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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Going Home, With Realistic Expectations

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-100171731Sitting with women friends at coffee one day, the conversation turned to the topic of mothers and daughters. There we sat, discussing how to feel like grown ups around our moms. Visits home often left these women feeling like they were ten-years-old again. At one point, they all turned to me and said, “Ok start dishing out the advice. You wrote a book on mothers and daughters. Give us some help! Mothers Day is coming!”

It’s true that no matter how old we are, when we spend time with our mothers, we often revert to childlike states. You know the feeling, “I love my mother but…she drives me crazy!” By the time most of us reach the driveways of our family homes, we are already feeling those old insecurities. Years of unresolved interpersonal baggage begins to swirl in our heads.

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Is it because we sleep in our old bedrooms?

Or because nothing seems to have changed in the past 15 years?

 Whatever the reason, we return from our mother-daughter visits stressed, fatigued, and way too self-reflective about past failures. Guilt seems to be the prevailing emotion. We are guilty for behaving badly, for not being more tolerant, and definitely need to work on staying calmer. Why did we get so upset when mom repeated the same story for the fifth time? It was only a story!

We love to fantasize a more Brady family-like reunion in which we sit around a cup of coffee sharing stories. There will be great talks, intimate times and fabulous memories. The acceptance and approval we long for will be given. Then, this momentary dreamlike trance is broken by her familiar voice, “Are you ever going to settle down with a real job and be like your sister?”

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Unless your family has been in intensive therapy all year, probably not much has changed. And unless they begin that needed therapy now, not much will be different next year. But you can change. It begins with this. “I can’t change my mother. But I can change my reaction to her.”

If you want to be a grown up, you have to let go of idealistic pictures of family life. Mothers aren’t all knowing, all powerful and all-accepting. They don’t anticipate your every need and make every effort to meet it. That doesn’t make them bad, evil or even dysfunctional. It makes them human. I know this because I am a mother and had a mother! And I’ve learned, after 30 years of conducting therapy with mother-daughter pairs, that “change” has more to do with me than her.

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It’s too easy to blame mothers for all our problems and harder to change our own behavior. And just because intellectually we know that mom can’t be the perfect nurturer, this rarely stops us from trying to make it true.

Maybe we daughters should try a little more patience, forgiveness and self-control when it comes to our moms. Perhaps we should consider the concept of honor. Even in the worst situations, we can honor a mother for giving us a chance to walk the planet.

Here is my advice: Next visit, don’t wait for mom to change. She is who she is. You take the first step by changing your reaction to her. Make it loving. Stay a grown up. Work on you and see what happens.

 

 

 

Check out Dr. Linda Mintle’s book, I Love My Mother But..(Harvest House, 2011). She is also the author of 15 books, a news contributor, and professor. Visit her website, www.drlindahelps to find out more. 

 

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Helping Our Children Keep the Faith

posted by Linda Mintle

White familySo many parents feel tremendous pain at having children who leave their Christian faith and do not go to church. According to studies by both Barna Group and USA Today, the staggering numbers are almost 75% of Christian young people. The reasons for this defection are many–competing cultural voices, biblical illiteracy, poor parent role models, hypocrisy in the church, youth groups that entertained instead of equipped, etc.

Given our current state, what can we as parents do to curb this growing tide? Here are a few helps:

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1) We are responsible to raise and train our children in the knowledge of Christ. This means we have to instruct, read the Word and teach our Christian world view. This is the foundation–it needs to be laid by the parents. Hopefully, the church comes along side and supports continued Christian education.

2) As parents, be faithful and active in church. Studies show that when both parents are active and involved in church, the chances increase that children will do the same later in life. It’s not a guarantee, but does improve the likelihood.

3) Be emotionally involved with your children. When adult children feel connected to their parents and share a strong emotional bond, it makes a difference, especially when they struggle to make faith their own. If the relationship with parents feels safe and open, questioning can happen and application of the faith can be pursued.

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4) Model authentic Christian love. Preaching one thing and doing another doesn’t work and only builds cynicism and hypocrisy. Live an authentic life–admitting your mistakes, asking for forgiveness, being humble and aware of your own desperate need for Christ. Make prayer and Bible reading a regular part of your day. Pray with and for your children.

5) Be relevant and know their world. Talk about cultural issues so they can critically think about how to apply God’s Word to the world in which they live.  The culture changes, God doesn’t. Help them think through how to respond to issues counterculture to the Christian faith–prepare and arm them to think and problem-solve using the Word of God.

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6) Help them understand that tolerance doesn’t mean everyone’s ideas have equal value. Tolerance means you differ with someone and will be civil and respectful in your dissent. It doesn’t mean silencing your voice to political correctness or operating in fear of opposition. We have to stand for Christ and won’t always be liked. The cross offends, even when people do not. Help them tolerate this and defend their faith in a growingly post Christian culture.

7) Recognize the individual will of your child. Even when you teach and equip, your child has a will of his/her own. They can get distracted, pulled away from God by cultural thinking and temptation if they don’t engage in spiritual disciplines that keep their relationship with Christ strong. They are ultimately responsible before God even when they make bad choices. As a parent, this is painful. Stay connected, help them work through pain and hurt and be there to pick up the pieces.

7) Pray and don’t give up. If you have planted the seeds, they are still there. Continue to pray that God uses someone or something to bring them back to Him. Remember our fight is against principalities and powers so be warrior in prayer. Nothing is impossible for God.

 

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God, Where Are You, Do You Care?

posted by Linda Mintle

IMG_4587About a month ago, I visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. The experience was sobering, frightening, and chilling. This was clearly one of history’s darkest chapters.

At the end of the tour, I was struck by one of the survivors who spoke on video. In tears, highly impassioned, he cried out, “God where were you? Did you care? Did you listen to our pleas for help? We are your chosen people.” His pain was so raw.

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Where is God when evil strikes in such an inhumane way?

During difficult or dark times, do you ever wonder the same? “Why doesn’t God take me out of this difficulty? Surely he will not let me suffer.” But Daniel 8 paints a different picture.

Daniel has a vision that later was explained by the angel Gabriel–trouble is coming. God’s people will be persecuted and even destroyed. Evil will reign and wreak havoc on the world. But at some point, God will say, enough!

The vision did come to pass, hundreds of years later.

When we suffer, it feels like God is far off. But He reminds us in His Word that He is present  and still on the throne. He hasn’t fallen asleep or forgotten us, even though it may feel that way. And that is why we can’t lead with our feelings. They often betray the truth-God promises: His presence through the dark night of the soul.

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Deliverance may not come in the way we envision nor on our timetable. That’s because we don’t have the entire picture and only God knows the details of our life. We have to trust, especially when He warns us that in the last days, evil will ramp up.

But Jesus rules even in the midst of suffering. He wants us to endure, to stand in the battle and trust His timing. I’m not going to lie–this isn’t always easy. We want to be rescued from problems, suffering wiped out, and pain relieved. But the promise is He will walk through the valley and be present in our pain and suffering. God has purpose in suffering even though we may not understand it.

So what do we do to stand strong?

1) Stay in fellowship with God. The enemy’s strategy is to disrupt our fellowship through doubt, fear and hopelessness. If he can get us to doubt (it worked for Eve), he can derail us.

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2) Stay in fellowship with each other. The enemy wants to sow dissent, disharmony, guilt and shame but the cross took care of these things. God’s people are strengthened when we help and encourage each other in the faith. This is why unity and fellowship are so important.

How long do we suffer? That we don’t know. But what we do know is that evil was broken by the cross. God knows and has numbered the days for evil to reign. If you are His, nothing happens to you that He doesn’t allow. And He uses it all to His glory and purposes. One day, we will be with Him and suffering will be no more. Until then, we stand.

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Stress Help: Think on These Things

posted by Linda Mintle

stressed womanStress affects people differently. Some people carry stress in their physical bodies. Others are more stressed because of their thoughts. They worry and become anxious. When stress originates from your thoughts, you need cognitive strategies to help you relax. The Bible even directs us to do so, “… whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things” (Phil 4:8, NKJV).

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All you do is focus your mind on things that bring you peace and a sense of well being. For the Christian that is God’s intense love. Meditation is prayer. When we pray and spend time with our heavenly Father, we feel better and less stressed. We have a dad who  promises to take care of us and meet our needs. If that doesn’t lessen your stress, nothing will!

As you mediate, think about the promises of God and direct your thoughts to His love. Scripture versus help. You can google a topic and get several verses. And at the back of my book, Letting Go of Worry, I have scriptures on peace, contentment, worry, anxious thoughts, etc. The idea is to read and mediate. When you do, tension leaves and you feel refreshed in spirit and mind.

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When you feel stressed and tense, you can also visualize yourself in a quiet peaceful place. This is calming. Some people like to imagine themselves on a sunny beach with a gentle breeze, the smell of the ocean, clear skies and water. Other people find a mountain cabin in the snow to be a quiet calming place. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just think of something peaceful and try to engage all your senses in the scene. This distracts your anxious thoughts to a peaceful place.

We know that true peace comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the promises He gives us is to keep us in perfect peace if we keep our mind stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). God is the author of peace and serenity. Think about Him, His goodness and all He has done for you. So next time you feel stressed, pray and mediate on the goodness of God and all of His promises. Use imagery to guide yourself to a peaceful place, to relax, to enjoy God’s creation–the forest, the beach, the mountains, and remember His presence is with you while you rest.

 

Previous Posts

Going Home, With Realistic Expectations
Sitting with women friends at coffee one day, the conversation turned to the topic of mothers and daughters. There we sat, discussing how to feel like grown ups around our moms. Visits home often left these women feeling like they were ...

posted 7:00:23am Apr. 29, 2016 | read full post »

Helping Our Children Keep the Faith
So many parents feel tremendous pain at having children who leave their Christian faith and do not go to church. According to studies by both Barna Group and USA Today, the staggering numbers are almost 75% of Christian young people. The ...

posted 7:00:51am Apr. 27, 2016 | read full post »

God, Where Are You, Do You Care?
About a month ago, I visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. The experience was sobering, frightening, and chilling. This was clearly one of history's darkest chapters. At the end of the tour, I was struck by one of the survivors ...

posted 7:00:01am Apr. 25, 2016 | read full post »

Stress Help: Think on These Things
Stress affects people differently. Some people carry stress in their physical bodies. Others are more stressed because of their thoughts. They worry and become anxious. When stress originates from your thoughts, you need cognitive strategies ...

posted 7:00:54am Apr. 22, 2016 | read full post »

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