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What Does Survival Look Like?

Personalized Stress: The Stress we Create | FocusWithMarlene.com

When the unexpected happens, we come face to face with the unknown.

We may have lost our job, or the marriage we thought would last a lifetime has just ended. Our spouse may have died unexpectedly, or we lost our best friend. It may be the death of a child or the shocking awareness that our teen is deeply involved in drugs or gangs. Or that our health is slowly deteriorating with aging.

There are a thousand ways our life can be turned inside out and upside down in the blink of an eye. At such times, we feel like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car: paralyzed, unable to move. Shock protects us for a short time, but when it wears off, the magnitude of our circumstances hits full force.

Where Do We Go From Here? Moving Beyond Survival

January — a time for new year’s resolutions. However, like all good intentions, they fall by the wayside. Until we think through and actually define what we want, our ambitions and aspirations will remain just dreams and desires.

What do I want and why is it important to me? What is needed to create a workable goal? What benefits will I get? Where do we go from here?

Discover how considering new approaches will expand your frame of reference so you can find new coping skills that will enable you to move beyond survival.

A New Year – A New Beginning (How to Reflect on What You Learned)

A New Year – A New Beginning

As we end this year and begin another, take some time to reflect on the instructive things you have learned or gained throughout the year.

We often remain focused on regretful things and fail to remember the good things we have achieved and the obstacles we have overcome. We minimize the good things, not considering them to be that important. But they are important, as they become learning tools to take with us into the new year.

Read on for some things to consider during your reflection.

What if. . . Re-Thinking Christmas

What if. . . Re-Thinking Christmas

What if… We discovered that Christmas really was more than holiday get-togethers, calculated gifts, and the compulsory visits to relatives we otherwise would not speak to?

Would we truly experience Christmas?

What if… We really got it; that Christmas is about the birth of a Savior?

Would we realize our need for Him?

What if… We stopped trying to live perfect lives, pretending we had it all together?

Would we become real?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

“Do you hear what I hear?”

Do you hear the baby Jesus cry, born in a stable so long ago on a cold winter’s night?

Do you hear his mother, little more than a child herself, soothe him with words of love?

Do you follow his wandering gaze around the stable where cows and sheep stare back at this unknown intruder?

Can you feel the warm sticky breath of these animals as they moved closer to have a look?

Do you hear what I hear?

The Gift of Christmas

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son….”
—John 3:16

Christmas: a time of decorated trees and fireplace mantels. A time filled with commitments and hectic schedules as we make mad dashes to the store for last-minute presents.

Our “have to” lists are long and sometimes burdensome. But the love list attached to each of those gifts we select and purchase are filled with joy and anticipation; we can’t wait to see the pleasure our gift will bring to someone we love.

Both lists are necessary. One fulfills a sense of duty and propriety. The other fills our heart with joy.

Friends: No Strings Attached

A neighbor called and asked if she could come over. I was surprised since I had just seen her and her husband the night before. But she was such a delightful and bubbly person that I quickly and enthusiastically said yes.

When she arrived, she held in her hand a large carton of heavy Costco cream – the kind I enjoyed using in my coffee.

I invited her in, and she handed me the box of cream. “This is for you.”

The look on my face reflected my surprise and confusion. As she declined my offer to sit down and have a cup of coffee with me, I went to get my purse to pay for the cream.

Thank You, God, For My Kids!

drawings on refrigerator

What?! Thank you for runny noses, staying up all night, cereal dumped on the floor, clothes strewn everywhere, muddy feet, muddy floors, dogs and cats and garter snakes?

Yes, even with sleepless nights, worried nights, “No’s”, stomping feet and even, “I hate you’s,” there is nothing like my kids.

Through thick and thin, I love them. They are God’s special blessings to me. And especially now that I am older, I appreciate them even more and the wonderful memories of raising them to be strong adults.

How to Turn Challenges Into Advantages

At a women’s retreat, I asked, “Who has experienced stress in the past week?”

All hands went up. I then asked how they knew they were stressed. Their comments ranged from “constantly feeling overwhelmed” to “exhausted.”

They were unable to get everything done that was expected of them and there was little time left for pleasure or relaxation. They felt there was never enough time, there was too much to do, and they were constantly required to learn something new.

As I jotted their responses on the white board, I was reminded again of just how many demands are placed on us every day and the heavy toll it can have on our lives.

The Difficult Choices I Need to Make

There are days I don’t want to get out of bed or go to work or face another day of caregiving.

I don’t feel like being kind to my neighbors or overlooking minor irritations.

I don’t want to know I can choose to forgive or be responsible for how I react to others. It is much easier to blame.

I’m tired of working through all my problems. I don’t want to make the tough choices required of me.

And yet, would I really want to give up the freedom I have to make those difficult choices of getting up, forgiving, and working through tough problems?