All posts by Sunflower Sojourn

I am committed to sojourning with you toward Jesus Christ, the Son, as we seek to become the people we are called to be in every aspect of our lives.

Mental Health Series Pt. I: Relationships.

For the sake of this series, we will define mental health as including: “emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” (Definition taken from: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health/index.html)

We are all a part of one another and can’t exist except in relation to others. Our past, present, and future relationships all have (or will have) a profound effect on us, whether we realize it or not. Thus, we will start the series with relationships!

So, how do we work toward positive mental health in regard to our relationships?

  • Build a strong support community. It is so important to surround yourself with people who are positive and who build
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    Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

    you up, helping you to grow in healthy ways. People who criticize or undermine you just aren’t worth your time. (If you are searching for community, pray! It will and can come to you in interesting ways! A solid church home is important as well.) Think about it this way: Are the people you spend time with helping you grow closer to the person God created you to be, or does your time with them leaving you feeling like an inferior version of yourself? (“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

  • Learn signs of abusive relationships and get out! (Here is a number you can call if you are in the USA and need help getting out of an abusive relationship.) These relationships are immensely harmful to your mental health/emotional state, and their impact is very negative. Find freedom and go back to the step above.
  • Recognize where your current sources of difficulty may have come from past relationships. If you grew up with a father who told you that you were useless–or a father who just didn’t seem to care–it’s going to affect you today. This goes for any kind of abuse, neglect, rejection, etc. Bring these to the Lord, and if needed, to a counselor (no shame!). All of us have these areas, even if we are not aware of them. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring these specific areas to light and to heal them.
  • If you are taking care of others, don’t forget to take care of you! Most of us are taking care of someone, whether it be as a parent, a teacher, or helping your grandparent or older parent. Self-care will go a long way for not only your mental health, but also for the relationship. An empty vessel cannot fill other vessels. If you forget to take care of yourself and keep pouring out on the other person, you may even grow to resent them.
  • Set boundaries. This goes along with the above point. Even Jesus set boundaries. Remember when He went away on the boat Himself? The crowds even tried to follow Him (Matthew 14:13). Boundaries are important in managing stress and doing only what you can. Again, you need to be filled up. Boundaries are important in building healthy relationships. A relationship is unhealthy if one person walks all over another or takes advantage. People need to be clear and honest about their boundaries with one another.
  • Forgive. The main person you are hurting by not forgiving is yourself. Not only that, you are harming your relationship with God! (If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. (Matthew 6:14-15)) Forgiveness is seriously important. When you hold onto hate or anger, it can lead to bitterness and anger. These do not lead to positive mental health, and even affect our physical health negatively.
  • Last, but definitely not least, keep your relationship with God first! If you are truly seeking Him, it will keep you grounded. It doesn’t mean life will be perfect and that you won’t struggle with any type of mental health difficulty, such as depression or anxiety. Having God in your life will give you the grace and tools to fight whatever battles you face. I’ll touch on this more in the faith and mental health post.

Next up: counseling and mental health!

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
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He Wants Your Heart.

Events are hitting the world that turn realities upside down. Events are happening in our personal lives to turn our lives upside down. I believe that now is a corporate sifting time. Whether it be through a natural disaster, a breakup, a job loss, or any other event that turns life in a totally different direction…The Lord is sifting hearts, and purifying them. He is seeking continued faithfulness from those who have been faithful. He is desperately trying to get the attention of those who are far, and those who have never known Him. The thing is, our trials ultimately aren’t to push us to lean on worldly sources. They are meant to lead us into the arms of our Heavenly Father. When events happen that are simply beyond our control, and we feel that we simply cannot do it any longer…That is the time when nothing is left to lean on but Him, and it is the time to surrender! 

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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

I don’t know what is happening in your life. Maybe you’ve been devastated by a hurricane, and the home you invested so much money and love into is now gone. Maybe you’ve done what you thought God was calling you to do, and life looks like a mess. Perhaps you or a loved one were just diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness. Friend, no matter what, your Creator is looking for your heart. He doesn’t care if your heart is in pieces–He’s in the business of putting broken hearts back together. Jesus wants to be with you through all you are facing or ever will face. He wants to walk with you through it all. Most of all,  He wants to welcome you into Heaven one day, the place where broken hearts and pain will be no more.

Give Him your heart. Let Him hold you and carry you through this life, and onto eternity with Him one sweet day.

 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

 

Upcoming Series: Mental Health

Hello, my dear readers!

As some of you know, I am attending school to become a counselor. Through my own life experiences and career experiences, my eyes have been opened to the great need for discussions and more knowledge about mental health. I am disappointed to see the stigma that exists around mental health, even in the year 2017. Counseling is still viewed by some as something for crazy or “messed up” people. For some, mental health has a negative connotation and is equated with shame.

I want to play a part in helping to break free of the stigma of mental health! Jesus came that we would have life to the full! (John 10:10) Our mental health is an important aspect of living an abundant life, and living life to the full.

I hope to bring awareness of the importance of mental health and how it affects us all! I pray that all may take steps to improved mental health and never be ashamed to ask for help when they are struggling!

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Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

 

I will be posting one post a week for the series. I am not sure yet how long the series will last. How many posts will depend on the demand of topics. Here is what I plan to cover so far:

-Counseling and mental health

-Food and mental health

-Relationships and mental health

-Faith and mental health

Are there any other topics you would like to see related to mental health? Don’t be shy! I want to write what YOU are interested in reading!

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Photo by Jordan Donaldson | @jordi.d on Unsplash

Christian=Spared From Troubles?

Did you ever think being a Christian would make your life…easier? I think a lot of Christians are in that boat. We think (even subconciously) that knowing Jesus and the truth about salvation will make this earthly life a breeze. It is true that knowing our Savior and the waves of grace makes life manageable, and even joyful. Yet an easy life is not a promise in the Bible…Far from it, in fact!

Recently I faced a situation that I never, ever anticipated would happen to me. I

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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

thought I was wiser. I thought that my knowledge and education would keep me from that situation. If I’m completely honest, there was even a part of me that thought Christ would spare me from that type of situation. Yet…Christ never promised our life on earth would be easy. Never. Recently, I discovered that Matthew 11:30 (“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”) is not translated well. Instead of “easy,” the word from Greek is better translated as “suitable,” “well fitting,” or “useful.” The crosses we have are well-fitted to us, and useful for the particular growth we need as individuals. As much as we protest our crosses, they are fitted to our shoulders, not someone else’s. Christ gives us many forms of grace to endure whatever it is we face. 

Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from the troubles of this world. Countless Christians have done the “right things” and still faced martyrdom, spousal abuse, bankruptcy, natural disasters, chronic illness, and any other struggle you can name. We are in the world, though we are not of it. The advantage we have as Christians is knowing Who helps us carry our burdens. We are never left to our own devices, but in every moment we are completely loved and upheld. We know that the suffering here is not the end, but there is a life of eternal joy that awaits us one day. Our suffering is not without meaning. Remember what came after the crucifixion? We can look forward to the same, whether on the horizon of our earthly lives or in Heaven.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

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Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

 

The Pain & Fruit of Investing.

 

Currently my life is in a season of pruning, and what I am also learning to refer to

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Pixabay.com

as “investment.” Investing is painful. It involves risk. Investing requires giving up something in hopes of a greater return down the road. At the very outset, it requires some sort of sacrifice. It may be a very long time before you see any gain or fruit from that sacrifice. For example, investing money is painful. The money is placed into an account where it cannot be touched until a certain point. The goal is that the amount of money will grow. But what if an emergency arises and you need that money? Painful, and risky. Other forms of investment are financing a wedding, buying a house, starting a business, or investing in an education. These are different types of investment that we hope will bear fruit in some way.

An investment that we are all called to make is purity. Living in purity is an investment for a future marriage. It is even an investment in yourself. Living a chaste life protects you from disease and unhealthy emotional attachments. It requires the daily surrender of one’s desires for the good of one’s self, future spouse, and consideration of the good of a child. Choosing to forgo suitors who are not God’s best for you is a related form of investment. It is easy to settle and may be easy to find multiple people who want to be with you. Taking the time to wait for the right spouse and for sex is an investment in your future joy, your future spouse’s joy, and even the joy of your children. Many people have not made this investment, and have brought suffering onto themselves and others.

Plain and simple: investing equals sacrifice. Sometimes these investments involve very difficult sacrifices. Many choose not to make these sacrifices simply because they are so arduous and involve (sometimes very delayed) gratification. Yet investing creates wealth. It creates an abundance that could not have come without the sacrifice. It is like when a tree is pruned. The tree appears bare aftter the pruning. A person who doesn’t know about horticulture will scoff and think the tree is ruined.  But after some time, the tree will be bursting with fruit. This is our hope with our investments. In some way, at some time we do not know, they will bear great fruit.

I trust that this difficult and painful investing process will one day pay off. So can you. I have planted my seeds in the ground, sacrificed much that is dear. I will wait for the sun and rain to grow them. I can only trust the One who has called me. Let us eagerly await the day when we can harvest the fruit from these decisions to invest.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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Photo by Jelleke V. on Unsplash

 

The Word on Wednesday-Seasons.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

We grasp at the seasons we consider good. The being born seasons, the planting seasons where we joyfully await the fruit of our labor. The building and healing seasons, and the laughing and dancing seasons. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything, a season for everything under the heavens. All of the seasons are necessary. Without the different seasons, we would not grow. We would not learn to rely on our Heavenly Father if the seasons were all easy.

I know that many believers, and the world in general, are enduring the difficult seasons: uprooting seasons, seasons where there is emptiness and mourning. There is even threat of killing and war. In these circumstances, we learn to lean on the Lord and His steady faithfulness. We learn to better love our neighbor. We learn to await His promises, and the joyous seasons. Embrace your season. This earthly life is temporary. Seasons don’t last forever, but the enduring love of our Father does. 

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Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

Pondering Strength.

Strength isn’t built overnight. It comes through weathering stormy seasons and emerging after you didn’t think it was possible. It is like building muscle. You can’t build muscle unless you are consistently working out and even gradually moving up to more difficult workouts or higher weights. You build strength by weathering small and large storms. I think a person can be born with a tendency for strength, but they must undergo some difficulty for that strength to be tested and built up.

There are not-so-distant seasons of my life where I look back and wonder “how did I do that?” Was that really me who lived through those things and made those hard decisions that didn’t make sense to others? Where I am now, I wonder, too. How am I living through this crazy season where nothing has stayed the same?  The answer: grace. The grace of God was sufficient for that time. Grace is sufficient for today, too.

In whatever you are facing, His grace will be sufficient for you. I can’t promise you that it will be easy. But I can promise God is faithful. He tests us for our good. He loves us way too much for us to stay the same. Where we encounter difficulty, we can also cling to His grace and supernatural strength. 

There will be a day when you look back and wonder how you made it. And you will make it. Take your Heavenly Father’s hand and discover the depths of His love as you go through the depths of difficulty. Discover who you really are. Let the storm transform you into a pillar of strength.  

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”~1 Peter 1:6-7

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Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash