Category Archives: Living well

Why are You Afraid of God?

One thing really came home to me last weekend. Nothing that God is involved in can be bad, whether it is death or anything else. It might seem or feel bad, but His presence (Love) is such pure energy, even sad, hard things are filled with joy–such sweet bonding and connections came from the weekend of Rocky’s funeral. It was a celebration of her life: beautiful, inspiring and uplifting. I felt honored to be related.

How did we get so afraid of God?

Was it, as I have heard in therapy, that God didn’t answer childhood prayers the way we thought He should? One teenage girl prayed for her family as a child, and it came apart anyway, so she had no use for Him after that. She didn’t understand freedom.

Maybe, even as adults, we (like her) don’t understand that God doesn’t take away other people’s freedom to hurt us. Freedom is much more scary than God! But even that is tempered by His keeping power if you ask to be kept. He isn’t willing for anyone to lose his or her true self, even though you might suffer.

I wonder how many of us have been scared away from God by church teaching. The church has been very effective with marketing guilt, and a harsh, exacting picture of God. They haven’t done a good job of interpreting scripture. Not that there isn’t some support for fear there.

God has had to leave hooks for doubt in scripture so we are free to choose. People wrote what God communicated but often it was mixed with there own perspective, mixed with their own fear, guilt, anger–and not a clear understanding of God. Sometimes they were very close to God and knew Him well, but we bring our own fear etc. to their words, and misread.

For this reason I’ve decided to continue with Love’s Playbook II going through the Bible writing it as God’s love story. Making Him look as He really is–all good–a God of love. I’m about four chapters in and loving it. I can’t think too far ahead or I get overwhelmed.

But one thing I’ve realized is that early on I will have to deal with God’s wrath. I think our main problem with God (besides just wanting to do our own thing) is not understanding his wrath or anger. It’s a lot different from ours. And if we can get the very scariest part of God nailed down, you can’t help but see where we went off track, and why understanding wrath is so important.

This might surprise you, but according to the major Old Testament prophets, God’s wrath is letting go. Letting you do what you want when what you want is destructive to yourself and others. . .when God steps back the dark side steps in and it gets really scary. Not always right at the beginning, because they don’t want to scare you back to God, but they hate us and their self-control isn’t good.

God’s worst, worst wrath is when He comes into your presence with you unprepared because pure energy combusts disordered atoms. This doesn’t happen often because His self-control is very good. It did happen a few times with warning, but one day He will come here and whatever is out of harmony will go poof in flame and disappear for ever, but it won’t burn forever–big difference.

Everyone will have had the chance to choose being loved by God or doing your own thing. He won’t force you to love, and He will give you your way, but your way is fantasy, because you have no power against evil or the dark side. If you don’t choose love, they will take over. You live in a war zone.

That is scary, but God isn’t.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, a perspective on evil, Becoming real, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?, When religion gets it wrong...

Cosby-Disappointment or Normal?

I raised my kids on Cosby. And since they’re in their 30s, there must be a lot of people who remember and love that show like we did. It and Seventh Heaven were the healthiest family modeling there was. We all wanted to be like them. And now both “dads” are accused of sex crimes. It’s heart-breaking.

In the beginning, I think we were all hoping it was just a personality-disordered gold-digger or two going after Cosby’s money. But now it appears that the icon we all love had a checkered past–was a very troubled man.

It’s so sad. We feel betrayed. This person we wanted our fathers and husbands to emulate turns out to have been a sex maniac.

I’ve been wondering, is he a sex addict? What he is accused of doesn’t sound sexual only; it sounds violent. Violent sex is about anger and hate, not really even sexual. Sex addiction is one step above that–the male brain so easily gets hooked on sex as a way to fix or escape whatever is wrong.

I’ve had a small therapy practice for 25 years, and I’ve always had someone dealing with sex addiction. It’s that common. I’ve had more than one client tell me how quickly it enslaved them–one “hit” of pornography was all it took. And now that it is so accessible, it’s really tough for men. But does that make it the norm?

NO! Maybe in numbers of guys struggling with it, but not in normal healthy behavior. Normal mostly isn’t healthy anyway.

What am I basing that on? The way a man’s brain is wired. Emotions are scary to men in this society. And since they can shut feelings down fairly easily, because of scarring to the corpus colosum in gestation, they tend to replace them with sex. I think men are emotionally starving here.

Indulgent mothers and absent or distant fathers, who have themselves forgotten what “manly” is, have made men uncomfortable in their own skin. There aren’t quests to prove manhood anymore. Fighting and sex is about as close as they get.

A man has fine, deep emotions, and his first sexual experience is powerfully bonding, especially if he’s “in love.” If the relationship doesn’t make it, and he doesn’t do some serious grieving, he’ll replace her, but never love or bond quite like that again.

He will want to grieve, but everyone, especially his buddies will tell him to go get laid and forget her–get involved with someone else. Of course, the exact wrong advice.

So his bonding ability is seared and feelings are buried. But buried feelings ferment and get nasty and come out other places–aberrant sexual behavior. And if its anger that’s being buried, look out! (African-American people, especially African-American men, have reason for anger.) Violence carries its own addiction. Sex and violence together are a bad combination.

Is there hope? There is always hope for every addiction, and the best of it comes from God the one who can redeem anything, and who made your feelings and your brain circuitry in the first-place. But you have to ask.

Therapy is a great help, but you’ll have to find a therapist who doesn’t think sex addiction is normal. Good luck!

And the love of a good, secure woman, if valued, is a great help also.

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Filed under a perspective on evil, Becoming real, Bullying, fathering, Grief, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, sex addiction

Family

The holidays always bring feelings of family to the surface–bad or good. Usually an interesting mix of both. We long for people to smile when we walk through the door, to welcome us with open arms, to feel that we have been missed and are treasured.

One of my clients calls it longing for a Norman Rockwell family. She always has a hard time this time of year–because her family is so broken despite their wealth. And the saddest part is they can’t look at it and admit it. So, of course, they can’t get better. Drives her crazy!

Thanksgiving is often interesting for us–all of our kids live in different states, so we are often alone. But we are so fortunate that we have become close to friends who are our kids’ ages. This year one of them had a Thanksgiving dinner and included us.

How sweet it was. We did get the smiles, open arms, and the feeling that we are treasured. It was a great evening with people who have the same desires and values actually sharing thanks for spouses and each other. And some of it was just spontaneous.

It started me thinking: If you are blessed to have family like that, how happy you are! BUT if you don’t and you long for it, or are far away from yours, what prevents you from creating a surrogate one? I’ve had one most of my life just because from 22 on I lived 2000 miles from family. I asked, and God supplied.

We need people. We need to feel loved and treasured. It truly is God’s biggest desire for us. One Thanksgiving I purposely spent alone with Jesus imagining Him with me. It was fabulous. God wants to be that real to you. That close.

You’ll never be sorry for making Him the primary relationship in your life, and He will add surrogate family–other people who have put Him first on purpose. These are people who know how to love, or at least are learning. They aren’t perfect, but they are in God’s school for love.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Separation, Uncategorized

Is the Struggle to be Healthy Really Worth It?

Why is health important? Is it really worth the struggle to deny myself all the things I love to eat and drink, or make the hard choice to get up and exercise? “I love to eat and I don’t like to exercise, isn’t there some pill..?” is usually how I hear it.

I also hear, “We are all going to die anyway,” or some version of it, when people don’t want to change lifestyle habits.

And it’s true. We are all dying–(aging is quite an experience–even when you have practiced a healthy lifestyle for almost 40 years. I’d hate too think how I’d be if I hadn’t!)

But feeling good physically–while I love it–is not the only reason to change habits. Your brain function is so greatly affected by your physical habits.

Health has been a hobby of mine for years. I love learning new research, and I just learned something new about sleep from a Ted Talk. Sleep bathes your brain and wards off Alzheimer’s disease by helping clear amaloid plaque!

But probably more important is how health affects your behavior and your choices right now. It is so much easier to be hopeful, kind and positive when you feel good physically! Good solid energy levels–not caffeinated hype–are better for you and everyone around you.

It’s easier to respond rather than react when your body is working well. It’s easier to make good choices when you feel good. Everything from what you put into your body, to yelling at your kids, to what you do with leisure time, to which job you should take is easier to handle if your body feels good and your brain is working well.

Just making a choice–rather than letting other people or circumstances make choices for you–even a simple one: Should I exercise even though I don’t feel like it?  is easier when you know why your body needs it and how it will respond. Knowledge is key.

The most important aspect of health is spiritual health because you were born into a huge context–a war between good and evil. It’s getting easier to see all the time. Evil is asserting itself and God is allowing it more space as He’s wrapping up the demonstration and closing the classroom. It’s an important lesson, one that has taken time.

Evil is extremely skilled at manifesting deception. The only way to keep clear about who’s who and what’s what is to stay connected to God. He is truth, and has promised protection and clarity for anyone who wants it.

God’s enemies (evil) can only keep us captive by weakening our minds and destroying our freedom through mindlessness and lack of choice. They play on our emotions and choices to gum up our machinery, confuse and control us. But in the change that happens when you choose surrender to God, there is the highest sense of freedom.

Submission to God restores your true self–your true glory and dignity. But this is the reason health is so important. If your mechanism is clogged with debris, chemicals, waste, overload, you are likely to blow the most important thing off.

My book on health is out now! You can get it from Amazon in either ebook version or the physical workbook edition. The latter one gives you a place to write, and helps you create your own simple plan: http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad  is the link. Or visit the store connected to the book: http://lovelosingstore.com

 

10 Health Foods You Should Never Eat.

My friend posted this on facebook and curiosity made me check it out. It’s good information. I recommend  you take 10 minutes to look.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under a perspective on evil, Becoming real, Health, Living well, Mental Health

Brokenness

Why did I react like that? I wailed to God after saying “You’re such a pain!” to my 10 year-old grandson. I just blew it again, and I so want to be this loving grandma I see in my head.

And God is so sweet. He showed me the good side of our relationship. Who else runs to you every time you’ve been apart, gives you a hug, and says, “I love you Grandma.”

I had to admit it, They are all sweet and loving, but nobody shows it or expresses it as much as Wade. So are You saying that the closeness brings out the worst as well as the best? I guess that makes sense–we risk most where we are the most comfortable. I felt relieved and went to sleep.

Visiting my children often makes me aware of the jagged pieces of my brokenness that still catch on the words or actions of others. I hate it! The wounding from what others say or do. The reactions that hurt others. I hate seeing it!

Or do I?

I’m beginning to see that brokenness is one of the most important concepts we can “get.” It keeps us from discouragement. How?

If you accept that you are broken, you aren’t expecting perfection from yourself.  You are less embarrassed when you blow it, quicker to own it, and quicker to ask forgiveness. That is huge!

You aren’t as apt to hide, holding up your mask (your persona) and hoping no one sees around it. So you are more likely to be real, transparent, and relaxed. Relaxed people are easier to be around. They help others relax.

Relaxed people laugh more, enjoy more, are more efficient, have more great ideas, and generally are nicer to other people. They aren’t just trying to get things done; they are savoring the moments.

Relaxed people are usually more forgiving of others mistakes, because they aren’t cranked so tight that every minute has to come off according to their plan–human doings, I call them.

Relaxed people aren’t afraid they are missing something, or that something is going to go wrong, or that their kids will surely screw up if they aren’t there to stop it or bail them out.

I think it’s what Jesus’ disciples preached, “You are sinners, in need of grace.”

I never liked that message, it made me feel worthless when I needed to feel loved. But I see now that when you are trying to walk close to God, you can so easily become discouraged with your performance. And then it is a great comfort to know that you are just broken.

It’s the way it is. You are never going to be perfect. Not here, not now.

You have two natures. You can minimize damage by staying close to God and you will get more like Him, but you will still be a mistake maker–the weakness of humanity is a given. And when you see it in yourself, don’t despair or give in to self-loathing.

Get up, admit it, accept forgiveness, and keep on walking in God’s love. You can’t make a mistake so great that He wouldn’t love you.

You couldn’t even commit a sin that would cancel His love for you. (Sin and mistakes being different.)

But for heaven’s sake, don’t let your mistakes turn into sin–anything that comes between you and God. The definition of sin is living outside of love–saying “No thank-you” to God when He comes asking you to believe that He loves you, asking for a relationship.

He’s let you down? HE has?

Accepting brokenness helps that too. All of our brokenness muddles together to make such a porridge of blah and hurt, why would we ever expect life to be perfect? There is such a miasma arising from our actions, it’s like the world is enveloped in the smog of China. It’s amazing any of God’s goodness and blessings shine through!

We can help by choosing to own our hurt both in-coming and out-going.

So since my brokenness showed the morning I left, I texted Wade when I got home, “I’m sorry I said you were a pain this morning. I love you.”

And he replied, “Love you too!!!”

The miasma lifted. I felt God’s love shine through a ten-year-old’s forgiveness.

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Filed under Becoming real, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Uncategorized

You Deserve It

Have you noticed how this line has become the call to action–or at least the hook for almost every female advertisement?

It isn’t surprising. They are targeting women over 40, or at least over 35, and most of us were raised to feel inferior to someone or something.

Even if we weren’t raised that way, we felt it…inferior to men, inferior to prettier women, inferior to the smart kids, inferior to women who were loved, excelled, got things done, Mother Theresa, and on and on.

As a whole, we grew up “not good enough” and felt it most of the time. Notwithstanding the feminist movement (70’s).

Now, the 70’s have had their effect, our brains have been done developing for a while (age 25) and we are beginning to realize that we are good enough to be loved, treated well, respected, cared for, paid the same as men, etc.

And I’m wondering what they will use to hook the next generations. They were and are raised by women who champion women–who believe they deserve everything. Anyone under 35 seems to feel entitled to having it all.

They aren’t going to take anyone’s crap!

That’s what they say, and many of them can walk the walk, but underneath it, they still question if they are good enough.

Know why? Abuse, yes. But mostly it’s the curse. Not God’s curse; He would never curse us–but He did describe it.

In the beginning God created us equal to men, but breaking faith with God, believing a snake over our best friend, broke our confidence in profound ways. It filtered down to all of us.

Men have had a love/hate relationship with women ever since. They blame us, but have a hard time standing up to us in gentle, real ways. Force and violence come much easier to them. Or abdication.

What can we do?

Understanding the curse helps. It’s called “the curse of sin and death” in Scripture.*
1. It didn’t come from God–He is still our best friend.
2. It broke our direct relationship to God–that clear, true dependency.
3. It made us dependent on men. For centuries–millennia–we have depended on them. Societies were set up that way. Most of them still are.
4. We feel it. Many of us feel incomplete without a man.
5. Emotionally we want and seek a man to complete us.
6. Our first thought when we are unhappy or feel afraid or incomplete, is not usually, “I need God”; it is, “I need a man” or at least, “I need someone.”
7. But reversing the curse would be realizing, “I need God!”–exchanging the horizontal relationship we run after for a vertical relationship–making it number 1.

I’ve lived a long time, have listened to many people’s stories. And the only thing I have seen consistently work is reversing the curse. Find out for yourself what God is really like: He is crazy about you! He can love you like nobody else. He is gentle. He is strong. And He will never leave you.

And you are worth it. You do deserve a relationship with Him because He says so. And He walked the talk.

*Romans 7-8:1

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Filed under A God perspective, battered women syndrome, Becoming real, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Respect and disrespect, Separation, Uncategorized

What do You Choose?

Today is my grandson’s 10th birthday! Do you  remember when you were ten?

What did you want then?

What do you want now?

Maturity is summed up as learning to think differently in the letter of mental health (Philippians–which is also the book of joy!)

When you are ten you think as a child. Though I would imagine that the last three years have not been normal child thinking for my birthday boy–lots of adjustment–going through separation, divorce, and a new step-dad (whom he adores). Those would be seismic changes in a ten-year-old life.

But you might find it interesting that they (all three boys) prayed that he (specifically) would come for at least 6 months before he did. And then it all happened very fast (they had known each other for years) and the boys were all delighted and couldn’t wait to live with him!

That is not the way it usually happens I can tell you!

But they had always been coached that God would take care of them and they were going to be ok. And when they wondered why “their friend” didn’t come around anymore they were told to pray for him, and so they did–every night.

They weren’t at all upset when they came home from a vacation with Daddy and Grandpa and Grandma, and a surprise! Mommy was married and they were moved into their new dad’s house!

I know because they face-timed me and showed me their new rooms, singing, “We live here, we live here!” I think even their dad was relieved.

What a great illustration for learning to think differently! Situations that would normally be horrible were made tolerable, even hopeful, because God was in them working all things together for good.

Isn’t that confidence, that joy, that hope, what you want to live in?

Of course it helps if you have a parent that tells you more than once a week that everything is going to be ok, especially when you are two, five, and seven.

But you do, really, and it doesn’t matter if you are 22, or 45, or 67. He still wants to be your Daddy and tell you that everything is going to be ok, that He is working it all together for your good.

I know, that’s in Romans, not Philippians, but it is what Philippians is all about: You can choose to rejoice, and the more you rejoice the better you will feel because your confidence will grow and you will feel loved and cared for.

But what about when you don’t feel loved and cared for? Then you choose. Because choosing is an act of your will based on what you want, not what you feel. Remember, feelings follow thought and action.

If you want to feel better, think better. Make some good choices, some healthy choices, follow through and you will feel better. It’s a law of the mind.

Hey, this is a great place to make a plug for my new book–the real reason I’m late writing this week–it’s coming out any day now! Love Losing is how to have a healthy mind and body because you can choose to think differently.

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Catch Joy

I know you’ve been sick at one time or other. We say you “caught” something. You were exposed by being around someone who has it. If you can catch something bad like a virus, can you catch something good, I wonder?

If joy comes from two main sources: the way you think and God’s presence, we might be able to make a case for it.

God’s graciousness wraps around your heart until joy is the natural result. But it takes time. It doesn’t happen reading a quick verse or two and running out the door. He’s been teaching me to just “be” with Him. Just sit in His presence and talk with Him like you would any friend. And realize that you wouldn’t talk all the time with any friend.

My husband and I watched a great movie last night “Another Perfect Stranger”–a very simple movie, but great because of the “presence” of the stranger–his sense of self–his ability to just be with her. The first time I saw it the strength of his presence stayed with me the whole next day. So I got it from Netflix so my husband could see it. Besides I wanted to see it again.

Do you spend enough time in God’s presence to feel His joy? Are you open to Him? Amazed and overwhelmed by the way He loves you?

Secondly, are you aware of the need to control your thought-life so joy follows? It’s a matter of being aware and choosing.

Your conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Oh I know you have many things in your mind at once–I counted five I was thinking when I ran into the back of someone else years ago. Notice I said you can only “focus” on one thing at a time. Your feelings tell how you are focusing. What you are thinking about.

Are you in charge? or are your thoughts? What you allow in, the quality of its “presence”, what you entertain will determine how you feel.

You can even be like “Janay” Rice and convince yourself that being beat unconcious is a sign of love! That has obviously been her experience, her thinking, until she believes it. It is evidently working for her. But I can tell you as a veteran marriage therapist, that is NOT love, I don’t care what you believe. And she doesn’t look joyful. She looks beaten down–selfless. Battered-woman-syndrome selfless.

Good selflessness is when you have enough self to forget about yourself and just be. You have to have a sense of self that will not let you be beat down and call it love. Love builds up. Love should look joyful. Being loved is joyful–even when it’s hard.

Gratitude in hard times is called the sacrifice of praise. You can praise because you are loved by a God who is good, no matter what is going on in your life.

But that leads you to make good choices–good thinking always does–even when they are hard choices.

Got hard times? Start talking through them and thinking through them with the God who loves you wildly–crazily even. He will help you see new perspectives that lead to new choices. He will even give strength to make them.

Good choices make a good life–one that catches joy.

 

 

 

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Filed under A God perspective, battered women syndrome, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Loved, Marriage, Respect and disrespect, Uncategorized

Finding Gain through Your Pain

Yesterday I looked in the mirror and saw someone I hadn’t seen in over 25 years. Evidently physical headache pain and emotional pain look the same in the eyes.

I remembered how I used to catch glimpses of my face in unexpected mirrors and be horrified at the anger or fear I saw. I’d think is this what my daughter sees?

Oh God, no! This isn’t what I want her to see as mom, this can’t be comforting!

So when God opened a door for therapy, I jumped at the chance: One of the best decisions of my life. I knew I was uncomfortable and dysfunctional, but had no idea why.

That was 29 years ago. Uncovering the pain was hard work, I’d grown up very good at avoiding it. But it was so much better and easier than carrying it.

I’ve been grateful to catch glimpses of myself in unexpected mirrors the past few years and see a peaceful reflection. I was just as surprised. What a difference.

Don’t let fear block your joy. Most of us carry fear and anger without knowing it, like I did. If you have a chance to sort things out in your head, do it. If you have insurance that covers therapy, get it.

In scripture God asks, “Why will you suffer? Why will you die?” He’s asking because He’s offering life and joy.

We can choose suffering. He will let us. But it’s as if He says to each of us, “I know you need to learn, but do you really need to learn everything the hard way? I’m willing to guide you, just come to Me and ask. You’ll still have hard times. You’ll still have to make choices. But it could be so much easier than what you’re doing.”

Make some good choices today. One of them could be to trust God. He is safe to trust.

As I’ve been saying lately, trade in your pain for joy. Learning how to hang out with God and get His validation is a great place to start. “In His presence is joy…”

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Love ed, Mental Health, suffering, What is God like?

Joy Filters

Your feelings of joy–or lack of them–do not reveal the quality of your life. They reveal the quality of your thinking.

I know this to be true. Yesterday I experienced it again.

I woke up crabby, and it continued until mid-morning when suddenly I said to God, “Why am I so crabby? I have no reason to be.” Instantly the above thought came to mind, and I realized that I had been thinking very negative thoughts.

Why?  I don’t know.

I may have awakened with a headache again. It’s been happening with more regularity than not lately. Have been wondering if I’m clenching my teeth in my sleep from stress (although I’m not aware of any), or if I have a sinus infection with no symptoms but a headache.

Maybe it got to me and I started looking through a negative filter.

Normally, I’ve been going about my life with so much gratitude. I have a fabulous life. I love everything about it. With God’s help I built it.

Of course it could be better, I could be nearer my kids and grand kids, I could be retired, my books could be selling more, I could have more money…and before you know it I’m off on a negative bent.

It’s so crazy what a little thing like a filter can do to a day or a life.

“Be careful how you see…”

No wonder Jesus said that in many ways over and over. How you perceive things determines how you think. How you think determines how you feel. How you feel determines how your life looks to you, and soon what you believe.

It’s like the body’s inflammation cascade–one thing starts another, that starts another, that sets off another until you are sick or anxiety riddled. And it may have been just a thought.

If I perceive something as negative when it wasn’t, like thinking an old rope in the path is a snake, I’ll have a bad reaction. If I won’t look to see that the snake is merely a rope, then the truth can’t do me any good. I’ll walk on in fear.

However, if I stop and look and see that what I thought was a snake was really a rope, then no matter how many times I look at it again I won’t be afraid of it. I might even let the relief bring me humor and joy.

Of course, I could choose to focus on worrying if there will be a real snake down the road. That’s called borrowing trouble. And a lot of us do it. It’s easy to fall into.

Why should I ruin today with tomorrow’s fear?

If God is good, and personally interested in everything we do…

“But evil lives here too! bad things happen!” you interject.

And you’d be right. But if you have given yourself to God, only what He allows can happen to you. And if He allows it then good can come from it unless you rebel.

So don’t get angry or fearful. Take it as God believing in you–there’s a whole universe watching. It’s  a complement–an honor. Who knows what He can do.

It is your choice. Check your filters often and change them if they need it.

And by the way, the rest of my day went much better after I changed my thinking.

 

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Filed under A God perspective, Becoming real, Joy, Living well, Loved, Mental Health, Uncategorized, What is God like?