Paranoid…and a Saturn Minivan

Hey friends…I’ve been working on my second novel and haven’t gotten to blog as much as I’d like. So, I decided to put up one of my favorite posts from the past. I apologize…this one is longer than I usually write…but it’s sort of a story. I think you’ll like it 🙂

 

 

“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.”

Funny, right? An ironic funny comment that I’ve laughed at and quoted over the years. But the reality is that in most situations people are not thinking about us nearly as much as we think they are. We say something and then we obsess over it, over-analyze it and wonder if the other person is upset, bothered, annoyed by what we’ve said or done when most of the time they don’t give it a second thought.

Usually, these over-analyzing thoughts are the result of negative self-chatter and so often it can lead to misunderstandings. I remember one day, years ago when I was watching the news and saw that Saturn was coming out with a minivan. My husband had worked for Saturn so I thought he would find it interesting. I said, “Hey, did you see that Saturn is coming out with a mini-van? Cool, huh?”

The Saturn Minivan…photo credit unknown.

We liked the Saturn brand and philosophy. My thoughts were simply that I was glad to hear they had one. I knew that at some point in the future we would probably look at mini-vans. I was glad to know Saturn would now be in the mix.

That was the sum total of my thoughts on the subject and I immediately moved on to whatever was next in my brain, like “Geez, I have to come up with something for dinner, again?” or “I like coffee.” or “I wonder if tea tastes the same in England.” Some random grouping of thoughts occupied my brain (as usual).

But not my husband’s. No, his thoughts went something like this: “She wants a Saturn mini-van now. We can’t afford that. Why does she want things we can’t afford. She probably wishes she married someone who has more money. I can’t even provide the basics for my family, like a Saturn mini-van. I’m a terrible provider…” blah, blah, blah. (I can’t say these were his exact thoughts, of course. But we have talked about the “Saturn Minivan Incident” (as we now refer to it) and I know these thoughts are close.

He responded angrily, “We can’t get a minivan right now,” and he stalked off. I was brought out of my reverie on tea in England abruptly. I could have sworn I heard the squeal of said minivan tires interrupting my peaceful thoughts.

“What?” I was puzzled and starting to get ticked. Why was he yelling at me. I didn’t say I wanted a minivan. So I yelled back. “What are you talking about??”

You can picture the ensuing argument. “You said…” “No I didn’t, I said…” Etc. etc. etc. We worked it out because we eventually got to the bottom of things. What I said hit a nerve with him. He assumed I meant something I didn’t and was holding me accountable for things he assumed I was thinking. But I married a smart man. He realized quickly what had happened. He explained what he’d thought and I was able to assure him that I was thinking none of those things! It’s now something that we laugh about and reference whenever one of us is assuming things we shouldn’t.

I’m positive the shoe has been on the other foot at times in our marriage. I’m quite sure I have assumed his thoughts to be other than they are and I’ve responded out of hurt or anger. I just can’t think of a specific example right now (convenient ;)).

In her book, Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst sheds some light on the physiological effects of negative self-talk. Or as she puts it, “What some really smart people are saying about some really amazing stuff.” If I could, I’d quote the whole chapter entitled, “Negative Inside Chatter” here. But I think that would be frowned upon 😉 so you’ll have to purchase the book (which I highly recommend!!). But in this paragraph Lysa is quoting Dr. Caroline Leaf from her book, Who Switched Off My Brain:

“For instance, if you are anxious or worried about something, the hypothalamus responds to this anxiety with a flurry of stress chemicals. These chemicals engage the pituitary gland — the master gland of the endocrine system. The endocrine system in turn secretes hormones responsible for organizing trillions of cells in your body to deal with impending threats. Negative thoughts shift your endocrine system to focus on protection and limit your ability to think with wisdom or develop healthy thoughts.”

 

Whoa! Did you catch that last line? I’ll repeat it. Negative thoughts shift your endocrine system to focus on protection and limit your ability to think with wisdom or develop healthy thoughts.

I think that’s incredible. Not only do the silly things we tell ourselves cause misunderstandings and hurt feelings. They actually make it difficult for us to think in a healthy way. I almost think this is saying it makes us dumber. That’s totally my paraphrase. But it’s kind of true. The kind of negative self-chatter that we are talking about causes us to do and say stupid things. It makes us dumber.

So, STOP IT! Yes, I know it’s considered shouting when you use all caps. That’s why I did it. Cuz I mean it…and only cuz I love you…STOP IT! You know who you are. You know if you’re one of those people who over-analyze your conversations and wonder if people are upset with you because of what you said. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here; If someone is upset by what you’ve said or done it is their responsibility to either let it go (best option…being easily offended is not healthy) or to kindly let you know you’ve upset them in some way.

It is not your job to constantly wonder if someone’s upset with you. That takes your focus of of Jesus and showing his love to the world and places it squarely on yourself. Is that really where you want your focus? It’s not where I want mine. I don’t want to be dumber. I want to be peace-filled and living out my mission which is to be an ambassador of God’s love with my life.

Lysa quotes Philippians 4: 6-9 and it’s one of my favorite passages of scripture:

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

That is the opposite of becoming dumber. That is putting your concerns on the shoulders of the One who can handle them and in exchange, he will give you PEACE. And with that peace, you will have more mental energy to think about noble, right, pure, admirable and lovely things. You will live the life that you are meant to live, tell the story you’re meant to tell. I’m feeling preachy…so I’m gonna sign off now. I hope this has been as enlightening for you as it was for me. And really…get the book. (click here) It’s sooo good!
Love,
rebekah
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Books I LOVE

photo

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually buy a book just because it looks interesting. I check out the reviews first. And if a friend recommends a book, I’m even more inclined to read it. So, when I come across a book I like, I’ll be posting my reviews on my website under the Books I LOVE tab (up there ^ in the black menu bar). Because if you and I were sitting down, having coffee…I’d most likely be telling you about the last book I read cover-to-cover. (And my attention span for non-fiction is…what was I saying? Oh, yeah…short. I’m a novel reader, so a non-fiction has to be really good to hold my attention. Which means if I make it all the way through a non-fiction book, I must love it.)

I’ve done some fiction reviews in the past for BookSneeze but I’m redecorating that review space on my blog. I’m making it more of a these-books-have-helped-me-I-hope-they-help-you-too kind of place. Because sometimes God uses even one little phrase in a book to completely transform my thinking. And I LOVE when that happens.

So, until I get some new reviews posted on the Books I LOVE tab, I’m going to link you up to some past post of mine where I mention some of my favorite books and some of those “ah-ha” moments.

Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

resources-bookI’ve come unglued before (it may or may not have been yesterday…), have you? This book has been incredibly powerful for me over the past year. I see a definite change in how I handle conflict after absorbing some of the truth contained in this little book. Lysa would call it “imperfect progress” and I embrace that! Here’s a post inspired by Unglued (click here) —and if you look at the bottom of the post you’ll see other posts, also inspired by Unglued. If you are someone who has ever struggled with losing your temper or feeling like you’re coming unraveled, do yourself a favor and read this book!

 

Love Does by Bob Goff

Goff_Love_Does__89653_zoom-196x300Sept. 24, 2012: I read Love Does by Bob Goff last week and I’m changed. It is an incredible book because it forces you to think about life differently. Love isn’t an emotion as much as it’s an action! Yes, Love feels, and love hopes but most of all Love Does. It does what needs doing even if no one is (Click here to continue reading this post.)

 

Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma

Cleaning-House-1-193x300Well, this gem has inspired several posts on my blog and I’m planning on writing up a proper review (and my 12 month update) next month when my kiddos go back to school and mama has a little more free time! Let’s just say, if you have kids ages 0-18 (yes, that means if you’re a parent), read this book! It is NOT just a book about cleaning your house with kids. It is a book that will inspire you to instill confidence in your kids in the best possible ways. Read it. Really.

Click here to read the first post I wrote about this great book.

The Treasure Tree by John Trent & Gary Smalley

614s14VP0EL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_Okay, I know this looks like a kids book…that’s because it is. But there is so much more than a cute story packed into these pages. The post I wrote about the personality types described in this book (Lion, Otter, Beaver & Golden Retriever) is, by far, the most read post on my blog (click here to read). I have google hits on this baby, Every. Single. Day. This is a hot button. People are fascinated by personality styles (me too…that’s why I wrote the post!) and it’s pretty cool to see an eight-year-old pick up on what kind of personalities his siblings, parents and friends have. Your kids will love this book and so will you!

 

More to come..stay tuned!

 

 

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Paranoid…and a Saturn Minivan

“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.”

Funny, right? An ironic funny comment that I’ve laughed at and quoted over the years. But the reality is that in most situations people are not thinking about us nearly as much as we think they are. We say something and then we obsess over it, over-analyze it and wonder if the other person is upset, bothered, annoyed by what we’ve said or done when most of the time they don’t give it a second thought.

Usually, these over-analyzing thoughts are the result of negative self-chatter and so often it can lead to misunderstandings. I remember one day, years ago when I was watching the news and saw that Saturn was coming out with a minivan. My husband had worked for Saturn so I thought he would find it interesting. I said, “Hey, did you see that Saturn is coming out with a mini-van? Cool, huh?”

The Saturn Minivan…photo credit unknown.

We liked the Saturn brand and philosophy. My thoughts were simply that I was glad to hear they had one. I knew that at some point in the future we would probably look at mini-vans. I was glad to know Saturn would now be in the mix. That was the sum total of my thoughts on the subject and I immediately moved on to whatever was next in my brain, like “Geez, I have to come up with something for dinner, again?” or “I like coffee.” or “I wonder if tea tastes the same in England.” Some random grouping of thoughts occupied my brain (as usual).

But not my husband’s. No, his thoughts went something like this: “She wants a Saturn mini-van now. We can’t afford that. Why does she want things we can’t afford. She probably wishes she married someone who has more money. I can’t even provide the basics for my family, like a Saturn mini-van. I’m a terrible provider…” blah, blah, blah. (I can’t say these were his exact thoughts, of course. But we have talked about the “Saturn Minivan Incident” (as we now refer to it) and I know these thoughts are close.

He responded angrily, “We can’t get a minivan right now,” and he stalked off. I was brought out of my reverie on tea in England abruptly. I could have sworn I heard the squeal of said minivan tires interrupting my peaceful thoughts.

“What?” I was puzzled and starting to get ticked. Why was he yelling at me. I didn’t say I wanted a minivan. So I yelled back. “What are you talking about??”

You can picture the ensuing argument. “You said…” “No I didn’t, I said…” Etc. etc. etc. We worked it out because we eventually got to the bottom of things. What I said hit a nerve with him. He assumed I meant something I didn’t and was holding me accountable for things he assumed I was thinking. But I married a smart man. He realized quickly what had happened. He explained what he’d thought and I was able to assure him that I was thinking none of those things! It’s now something that we laugh about and reference whenever one of us is assuming things we shouldn’t.

I’m positive the shoe has been on the other foot at times in our marriage. I’m quite sure I have assumed his thoughts to be other than they are and I’ve responded out of hurt or anger. I just can’t think of a specific example right now (convenient ;)).

In her book, Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst sheds some light on the physiological effects of negative self-talk. Or as she puts it, “What some really smart people are saying about some really amazing stuff.” If I could, I’d quote the whole chapter entitled, “Negative Inside Chatter” here. But I think that would be frowned upon 😉 so you’ll have to purchase the book (which I highly recommend!!). But in this paragraph Lysa is quoting Dr. Caroline Leaf from her book, Who Switched Off My Brain:

“For instance, if you are anxious or worried about something, the hypothalamus responds to this anxiety with a flurry of stress chemicals. These chemicals engage the pituitary gland — the master gland of the endocrine system. The endocrine system in turn secretes hormones responsible for organizing trillions of cells in your body to deal with impending threats. Negative thoughts shift your endocrine system to focus on protection and limit your ability to think with wisdom or develop healthy thoughts.”

 

Whoa! Did you catch that last line? I’ll repeat it. Negative thoughts shift your endocrine system to focus on protection and limit your ability to think with wisdom or develop healthy thoughts.

I think that’s incredible. Not only do the silly things we tell ourselves cause misunderstandings and hurt feelings. They actually make it difficult for us to think in a healthy way. I almost think this is saying it makes us dumber. That’s totally my paraphrase. But it’s kind of true. The kind of negative self-chatter that we are talking about causes us to do and say stupid things. It makes us dumber.

So, STOP IT! Yes, I know it’s considered shouting when you use all caps. That’s why I did it. Cuz I mean it…and only cuz I love you…STOP IT! You know who you are. You know if you’re one of those people who over-analyze your conversations and wonder if people are upset with you because of what you said. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here; If someone is upset by what you’ve said or done it is their responsibility to either let it go (best option…being easily offended is not healthy) or to kindly let you know you’ve upset them in some way.

It is not your job to constantly wonder if someone’s upset with you. That takes your focus of of Jesus and showing his love to the world and places it squarely on yourself. Is that really where you want your focus? It’s not where I want mine. I don’t want to be dumber. I want to be peace-filled and living out my mission which is to be an ambassador of God’s love with my life.

Lysa quotes Philippians 4: 6-9 and it’s one of my favorite passages of scripture:

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

That is the opposite of becoming dumber. That is putting your concerns on the shoulders of the One who can handle them and in exchange, he will give you PEACE. And with that peace, you will have more mental energy to think about noble, right, pure, admirable and lovely things. You will live the life that you are meant to live, tell the story you’re meant to tell. I’m feeling preachy…so I’m gonna sign off now. I hope this has been as enlightening for you as it was for me. And really…get the book. (click here) It’s sooo good!
Love,
rebekah
P.S. Check out other blogs on this subject at www.melissataylor.org

 

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Revealing X-Ray Appointment

Photo Credit: Trace Meek, creative commons

“I’ll be with you as soon as I can…I’m only one person.” The receptionist/X-ray tech said with passive aggressive irritation. And my stomach twisted as I went from normal running errands-mode to what the heck is her problem-mode.

 

I had never been to this X-ray office but it’s literally three steps from the pediatrician’s office so it was a convenient way to find out whether or not my son, “Fifteen” had broken his thumb or not. When we had walked in 20 minutes prior, she had taken my insurance card and told us there was one person ahead of us. She said that she’d have some paperwork for me to fill out in a couple of minutes.

 

After waiting for at least 20 minutes, “Fifteen” asked me if we should go ask her about the paperwork. In any other doctor’s office I’ve been to, they hand you a clip-board filled with enough paperwork to buy a house and it takes a while to fill it out. So it did feel like a bit of a waste of time to be sitting there not filling anything out. I approached the window and politely asked her if I could begin filling out the paperwork.

 

Her response, above, completely threw me off. I wasn’t trying to rush her or upset her. I wasn’t indicating she wasn’t doing a good job. Yet her tone and words made me feel like I had done something wrong. I bit my tongue and returned to my seat, irritated that her attitude had bumped into my happy!

 

Several minutes later she called me up and handed me a paper to look over. She had pulled my info from the insurance company and there was nothing for me to fill out. I just had to confirm the info. Now I understood her comment a little better. There was no mortgage-sized clip board to fill out. She couldn’t give me the paperwork until she’d entered it into the computer. Okay. I get it. Could have been said in a nicer way. But okay. I realized she was probably just having a bad day.

 

However she then told me that they are there to service the orthopedic doctor that they share the office with and they are contractually obligated to take his patients first. So, would I mind if she took the next gentleman in front of me. By this point I’d been there around 40 minutes. I told her that it would have been good to know that when we walked in, but she could do whatever she needed to do. I wasn’t snarky or mean. But I wasn’t sweet either. I was just business-like, I guess.

 

But as I sat down to wait, yet again, I began thinking of all I’m learning through the Unglued Online Bible Study. I began to x-ray my emotions and I remembered that instead of allowing them to dictate my responses, I can choose a Godly response. Did I have a right to be annoyed? Yes. But I’ve learned that just because we have a right to do something doesn’t mean it’s actually right to do it.

 

In my quiet time, yesterday, I was reading about God being our Abba Father, our daddy. And the thought came…how much do I resemble my dad? Can people tell at a glance that I’m his child?

Sitting in an office looking like I’d sucked on a lemon would not have been much of a representation. So I decided to live what I believe. I believe God wants us to be his Love to people. Love God. Love People. It’s not that complicated. 

 

So when her computer log-in wasn’t working and she couldn’t get my credit card to run through, I smiled big and told her it wasn’t a problem…and it wasn’t! I wasn’t irritated at all because my focus had changed from what I wanted or needed to figuring out how I could be loving to the woman behind the glass. She apologized profusely for the wait and the issues and I continued to reassure her it wasn’t a problem. She explained she wasn’t usually at this office and she was just having a bad day. I reassured her repeatedly that I understood. No problem.

 

“Fifteen” finally got his X-ray (no break, yay!) and when she gave us our final paperwork, I handed her a card for a free entrée from my husband’s restaurant, telling her that I knew she’d had a bad day I hoped it would get better. She was so surprised and thrilled. She apologized again and I told her again not to worry.

 

She really was a nice woman and I’m so thankful that God got my attention and helped me to diffuse something that could have ruined both our days. Instead, I think we each felt a little better for having met each other. And I feel like I have one more notch in my imperfect progress belt. 😉 Not perfect…but making progress. I’m getting it Lord. I’m getting it! 🙂

 

How about you, my friends? Are you making a bit of imperfect progress in the areas that you want to work on? Are you struggling with emotions that rule your day rather than figuring out how to rule those emotions? It’s not to late to join us at www.melissataylor.org for the Unglued Online Bible Study! I promise you won’t regret it.

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Overthrow Those Dictators!

Do you ever feel like you’re coming unglued? Like you’re losing it and you can almost see the situation from a distance, knowing you should stop and regroup but you don’t? Your emotions are in control of your brain and they are not slowing down. I’ve never felt like that but I’ve heard about it. Ha! Okay, so I may have experienced this once or twice which is why I was immediately drawn to Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, “Unglued; Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.”

As with any issue that we are trying to work on in our lives, we can get caught up in the myth of perfectionism and quit before we see any progress. We quit trying at the first sign of failure because we don’t like feeling like a failure. We think, “If I can’t do it right, I’m not going to bother trying.” So if we’re trying to control our tongue and we keep messing up and losing our temper, we may say, “Forget it. I’m just a hot head.” We settle.

But something Lysa says in this book gave me so much hope in dealing not just with my emotions, but with any area of my life that I want to improve. She talks about the idea of imperfect progress. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be progressing. I struggle with my emotions in spurts. I wouldn’t say it’s a consuming issue for me, but I do struggle with self-discipline daily. In a huge way.

I have totally fallen into the perfection trap. Because I’ve tried to work on this area for so many years I can easily get discouraged and just get to a point where I say, “Forget it, I’ll never conquer this. I’m just a disorganized mess!” But when I view my struggle in light of imperfect progress, I feel encouraged. I can look back and see that I am definitely more self-controlled than I was five years ago. I am making progress. And I will continue to do so.

As I’ve said, emotions aren’t always a struggle for me. But when “Seventeen” and I get into a bad place with each other (she’s my strong-willed one), I can easily fall into a pattern of saying things I don’t want to say. It can get ugly. And then I feel defeated. This was one of those weeks. So when I read the following paragraph in Lysa’s book, it hit home:

“But it’s hard to display self-control when someone else does things out of my control that yank my emotions into a bad place. So, here’s one little tidbit I’m learning. When someone else’s actions or statements threaten to pull me into a bad place, I have a choice. I do. It may not feel like it. In fact, it may feel like I am a slave to my feelings -but I am not. Remember, feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate there is a situation I need to deal with, but they shouldn’t dictate how I react. I have a choice.” –Unglued pg. 72 (emphasis mine)

Wow…what a thought. My feelings should not be allowed to be dictators! I can choose to act in a better way than my emotions would choose. I can choose to stay in control of myself because when I don’t, the enemy wins. I know I don’t win because I feel horrible that I lost my temper and said things I regret. My daughter probably feels the same. So we are letting the enemy win in our relationship and that just can’t go on. 1 Peter 5:8 says,

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

I don’t want to be devoured, do you?

So, I have to be ready with an alternative to spewing whatever my emotions want to say. Lysa suggests putting some Bible verses in the notes section of your cell phone so you can call them up at a moment’s notice. (She’s so smart…how does she know that I’m more likely to do anything if it’s related to my iPhone? :)) That’s my goal for today. I’m going to find some verses that will help me gain control of my emotions in those heated moments and I’m going to put them in my iPhone.

Wanna join me? Leave a comment with the verses you choose. Let’s be self-controlled together, shall we?

Love ya,

rebekah

 

P.S. I’m taking an Online Bible Study via Melissa Taylor’s blog. Over 15,000 of us are reading Unglued and discussing. Check it out here.

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