Archive | January 2013

Coping Strategies ~ Part III ~ Positive Coping Strategies ~ Emotions XI

Today I will be covering positive (having a good effect; marked by optimism) coping strategies. I talked in a previous post how stress is any circumstance that threatens or is perceived to threaten one’s well-being and taxes one’s coping abilities. Our bodies and brains are made to handle only so much before it can take no more. Physically, when we overload our bodies with food, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, it is only a matter of time that our bodies break down and can no longer function normally. The same holds true when it comes to our emotional well being. If you have too much stress coming at you all at once, it is only a matter of time that you will break down emotionally.

Remember, your emotions are there to tell you something. Listen to them. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and do an evaluation of what is going on in your life to find your sources of stress (Coping Strategies ~ Part I has a list to get you started). After you find the sources, then you want to sit down and rationally think through changes that you can make to alleviate some of those sources. Your stress could be causes by too many activities, bad relationships, sin, poor time management, unresolved issues, etc. Evaluation is important because making quick decisions without evaluation can bring more stress. Brainstorm on what changes you can make in your life to lessen your stress level. Do not try to put into effect all your ideas at once (that could set you up for failure). Start with one idea and implement it.

Often, you are not able to think clearly when you are on stress overload. If you are unable to evaluate your stress and necessary changes, it is important to call in reinforcements. Seek God’s face and listen to His still, small voice. James 1:5-6 is one of my favorite verses that I claim often, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” Talk to someone who you trust who can help you think more clearly. This person could be a family member, a friend, a pastor, or a counselor (make sure the person you go to has their life together and you can trust them to give you godly counsel). ~ Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” Do not be embarrassed and try to do it on your own. God has placed people around you as a way to be there during your trials. When you turn others away, most often, you are turning away help from God. ~ Proverbs 13:10 “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.

There may be times when there is unexpected, added stress, such as a tragic death of a loved one, losing your home to a fire or natural disaster. It is imperative during those times that you let others know you are overwhelmed and let them know of ways that would help you. People do not know that you need help unless you let them know you are stressed. Again, do not be prideful. People are blessed when they help others. Do not steal their blessing!

Exercise is a wonderful way to release stress. Your brain releases chemicals when you exercise that are good for your mood and body. Relaxation can do wonders. Having some down time where you can go “brain dead” for a little time is nice. Humor is a great stress releaser. I have certain friends that just crack me up. I always feel better after I have been with them. Go call that friend, read a funny book, take a nice bath, go out to eat, etc…

Positive reinterpretation is a way to help you evaluate your situation. Many times negative thinking brings depression and unneeded stress. Positive reinterpretation is looking at the positive that can come from what you are going through. It is making positive comparisons. An example would be that your car will not start in the morning. Instead of focusing on the frustrations of the car breaking down, thank God that you are home and begin to do the necessary steps to take care of the issues that resulted because of not having the car. No one is exempt from the struggles in life, so it is important to stay calm and work through them when they come upon you.

Whatever you do, do not hold in your feelings and think they will go away. Humble yourself and share with someone what you are going through and allow God to work in your situation. Remember, as Christians, we are there to walk alongside of each other and help each other see that there is hope. We serve a risen Savior who is alive and well. He will see you through to a better tomorrow if you trust Him, seek help, and be willing to do what is necessary to regulate your stress.

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Coping Strategies ~ Part II ~ Negative Coping Strategies ~ Emotions X

Pain hurts!! People will try anything to get the pain to go away. The sad thing is that many people use means that only bring about more pain and suffering. In today’s blog, I will discuss some of the methods people use to cope with stress in ways that only create more problems. The following are some of the ways people cope in a negative way:

  • Giving Up: All too often, when the going gets tough, people give up. This habit begins when children are little and it continues into adulthood. They will be losing at a game, so they quit. They have to sit the bench, so they quit. Their job is a little tough, so they quit. They fall out of “love” with their spouse, so they quit (divorce). Matthew 5:37 tells us that we are to let our yes mean yes and our no mean no. Help your children to know what a commitment entails and then stick with it to the end. Teaching them to stick it out and work their problems through, will prepare them for “cold” times in their marriages. Researching what is involved in the commitment they are making also prepares them to know what to look for in a spouse and details that are involved in a marriage.
  • Aggression: If people do not get their way or someone wrongs them, one of the first things people want to do is react to their situation with aggression. People need to get to the root of their problem and work it through (Take a look at the blog about anger for an example, posted April 17, 2012). Romans 12:21 tells us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Ephesians 4:28 tells us to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.
  • Self Indulgence and Self Harm: Harming our bodies (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, non-healthy eating, non-marital sex, cutting…) is never a way to solve a problem or deal with stress. These methods are only cover ups to the real problem. We only have one body to live in while we are on earth. If we do not take care of it, we do not get another one. If we are Christians, then our bodies are temples of God (Romans 12:1).
  • Negative Self-talk: You can talk yourself out of just about anything. If you look at your flaws or how big the problem is, you will never accomplish anything or bring about change. Moses did not think he could be a spokesman for God because he was looking at the fact that he could not speak well. You must know who you are dealing with. If God asks you to do something, then rest assured that He will accomplish His Will in and through you. He will do miracles and you will see the impossible happen. When we can’t, God can!!
  • Defense Mechanisms: People will use defense mechanisms when they do not want to face reality.
    • Denial of Reality: People try to deny the reality to avoid the pain that comes with the reality. An example: You think, “If I hide the fact that I was sexually abused and try to pretend that it never happened, I can go on and everything will be OK. That does not work. It will eat at you and many of your relationships. Until you face the abuse, are aware of the effects it has on a person, work through the trauma, you will be trapped with the effects of what happened to you. You must work with someone who is trained in the area of sexual abuse.
    • Fantasy: Gratifying frustrated desires by imaginary achievements. Wishing things were different is not going to make things different. Pretending you are someone you are not, does not work. The real you will eventually come out. Positive steps will bring about change.
    • Overcompensation: Making up for frustration in one area by over gratification in another. An example: You do not have many friends and are bored so you go out and spend money that you do not have.

These are just some of the ways that people try to deal with their stress. When people are not taught positive coping strategies, they will try anything. In the next Coping Strategies blog I will give you some positive ways to deal with stress that will bring about change and positive results.

God Bless, Linda 🙂

Coping Strategies ~ Part I ~ Emotions IX

Coping is active efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands created by stress. People try to cope with the situations in their lives in many ways, both good and bad. Coping Strategies will be a three-part series. In this blog, I’ll talk about what brings about stress and some of the reasons for stress and trials. In the next blog, I will talk about some ways that people respond negatively to stressful situations which only brings more harm and pain. Last, I will talk about some positive ways to deal with trials that can bring about change and positive results.

Stress is any circumstance that threatens or is perceived to threaten one’s well-being and taxes one’s coping abilities. The following are some stresses and trials that adults face:

  • Daily routines: kids, work, household responsibilities, relationships, unexpected problems…
  • Changes in life: work, marriage, children, losses (loved one, job, material losses like a home), a move…
  • Unrealistic expectations: perfect spouse or children, ideal job, life without heartache, things and people bring happiness…
  • Homelessness, financial struggles, addictions, strife…

As long as we live on this earth, we will have trials and troubles. As Christians, if we do things God’s way, we can save ourselves from a lot of heartache; but we are not exempt from trials completely. We will suffer losses, health issues, pain from the sin of another, and other trials. Hope and peace can be with the Christian knowing that Christ has overcome the world. Jesus tells us this in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Revelation 21:4 lets us know that it is not until Heaven that the Christian will never have any death, sorrow, pain, or crying. Until we get to Heaven, what are we to do with our trials? What is the purpose of trials? How do we cope when trials come upon us? What do we do with the emotions that seem to overtake us during a trial? I hope to answer these questions in the blogs about coping strategies.

First of all, I think it is important to understand that when a person becomes a Christian, they give their life to God to be used to accomplish His Will in and through them. (Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.) As Christians, our lives are to bring honor and glory to God in every situation. (I Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.) We must also know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Any situation that comes in a Christian’s life is an opportunity to give glory to God.

Suffering can be good and is sometime used to accomplish God’s Will. Christ’s suffering was hard but good. Through Christ’s suffering, He made a way to the Father and eternal life for those who trust in His sacrifice. There may be times when God will use our sufferings to lead people to Christ. God may use us to be His hands and feet to comfort others who are going through something that we have already gone through. (II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.)

God uses trials to make us become more like Christ. (Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.) People cannot physically see God and His character. One way for people to see Christ is to see Him in how we live. We may be the only Bible people read. The question to ask is, “Am I being a proper representation of God?” If we are not being a proper representation, God will use trials to bring about godly character in us. (Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.)

Trials can be a faith builder. When we have trials in our life and we see miracles happen, it strengthens our faith. The disciples were with Christ 24/7 and had seen Christ perform many miracles. Christ sent them out to experience a personal storm. Their faith was tested. When Christ calmed the storm, it deepened their faith to know that He was God. No one else could control the wind and the sea. (Mark 4:35-41) There may be times where our situation seems impossible. Then, God comes along and works out the situation. It deepens our faith to know that God is there for us and can do the impossible. He is God!

Sometimes we bring heartache upon ourselves. Sin brings pain and suffering. The consequences to sin are not joyful. Trials can be used to keep us on the right path. The Father chastises those He loves. (Hebrews 12:5-6 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”) If there were no negative consequences to sin, why would we want to change?

We can see that there are many reasons for trials. When our coping abilities are taxed, what do we do? In the next blog, I will talk about how people deal with their stresses in a negative way. The final blog will be the positive ways to cope that result in positive change.

Till next time, Linda Svacha 🙂

Joy Part II ~ Emotions XIII

When I was preparing for the class on joy, verse upon verse kept coming into my head. God is the author of joy and He is very clear in His Word how we can obtain it. It is up to us to do what is necessary to receive joy. Let God’s Word speak to you.

Being in the presence of God:

  • Psalm 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
  • Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”

Joy because of what God has done:

  • Psalm 126:3 “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad.”

Faith and trust in the Lord bring joy:

  • Proverbs 10:28 “The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”
  • Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.”

Hope of salvation:

  • I Peter 1:3-9 talks about how we can have joy in trials because we keep our eyes on the end of our faith ~ salvation!
  • Matthew 25:23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant….Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:14-30 is a parable to understand what God has for the Christian.)

God puts gladness in the heart:

  • Psalm 4:7 “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.”

Sorrow turned to joy:

  • Psalm 30:4-5 “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor if for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
  • John 16:16-24 talks about Christ leaving causing the disciples to have sorrow, but their sorrow will be turned to joy when they see Him again. These verses talk about the pain of a woman in childbirth, but joy comes when she sees her baby.

Abiding in Christ and bearing fruit brings joy:

  • John 15:9-17 talks about abiding in Christ, keeping His commandments, and bearing fruit.
  • John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit:

  • Galatians 5:22 but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Shout and sing for joy:

  • Isaiah 12:6 Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!
  • Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright of heart!

Joy and laughter is good for you:

  • Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart does good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.

Keep your eye on the joy that is waiting:

  • Hebrews 12:1-2 therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The joy of the Lord is your strength:

  • Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

God’s wisdom brings joy:

  • Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding;

Notice that joy does not come by having things, knowing people, having the perfect family, job, home, etc. Joy comes in knowing Christ and living for Him. Go back and look at the list again, pick one area that you need to work on, apply it to your life and watch God give you a joy that is beyond what you could have dreamed.

Linda Savcha 🙂

My 2012 Reflection ~ 2013 Goals

With every new year, it is a time to stop and evaluate your life. It is a time to ask yourself, “What did I do the past year?” “What are some goals that I would like for the upcoming year?” “What reasonable steps do I need to implement in order to accomplish those goals?”

What did I do in 2012?

  • 2012 was a very exciting year in many ways for me. To start the year, I went to Germany to help Kelly, Carter, and Max get settled back in and wait for the return of Stephen from Afghanistan. While I was there, Kelly, Carter, and I did a little sightseeing. The most exciting sight that I got to see was the Roman Gate. I talk about the Roman Gate in my book and in the parenting series that I teach. I never thought that I would one day actually stand in the very thing that I talk about. It was a God moment.
  • When I returned home from Germany, I went on to finish my Associate’s degree in mental health :).
  • I was able to do a number of classes through Building Strong Families. I put together a new series, Understanding Your Emotions. God has given us emotions, but too often, our emotions control us. This series is designed to understand what emotions are and teach people how to have control over them. I loved being able to share some of the wisdom that the Lord has given me with others and was able to make many new friends.
  • John and I were blessed to take a vacation to Florida where we spent an enjoyable, relaxing time getting to know my sister, Carol and her husband, Attilio.
  • One of the most exciting things that happened to me in 2012 was the launch of my first book, “Pass God’s Legacy to Your Children: One Talk at a Time.” Many of my family and friends came out to the launch to show their support. Words cannot describe the blessing I received that day. It is my prayer that this book will help parents stay united with their children so they can pass God’s legacy down to them.
  • I was glad that Kelly and her family came stateside. It is a little easier to visit with them living in the states. They came to MI for a couple of weeks while they waited for their things to arrive in NC from Germany. We were able to end the year by going to NC for Christmas. Most of the family was able to come, as well. There were some trials while we were there (Aaron’s car broke down and had to be fixed and Carter went to the ER two times before being admitted to the hospital). The trials didn’t hinder our plans because the goal was to just hang out and be together and that is just what we did.
  • I was a proud grandmother, as Madison, Riley, and Avery all received student of the month some time in 2012. I am glad they live close and I get to be a part of their lives on a regular basis.

Some hard times:

  • One of the hardest times of the year was having to say, “See you later.” to my father-in-law who went to be with the Lord in June. He was a wonderful man who touched my life in many ways. I will always treasure the memories that we shared.
  • Just days after my father-in-law passed away, Kelly and Stephen lost their baby who would have entered this world in February. God used Baby Patterson to show me that indeed a baby is a person at the moment of conception.
  • Another hard moment was having to stop teaching the teen Sunday school class. It is always hard when the Lord moves you to something else in ministry. I was glad that Norman & Megan were able to step right in to take over. I am able to stay involved in ministry at the church by directing some different skits. I love doing skits because I am able to work with all different age groups.

I look forward to what God has for me in 2013. It is my goal to bring honor and glory to the name of Christ in everything I do. Paul’s motto that I, too, want to live by is, “To live is Christ; to die is gain.”

  • My main ministry is my family. It is my goal to love them and to be a part of helping them grow in all areas of their lives (spiritually, physically, emotionally, academically, and socially).
  • I want to be there to help others become all God created them to be, as well.
    • I will use Building Strong Families to offer free classes to help people gain knowledge to accomplish their goals to become better people in all areas of their lives.
    • I want to use my book, Pass God’s Legacy to Your Children: One Talk at a Time, to help parents stay connected to their children so they can help their children grow into responsible adults who love the Lord. (Any adult who works with children can benefit from the information in the book.)
    • I will use my blogging to help others grow in all areas of their lives.
    • A group of us do a Facebook Bible study. Currently, we are studying the book of Joshua. John and I are hosting a Bible Study in our home where we are studying the basics of Christianity. You are welcome to join either or both.
    • Every day, I want to be available for God to use me as a tool in His hands. In order to do that, I must keep my relationship with Him close so I can hear what He is calling me to do. I do not want to miss any opportunities.

Take time out to evaluate your life. Write out your goals and the steps that you need to take to accomplish those goals. Remember, “Small steps keep you going in the right direction.” Do not try to do so much all at once that you stop. Take one step at a time. May God use your life in a mighty way in 2013.

Love, Linda Svacha 🙂