Seeking Balance: Ten “Vitamin C” Tips for Healthy Family Relationships

What produces lasting bonds in relationships?  Why do some relationships fail, while others deepen and become more meaningful?  Understanding the “Vitamin C”, or “Caring Function” of a parent, is one way to understand and develop healthy relationships with our children.  These tips also apply to your spouse and other relationships.

            How do parents communicate that they care about their children?  First, they listen to the needs of the child and help to address those needs.  Feeding, changing diapers, ensuring sufficient sleep, holding and cuddling, protecting the child from predators, all are needed when the child is an infant and growing.  Helping the child learn competence in facing challenges begins with secure bonding early in life.  This includes attentiveness to the child in subtle, interactive ways, such as playing “peek-a-boo” or “hide and seek” in an age-appropriate way.    

As the child grows and is increasingly able to meet his/her own needs, a parent steps back and encourages the child to “fly the nest”.  This may be when your daughter takes her first step on a school bus or when you allow your son to play football in spite of your fear that he will get injured.   Trusting that your child is learning “self-care” (how to feed themselves, meet their own needs, and protect themselves) is part of growing up.  A parent is challenged to tune in to the child’s heart and listen even more intentionally to the new and emerging needs that are expressed in more subtle ways.

Here are ten tips for communicating “Vitamin C” with your child or with any healthy relationship.    

  1. Listen attentively.  Listen by tuning out all extraneous noise, in your head and in your environment (such as the television). 
  2. Listen to the feelings and emotional reactions of the other person.  Be as non-defensive as possible, giving them permission to express whatever feelings they experience.   
  3. Listen to the central idea being expressed.  Do not get sidetracked by details, but stay tuned to the key thought or belief they express.
  4. Listen to the needs you hear being expressed either verbally or non-verbally.  What does their facial expression tell you?  What is their behavior telling you?   Are they expressing a desire to be “loved”, for independence, or to prove their “competence” to handle a situation?  Do they simply want to be close to you?
  5. Listen with your “observing self,” so you use the advantage of your speed of thought over their speed of speech to tune in to what they are saying.  Don’t let your mind wander or jump ahead to what you want to say, but stay tuned in to the other person.
  6. Encourage the person to continue with his/her thoughts and feelings as much as possible.  Use phrases like “Tell me more” or “Go on”, or simply through good eye contact and nods showing non-verbal acknowledgement.
  7. Rephrase or paraphrase what you hear the person saying, boiling down the essence of their communication, to demonstrate that you have been listening.  If unsure, you can check with them by expressing, “This is what I hear you saying. …… Is that right?”
  8. Show mercy and forgiveness in the relationship.  No relationship can survive without the ability of each party to overlook some degree of faults, mistakes, or offenses. For the Caring (Vitamin C) function, choose to let go of offenses.
  9. Withhold judgment or any “Vitamin E” feedback (Executive Function of a parent or helper), until you receive confirmation that you understood accurately the person to whom you are listening.
  10. Give them a hug.  In our technological age of cell phone communication, physical touch gets seriously neglected.  Give your child, and your friends, a hug today.

By communicating Vitamin C in any relationship, you convey respect, acceptance, and love.   In giving others this gift, you build trust and healthier relationships with your family and others.

Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger (Part 3)

This is the final part of Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Develop assertive communication skills. You can use the anger to motivate you to assertive, but not aggressive, action.  Assertiveness includes open, honest communication that expresses your concerns and what you want.  Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent responses are examples of healthy assertive action that brought about positive change.  You can do the same in your family, speaking the truth in love.

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.” I Thess. 5:14-15

How can we communicate assertively to others who are “unruly”, without allowing our anger to take us down the road of gossip or revenge?

Evaluate and modify your thinking in the direction of being grateful for the blessings in your life.  This is particularly true when we notice an underlying hostility from unresolved anger that is beginning to fester within us.  Learning to let go of offenses and embracing our blessings has great value for our own health and the health of our relationships with others.

“But I am afflicted and in pain; May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high. I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:29-30 

Reflect on how so many of the Psalms go from the hurts inflicted by others, leading to anger in David.  Then, the Lord brings him to a place of praise and rejoicing in the faithfulness of the Lord.

Forgiveness is fundamental. Understanding, accepting, and letting go of offenses is a process we go through in relationships we value.  This is a process that takes time for some, but is something we are all challenged to embrace. 

Read Matthew 18:15-35

Reconciliation between people in conflict is clearly the ideal, even if it is not always possible.  Reflect on the lessons in this passage, particularly the parable of the unforgiving servant.  Consider the debt we owe to God and that He has forgiven us completely.  Does any offense of others against you even come close?  How might we reinforce this truth in our lives on a daily basis?   Also consider Matt. 6:7-15

Modified from an original article written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2016.

Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Consider the offense before responding. Focus on the big picture, rather than reacting on impulse. Attempt to understand their reason for offending you in the way they did, or if they even meant it as an offense.  What is really triggering your feelings of anger?  How might your response affect your future relationship?

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11

How can reflecting on situations that trigger our anger help us grow wiser in our responses?       

Release the anger before the day is over. Holding on to your anger is not worth it on many levels, including your health. Research has even shown it increases pain and depression levels.  Seek to release the anger as quickly as possible.

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Ephesians 4:26

Reflect on how it is permissible to be angry, but it is wise to let it go as quickly as possible.  What helps you to do this?

Tell yourself “I am not easy to offend.” And believe it. You really can modify your habitual ways of thinking.   

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Consider how the disciplines we learn through being disciples of Christ help bring about transformation in our ways of thinking and our behavior. See also Colossians 3:8

Avoid a victim mentality. Even if you are a victim of unfair treatment, you do not want to get stuck there. Instead, look for ways to empower yourself and take responsibility to manage your life and relationships in healthier ways.  Considering your situation from the position of an equal rather than from a superior or inferior position can help you negotiate relationship conflicts and work toward win-win solutions.

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21

Consider how you have been a victim of wrongdoing, and how difficult it was not to respond with some form of revenge, passive or aggressive.  How can we find the grace and strength to avoid this natural pattern?

Next week we will finish with part 3 of Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Modified from an original article written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2016.

Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger (Part 1)

How do you feel when others do not meet your expectations, or when you do not get what you want?  Do you “bite your wife’s head off?”  Do you lose your voice yelling at your kids?  Do you secretly obsess and seethe at something your neighbor did, wondering how you can get even? 

Depending on many complex factors, we can react in many different ways.  Sometimes we are simply irritated, frustrated, or impatient.  Other times we rage, at least on the inside. 

Anger brings with it a great deal of physiological arousal.  Your heart beats faster, your breathing rate increases, your pupils constrict, and your blood flows more to your active muscles – all signs that your adrenal glands are pumping more hormones which signal your body to go into “fight or flight” mode. 

Here are a few tips to help you cope in a way that can diminish the damage that poor anger management does to both you and those around you.

Delay your response. It essential to break negative automatic and habitual ways of expressing your anger that hurt others and yourself.  “Counting to 10” is age old advice that really does serve a purpose.  It helps you engage the thinking portions of your brain so you can evaluate the potential consequences of the angry comments you would like to make.

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

Contemplate ways that you can delay your response without shutting down completely or repressing your anger in unhealthy ways.

Resist acting out anger inappropriately. This can be verbal or non-verbal behavior.  Saying or doing things intended to hurt others will only escalate your problems.  Be slow to speak.  This is the path of mature, responsible adult behavior.

“He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:1-6

Consider the contrast in ways that Jesus handled his anger and how the Pharisees handled their anger toward Jesus.   In what appropriate ways did Jesus direct his anger? 

Listen attentively and objectively. What is the other person really communicating? How is the person feeling?  Seek to really put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Research shows the high value of empathy in overcoming habitual expressions of anger.

“He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.Proverbs 18:13

Recall a conversation in which you became angry without really understanding the actual situation. How did you feel when you realized your mistake?

Next week we will continue Seeking Balance in Coping with Anger.

Modified from an original article written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2016.

Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions (Part 3)

This is the final part of Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions.

Monitor yourself.  You have a tendency to resist in your partner what you suppress in yourself.  In more intimate relationships, you may express anger at your spouse for being scared, depressed, or embarrassed.  Use these times as opportunities to examine yourself for the same emotion you see in others that upsets you. Ask yourself “why am I feeling this way”?

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” II Cor. 13:5

Reflect on I Corinthians 11:28; Ephesians 4:26-27

Focus on goals.  Making choices to behave in the right manner, independent of your mood or feelings, is important in many situations.  Besides parenting, work settings which focus on customer service provide many examples, such as a waitress who refrains from throwing the soup on an irritating customer. 

Reflect on Proverbs 22:6; Rom. 12:1-2; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; I John 4:11-21

Study role models.  Find people you admire, particularly the way they generally handle their emotions.  Comparison can be a trap that brings you down, but learning from a role model and growing to imitate them is what children, apprentices and disciples have done for millennia. 

“For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.” I Corinthians 4:15-17

Reflect on I Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; II Thessalonians 3:7-9; Matthew 28:19-20

Learn assertive communication.  You may choose to remain silent, but acknowledging and expressing your feelings in an appropriate manner is an important part of emotional health.  Remember, assertion is not aggression or arrogance.  It is simply confident and straightforward communication.

Reflect on Jeremiah 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:15; Acts 4:13; 18:26-28; Titus 2:1-10

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, October 2018

Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions.

Accept responsibility for your emotions.  Only then will you learn to face the reasons they were triggered and manage your responses to others.  They may be influenced by hereditary factors and family dynamics or experiences beyond your control.  Only you, however, can take responsibility for your ability to strategize and make changes in how you cope with your own emotional reactions.

“But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.” Gal.6:4-5

Reflect on I John 1:6-10; Revelation 3:19-20; Psalm 51

Consider biological factors.  Hereditary and hormonal differences exist in our lives, and different stages of life can bring about biochemical changes in our bodies that may require medical attention.  If natural coping strategies do not work such as those taught by a psychologist or pastor, consider alternative medical approaches, and certainly get a medical exam and blood work to rule out problems such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or many other medical conditions that can affect your emotional well-being.

Reflect on Genesis 1:29-30; Psalm 147:3; Proverbs 17:22; Jeremiah 8:22; Matthew 9:12; Colossians 4:14

Respond, don’t react.  This will be hard.  Reactions are automatic; responses require thought.  Think over the big picture and evaluate your best response.  This gives time for your limbic system and it’s “fight or flight response” to settle down.  It also engages the cortex of your brain, and you will be a better parent, spouse, or friend as a result.  You will be able to refrain from saying things you would regret later.  In other words, do not correct others or discuss important things while angry.

“A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor.” Proverbs 12:16

Reflect on:  James 1:19-20; Romans 12:2; 15:1,18; 21:23-24; Eph. 4:26

Set a positive emotional goal.  Select the opposite emotion to what you feel, then contemplate what may help you move in that direction.  For example, if angry, how can you move toward peace? Perhaps you take a break to contemplate a relaxing fishing trip. Or when depressed and you want to experience more joy, contact with a distant family member or friend. Simply remembering the blessing of some key people in your life’s journey can redirect depression.

Reflect on Galatians 5:22-26; Philippians 4:4-9; John 14:27-28

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.” Romans 15:13-14

Next week we will finish with part 3 of Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions.

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, October 2018.

Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions (Part 1)

Emotions are automatic, instinctive reactions within us to circumstances and relationships with others. The television news channel may stir negative feelings within you. Your spouse may inspire positive responses upon your return home. Perhaps you react to the misbehavior of a child, or the warmth of a phone call from a distant friend. Emotions are triggered deep in our limbic system resulting in a wide range of feelings. 

Our brain develops habits and patterns of responding to different situations resulting in our feelings. When they are stuck in a negative state, such as anxiety, depression, shame, or anger, reactions seem to take over, often in an overwhelming manner. We feel like we have no control over the emotions we are experiencing.

Reflect on the emotions of each person in:  Genesis 42:1 – 46:34; I Kings3:16-28; II Peter 2:12-15; Luke 22:39-62 & Matthew 27:1-5

From a Biblical perspective, our emotions are a part of our inner life, or the heart.  Apart from Christ, we seem like simply a “higher order” animal, as evolutionary theory postulates.  In Christ, however, our true identity is discovered, made in the image of God, created for fellowship with Him and with purpose given to us by Him.  Either way, our emotions are part of our normal human experience, with both positive feelings like joy or excitement, and negative feelings such as scared, sad or angry.

The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.”
Proverbs 14:10

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”
Proverbs 15:13

Reflect on John 14:27; 16:6; Psalm 69:20; 73:21-22; 84:2; II Peter 2:12-15

While each emotion we experience can be managed through more specific strategies, there are general principles which are helpful to understand as you seek self-mastery over negative emotional states.

Non-judgmental self-acceptance.  Tune in to emotions and accept what you feel.  Reacting negatively to your feelings will only lead to more emotional turmoil within you.  Awareness is necessary. Not judging yourself for feeling angry, anxious, or depressed, is a starting point foundational to the change strategies noted in the rest of this article.

 “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 12:8-10

Reflect on John 1:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 4:26-27; Romans 1:7; 3:24

Challenge your thinking.  If you have developed ways of thinking that are judgmental or if you tend to magnify negative events and minimize positive experiences, learn to challenge these unhealthy thought patterns.  The same applies if you are overly critical of yourself or see everything as a threat to you.  Many other negative thought patterns can be identified and thus can be changed.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:1-5

Reflect on II Cor. 10:3-5; I Peter 1:6-9, 13-16

Distract yourself.  When you find yourself ruminating about something upsetting, a distraction technique can help.  You can redirect your mind to something more positive and rewarding. An example might be learning to give thanks or to focus on what you are grateful for in general. 

 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

Reflect on Hebrews 11:32-12:4; II Corinthians 10:3-5; Psalm 19:1

Value love.  Whether friendship or marriage, parent or child, an unselfish love is to be valued highly for the sake of one’s emotional health.  Paradoxically, it is by tuning into others, not ourselves, that our own need for love becomes fulfilled.  Love will motivate the repair of broken relationships and unity with others.  It will also bring emotional balance to your life with the fruit of having other positive emotional experiences.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10

Reflect on I Corinthians 13:1-13; I John 4:7-21, Heb. 10:24-25; Eph.3:14-19, 4:11-16; John 13:34-35

Next week we will continue Seeking Balance in Managing Our Emotions.

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, October 2018.

Seeking Balance to Live Life (Part 3)

This is a continuation of last week’s Seeking Balance to Live Life (Part 2).

Accept vulnerability. You are vulnerable to many uncertainties in life, because no one can predict the future.  You are vulnerable to the past through unwanted thoughts and feelings because the past cannot be eliminated. Instead of trying to control them, accept their existence and give them less power by refocusing your mind in a valued direction.

Reflect on Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 10:16-20; Romans 13:1-10; 15:1-7

Manage your thoughts.  Even when you breathe, you can say to yourself “I am breathing in relaxation and acceptance, and (with each exhale) I am experiencing peace and life.”   Learn to challenge the unhealthy thoughts connected to the fight-flight or shut-down response, using healthier, life-giving truths that help you experience life more fully. 

Reflect on Philippians 4:8; II Corinthians 10:3-5

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7a

Choose Love.  Open up to giving and receiving love.  It is the highest value, and through it we all can experience freedom from the ravages of the fight-flight or fright response.  Forgiveness for ourselves and others is found under the umbrella of love, as is hope for the future.  As philosophers and spiritually minded people have indicated for millennia, love is a resource which will never run out.

Reflect on John 17:23; I Corinthians 13; I John 3:16-18; I John 4:7-21

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2019.

Seeking Balance to Live Life (Part 2)

This is a continuation of last week’s post on Seeking Balance to Live Life.

Assess the threat.  Is the threat realistic or more in our own minds?  Mark Twain said “I’ve lived a long and horrible life, and most of it never happened.”  Our minds are often the true battlefield wherein we struggle.  We magnify perceived threats, demand impossible perfection from ourselves for fear of rejection, minimize our own strengths, and so on.

Reflect on Proverbs 28:1-2; Ephesians 6:10-12
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” II Timothy 1:7

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” I Thessalonians 5:21-22

Resolve memories.  When we do get attacked and injured, the memory of it is often where people become stuck.  We can relive the experience over and over, even in nightmares.  Instead, face those memories, grieve what needs grieving, confront what needs confronting, and seek resolution so that you may live in the present.  Let go of labels about yourself that hold you back.

Reflect on Exodus 1:14; Ruth 1:20
The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy. Proverbs 14:10

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Breathe.  Focusing and taking charge of your breathing connects the deep limbic system with the conscious, thinking part of the brain.  You can slow your breaths to six breaths a minute, five seconds in and five seconds out, for example.  We can also consider how God breathed life into us and has given us this gift of life.

Reflect on  Proverbs 14:30; Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Psalm 150:6

“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22

Choose your valued direction.  There are many roads from which to choose, so consider your values and beliefs, and choose wisely.  Move in that direction, allowing it to energize you.  It is a continuing process.  Remember, you are living life, contributing to the world.  Commit yourself to ongoing action, knowing life is not a destination, but a journey.

Reflect on: Elisha in II Kings 2:9; Titus 2:14

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. “ Ephesians 2:10;

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.  There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” I Corinthians 12:4-7

Next week we will finish up Seeking Balance to Live Life.

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2019.

Seeking Balance to Live Life (Part 1)

Life throws us curve balls, or sometimes fast balls that really hurt when we are hit.  We find  ourselves battling various threats to our well-being, like a swordsman parrying the attack of an enemy.  At a visceral level, we feel the fight-flight or fright response taking place in our central nervous system. 

This automatic response to threats may lead us to anxiety and panic.  We find ourselves running in flight mode, seeking to avoid the danger that feels like a cougar on our back with its claws and teeth taking the life out of us.  Or, we turn and fight, becoming more vicious ourselves like a pit-bull fighting for its life.  Sometimes we give up and play possum, with our system in total shut-down mode.   

Reflect on Elijah in I Kings 18:16-19:4

How do we manage these situations so we may pursue a meaningful and productive life? 

Here are a few tips which may help.   

Notice your avoidance pattern.  What feelings and experiences are you seeking to avoid?  Evaluate your own fight-flight or fright pattern in your thoughts and actions. Learn to become an observer of your own responses to perceived threats.  Addictions and various emotional and psychological problems can grow out of this pattern.

Reflect on Joseph’s brothers in Genesis 42 –Genesis 44

Learn acceptance.  Rather than fighting your emotional reactions, befriend them.  These physical and emotional responses are automatic, signaling you that some threat is present.  The real enemy is your learned patterns of avoidance.  You are seeking increased flexibility and freedom in your life.   For example, you may gain freedom by saying a loving “No,” when necessary, if you are prone to say “Yes,” against your will to avoid the discomfort of offending someone.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7

Reflect on James 4:6-10

Open up to life.   Refocus yourself to the world around you.  Learn to appreciate the art that is all around you.  Enjoy the varied types of music.  Appreciate the seasons and the beauty of nature, which has been called “the greatest show on earth.”  Dogs, cats, birds, horses, and creatures from the animal kingdom all have something to offer as you open up to life in the direction of your choice. The Lord has made all things for you to enjoy in His presence.

Reflect on Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-6

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

Next week we will continue Seeking Balance to Live Life.

Modified from article originally written for the Hammonton Gazette, March 2019.