Switching Over Soon

This time the way to sign up for blogs on the new website, Barbaramoonbooks.com is really ready.  After you read a blog, scroll way down and you will see at the bottom on the right, “Want to keep current?” Put in your email address and you will be a follower.  I am still in the process of moving old blogs over so I am not ready to stop the old blog. Thanks for your interest.

And thanks to Debbie Sellmann at DS Web Design, for the awesome new site!  Check hers out!

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Stop Parenting

Today we have a guest blogger, my friend, Shawnda Myers. During our small group she shared the following thoughts about dealing differently with adult children that are still at home.  I liked what she said so well, I asked her permission to put her ideas into a blog.


From Shawnda Myers

When our children become adults, when they enter that maturity level around the age of 13, it’s time to begin looking at them differently so we can move towards relating differently to them when they reach 18. By that age it’s time to stop parenting and trust what we’ve built into them growing up.

This may sound strange and even controversial, but this is how I have applied it:  nagging ceased and the means of relating became more like that of a friend, as I changed how I speak to and how I approach my adult son. As I think of him more as a “friend,” I realize if a friend comes to visit, I don’t nag them about the dishes. If a friend tells me, “No,” about something, I can take their no.

You might think I’m saying that adult children can just live in the house and do nothing, but that isn’t what I’m saying. It’s all about relationships being more important than problems that arise over things such as “dirty dishes.” It’s an attitude toward the adult child that says, “We are more equal now. I’ve parented your for 18 years, but now it’s up to you to do and be who you are, and it’s up to me to move toward what it will be like when our nest is empty and I don’t have you to help me with chores. You will have your own dishes someday. It’s important to me to keep our relationship free of nagging and resentment over who does not take care of life’s necessities.”

It seems to me that many of our battles over “emptying the dishwasher or filling it up” are based on someone’s preference. That preference is neutral–neither right or wrong. But many times those preferences become rules that then become laws. And laws will only bring ‘death’ to relationships. Someone has to enforce a law and that often brings conflict and trying to control others when laws are not kept–another killer of relationships. The law arouses sin.

Regardless of how we look at chores,  it’s clear to all of us that there’s a balance in helping around the house, but I encourage you to consider a new way of approaching how you deal with an adult child still at home. If we as parents keep pushing our preferences, the young adults won’t know theirs.  I want mine to know themselves and their identity before they leave home. As I have practiced this different way of dealing with my young adult son, I have seen him open up to me more often because I am not nagging him or trying to control him.

Here are two examples:  Trey is a minimalist in his bedroom.  He keeps it clean and neat so if I see that his room is not in its usual shape, I might say something like this: “Hey, I notice your room doesn’t look like you prefer it. Life’s busy. What’s going on?” Trey will often take time to catch up about what’s going on in his life that we haven’t had time to talk about.

On another occasion I asked him if he would mow the yard before we left on a trip, but he said that he couldn’t.  I left it at that and took his no. Later that month he washed and detailed his dad’s car without being asked. Sometimes he does the dishes and sometimes he doesn’t. He does his own laundry. Sometimes he asks for advice about his budget and sometimes he doesn’t. We leave as much to him as we can, always available if he chooses.

I would say that looking at and treating my young adult as an adult is working well.  He is learning about real life consequences as he exercises his own choices, how to work for what he wants, and he honors us as parents.

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Sign Up for Blogs on New Website

The new website is ready and I am transferring my old blogs over to it slowly but surely. Eventually this blog will end, so I encourage you to sign up for emails telling you of new blogs on the website when that link is ready. I mistakenly thought it was and I will post when it is ready.

Here is the link to the the new site:  http://barbaramoonbooks.com/

My friend, Debbie Sellmann, built the site for me and it is beautiful.  She is open for business from others.

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Giving Up the Outcome–a look at surrender

A friend and I were talking recently about what it really means to “surrender” or “’give up control.” It was a great and enlightening discussion. We first talked about what she had been taught to believe about God being in control.  It’s as if He is both sovereign and powerful but has given up His power to man’s free will, an easily misunderstood teaching. Misunderstandings and slightly off teachings make it easy to draw some hard conclusions about God. If He is all powerful and could control and fix everything but has chosen not to, then one could conclude that He is not a loving and kind God.  From that conclusion, it would be very difficult to “surrender” to Him.

From there I took my friend to another conclusion that fits right here—If I have pain, trials, suffering, or bad circumstances and God is powerful but does not fix what’s wrong, then He is a bad God. These lies about pain seem to be very prevalent. (See my book Re-Framing Your Hurts for more on changing this view.)

Our next path took us to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. My friend had been taught that we should choose to live from the good side of the tree versus the evil side, and if we do, then God will bless us.  This belief leads us to struggle with trying to figure everything out in our own understanding. (Proverbs 3: 5-6).  The next question arose about where, in the Old Testament, Israel was told to follow God and be blessed—and it was so. I countered with another question: “What does it mean for God to bless us?” We agreed that most of us believe it means that good will happen and bad will not.  Israel as a nation had better circumstances when they followed God, but each person still had every-day problems with sickness, losing loved ones, bad crops; bad relationships.  Every jot and tittle of their lives was not always “good” even when the nation was following God.

So from here I took my friend to some new thoughts: We are always blessed; blessed means that we always have God’s love and presence. Blessed is not about circumstances. We mostly judge our lives by whether circumstances are good or bad.  On top of that, we have a distorted view of pain. We take our view of pain from that tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of the tree of Life.  Our free-will choice is not between something being good or bad, but about whether we choose to focus on God or on our circumstances.  God does not promise us that everything will be wonderful, but He does promise that He will always love us and always be with us. He is with us either way.

Our discussion now went to an example of a difficult circumstance. When a person we love is not walking with God in His ways as we wish they would, we have some choices there.  We can condemn, reject, smother, or let go.  We can punish, nag, or take our hands off (give up control). When we let go, our minds immediately go to “What if. . . ?” We can quickly go to numerous  bad outcomes that are possible if nothing changes in this person’s walk. This is our battle of surrender. Just because we let go and surrender all to God does not mean He will make things come out as we wish, hope, or want. That is the struggle of surrender.  My friend summed it up so well—we have to give up the outcome. We cannot judge who God is, what He is like, our relationship with Him, and who we are based on outcomes. When we get to this point of surrender, now we will realize what we really and truly know and believe about God.

My friend wanted to know how to trust God enough to give up the outcomes that we so long for. So we talked about trust and how knowing the object of the trust was vital. Our discussion came full circle as the questions and thoughts tied together—we can’t trust a god whom we think is powerful but doesn’t fix things, a god whom we see as bad and out to get us because of circumstances in which we are living. We find it very hard to trust a god who allows pain and sorrow. Something has to change in our understanding and deep beliefs. God is not the problem; our circumstances, though often painful and difficult, are not the problem. The problem is our view of God and our view of pain. He wants to change those views so we can freely sit in His lap and know beyond doubt that we are LOVED, that we are SPECIAL, and that He DELIGHTS in us.  He wants us to experience that His grace makes each one of us His Favorite Kid.  He does this as we see Him in the scriptures, read and listen to others who know Him as He is, and as we practice hearing His voice better and stronger. (Living Lesson on Intimacy with Christ)

A good negotiator helps two parties to a place where both benefit and the outcome is better than if the two remained apart.  When we surrender, God benefits.  God gets to be God, He proves His character, He knows what’s best, and resolutions come easier. But most of all, He gets to have His beloved son or daughter cuddle into His lap.  When we surrender, we benefit. We don’t struggle as much trying to get things right, we get all our holes filled up by His love, and we rest.  What could be a better outcome?

For more on surrender, get my workbook for Hinds’ Feet on High Places.  You will need the book and the workbook.


Posted in Current joyful musings, Re-Framing Your Hurts | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Another Aspect of Comfort after Validation

Last week I had an incident that caused some pain and I wasn’t sure if I was triggered or not. The gist was that I felt accused for something I did not have in my heart, and it hurt.  Most of the time, I tend to think of these kinds of painful bumps as triggers. After doing Immanuel Prayer twice, once to feel the pain and the other to listen to Jesus, I still wasn’t sure what He wanted me to know about it.   During the second time I did hear Jesus tell me to affirm this person rather than giving them a good shame message.  That was a relief to hear. I shared the story with Jim W. and he said that it was possible it was not a lesson but a practice of something to get faster at, reacting differently, a matter of repetition; just practice. This caused me to ponder some new ideas about lessons and growing.

During this time I was reading the section in RARE Leadership by Warner and Wilder, titled “Turning on your VCR—Validation, Comfort, and Re-patterning.”  I have been teaching on Validation and Comfort and liked what the authors said about adding the Re-patterning.  I know validation has to come before comfort and I see comfort as voice tone, facial and body language, and/or proper touches, but here I was reading that helping ourselves or others see an alternative perspective was part of comfort.  Since I am adamant about not trying to “fix” a hurting person, I gave this some thought.  The authors are in agreement that validation comes first and we should not fix people. Then I realized Jesus had given me an alternative perspective when He told me to affirm the person that had hurt me.  So I am adding alternative perspectives to my lessons on Validation and Comfort.  I think it is part of encouraging, which we said comes after the validation and comfort.

So here are some notes from RARE Leadership page 168-169. We are to do these things with ourselves for validation, learn the new patterns, and do them to validate others.

1) Name the emotion

2) Realize where it originated (not necessarily from the past, but the current event. It might or     might not be a trigger. So don’t eliminate possibility of triggers)
3) Understand the level of intensity of the emotion. (Part of synchronizing)

The new pattern is noticing that I am upset (or someone else is,) then validating and comforting, which speeds return to joy. This then sets up a new pattern that helps us self-calm, or calm others, and we can return to joy faster.  (I think the more we do this with ourselves, the easier it will be to do with others.)
     We are meeting someone in their emotion, not in ours; we name it accurately; and they feel understood and cared for. When they feel understood, they will be far more open to an alternative perspective or solution.

So to recap the three steps using my current event—I went home and talked to Jesus saying, ‘I am hurt.’ (named it).  I got hurt when the person said ____ to me and I knew in my heart it wasn’t true (originated).  At first the level of intensity was very big. (Later I realized that might have been the enemy.)  So I felt what I needed to feel and then went about my evening.  Later I wrote in my journal and heard Jesus say to affirm the person and not worry about speaking to them (an alternative perspective).

It was cool to realize while discussing this event at Joy Group that my Relational Circuits did not go off in the moment that the event happened.  Knowing we’ve grown is always a blessing.

I also realized at Joy Group that after this hurtful incident when I was crying with Jesus and letting out the hurt, that the enemy was amplifying attachment pain and making it worse.  I didn’t want to have a rupture with this person—that was the main problem—that I felt disconnected from someone I love very deeply.  Anyway, all in all, getting through the whole thing went a lot faster than the last time someone said I was doing something I didn’t have in my heart. And it went a million times faster than all the times from my distant past when I felt falsely accused.

Validating and comforting ourselves and others changes how we relate, calms upset emotions, and makes it easier to be glad to be together again. We feel loved and understood.

Posted in Current joyful musings, My Journey, Relationships | 2 Comments

It’s Not About Feeling Better–It’s About Feeling

I had a great discussion the other day with a friend who asked some probing questions about ministering to someone in deep grief.  We tossed around some thoughts about the differences in every-day negative emotions and deep emotions from grief.  It’s my opinion that they are a bit different although there are some parallels.

The six basic negative emotions usually last about 90 seconds.  If we have the brain skill of returning to joy (being glad to be together again) from these basic six, then all is well.  If we don’t know how to return to joy from any one of them, the 90 seconds might pass, but we will be left in pain that has to be avoided, denied, or buried.  (For more on dealing with pain see my book Re-framing Your Hurts). (For more on the six negative emotions, see blog Musings on Jesus and the Big Six)

When in deep grief the terrible pain may last around 90 seconds before we take a breath to blow our nose or breathe, but it will come right back in full force.  Grief pain is attachment pain, the worst pain we can feel when someone we want to be with is not available.  If they are unavailable through death, this pain is very nearly unbearable.  We want to die as well. We feel hopeless that life can ever go on again.

So the conversation with my friend concerned how to sit with, listen to, or encourage someone in deep pain such as grief.  This friend has the ‘’gift of encouragement’’ and as we talked about sitting with someone without trying to fix their pain, she seemed taken aback.  How could she fit that with her very precious gift?  Would she have to go against who God has made her to be?

I asked my friend to define “encouragement.”  I had an inkling what that definition would be.  Most of us think along the same lines—encouragement is about helping someone feel better.  As we talked, we realized that encouragement is part of being with someone in their pain, but encouragement works better after we have validated and comforted.  Validation helps us focus on how truly painful the hurt is; how it’s OK to admit how bad it hurts.  Validation gives us permission to feel as bad as we need to feel.  Do we take the chance that the hurting person might hear permission to harm themselves?  Perhaps. But more likely it will help them accept the pain instead of battling it.

Fighting pain does not work very well.  Validation helps us see we are not alone and that someone is at least trying to understand how bad it feels. Validation says something like, “I cannot imagine how much this hurts and I am so sorry.” We can add encouraging suggestions later with ways that might help them get through their deep hurt.

Comfort, via voice tone, body language, proper touch, and facial expressions, has a non-verbal calming effect on hurting people. It’s not our words that help as much as the tone. Both comfort and validation communicate almost on a sub-conscious level that we are not alone, we are loved, and someone cares that we are hurting.

So, back to the conversation with my very encouraging friend.  I realized that encouragement works really well when I am having some kind of relationship problem, I’m confused about something, and/or I am feeling discouraged.  I want to hear how it will be better, what I can do to make it better, that there is nothing wrong with me, and God is on His throne.  When in deep grief, there is really nothing that can make it better.  It’s not about feeling better, it’s about feeling.  We just need someone to be with us, someone to listen, and someone to let us feel what we need to feel without shame or fear that we aren’t trusting God somehow.  The only way to get through is to go through—and we do this best when not alone.  It’s so helpful to have that support from someone who is like Jesus with “skin on.” And for those times when there is no friend or family to help, we can try to remember that Jesus is always with us; He understands. And we cling to Him as best we can, because He is the best at validation and comfort.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”                                                          2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

Posted in Current joyful musings, Re-Framing Your Hurts, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beginning a Joy Group–How I Facilitate Mine

Joy Groups are beginning to spread and a friend asked me recently if I could write up something about how I facilitate my Joy Group. But first let me answer the question, “What is a Joy Group?” A Joy Group is a group based on material from Life Model Works, materials  that teach how God designed our brains to work and relate through joy-filled relationships. Joy is defined as “Someone is glad to be with me–regardless of my emotions or circumstances.”  My Joy Group has been meeting since 2013 and we are seeing tremendous life changes as we learn relational joy, brain science, how to grow and interact with Jesus, and what to do with emotional pain. We have been using my book, Joy-Filled Relationships (amazon), based on material I’ve learned from my mentor, Dr. Jim Wilder and his ministry, Life Model Works. They have other great resources.

My purpose here is to put into writing how I facilitate my Joy Group. This is, of course, not the only way to have one. These are just suggestions and guidelines. As in all endeavors, we must be Spirit-led.

I see my Joy Group as being a little different from most small groups for several reasons. Joy Group is a place for training because we will not only be learning information, but we will be learning brain skills that are non-verbal and right-brained.  These brain skills cannot be learned from a book or a video, but must be learned in joy-filled relationships with people who have the skills.  This makes it important that members of Joy Group are teachable and committed to working on their own issues at some level.  There will be ways of relating and approaching life that are often different than our usual reactions and habits.  If we want to grow in maturity and character, there will have to be healing of unresolved emotional wounds that can keep us stuck in immaturity. This will call for a willingness to be open and vulnerable. The group will have to be a safe place so that people can share openly. In Joy Group we learn how to deal with pain and not avoid it, as well as learning how to sit with others in their pain without trying to fix them.

At the beginning of each of my Joy Group meetings we do a short time of appreciation and then we do Immanuel prayer which is interacting with Jesus.  Appreciation is usually a brief sharing of something that has happened during the week that has been encouraging, joy building, an answered prayer, times with Jesus, or anything else that makes us feel warm and cozy and grateful.  Appreciation is one way to get our brains ready to interact with Jesus. For our Immanuel time the facilitator wants to make sure that everyone has their Relational Circuits on. We usually do this by tapping on our chests on each side of the sternum and saying Psalm 56: 3 together.  (Members would have already been taught about Relational Circuits and how we will do the Immanuel Prayer time. See Share Immanuel or Joyful Journey from lifemodelworks.org) The prayer time is a time of sitting quietly and listening to Jesus after asking Him, “Please show us where You are in the room, let us have a sense of Your presence, and  answer each of us as we ask You, ‘What do You want me to know today (tonight?)?’”

After we do Immanuel Prayer we share how we related with Jesus during the prayer. This time of sharing can vary from sharing where one sensed Jesus was in the room and what He was doing to getting healed from a painful memory.

After we do appreciation and Immanuel Prayer we will have a lesson from my book that we use (Joy-Filled Relationships—amazon) or sometimes I bring a lesson from something going on in my life or supplemental material from other joy sources such as a CD by Dr. Jim Wilder or other Life Model Works books such as RARE Leadership or Joy Starts Here.  Sometimes we do brain-training exercises.

The atmosphere of the group is safe, accepting, caring, and joy-filled.  We are glad to be together and we are glad that others are here. We want to create belonging around us. Occasionally someone in the group will bring a small, inexpensive gift for everyone that we call, “I’m glad you are here” gifts.  These have been bookmarks, handmade jewelry, candy, things that cost less than $2, etc.

I furnish a roster with emails, addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays.  We try to mention birthdays and send or bring cards. Some people attend regularly and some come when they can.

We are learning, practicing, and sharing relationally the 19 brain skills that Life Model Works focuses on.  A list can be ordered from their website http://www.lifemodelworks.org and they are listed in my book, Joy-Filled Relationships.

It’s good to have members who are different ages.  Our group has members from 20’s to 70’s and currently we have one man.  My group is by invitation only but that is not a per-requisite for groups, although it is helpful to keep in mind some of the characteristics mentioned above.

I personally love questions and discussion so we move very slowly through the book.  When we finish the book, we start over.  Since learning the brain skills is not just information, it takes time for the skills to work in our lives.  We spend weeks on the list of maturity needs and tasks for 5 levels of emotional maturity. These help us see what needs to be worked on—what we did not get growing up and what tasks we did not learn growing up.  It can be painful to realize these lacks.  This is why the group has to be safe and loving and accepting as we all learn how to deal with emotional pain.

Again I say, this is how I view my Joy Group. I am available to help groups get started around the area in which I live.  This material on relationships based on being glad to be together, staying relational in spite of intense emotions, acting like myself, and learning to suffer well while I’m growing in maturity is life-changing and worth all the effort.  Get my book, Joy-Filled Relationships, get some people together who are open and teachable, and give it a try. Your view of relating will change, your view of God will change, and your relationship with Jesus will grow deeper and bigger.  He’s always glad to be with us, no matter what!

Posted in Current joyful musings, Immanuel Prayer, Relationships | 2 Comments