Validating Others

So many times in my friendships with refugees, Jesus has given me opportunities to listen as my refugee friends share part of their ordeal. As they share their trauma with me, it is time for me to listen not rush in as the fixer. It is also not time to minimize their experience by saying something like, “well you are here now.”

What they need is what every person needs, validation. By listening to them, it shows I care, which I do, and it validates their sense of personhood. It is my desire to treat my refugee and immigrant friends with dignity as fellow image bearers of the image of God.

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There are so many people struggling in life not only refugees or immigrants. How we respond when someone confides in us can go a long way to opening a door or closing it. It depends on how we respond, what we say, how we treat them. If we listen and validate them, it can foster friendship and create future opportunities, If we throw out cliches or minimize what they share, it will close that door perhaps slam it shut.

I saw this video clip from a show. I only watched the episode with this scene in it. I thought this scene was a powerful example of responding and validating a person who is struggling.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

May- Mental Health Awareness Month

There are lyrics from the song Carried Me With You that say:

You’re the soul who understands
The scars that made me who I am

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“The scars that made me who I am” are fitting lyrics for people dealing with Mental Health issues. Many people who struggle with anxiety, depression, past trauma, have scars from life that made them who they are today. What they need is a soul who understands not stigma.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The question really is whether we are willing to be a soul that understands and not judge.

If we stop to think about it, the brain is a physical part of the body. Therefore it is possible for there to be a physiological cause of mental health issues. More and more research is coming out showing that past trauma can affect the brain.

Let’s follow the example of Jesus who is our Sympathetic High Priest. Jesus said in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

Jesus wants to give rest for those who suffer. What is our response?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Question for My Readers

I am working on two writing projects. One is about my life journey ranging from growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and mentally mother, head trauma, a health crisis, and how I came to know Jesus along the way, to where I am now. It is more of a testimony. The other is a bible study guide about living with trauma and how Jesus can help.

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So I am toying with the idea of combing the two into one with the bible study guide being the second part.

Please let me know your reaction. Separate books or combined?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Wants to Free Us from Shame

When Jesus died on cross, he died for our sins so we could be forgiven 100%. That alone is the best news.. There is more that perhaps we do not talk about enough. When Jesus died on the cross, he made the way for us to have a relationship with God. We can be reconciled with God 100%.

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But what about the effects of sins committed against us? What about the shame we might carry in our spirits because of past abuse, neglect, assault etc? Survivors of sins committed against us tend to live with shame.

Isaiah 53:4 says:

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Any suffering we have endured, Jesus took upon himself on the cross.

Isaiah 53:5 says:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Jesus died for our sins and more than that so we can be made whole.

I love the principle behind Zephaniah 3:19:

At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.

While that is a direct reference to Israel being brought back from exile, there is a principle to embrace. God will deal with those who have harmed us and will bring us to a place of honor.

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It is not easy to do and therapy and pastoral counseling can help. Releasing someone who has harmed us to God’s hands is a freeing experience for us. God does not want us living with shame because of what others have done to us. He wants to make us whole in him. He wants to give us a new identity as a daughter or son of God.

God wants us to step out of the shadows of shame in live in the light of his love.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Trauma The Invisible Prison

Anyone who has experienced trauma, whatever the cause, can feel like they are living in an invisible prison trapped by the memories of the trauma. Others may not see the trauma a person lives with but for the one living with it, it is a constant companion no one wants. It is like being taken captive.

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The good news is that Jesus has come to set the captives free. His gentle touch can bring healing to our souls, minds, and spirits. He can do his work through people such as therapists, counselors, pastors and friends.

It is important to remember a few things First, it is okay to try different therapists to find one you feel you can connect with. Second, sharing with a friend choose someone you trust to keep what is shared confidential. Lastly, with a pastor share with one who has an understanding of the need for counseling.

Remember it is okay to need help and to ask for help.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Time to Breathe

After a hectic week, it is time to relax, time to breathe. It feels like a stay home, do some writing and blogging, and order delivery food kind of day. My week started with an Abdominal CT, then three more days of teaching morning, afternoon and evening, and no visits to the coffee shop.

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I am thinking about doing a series in my blog on forgiveness which will include issues such as retaining boundaries, holding people accountable etc.

More writing ideas keep coming to me for the bible study guide for people dealing with trauma, depression/anxiety, so today will be a writing day.

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Today will also be a time with Jesus day. I have worship music playing while I write this post and will keep it playing while I write more of the bible study guide.

Oh and about coffee, no need to worry. I have some Brazilian coffee brewing right now and of course no cream or sugar in my place. There is no need of such substances for a coffee purist. 🙂

How is your day?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop

Yesterday I shared about a young woman coming into the coffee shop with her emotional support dog and our interaction. She happened to come in while I was writing a bible study guide I feel Jesus wants me to write for people dealing with depression/anxiety/PTSD. That post was A God Appointment in the Coffee Shop.

After I met with my friend from Venezuela yesterday, I returned to the coffee shop with the intention of writing some more. I sat down at a table, ate my lunch, caught up on blogs, and then was ready to write when a woman came to the table next to mine. I noticed the two books she had with her and commented on them. A conversation followed.

I found out her husband struggles with depression. She is a Christian and was looking for info about nutrition that might help. As we talked, I found out her husband had an appointment with one of the pastors at my church. We discussed many aspects of mental health in our conversation. I gave her my phone number to give to her husband. Hopefully we can connect.

Two days in a row I went to the coffee shop to write and two days in a row God brought someone across my path dealing with the issues I hope to help people with.

God is always at work around us if we will just pay attention.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A God Appointment at the Coffee Shop

Yesterday after I picked up the “contrast” I am supposed to drink Monday, I went to my favorite coffee shop. I went next door to the organic/natural food store and got some Fiesta Lime Chicken Salad, returned to the coffee shop, and got a cup of black coffee, thus retaining my title of coffee purist.

I sat down at one of my favorite tables to enjoy a relaxing day. I had shared in a previous post about my idea of a bible study guide for people who have trauma in their past and or depression/anxiety with the theme of Jesus Understands. I got a lot done on the first section about 8,000 words, when one of the young women who works there came in. She stopped in to get a treat.

On her way out, I waved to her. She came over to my table. I should mention she is quite intelligent and has good taste as evidenced by the fact she likes my jokes. 🙂

She had her little dog in her arms. I noticed the collar for the dog and realized her dog was her emotional support service dog. I told her I was glad she has the dog and that in my opinion dogs make great friends. She shared with me about how the dog can sense when she has anxiety and comes to her to sit on her chest. I shared with her why I understood and let her know whenever she sees me, that she knows I understand.

After she left, it hit me that at the same time I was writing a bible study guide for people with trauma and or depression/anxiety, I had a conversation with a young woman who struggles with anxiety. It seemed like confirmation for me.

God is always at work. He can give confirmation for us in many ways. We just need to be open to his guidance.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.