in his walk with Christ.

The last step is to turn our dreams into action statements. By rewording our hopes into actions, a foundation is laid as to what we need to do to live out our dream.

My Life Mission Statement:

To pursue Christ with my whole heart, mind and soul.

To love and support Jeremy so he can be all God has created him to be.

To play with my girls. To be their encourager. To help them learn and grow into women that love Christ.

To create space in my life to allow for creativity and to cultivate an intentional home.

To live a life that inspires others to live as children of God.

As you walk through this process, I encourage you to pray and ask for God’s guidance.

I hope this process is inspiring to you!

Once you have your Life Mission Statement written, print it out and read it. Maybe even put it on pretty paper, frame it and put it somewhere you will see it often.

**Wikipedia

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
May 082013
 

Perhaps I was an odd child! 🙂

I grew up on an acre of land I often would go to the furthest point of the property and sit. Sit and think. Sit and daydream. Or I would open my bedroom window, lay on my bed, look at the field and think.

I can clearly remember spending hours daydreaming about my future. What I wanted to be when I grew up, when I would get married or where I would like to travel someday.

Back then anything seemed possible. I did not think in terms of IF I get married or IF I travel.  Instead it was WHEN. I truly believed my dreams would come true.

Even as time passed I continued to dream well into adulthood. I was convinced that with hard work and determination, my dreams could and often would come true.

But one day, I stopped dreaming.

I think I can pinpoint the day. When the economy crashed, my world was turned upset down. Over the next two years, a series of events happened that I had no control over.

The stark reality, that there are circumstances in life I could not plan for or could not control, was devastating to me.

It no longer seemed safe to dream because there was no guarantee for tomorrow or what tomorrow would look like.

Years later I still have trouble daydreaming. And these days I’ve been missing the Sarah that daydreams.

I’ve been reflecting on my past ability to dream and have been wondering why I no longer do.

The answer is simple: I am afraid to dream. The pain and disappointment of a dream unrealized is difficult. In a way it feels safer not to dream. 

Yet I have come to realize, by my not dreaming, I lack hope for the future.

Life without hope is…well…sad.

A lack of hope for the future significantly impacts the present.

If I have no hope for the future my outlook on the present is rather dim.

If each daydream is quickly ended before it starts with a negative thought of “Ya, right, like that will happen”, or “if I’m lucky I might get to do that”, it weighs down my perspective on the gift of the present.

I miss the Sarah that had hope.

I want to daydream again and, quit honestly, think happy thoughts about the future. 🙂

To do so I must learn to push past my fears and dream, all while handing my dreams over to the Lord, for He knows best.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Do you daydream? Do you have hope for the future?

 

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
May 032013
 

Real Women Challenge: Sarah from Jillian Willis on Vimeo.

Perhaps we have a dream or goal for our lives, but are not
making choices to bring the dream into reality.  To achieve our goal.

Perhaps we find ourselves on the other side of the fence.  We have made
helpful steps to achieve our dream or goal, but it looks differently than
expected.

Over the next couple of weeks, you and I will walk through a few key exercises to
help us narrow in on our dream or goal for life.

Through this process, I hope we will gain a better understanding of the choices we
need to be making on a daily basis. And come to a place of peace in our lives.

I am excited to be completing the exercises right alongside of you! I am eager to hear your thoughts and perspectives as we embark on this journey together!

~Sarah

Share
Apr 242013
 

Two weeks ago I shared how I have been trapped by perfectionism ever since I was a young child. Up until a few years ago I was convinced that perfection did exist and could be attained, if only I tried hard enough.

It was not until walking through the Beth Moore Bible study “Breaking Free” did I realize the strong hold fear and perfectionism had on my life.

I entered into the Bible study with the mind set of “I don’t have a strong hold. I don’t suffer from an addiction.” Boy was I wrong! Much to my surprise, I discovered my strong hold was fear. Fear is a close friend of perfectionism.

My tendency towards perfection has not disappeared, but instead of being controlled by it, I am learning to have better control of it.

The Lord is gracious and teaches me, if I am open to it.

Here is what I have learned:

1) Perfection does not exist. This one took me a long time to grasp. It does exist in a Pottery Barn catalog, but not in reality.

2) I am not perfect nor will I ever be. The only human who was ever perfect is Christ.

3) It is ok to be good enough. This one is still hard for me to accept. God loves me despite my faults and His opinion is the only one that matters. If I endeavor to give each day my all, that is good enough.

4) Striving for perfection as a mother, wife or in my home robs me of joy. Learning to hold my expectations loosely allows me the freedom to enjoy life more fully. Life is about relationship with others and experiencing Christ’s joy. It is not about the perfect birthday party or having the best dressed child.

5) Daily living only allows for some things to be accomplished and that is ok. This is something I am currently working on. Setting my mind to spend an hour accomplishing a task and being ok when I have to stop. Believe it or not perfectionists are often procrastinators because we think the time has to be perfect and the project has to be done perfectly. Unless that can happen, why start?

6) Stop waiting for the “moment of arrival” when life will be perfect. Life will never be perfect. Each day and every moment is a time for learning. The “moment of arrival” will occur only when I am with my Savior.

I still have much more to learn but am already feeling some freedom from perfectionism. And to be honest, it feels good!

Do you feel captive by perfectionism? What is one step you can take today to start your journey to freedom? 

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share
Apr 172013
 

Today was suppose to be my follow up post about perfectionism but it just did not seem appropriate (I will share more about perfectionism next week).

In light of the recent tragic events in Boston and a friend of ours loosing all he owns in a house fire over the weekend, my heart has been heavy. These types of events have a way of shaking and waking me up to the world around me. When I hear of tragedy, it seems to highlight the blessings in my life and causes me to hold tightly to those I love.

This afternoon as I was praying and reflecting on the loss of those deeply affected by tragedy, I couldn’t help but wonder how do we continue to stand on peace in the midst of pain? In the midst of loss? How do we feel safe? How do we comfort our children?

Here are a few things that came to mind:

1) God is peace:  “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27

2) Breathe: When chaos strikes, I can feel as though all is lost. The simple act of pausing and taking a deep breath does me a world of good.

3) Pray: First and foremost in the midst of pain and tragedy I try to press into the Lord. He IS my strength and refuge. Each and every time I have prayed for the “peace that surpasses all understanding” the Lord has always followed through.

4) Comfort those around me: I can take time to stop and notice those around me. Give a hug to someone that needs it. Be encouraging to those in need of encouragement. By caring for others, I am blessed and comforted in the process.

5) Allow myself to be comforted: If I am hurting, I can tell someone I trust. I can allow friends and family to care for me. I do not have to have it all together 100% of the time.

6) Spend time with my children: Since I have children I was thinking through when tragedy affects them.  If they have experienced (or heard) about a tragedy, I could spend extra time with them playing, reading, cuddling. It will reassure them that they are safe and loved.

7) Share with my children: Again, if my children are aware of a tragedy (they hear about them easier than we think), I can talk with them about it. I can share with them how I am feeling and acknowledge their feelings. I need to be sure to keep all information given age-appropriate.

8) Don’t watch the news: I can be informed but resist the temptation to continually watch the news or view photographs online. Even as adults those images can last a lifetime in our minds and often do more damage than good. To this day I can instantly recall the images of 911.

9) Look for the helpers: Tragedy is painful and heartbreaking however in the midst of all tragedy, the wonderful gift of humanity can be found. If I look hard enough I will see it. Those selfless people that step into a dangerous situation to help another or those willing to give to those who have suffered loss. It is a reminder that there is still good in our world.

10) God has a plan: I know how cheesy this can sound! But it is truth. Just as I love my children deeply and look out for their best interest, God does the same for me. I may not see it now or understand it but I can believe that He loves me and wants what is best for me.

How do you find peace during times of suffering?  

Admin

Admin

© 2012 Standing on Peace

Share