Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Sunday, December 19, 2021
Monday, November 22, 2021
I've been studying "waiting on the Lord," which led to my usual rabbit trail towards how to be humble (not pretend to be humble, because I am a pretty confident buoyant person so I want to know the difference) which led to meekness.
A.T. Pierson commented that meekness is a true preference for God's will. Truly desiring to know what does God want in this situation, and truly waiting on Him to discover it - if it is not obvious knowing God as you do - and then having zero struggle to do that instead of what I want to do and would gratify my limited understanding of all the facts.
Dallas Willard said, God will give us humility (Oh thank God, He can give it to me versus me struggling for it) IF - here it comes - we trust Him and wait for Him to act on our behalf, and IF we stop pretending to be what we claim to be and know we are not, and as a result presume some favorable position is ours and push for it or try to override the will of others...
Do you know what was humbling (humility-giving) to me? God speaking to us, or giving us supernatural experiences, does not prove we are right, righteous or make us important. It doesn't even guarantee we heard Him right. "God's purpose is not to merely support us, or make us look or feel secure in our roles, or confirm we are right." Dallas Willard.
We already are important - to Him. Stop trying to be important (preaching to myself) and simply sit in awe that you are important as is. Is God important to you - not what He gives us or does for us, is He important to you as is? Are you in awe and have a little bit of respectful downright sense of fear that the maker of heaven and earth has a purpose for you and it might or might not result in other people thinking you are important?
If so, simply pray, "Lord, what is important to you today, and please give me the humility to desire that above and beyond anything I would have thought is a better use of my time, in the name of Jesus my Savior, amen."
#God, #humble, #brainretrain, #renewingyourmind, #christiancounselingandcoaching, #importance, #righteousness, #meek, #meekinherittheearth, #Godopposestheproud, #dallaswillard, #a.t.pierson, #dr.karenliddell
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Looking for love...in your marriage? Many relationships die of boredom or neglect because we focus on raising the kids, growing our business or careers, or simply haven't developed any dreams or goals together beyond what's expected: get married, have kids, make money, buy a house, get to retirement. Then what, and what about the many years in between? Wouldn't you love to be in love? One way to get things moving in the right direction is to spend an hour together, or as long as it takes, to dream about your life the way you did when you first fell in love. Only this time, you're going to make it happen! Sharing individual and relationship goals is crucial to keeping a marriage vibrant, according to famous love and marriage expert, Dr. Neil Clark Warren.
This wonderful marriage satisfaction plan was adapted from a session described by Dr. Warren in his book, Learning to Live With the Love of Your Life, and Loving It! and fits perfectly within my Brain Retrain format for life-changing and neural rewiring habits.
1. Picture your marriage 10 years from now. What is likely to happen? What are the circumstances you will be living in? Will the children be grown? Will grandkids be spending time with you? Will you be retired? Will you have the time and money to travel or develop hobbies separately and together?
2. Envision where you each would like to see yourself in 10 years, and also where you would like to be within your marriage? Healthy marriages exist within the freedom for each partner to have their individual goals that the other person supports, encourages, and enables, as well as having goals for the marriage together. Write down everything you would like to be doing, achieving, or having accomplished 10 years from now, and how you would like to spend your time together. It is alright if you both don’t share the full vision, but come up with core agreements of the state of your marriage, your finances, your individual and mutual goals. At this point, the “how” is not as important as the freedom to dream and become aware of your desires.
3. Create a chart for the next 10 years, broken down into 6-month increments. Work backward inputting all the steps to each individual and marital goal until you have identified which actions will take you to the next step. Every mountain can be climbed with enough preparation and time and every mountain is climbed one step at a time. When you imagine simply taking the next step, one day at a time, you’ll climb the mountain without even seeming to try. Your mountain dreaming provides the vision and the motivation, the 6-month steps provide the how-to and the momentum.
4. Now, for each 6-month step, list all the obstacles to completing those steps for individual and marital goals. The solution is never for one person to achieve their goals at the expense of the other person having any of their own. Simply wonder about what might hinder your progress at each step. Each year, plan in a retreat for the two of you in which to re-imagine your dream, and add to your plan, and re-engage in all the excitement as you move one year closer to your goals.
5. Devise a plan to deal with each and every obstacle. Some answers will be obvious, others you may brainstorm possibilities until you find a solution, perhaps one that you might not have considered before. It’s important to see potential, and not shoot down one another’s ideas as “impossible.” One important challenge might be discipline. Are these goals you are both committed to, both in helping one another achieve their own dreams as well as moving your marriage toward the life you envision? Sticking to the plan or revising it as need be is vital to getting where you dream of 10 years from now. You will go where you focus your attention, so attend to your plan and keep your excitement for it alive.
6. Now, this is the most important step that will magnify and amplify every atom inside your brain and body to unconsciously move toward your desired results. This builds a biochemical map in your mind of living this life right now. Your brain does not differentiate between physical reality and imagination. If you can be this new life inside your mind and really feel what that outcome is like, your brain accepts it as a reality that it wants to prove is true. Your R.A.S. will begin to filter into your awareness anything that confirms this choice and to filter out information that is not relevant to your inner life. Make it count! Write one page about how it will feel to live this life, and yes, writing it out by hand is key as this activates learning programs in your brain! How will you feel in 10 years when everything you planned out has come to fruition and you are living the life you designed? Make your statements full of excitement, celebration, and hope. Use rich and affirming adjectives to describe your emotions and your life together.
7. Finally, create an overall mission statement for your marriage that you can laminate and carry with you at all times. One couple Dr. Warren worked with created the following:
a. We commit to love each other under every circumstance for the rest of our lives
b. To search after meaning and satisfaction together wherever it may be found
c. To support and encourage each other at every turn of life
d. To love our kids generously and personally and to raise them wisely
e. To be involved in serving others, especially the underprivileged
f. To respond actively and enthusiastically to the love and guidance of God.
What if my spouse has no interest in this activity, says there is nothing wrong with our marriage, or believes their goals and dreams are the only ones that are important? Do this exercise for yourself with everything you dream for yourself and your marriage. Your enthusiasm and attitude changes might be contagious. If nothing else, you will develop hope for your marriage based on what you can control and change and that will result in a more positive experience for both of you.
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Thursday, March 18, 2021
When we are talking about parenting, we often talk about natural and logical consequences for poor behavior. That's important, and I also want to talk about the pairing of consequences with rewards for learning more positive and desired behavior.
This style is often more motivating for younger children and for those who have become immune to consequences: reward.
Some parents feel this is bribing heir kids to do what they should already do, although this assumes children automatically see intrinsic value in doing chores, which if you think about it, makes no sense. Valuing abstract concepts like a clean room resulting in a sense of peace and creativity are a result of maturation as well as learning first to clean up as it is what the family does - they care for their space. Most kids are interested in playing, not working and most adults could do with more playing and less working.
So part of teaching and training is making chores an enjoyable experience instead of expecting kids to do what makes no sense to them. Have you ever seen Barney, the "clean up" song - annoying, but was an easy way to get my kids cleaning up at a young age - they wanted to because we did it together and we sang a fun song just like the kids on tv. Even today sometimes when they are cleaning I will sing the song and they laugh!.
The alternative is simply to punish for disobedience, which can be a good tool for dangerous situations (putting a fork into the light switch or running into the street) but if we want to have close relationships with our kids, parenting with firm kindness seems a better choice these days. In any case, to be effective, punishment is best used with emotional restraint, never done in anger or as a way to get even, and only after the punishment was explained in advance and expected by the child. Too often parents spank or physically punish when they have lost control and this leads to a breakdown in the relationship that may last, as well as turn abusive.
If it helps, I will suggest some differences. A bribe induces someone to violate their conscience or what is accepted as wrong. Sometimes kids extort money or privileges from their parents by manipulating their emotions, but this only works because it is easier for the parents to "give in" so their kids act "happy" and seem to "like them" but this actually erodes a child's self-esteem and respect for parents and those in authority. An incentive, on the other hand, inspires positive action. Bribes are secret, but incentives or rewards are done openly and offered to all who meet the requirement.
Say you have a chore chart for your child, so they understand with pictures or a brief description of what is expected, an appropriate consequence for not doing the chore. You could instead of having a consequence for disobedience, which some kids might find worth it as the price of getting out of the chore, add a reward for doing it. A reward for chores done is a great way for kids to want to do chores, sure initially for the reward, but it is about learning first to do what is required. Pair the reward with praise so over time associate praise with doing the chore, more than they will the reward. Ultimately, kids want to know they are good enough, and they partly learn this by their jobs being done "well enough" and appropriately for their age level.
Speaking of which, sometimes - especially in the beginning of learning at younger ages, we need to let the job stand, even if it is not up to our standards. I notice I cut myself slack on chores, sometimes saying, "good enough" but I would not have allowed a child to "get away with that and they know it. We want to move them into greater proficiency over times, just like in any job we are hired to do, it is expected that learning involves some mistakes and over time we will improve.
This is called shaping, meaning the first goal is to teach a child how to do a job, not how to do it perfectly, and reward their efforts so they are more likely to want to do it again. May be the next time you say, "oops there's a spot" and praise their cleaning of the spot without pointing out all the others. You gradually shape their behavior with praise so that they begin to value doing doing the job as well as doing an increasingly more thorough job. This is also a good incentives for the older kids for doing it on their own without a prompt of, "It's time for chores."
When my daughter asked to get driver’s training, I told her she needed to demonstrate more maturity to me by getting herself up for work on her own, being polite to me (being the driver of her going to work), getting one chore done before we left without being asked, and getting herself out the door on time for church. Those were the milestones meaningful to me and I felt they weren't burdensome. From then on I didn't bring it up, other than if she wanted me to drive her, I would take a look and if she hadn't done her work, I simply and matter of factly said, "Once the chores are done." If that made us late, then I guess she chose to be late that day and was able to get a natural consequence to not being ready to go on time.
And when she was rude to me, I reminded her she had one chance to change her behavior (not her feelings) or I would not drive her, etc. Now, when I noticed her being kind to me or otherwise meeting my requirements, I tried to make sure to comment on it and praise her or think her, to say I appreciated it or was proud of her. Kids need to see we notice them trying to change.
What we focus on, we get more of.
Setting a timeline is a good idea such as the time it takes to break a bad habit, about 30-90 days, with the condition that she could have access to her permit and drive only on days she was behaving in an overall considerate manner. This wasn't about perfection or not allowing her to have moods, it was about words of respect and consideration.
So, rewards can be a dollar value given to each chore, but then the chores only get done when the kid needs money, and if that is ok with you, fine, but don't then enable laziness by paying for things the youth could have purchased with their earnings.
Another say is to grant point marks for each chore done, and if it was done without prompting maybe an additional point. Add the points at the end of the week and take a trip to the dollar store to choose one item or give the equivalent money and help kids practice managing, tithing on, saving or spending their money - just as they will need to be practiced at already by the time they become adults.
I gave a small allowance so they could learn to manage money but didn't pay for chores, which I taught are a part of living in a home. Other parents use giving allowance after chores to reflect earning a living from our effort, and either is fine, or not using money at all is fine as long as money management is taught in some way.
I don't recommend using food as a means to reward or even as the main element in any celebration (we have all Brain Retrained (TM) addressed learned food addictions in our family thanks to my former focus on food is all of that.
But things like little prizes, or enough points in a month earning going to a movie or picking a Netflix movie for the family, or a sleepover with friends are all great options. Your kids are the best judges of what is rewarding for them!
You will come up with some great ideas over a family meeting with your kids, after all, you want the rewards to be meaningful to them without being so extravagant that it loses meaning or never happens.
Have at it and I wonder what reward ideas this will spark for you?
God blessings on you! Dr. Karen
Saturday, March 6, 2021
I am reading a great book called "Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer" by Pastor Ken Wilson.
He made a suggestion of taking time throughout the day to "remember loved ones" in prayer as Paul did in Ephesians 1:15-16.
I would like to suggest to each of you to take time out for a few seconds to start, build up to minutes and longer to do the following.
1. Stop and imagine you are sinking your brain into your heart, imagine you are going into your heart inside your body, literally feeling your heart as if you are inside of it.
Paul said: I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination (also translated heart or innermost) flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling (to you, to which he is calling you)... I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm! Ephesians 1:18-20
2. Imagine someone you love, and begin to list for yourself what you do love about them (if you are angry you can still remember times you felt loved by them or felt they were doing a loving thing. We MUST stop discounting the loving moments because there are ugly moments. Separate them for now.) Your brain is always in a state of now, when you remember, your brain re-experiences the event - not like a photo or video, but in the way you imagine it with the feelings you associated with it. Your brain releases chemical messengers that bathe the cells of your entire body with that information: love in the now. Areas of your brain are activated that amplify and reinforce the experience of love.
3. Accept and believe that the Holy Spirit (who is in constant contact with God the Father and Jesus the Son) is also in residence in your heart.
If you really love me, you will keep the commandments I have given you and I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you (within you) always. I mean the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, for it can neither see nor recognize that Spirit. But you recognize him, for he is with you now and will be in your hearts. John 14:16
4. Focus on the "memory" of your loved one and pair it with the emotion of love for as long as you can. Resist the devil's temptation to move your attention to condemning them before God - thinking of their failings and wrongdoings. Remember the PURPOSE - which is to rewire your brains to focus on love regarding this person, and as a result become more loving yourself.
5. If you catch yourself listing their wrongs, immediately choose to forgive them, ask the Lord to help them change, then ask yourself what ways you do the same thing, are the same way (it doesn't matter if you think you are not that way - trust me, this helps) and in faith that there just might be some way you are guilty of the same behavior in some form, just repent of it yourself.
6. Go back to loving your spouse while pretending/imagining/feeling you are inside your own heart.
7. Go on to the next person you want to experience in a more loving way.
Remember, this is not about them, this is not for them, this is for you.
ALSO - set standards of behavior for yourself and commit them to God. Choose how you would like to behave even in anger and ask God to renew your mind in this area. Romans 12:2. Instead of focusing on what you don't want (what we focus on we increase), focus on what you do want. Read the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4 and ask God what that would look like for you, in your circumstance. Simply ask the question, knowing the answer will come, may be in a dream, may be in the morning, maybe over the course of a few days, may be in a sermon, or some other means. Have faith - choose to expect an answer because I always say, what we expect we experience.
There was a time when I noticed that when I really began praying daily for a certain change, and I also believed God would bring it about and I would pray daily for as long as it took, that it was taking about 30 days for me to see change.
It took 21 days for the angel of the Lord to break through the demonic army that was trying to prevent him from reaching Daniel with a message from the Lord. And Daniel was very practiced at prayer and Faith.
Why do we expect we are going to get breakthrough immediately or else we are giving up?
Now, I see change much quicker because I have much less unconscious and conscious resistance and barriers to change and to God's way. For more understanding of how we block God from evidencing Himself in our awareness, go to my website www.thebrainretrain.com
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
We've all heard the parable of the sower, and there has been so much discussion about this parable or metaphor, but I wonder if we've missed a very important point. No, it's not the point that the parable is about the soil, not the sower, although that is true. In fact, we've talked about the condition of the soil so often, we forgot about the farmer.
The only way I've heard this taught is that the sower or farmer is supposed to cast the seed everywhere, nonstop sharing the news, like a New York boy standing on the street with that little side-cocked hat, hawking papers, "Good news! Get your good news right here!"
As if, we are supposed to witness to every single person because they might be the "one." I wish I could put a sound effect in right here: screeching tires.
(Whoa, ok for those like me who are saying, now wait, I've got to share my Good News - of course be yourself and share about your own experience anytime you're led to - I'm making another point here.)
But, let's think about this. How many farmers do you know that walk around with a seed bag, or these days drive around a huge seed planter, and just willy-nilly drop seed everywhere they go, assuming at least some of the time, the soil is going to be receptive and fertile and they will get a crop that may even be, heaven be praised, a hundred fold?
Is that like farming lottery? How does that make sense? I hope this person wants to hear my good news, I pray someone's heart was ready...
A farmer cannot afford to waste valuable seed, or her valuable time and resources tossing seed into the wind and hoping it lands somewhere. How could they reap a harvest if they have no idea where and which seed grew, if they keep moving along tossing out kernels here, there and everywhere?
A good farmer chooses the land where he intends to spend time investing seed. She then prepares the soil, adding nutrients and paying attention to the season, so that when the seed is planted it has the best opportunity to grow.
A good farmer pays attention to the planted field from then on, nurturing and caring for its needs so it has the best chance possible to produce successfully.
When the produce is fully ripe and ready to be gathered in, the farmer is there, protecting it, and rejoicing in how much has been gained. A good farmer has a relationship of care and concern for the land, the soil (you get it that this means people, right?)
So, may be stop throwing your pearls of wisdom and hope on closed minds and ears and focus on developing relationships with people who might, then, actually be interested in what you have to say. Mary Kay Ash said people don't care about what you have to say until they believe you care about their needs.
Matthew 7:6 “Who would hang earrings on a dog’s ear or throw pearls in front of wild pigs? They’ll only trample them under their feet and then turn around and tear you to pieces!
(As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “Don’t let the dogs have consecrated [holy] meat.” The Aramaic word for “earrings” is almost identical to the word for “holy.” Earrings and pearls are symbols of spiritual truths given to us by God. They give us beautiful “ears” to hear his voice and impart lovely pearls of wisdom, which are not to be regarded lightly or shared with those who have their hearts closed. The Aramaic word for “throw” is almost identical to the word for “to instruct” or “to teach.” The value of wisdom is not appreciated by those who have no ears to hear it. TPT footnote e)
So read the parable of the sower, or soil, one more time as translated from the Aramaic, and see if you get one more harvest of insight, in a new way:
Matthew 13:3- 12 (TPT)
He taught them many things by using stories, parables that would illustrate spiritual truths,
“Consider this: There was a farmer who went out to sow seeds. As he cast his seeds, some fell
along the beaten path and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell onto gravel that had
no topsoil. The seeds quickly shot up, but when the days grew hot, the sprouts were scorched
and withered because they had insufficient roots. Other seeds fell among the thorns and weeds, so when the seeds sprouted, so did the weeds, crowding out the good plants.
But other seeds fell on good, rich soil that kept producing a good harvest. Some yielded thirty, some sixty, and some even one hundred times as much as he planted! If you’re able to understand this, then you need to respond.”
Then his disciples approached Jesus and asked, “Why do you always speak to people in these
He explained, “You’ve been given the intimate experience of insight into the hidden truths and
mysteries of the realm of heaven’s kingdom, but they have not. For everyone who listens with an open heart will receive progressively more revelation until he has more than enough. But those who don’t listen with an open, teachable heart, even the understanding that they think they have will be taken from them.
Find open, teachable hearts, and sow your precious Good News there. Invest in the lives of those who know they need help, love, caring for, and you'll find good soil that will produce a harvest, a person who will become a loving farmer themselves and this is how you change the world for good.
Visit me at www.thebrainretrain.com and share this blog post to someone you believe is ready to hear something new.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Paul knew exactly what you mean, and he found the answer. Thankfully he wrote it down so now we all can know!
Jesus answered, “'My grace is always more than enough for you [to ward off the Adversary’s harassment of you] AND my power finds its full expression through your weakness.' So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me [sheltering me]. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power."
Great.... everybody get happy... Seriously, what do I DO? How do I open the portal? Is it like a Stargate? Do I stand under the moon and chant? Uh.....not so much.
Hebrews 12:12-13 So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths [See Isa. 35:3; Prov. 4:26.] all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!
I mean pray, then act like your prayers have been answered, lift up your hands in worship and go about your day, knowing that help is in action even when you don't yet see it manifested.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
God is love. We hear that all the time. And we apply our own meaning to His love.
It's funny because God refers to Himself as a parent, a lover, a friend, a hero, a protector, a savior...
When you and I talk about true love, ultimate love, unconditional love towards our children, lover, friends, and those we want to help, we talk about concepts like "tough love," respectful, considerate, kind, sacrificial, encouraging, will tell us the truth and stop us from making a complete fool of ourselves, will back us up, in other words...a person who shows their love by their actions not by empty words.
Yet when we talk about loving God, we refer to Him accepting all we do (that's different than accepting us as we are when we open our hearts to His mercy and grace), only talking to Him when we have run out of all other options, doing what we want in spite of knowing it hurts or disrespects Him, pretending He doesn't exist (ghosting Him) when it's convenient then begging for help when we are scared or hurt ourselves. And we call God the narcissist?
How does God define love? The examples I understand best are that of a parent, a true loving parent who expects His children to grow up, mature, to develop character and have a good, long life and prosper in all things
(3 John 1:2 "Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.")
Love as faithful, and faith is understanding authority. Matthew 8:5-11, 13
When Jesus entered the village of Capernaum, a captain[a] in the Roman army approached him, asking for a miracle. “Lord,” he said, “I have a son who is lying in my home, paralyzed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus responded, “I will go with you and heal him.”
But the Roman officer interjected, “Lord, who am I to have you come into my house? I understand your authority, for I too am a man who walks under authority and have authority over soldiers who serve under me. I can tell one to go and he’ll go, and another to come and he’ll come. I order my servants and they’ll do whatever I ask. So I know that all you need to do is to stand here and command healing over my son and he will be instantly healed.”
Jesus was astonished when he heard this and said to those who were following him, “He has greater faith than anyone I’ve encountered in Israel!…Then Jesus turned to the Roman officer and said, “Go home. All that you have believed for will be done for you!” And his son was healed at that very moment.
God defines love as obedience. John 14:23-24
Jesus replied, “Loving me empowers you to obey my word.[p] And my Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling place. But those who don’t love me will not obey my words. The Father did not send me to speak my own revelation, but the words of my Father.
Can you tell me that you do not expect a child who loves you to show you that by respecting your decisions, obeying you even if they are not mature enough to understand and agree, to believe that you love this child and have their absolute best at heart, and to trust that you are teaching them to practice self control, kindness and mercy so that they can grow into adults capable and practiced at living a mature life that creates joy, fulfillment, contentment and purpose?
God is love, and He defines Himself as enduring, mature, and kind, even when love must do the hard thing for the true good of a loved one. True love is a strong love, and we don't develop the ability to love with strength and wisdom, knowing when to love with laughter and when to love with boundaries, unless we have first learned authority and obedience.
1 Corinthians 13:4-11
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten. Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away. When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.