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Our perceptions are often clouded by our experiences!
WELCOME.... The LIFE newsletter is produced quarterly. Our desire is to bring you stories and articles that will encourage and inspire you as you endeavor to live life to the fullest. We know that life is a journey with many twists and turns. It is not always how we start that matters, rather how we choose to live everyday with the options and choices that are before us. Today choose to live and love, your life!
In This Issue WELCOME.... ................................................................................................................................... 1 The Currency of Love ........................................................................................................................ 2 Spirituality and Identity...................................................................................................................... 3 The Course of Love............................................................................................................................ 4 Choose LIFE ...................................................................................................................................... 5 The Path to Forgiveness ..................................................................................................................... 7 Perceptions ......................................................................................................................................... 9 Who am I? ........................................................................................................................................ 10 Autism: working out the best strategies for you and your child. .....................................................11 Hope and the Vocation of Christian Counselling ............................................................................ 12 Being Aware ..................................................................................................................................... 12 School!? How hard can it be? ......................................................................................................... 14
The Currency of Love Candy Daniels There are many things that money can buy to aid us in living. Then there are the things that money can’t buy us; such as happiness, for happiness is a choice. Money can’t buy us health, for health comes from the lifestyle we chose to live. Money can’t buy us peace, for peace is a state of mind, when our hearts are at rest. Most importantly money can’t buy us love. What if I was to tell you that although we can’t buy love, there is a medium of exchange that we use daily to give and receive both love and fear. Have you heard of the song ‘Where is the love’ by The Black Eyed Peas (TBEP). I would say the simple answer to that is love is inside of each one of us and we have an ample supply of the currency of love. We also carry within us the currency of fear. Yet, we choose when, where and with whom to share this invaluable currency of love, while we freely offer and often surround ourselves with the currency of fear. There are some lyrics in the song that I would like to highlight as these lyrics show us I believe, that we use the currency of fear instead of the currency of love yet expect to receive love. I think the whole world is addicted to the drama. Only attracted to things that'll bring you trauma. Why are there pieces of love that don't belong? Selfishness got us followin' the wrong direction (Where is the love - TBEP).
Let me quickly share that we use the currency of fear, not because we lack the currency of love; but rather because we think that if we use all the currency of love within us we will have a lack. It is also possible that many don’t even realise that we carry a treasury within us, and we will never run short of the currency of love. LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
Just as the currency of love brings with it joy, fulfilment, contentment, peace and good health to name a few, the currency of fear brings drama, trauma, insecurity, selfishness, worry and ill health. The World Health Organisations definition of health suggests that health is a continuum, and extends the notion of health to include states of positive wellbeing. Health is 'a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. I would like to highlight that although we have an ample supply of the currency of love to give and we can never out give of this currency, we only share the currency of fear because we have accepted it into our lives from society. Fear is not an innate resource that we carry until we begin to accept it. The currency of fear is blame, shame, guilt, revenge, and arrogance producing drama or trauma that often breads more fear. Take a moment to think about how often you make purchases with this currency? What is the exchange rate like? The currency of love is kindness, patience, empathy, compassion, understanding, hope, respect, grace, mercy, encouragement…. the list is long and the more you give the fuller your treasure will become. The currency of fear offers death for it is like drinking dirty, bacteria infected water that is never satisfying and breads unending drama. The currency of love offers life, for it is the source of purified, refreshing water that quenchers every thirst. Fear offers survival and love offers life. Will you choose to live in love and exchange the currency of love when the currency of fear is handed to you? Begin with yourself; be kind, be hopeful, be respectful… to yourself first and then pass it on.
Spirituality and Identity Trudy Buchanan Recently my personal faith journey has been all about discovering God in new ways. After a long period of pain and disillusionment from old forms of spirituality and ministry expressions, this journey has resulted in seeing and finding God through forming a new perspective of who He is and how I can relate to him. This has meant discovering some new rituals and practices to learn afresh where to find and how to unpack different paradigms of who God is to me—it is also changing my perceived identity and view of self.
For so long I have been a worker or doer, but due to circumstances outside of my control and not of my choosing, my capacity to do has lessened. Much of this story is about finding peace and identity in both the being and the doing; and learning to intertwine them together, because that’s what makes up who we are. Grace and works are often posed as antithetical leading into the dualistic thinking. If work is not what we do but we are the work that God does — we are what he made us — then grace and work are companions and congruent; no longer are we striving to do good works or completing sub-spiritual work. We experience grace through the Genesis gift — work, a work of grace from God to us, visible in creation. As we assimilate God’s Genesis work along with those rhythms and images seen in that narrative, then the complementary nature of grace and work flow together freeing us from secular LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
and pietistic views of grace and work. This I believe is the discovery of self and God-identity intertwined and working out His plan for us. This has involved seeking God through contemplative spiritual practices. These practices allow for spirituality and godliness to be embedded into my humanness. This embedding allows me to integrate my humanness and God’s redemptive, restorative and creative perspective for who I am and who I am becoming. In doing so I am fulfilling God’s redemptive narrative for humankind.
This is often a place of the not-knowing — living with more question than answers; it changes expectations and provides an enveloping peace in who I am with God within life’s variable circumstances. Through these practices spirituality becomes a place to work and be from, not a thing to do (i.e. a set of behaviours, religiosity or morality). Out of this notknowing can come deep despair often matched by profound hope allowing us to fully experience life and ourselves in it. It reshapes how we respond and is key to reaching our destination, finding and integrating our identity, thus fulfilling God’s plans.
The Course of Love Book Review by Vivienne Mountain PhD The key theme from this book is that love is a “skill”, not an enthusiastic passion but a fundamental centre of life needing serious thought, contemplation and critical thinking. As a novel the book starts with the situation of boy meets girl in the passion of mutual attraction. We then follow the two characters through the stages of love and marriage. It portrays the relationship with honesty analysing many areas of challenge, such as differences in personality, financial skill, sexuality, parenting and coping with guilt and grief. Unlike other books by de Botton, the story of the couple is an easy read, while the reflective comments interspersed through the narrative brings the philosophical wisdom. Constantly we are made to pause and consider the deeper meaning: What is happening to these two people? How are the experiences of their past lives being played out? Is it possible to stay together? Do they have the courage and will to continue? Can they understand themselves in this situation? Can they understand and accept each other? Is the grass greener in another relationship? A few quotes give ideas of the level of reflected wisdom: “Silence and lies are the real enemies of love” (p74), “We are all fallen creatures” (p212), “Everyone will have something substantially and maddeningly wrong with them when we spend more time around them” (p177), Children give us the basic lesson of love “ the transcendence of oneself for the sake of the other” (p107), “Good parents… end up as the special targets of intense resentments and indignation” (regarding parenting teenagers ) (p124), “He is ready for marriage because he has given up on perfection” (p211), “Those who hurt us are themselves in LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
pain” (p213), “Life is desperately fragile” p221). While reading this book I was constantly stopping to consider the psychological situation. Learning to love, or keep loving, was linked to the ability to understand ourselves, our defensive tendencies and our triggers from early experiences in childhood. Acknowledging our attachment style from childhood and working with our weaknesses has a strong connection with our ability to love in adult life. In a similar way, effort and empathy are needed to understand the situation in the life of our partner. Recognising the fragility and weaknesses in each other gives a sense of compassion needed to continue in relationship. Overall the book showed me the need for courage to love. Love is not an easy road, it takes insight and energy, perseverance and often a sense of humour - we are all a bit strange and crazy. The other dynamic indicated in the book was the sense of love and the large picture of beauty in the universe. There is recognition of the constant, generous outpouring of life in nature, the new leaves that come each spring, the love of a pet dog who continues to meet us at the door with a wagging tail and the sense of beauty in music, dance and art. My mind kept returning to the impetus to love found in Christianity. Ultimately for me, encouragement is found in the sense of love for us as humans shown in the story of Jesus whom gave up a comfortable place to come into our struggle, to live with us in compassion, offering healing, hope and companionship. The grace of God is a vision leading us to continue in love, to continue the struggle to understand and work with our partner to live life fully. “The course of love” – a novel by Alain de Botton (2016 Hamish Hamilton) A serious philosopher tackles love and marriage.
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Choose LIFE John Steward LIFE is made up of many small steps, each one a choice either for life or death. When I choose to hang onto hatred I choose to keep my negative emotion that wants to hurt another. When I choose to take revenge I fling my negative emotion onto others and hope they will hurt as much as I do.
This is how troubles start – whether it be conflicts between parents and children, feuds between groups, territorial squabbles, or wars between nations. It happens among families, community groups, states and countries who have lived at peace for hundreds of years – yet divide and fracture in hostility and anger. This happened in Rwanda in 1994. Some people of the Hutu majority group decided to try and obliterated the Tutsi minority. Neighbour betrayed neighbour – as one teenage girl said:
When I say “I will never forgive myself for that” I am choosing a kind of inner death. When I cannot admit my grief the unhealthy energy of persisting sorrow sours my spirit. When I cannot forgive another I allow the wrong done by my offender to weigh me down. All these choices are small steps that can sap the life within me and germinate actions that bring death to others and me. Death in the sense that, it is not nourishing, it is not positive nor hopeful, it it is not LIFE-giving. LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
Rwanda my country, what happened to you? Before, we were all united and we helped each other, but we are now divided. Though we had been breastfed alongside each other this did not last because of those who were selfish and forgot our culture and divided us. I witnessed much, I saw people who had become inhuman, I saw those who became like animals, I saw people hunted down like birds. (Extract of From Genocide to Generosity, page 145.)
1 million people died in 100 days. Hand-held weapons mostly caused the deaths. The country was almost destroyed â€“ the world did not know what to do to help or did not want to become involved. Now, less than 25 years later, Rwanda is recovering, it is growing, it is changing, it is hopeful, at times impressive.
When I forgive a person who has apologised to me, I am choosing LIFE.
What has happened? Many Rwandans changed their choices from death to LIFE. How did they do this? By participating in healing experiences. Here is part of one story from page 70 -71 of my book:
When I admit my anger that another person has disappointed me, I choose LIFE.
When I do good to someone from a group I dislike, I choose LIFE. When I grieve the hurts that another has caused me, I choose LIFE.
My healing workshop taught me how to live with my loss and to feel and acknowledged the depth of my pain. I now know how understanding grief prepared me to experience the emotions that were a consequence of my loss. I saw that some of my emotions were very positive and others of them were negative. I was not to ignore the negative emotions, but to work out the appropriate behaviour that will allow me to express those emotions without damaging other people.
These are a few of the many insights that lead to healthy living, which Rwandans have taught me. You can read more for yourself in the paperback or electronic version of the book. Reading it will encourage you as you live your LIFE.
The most important thing from my healing experience was the burden of my heart lifted from me. This was a great lesson for me â€“ people with inner wounds need a confidential person with whom they can share their pain. By opening up I was even able to express my anger and shed tears. This gave me great relief. When I realise I have made a mistake and can admit it, I choose LIFE. When I apologised to the person affected by my mistake, I am choosing LIFE.
! To gain further insight on how to find healing and peace in your heart, and to pass on the good news to others visit 2live4give.org & purchase your copies of From Genocide to Generosity, Langham Global, 2015.
When I let go of my bitterness towards someone who has hurt me, I choose LIFE. LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
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The Path to Forgiveness Melody Durand A Summary of Everett Worthington’s REACH Model Clinical Psychologist Everett Worthington Jr has designed a five-step practical method of forgiving transgressions you have experienced. The REACH model has been the subject of a book for general audiences, Five Steps to Forgiveness: The Art and Science of Forgiving (Crown Publishers. 2003) and later as a Christian book, Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope (InterVarsity Press, 2003).
there might also be religious motives for forgiving. In Five Steps to Forgiveness: The Art and Science of Forgiving, Everett Worthington suggests that forgiveness is tied to making a decision to forgive those who harm us. That decision binds people not to act negatively toward the person who hurt us and to treat them as people of value. However, Worthington also suggests that experiencing emotional forgiveness might take longer than deciding to forgive and that a person might sincerely decide to forgive and might hold perfectly to his or her resolve not to harm the offender, yet might not fully experience emotional forgiveness. He believes that decisional and emotional forgiveness—while sometimes occurring together— are two different processes and can occur at different times with either one occurring first. In fact, some people can experience one and never experience the other.
The self-directed workbook will help you develop a more forgiving character. http:// www.evworthington-forgiveness.com/. In the workbook, you discuss what you believe about forgiving, and you will learn a method (REACH) for forgiv- The truth is, everyone’s negative behaviour Worthington urges us ing. By practising is a combination of circumstances to contemplate on that method and re“Psychological dishappening to us and our natural flecting on it, you tance”- we often excan build a forgiving tendency to behave selﬁshly … aggerate the “psyattitude and forgiving chological distance” skills. between a person who has hurt us and ourselves. More frequently than not, a hard search In the workbook it suggests we are working of our lives will reveal the same energy to from an assumption. We assume that we want commit evil that is in our offenders, even if we to forgive – that we are motivated to forgive. do not act it out in the same ways or with the We also assume that forgiveness is not only a virtue that we can build and will benefit us in same severity of outcome. People tend to atterms of physical health, mental health, relatribute their negative behaviour to thoughts or feelings due to circumstances outside of their tionships and spirituality but it is also (and percontrol, and attribute their negative behaviour haps most strongly influential) something that to others to something wrong with the other. we can do for the benefit of others. The The act/disposition distinction is an important Greeks used a term, eudaimonia, to talk about doing the right thing. Eudaimonia is best deone to make, because we tend to judge our acfined as virtue for yourself and others. Thus, tions by a different set of standards than we do other people. The truth is, everyone’s negative we look to both personal self-beneficial and behaviour is a combination of circumstances other-beneficial motives to forgive. For some, LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
happening to us and our natural tendency to behave selfishly and in ways that hurts others. The human tendency to blame others for the very thing for which we let ourselves off the hook, creates an artificial psychological distance between others and ourselves.
feel fear and anger when my hand gets near the stove again. That isn’t “unforgiveness” against the stove; it’s just my body’s way of protecting me. Further, if you keep touching a hot stove, you’ll keep getting burned. You have to change your actions and the way you think about the hurt to keep it from happening again. So, remember: The pain, anger, or fear that arises due to a memory, or that comes from encountering the person who hurt us, once again is NOT unforgiveness. When you see the person who hurt you and feel the negative feelings (anger, fear, sadness) pop up again, you can remind yourself: This pain, anger, and fear I’m feeling is not unforgiveness. It’s just my body’s way of protecting me so I won’t make the same mistakes I made last time.
When we hurt we might lose many things - our peace, our sense of safety and security, our close friendship, material things, our belief in a just world. We grieve those losses. Grieving comes in stages. We are at first upset and emotional. Later, we replay those events again and again – to others and in our own minds. Eventually most of the events are accepted and we move on with life. In the period of times in which we are replaying the events in our minds and in experiencing negative emotions conversations to others, tell a story of victimisation Worthington’s mesis like watching a television or hatred,, it can program sage: You have a that view into our worldchoice about your channel that is depressing, view. But if our story is emotions. You can angering, fear-producing, or one of forgiveness, we hold onto your unforprogram into our worldgiving emotions, or if bitterness-enhancing view a story of reconciliayou have replaced tion, mercy and often forthose with love or emgiveness. pathy or sympathy or compassion, you can now hold on to your emo“Forgive and forget,” is social encouragement tional forgiveness- even in the face of powerful that once we forgive, try not to bring up the events that demand that you give up that emomatter. In fact, though, forgiving implies that tional forgiveness. Psychologist Fred Luskin we don’t really forget. If we forgive it is besuggests that experiencing negative emotions is cause we remember and then choose to forgive like watching a television channel that is deand often experience emotional forgiveness as pressing, angering, fear-producing, or bitterwell. But when a person hurts us, they make it ness-enhancing. But importantly, you can less safe to be around them. It is natural to be change channels. Choose a more positive more wary—even if we have fully forgiven— channel. about being harmed again. It takes a while for a person to regain their trust. Being prudent is WAYS TO HOLD ON TO FORGIVENESS not the same thing as being unforgiving. IN THE MIDST OF A REMINDER EXPERIENCE Having memories of past harms is our way to 1. GET OUT OF THE SITUATION protect ourselves from doing something dangerous again. If I burn my hand on a stove, I 2. DISTRACT YOURSELF LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
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WAYS TO HOLD ON TO FORGIVENESS IF YOU START TO WORRY OR RUMINATE ABOUT IT 1. REALISE THAT THE PAIN OF A REMEMBERED HURT IS NOT UNFORGIVNESS. 2. DON’T DWELL ON NEGATIVE EMOTIONS 3. REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU HAVE FORGIVEN THE PERSON 4. SEEK REASSURANCE FROM A PARTNER OR FRIEND
REACH: R= Recall the hurt (summary) E=Empathise (from a sympathetic point of view, describe why the person did what he or she did) A=Altruistic gift (write a reason why you might want to unselfishly grant forgiveness; you could bless this person?) C=Commit to any forgiveness you experienced (write your intention to try someday, or soon, or when, to forgive) H=Hold on to forgiveness (write how hard you think it would be to make this a lasting forgiveness) Worthington encourages us on understanding and applying the REACH model as our commitment to becoming a more forgiving person will not only benefit us, but those around us and we can benefit from all of the rewards that being a forgiving person has to offer.
LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
Candy Daniels I wonder what you saw when you looked at the picture on the front cover? Did you see a fire in the distance? Did you see the clouds filled with smoke? Did you wonder how far the fire was? Let me put your mind at ease. What you see in the picture is not a fire. What you see is the sun setting after a storm. The rain clouds are reflecting the glow of the sun. Did you notice the uneven road or did your thoughts take you straight to the unknown that was past that turn? I can tell you that past that turn was a police car with a speed camera. I would like to add that I was the passenger and there was no risk to anyone in the car or on the road in my attempt to take the photo. Life presents us with many unknowns and most often our perceptions are clouded by our experiences. Our senses play a key role in how we perceive things or people. Let’s learn to appreciate how our senses guide us, yet let’s not become comfortable in letting our experiences dictate that how things were is how it’s always going to be. Let experience be your teacher, but let your awareness educate you. Take time to focus and reflect on the things that are constant in your thought life. It is possible that you need to deal with something or let go of something if it’s often in the forefront of your mind/thought life. Take time to focus on the internal and external dialogue that is going on for you. These are the conscious and unconscious thoughts that you hold within yourself. These are the things that guide you and need your attention, for they direct your senses and your perceptions are formed based on these simple things.
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Who am I?
is such that we tend to spend more energy trying to change the things that others deem to be faults instead of working with the things we are good at.
Jodie Chambers We hear people tell us that we need to know our self and discover our true identity. In the words of the Psychologist, Carl Rogers, we are on a journey of self- actualisation. This is achieved when a person’s ‘ideal self’ (who they would like to be) is in line with their actual behaviour (Who they really are). The best way to find peace and happiness in life is when we know our ideal self and our real self well, and then we can be the best we are meant to be. We can learn to understand our abilities and make improvements based on self- knowledge instead of what others think.
Let me burst a few self-actualization bubbles for you. You are not the greatest person. There are things that you are not so good at. There are things that you simply cannot do. There are always people who can do what you do. However, only you can do the things you can do in the way you can do them.
When you can come to the point of understanding what you are not good at, accept your limitations as part of what it means to be human, you will be able to refocus your energies into doing the things you were meant to be doing. Not only that, when people try The relationships we need to be and put you down looking for are with the people who or criticise you for your limitations, are comfortable with themselves you will simply be able to laugh and enough to accept our limits and reply “I Know.”
Who we want to be can sometimes be different to who we are and this can become the place where we get stuck. Personally, I would like to be way our awesomeness more organised and I’m Knowing who you sure my colleges would are NOT is just as like that too. Romans 7:19 says “ For I do not important as knowing who you are. do the good I want to do. Instead , I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do.” Knowing If you speak with my friends, they will tell you who we are is important however, society is that I have some strange and quirky ways I do not as interested in who we are as it is in who things. Sometimes my way of handling situawe are not. When people know your weaktions can seem unusual however, that is all fine nesses then they can use these to keep you by me. It is also fine by my friends. They from achieving your best. A large part of our don’t need me to be a wonderful, amazing and identity is shaped by the people we have awesome person all the time and they are not around us, the family and social environment trying to find faults in my personality either. we live in as well as the relationships we make. The relationships we need to be looking for are These are the people who tell us who they think we are, according to how they perceive our behaviour. It is then up to us to decide if this is who we really are or who we would like to be, our self-actualization. Our human nature LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
with the people who are comfortable with themselves enough to accept our limits and our awesomeness.
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Autism: working out the best strategies for you and your child.
Sam Brown The number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased significantly in the past ten years, yet there is still no conclusive cause for the condition. Many families are grasping at all sorts of options to address the variety of behavioural and social concerns that affect their children, hoping that something will help. But how does one choose the ‘right’ strategy? Research groups focusing on ASD believe the answer lies in evidencebased practices (EBP) and they are pushing for the adoption of such practices in an attempt to provide better support for families. Evidence–based practice stems from the concept of evidence-based medicine (EBM), used in the medical profession since the mid-nineteenth century. EBP for ASD involves combining the best available evidence, with the expertise of the practitioner, and considers the values and contexts of the client and their family. Attempts to change or address various ASD characteristics often lead families to try a wide variety of untested strategies and ‘treatments’. Some of these may work, but there are many that are ineffective, too difficult or time consuming to maintain, or can be harmful. A particular strategy that worked for your ‘friend’s sister’s child’, will not necessarily work for yours. If you are trying a couple of different strategies at the same time, to address one particular behaviour, how will you know which one is actually making the difference? And why is it that one strategy seems to work at school but not at home? The goal of using EBP is to provide a more deliberate, more focused ‘treatment’ plan, so that the chances for failure are minimised, along with the heartbreak that often comes when positive change does not. Evidence in the form of a second-hand story is only anecdotal, and one positive result for someone else is little ‘proof’ that a strategy ‘works’. The variability in ASD for each person, the idiosyncrasies of the individual’s situation, make the probability of duplicating the LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
same positive results unlikely. The ‘best evidence’ usually refers to scientifically proven strategies; those that are not harmful and can produce positive results on a recurring basis. Scientifically supported strategies are tested in controlled conditions, to ensure that repeated positive results can be attributed, as much as possible, to the actual strategy that is being tested and not to other random variables. Now that there are thousands of research studies into ASD strategies, the amount of time it would take practitioners to read and review it all is impracticable. This is why there are now a number of professional organisations and ASD support groups that provide extensive and comprehensive reviews of all that literature instead. These systematic reviews, two of which are listed at the end of this article, are considered to be the most detailed and conclusive evidence to support or negate strategies. They are also key tools used by practitioners in their goal to provide good evidence-based practice for their clients. It is only by considering the evidence support, knowing and understanding the strategies, and by taking into account the values of the families they work with, and the various contexts in which strategies need to be implemented, that practitioners in the field of ASD can truly provide EBP and the best possible care for clients. If you are feeling lost in the confusion, or overwhelmed by the abundance of information regarding strategies to address behaviours and concerns relating to ASD, perhaps the first step is to seek help from a qualified practitioner who can provide the ‘best fit’ for you, using an evidence–based practice approach. EBP report links: National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders: http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/sites/autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/files/imce/documents/2014-EBPReport.pdf National Autism Centre: http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/nationalstandards-project/
Hope and the Vocation of Christian Counselling Donna Hunter
ness brings hope into the present. The fullness of hope can only be seen when true hopelessness is acknowledged, for one cannot contrast hope against anything else but hopelessness. The theological understanding of hope integrates present and future concepts of hope and asserts meaningfulness into situations which seen virtually impossible.
Humanity’s search for meaningfulness in life has lead hope to be conceptualised throughout history theologically, philosophically, metaphysically and more recently scientifically, with many different ideologies that are culturEverybody has the potential to reach their desally diverse, and aim to frame the ambiguous tiny and it is here that hope can be imparted nature of hope. There is no universal consensus into those looking for its potential. This is, to on the conception of hope, although there is an be able to measure oneself against a godly agreement that we all need hope, especially in identity and the perfect plans and purposes the face of the human condition of morality. In God has for each one of us. This is far more a world that constantly brings injustice and opattainable and congruent than measuring ourpression, hope surpasses optimism and wishful selves against unattainable worldly standards thinking, and looks forward to something betbecause God’s purpose is personally set for ter than that which each person indialready is. The esvidually. Hope in Everybody has the potential to reach their sence of Christian God also has an hope is both virtuemergency exit for destiny and it is here that hope can be ous and eternal, failure called imparted into those looking for its potential reaching far past grace, for it is what the concerns of Jesus did on the this world or the death of this life, and is a rich cross, not what humanity can do for itself, that conceptualisation of the fullness of hope. is the premise of true hope. As a Christian counsellor, one has the privilege to be a means To engender hope is to engender faith as “faith by which God imparts the fullness of hope into is the substance of things hoped for and the the lives of those they encounter. evidence of things not yet seen”. Helping others to find the courage to be hopeful in the face of adversity is an important role of any ChristBeing Aware ian in the helping field. Only as we as ChrisKaren Bekker tians live expectant lives, sharing messages of I was driving in heavy traffic the other day, God’s love and eternal promise through everythere were cars weaving in and out, speeding day dialogue, can the empowerment of the up and slowing down. There were cars coming fullness of hope be fully embraced by others. out of side streets, traffic lights, changing road Adversity is a common bond that unites all the signs and speed limits. hearts of humanity, and as one asserts to attain Although I felt very relaxed as I am used to their goals within a lifetime, it is through the this kind of traffic, I realised that part of me trials and tribulations that character is built and was on alert, aware of everything happening meaningfulness of life exposed. MeaningfulLIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
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around me. So if someone stopped quickly, pulled out unexpected, swerved into my lane; there would be less chance of an accident or problem. It was like I was aware and had a plan. I then began to think about my thought life and how so much anxiety, agitation, and stress is often caused by a lack of awareness. A lack of self-awareness, which is: a conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. I drive a large four-wheel drive. It has a bull bar at the front and a tow bar at the back. When I park I can’t see my tow bar or the front of my bull bar. I’m a little short ☺ the bull bar and tow bar are there so when I am parking and reversing I am aware of what I can’t see so I allow a little extra distance so as not to crash. Over the years I have really taken the time to get to know myself. My likes - dislikes and the things that can cause my stress to rise. Having to have to deal with a few very stressful situations in life had left me often anxious and stressed, and even led to depression at times. I started to keep track, taking note of when I was good: emotionally stable and when I was struggling and I began to see a pattern. Certain situations, events, even words would trigger a response. It didn’t necessarily have to be from those I knew personally. Years after I lost my brother in a very tragic situation, I would hear similar things on the news and begin to plummet in a cycle of grief again. Even small things at times could set off a chain of emotions that would leave me wondering, ‘why am I feeling like this?’ As I took the time to get to know myself, and gain self-awareness, I began to recognise the triggers of my emotions and just like if I was LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
driving along in my 4x4, if something unexpected happened I became aware and more prepared to avoid a crash. Sometimes seeking help is important, if you have been through trauma or just can’t seem to break the cycle of anxiety, stress, and negative emotions. A trained counsellor, psychologist, etc. can help get to the root of the problem. I grew up in a dis-functional family. My mum worked hard and gave her best, my dad drank too much and argued a lot. They separated when I was five and we had many challenges and hard times so for me I found, even though I was an adult, years later there were still triggers that would cause me to become fearful, anxious and afraid. God wants us to walk in love, in confidence and in peace. He wants to heal us of past hurts. He wants to remove the triggers and heal the wounds of the past. It starts with a Choice: Our Choice. For me I started by taking notes; keeping a simple emotional diary. Writing down what things I had seen or heard before I started to feel anxious, before the negative emotions and feelings began. I also would sometimes look forward and I realised the thought of having to go to certain events or to have to do certain things or see certain people would cause anxiety because of negative past experiences. Somethings I was able to work through on my own, somethings I sort help from others. So if you are one who finds that you are struggling with repeated or ongoing negative thoughts, feelings, or emotions; please take the time to really get to know yourself. ‘Your worth it!’ “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind,” 2 Timothy 1:7
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School!? How hard can it be? Lisa Dumicich I have adapted this from an article in The Age on May the 3rd 2013 called’ VCE? How hard can it be?’ I think there are some valuable pointers in here for students of all ages.
comes more of a focus e.g. around exams but trying to have other interests makes you well rounded. 6. Choose your friends wisely: Some people can be really great influences on your life and will give you time to study other people will not be so helpful. It is one of the most important things especially as children hit the teenage years to have good peers that won’t lead you astray.
1. Look after your health: Sleep, exercise, good food are all essential to keep your brain and body for students of all ages functioning well. Late night 7. Time Management: Get a caffeine-fuelled homework diary and actually USE It! teach sessions are a no go! children from a young age how to set aside 2. Set goals: Really specific goals that you would like to achieve are excellent motivators for better learning. Having a goal such as I would like to do homework MondayThursday night for 2 hours a night during term time is a great goal compared to I want to improve my homework. Use SMART goals to help you set goals for your learning. Set 2-3 Goals for yourself each term. Reward yourself or your child when they are achieved. 3. Think Positive: Negative Self talk, anxiety and worry can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be confident in the gifts God has given you. 4. Minimise Stress: Some stress is good for you but too much stress is not good physically and mentally. It is important to learn from a young age resilience and how to handle potentially stressful situations. Take advantage of teachers and chaplains if you are struggling to cope.
time for homework and time for play and help them to stick to it. They will thank you when they get older. Leaving assignments to the last minute and not having enough time to complete them properly then getting snowed under with too much work can lead to vicious stress cycles 8. Learn from Others: If you have peers that are doing well, watch what they do and learn from them. Seek help from teachers; find an older student to tutor you. Ask your parents what they did right/wrong/ would change if they had to go to school again. 9. Learn to think: Critical thinking and reasoning is a highly prized ability. Don’t accept things at face value, question, go deeper, don’t be afraid to put in the hard work and use your own words. Copying and pasting from the Internet may get your homework done more quickly but does not help you really understand what is going on.
5. Live a balanced life: My grade 5 teacher used to tell us to “work hard, play hard.” This was good advice. There needs to be room in your life not just for study but for Church, hobbies and family/friends. There will be times where study, for example, beLIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
Implementing these skills as part of our daily life routine would benefit anyone at any age. For the journey of life is the classroom in which we learn our best skills and where we can choose to be our best! Page 1! 4
LIFE Volume 6, Issue 4
Spring Edition of LIFE news, filled with articles on love, forgiveness, autism, study skills...