Redeemer Counseling Center http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:56:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Kindergartner Drop-off http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/kindergartner-drop-off/ http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/kindergartner-drop-off/#respond Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:54:54 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=909 by Gaye Butler, M.A. The day I had both looked forward to and dreaded had finally arrived; my youngest child was going to kindergarten. She seemed a little anxious but mostly excited to get on with the grand adventure she had watched her older brothers and sisters experience from the safe confines of home. I […]

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by Gaye Butler, M.A.

The day I had both looked forward to and dreaded had finally arrived; my youngest child was going to kindergarten. She seemed a little anxious but mostly excited to get on with the grand adventure she had watched her older brothers and sisters experience from the safe confines of home. I had rehearsed in my mind a hundred times how I would act if she cried, if she panicked, or if she simply froze in place. A lovely little speech about how proud and confident of her I felt was firmly set in my plan for saying good-bye once I had delivered her to her school room.

But none of that actually happened. I walked her up to the school doors after parking my car in the appropriately marked parking spot, but was blocked from entering by one of the staff members standing near the entrance. As it turned out parents weren’t allowed past the door. I had no script for this. I said a weak good-bye as my daughter happily followed the staff member inside. Was that it after all those years of imagining what it would be like?

I felt so empty and alone. Just like that I slipped into a new phase of my life where the day no longer was driven by the needs and desires of preschoolers. And all of a sudden I wasn’t sure I knew how to live in the midst of this transition. I sat in my car for a while and let the warm tears roll down my cheeks until I felt ready to turn the ignition and point the car toward the exit. It wasn’t the way I imagined, but I really was proud and confident in my little kindergartner.

 

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A Conversation with our Newest Counselor, Gaye Butler http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/conversation-newest-counselor-gaye-butler/ Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:27:10 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=906 by J. Michael Blackston, M.A. Gaye Butler, M.A. joined our team of counselors this summer after graduating with her Master’s of Arts in Counseling degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. I recently had a chance to ask her some questions regarding her experience as a student and about her life overall. If you are interested in […]

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by J. Michael Blackston, M.A.

Gaye Butler, M.A. joined our team of counselors this summer after graduating with her Master’s of Arts in Counseling degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. I recently had a chance to ask her some questions regarding her experience as a student and about her life overall. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Gaye at our Winter Springs office, call our office at (407) 405-7677.

Michael: You entered the counseling field after raising your 7 children. What inspired you to go back to school?

Gaye: Over the years I had many opportunities to come alongside people in their personal struggles but there was often a point at which I realized that I was limited in my ability to help them by my lack of knowledge and training. My family and I have benefited greatly from our own counseling experiences and over time a desire grew in me to be able to offer that kind of compassion and assistance to others. After a decade of waiting for the timing to be right, I was able to go back to school. It is an incredibly satisfying feeling, in this next season of life, to be able to see that desire fulfilled.

M: What are a few lessons you are taking away from your time during graduate school?

G: It was a challenge to re-enter school after such a long time and one essential lesson I learned in the process is the importance of taking care of yourself, especially when it is difficult to find time to do so. Sometimes that meant releasing myself from the need to perform perfectly on a test, sometimes it meant eating a thoughtful, healthy meal, and sometimes it meant prioritizing time with my own counselor. This lesson has been a hard one for me to learn as someone who has been a caregiver to others for many years but it has greatly increased my ability to better care for others.

One beautiful lesson that lingers with me is that God has a big heart for those who are struggling. He longs for us to experience peace and wholeness and He understands that life on earth is difficult and sometimes confusing and painful. Struggling is not a disqualification for God’s affection and grace. That means so much to me as a struggling child of God.

M: What is your hope for the clients you see at the conclusion of a therapy session?

G: Each client is a unique individual and my hopes for each client are different. However, there are a few things I hope for every person I serve in counseling. I hope that they feel heard, understood, and highly valued. In addition to those essential elements, it is my heart’s desire that a client benefits from our time together, be it an insight, a safe place to discuss their thoughts and feelings, or progress toward their original goal for coming to see me.

M: What are some tips you would give someone who is in counseling in order to increase the odds of successful treatment outcomes?

G: The best way I know to increase success in counseling is to make it a priority. Consider it a potential investment in healthier relationships with others and yourself and/or a greater sense of peace and hope for the future. I’m not going to lie; it can be hard work to go to counseling. In my life I have found that hard work worthwhile, and I pray that is true for my clients, too.

M: Tell us how you relax and rejuvenate.

G: I am at my most relaxed when I am in the company of good friends or family. The pleasure of good conversation and laughter is enough to rejuvenate me from even the most stressful of days. I love watching independent films, trying out different restaurants, and any time I can be at sea on a cruise ship.

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Swimming Against the Tide: Living Out Body Confidence in our World http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/bodyconfidence/ Tue, 02 Feb 2016 16:28:14 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=860 by Alice Baker Last month we looked at the truth about our bodies and our true image from God’s perspective: We are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) God knit us together in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) Yet how do we live this out? We live in a culture obsessed with thinness and body […]

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by Alice Baker

Last month we looked at the truth about our bodies and our true image from God’s perspective:

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

God knit us together in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

imgresYet how do we live this out? We live in a culture obsessed with thinness and body perfection. Models are starved, digitally enhanced and then sold to us as the epitome of beauty.  When women get together it is not only the norm but also an expectation to talk about their need to lose weight, tone up, or eat cleaner.

But this is not God’s heart for us.

Look to him and be radiant; and you will not be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)

So how do we live with body confidence?

The good news is there are some things we can do.  We must start with what is going on internally for us. We can shift our perspective from “I hate my thighs” to “my thighs allow me to run with my daughter in the park.”

Below are some daily strategies to empower us to live out body confidence:

  • Daily, I can ask myself, “What do I gain from what I believe are defects in my weight and shape aside from anxiety, shame, and self-consciousness? How does this affect my ability to pursue my calling?”
  • On my own or with the help from others, I will come up with 5-10 good qualities I embody, such as empathy, intelligence, creativity. I will repeat these to myself whenever I start thinking, “I am a failure because I am fat.”
  • I will practice viewing others for what they say, feel and do rather than how slender or well put together they appear.
  • I will challenge the media and avoid buying fashion and popular culture magazines in order to protect myself from the seduction of false images and propaganda that have no real meaning or value.
  • I will surround myself as much as possible, with size-friendly people who value the human body and live out body confidence.
  • I will not talk negatively about the appearance of others and will be bold to speak up when others do while always speaking the truth in love, of course.
  • I will consider this: my skin replaces itself once a month, my stomach lining every five days, my liver every six weeks, and my skeleton every three months. My body is fearfully and wonderfully made!
  • I will meditate on the truth’s God has given me about my body. I will diligently seek these out.
  • Even when I am struggling to like my body, I will choose body kindness. I will give myself rest when needed, food when I am hungry, and boundaries when my body needs space.
  • I will pursue inner beauty and be an individual passionately in love with Jesus who gives a light that cannot be duplicated by the best body, clothes, cosmetics or jewelry in the world. A carefully groomed exterior is artificial and cold unless inner beauty is present.

imgres-1Allie Marie Smith says, “Like laughter, how you feel about your body is contagious. If you carry yourself and your body in a way that communicates confidence, security, and contentment, others will get this vibe and reciprocate the respect.”

Let us live out body confidence in our world so we are free to fully pursue what God has called us be while influencing those around us.

 

 

 

References:

Levin, M Body Image Strategies

Maine, M Ways to Love your Body

Smith, AM HEAL: Your diet-free, faith-filled guide to a fabulous life

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Do We See our True Image in the Mirror? http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/see-true-image-mirror/ Mon, 25 Jan 2016 21:47:08 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=852 by Alice Baker Body Image is defined as an individual’s perceptions, feelings and attitudes toward his/her own body. Psalm 139:14 says, I am fearfully and wonderfully made–my soul knows it very well.  Apparently David recognizes the brilliance of his Creator and praises his works.  His perceptions of, feelings for and attitudes toward his body reflect this. Do we? […]

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by Alice Baker

Body Image is defined as an individual’s perceptions, feelings and attitudes toward his/her own body.

imgres-1Psalm 139:14 says, I am fearfully and wonderfully made–my soul knows it very well.  Apparently David recognizes the brilliance of his Creator and praises his works.  His perceptions of, feelings for and attitudes toward his body reflect this.

Do we?

As women, how often do we treat our bodies with contempt?  “If I just lost this belly fat” or “Look at my flabby arms.”  If this isn’t enough our culture supports this with messages of losing 10 pounds in 10 days.  Celebrities are either put on a pedestal for losing weight or put on the stand for gaining.  When asked, 80% of 10 year olds are fearful of getting fat.  Over 50% of females age’s 18-25 would rather be run over by a truck than gain weight.  We are fighting a culture obsessed with and driven towards thinness.

Yet as Christians we are called to be countercultural, swim against the tide.  What does this look like in the area of body image?  First, let us see what God says about our body:

You were made in His image (Genesis 1:27).

He knit you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  God took His time in creating us. He labored over our design.

Your frame was not hidden from him (Psalm 139:15).

Your body is the temple of the sacred Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

It seems as if God is saying, “I gave you your unique DNA.  I have imprinted every cell of your body, and I call it beautiful.  Your body is wonderful, your frame is delightful, and your body is sacred.”  How might that shift our perspective?  How might we treat, talk to, see our bodies different in this light?  I believe as God’s chosen daughters, we are to live countercultural in this area of our lives.  When the world says nip/tuck, we say embrace/be kind to.  When the world says “you would be so pretty if you just lost…”  We say, “I choose to live the truth that the King is enthralled with my beauty right now regardless of my measurements.”

I am reminded of the famous missionary Amy Carmichael who prayed daily as a child for God to turn her brown eyes blue.  She was crushed He didn’t do so.  Then while entering her life’s calling and ministry to save children from the dangerous practices of the Hindu Temple, she realized her brown eyes were a powerful tool to draw the children to her.  Brown eyes were familiar to them, they felt safer.  God knew all along the plan He had for her, and her beautiful brown eyes were a part His detailed divine plan.

May we accept the beauty bestowed on us by our King.

Look to him and be radiant; and you will not be ashamed (Psalm 34.5).

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Counselor Spotlight: Amy Shiver http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/counselor-spotlight-amy-shiver/ Mon, 02 Nov 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=840 by J. Michael Blackston, MA We are excited Amy Shiver has joined our team of talented professionals. Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Amy to hear more about her heart for counseling. Michael: Tell me about why you decided to enter the counseling profession. Amy: I’ve always had a deep interest, care […]

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by J. Michael Blackston, MA

We are excited Amy Shiver has joined our team of talented professionals. Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Amy to hear more about her heart for counseling.

Michael: Tell me about why you decided to enter the counseling profession.

Amy: I’ve always had a deep interest, care and concern in a person’s story. The questions I think about when I interact with someone are: Where do you come from? What happened along your journey? Where are you headed? I’ve entered this field because I feel my personality, strengths/gifts and desires are best used in building God’s kingdom as a counselor. It is my passion to journey with people and empathize, encourage, inform, and walk with them toward restoration and finding meaning and purpose.

M: What types of issues do you enjoy working with in the counseling room?

A: I am passionate about helping hurting people find hope. I enjoy working with men, women, and young people dealing with depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. I have a special interest in walking with those going through life transitions. I also have a passion for helping adolescence and adults with social and behavioral struggles. I am just as interested in working with someone who has faith in Christ, as with those who do not. Regardless, I believe people are looking for the same core things: value, worth, significance and a place to connect and belong.

M: What was your graduate school experience like at Webster? What were some challenges?

A: I was fortunate that my graduate program consisted of a very diverse group of people with whom I learned from and grew with as a counselor. This offered a very rich experience and brought many perspectives that I otherwise would not have experienced. It was a time that challenged and solidified my personal values, beliefs, framework and confidence that God has called me into this special role. One highlight consisted of learning under professors that practiced in many different clinical and private settings across the globe. Another highlight included working with a special population of young adults diagnosed with Asperger’s with co-occurring disorders. I was privileged to be trained in various techniques to work with and teach individuals how to observe and better understand behavior and self awareness. My time at Webster exposed me to many different therapeutic tools and strategies to help people in this capacity. A challenge I experienced during my time in graduate school was sifting through all of the known theories, therapies and techniques, pulling out the truths and usefulness in each, and matching them with who I am and how I work best to meet the needs of each individual client.

M: What do you enjoy doing for fun?

A: I enjoy traveling with my husband, spending time with my kids, reading and learning new things, hanging out with our family, and watching and playing all types of sports.

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Q & A with Katherine Schwab http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/q-a-with-katherine-schwab/ Mon, 12 Oct 2015 20:37:01 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=832 by J. Michael Blackston, MA We are excited to announce that Katherine Schwab has joined our team at Redeemer this month. She is a licensed mental health counselor who graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary. Last week, I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions. Michael: Tell me about your decision to become a […]

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by J. Michael Blackston, MA

We are excited to announce that Katherine Schwab has joined our team at Redeemer this month. She is a licensed mental health counselor who graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary. Last week, I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions.

Michael: Tell me about your decision to become a mental health counselor?

Katherine: Becoming a counselor is something that I had considered for many years. The impetus for me was God using the story of Jesus raising Lazarus to solidify my decision. When Jesus called Lazarus to come out of the grave, He invited him out of the darkness and into the light. I sensed God saying to me, “ I want to do a new work in you. I want to call you out of the shadows into the light. I want to do this in order to display my glory.” God used my time in graduate school to begin that work in me that continues to this day.

M: You have extensive experience in a ministry setting. What are a few highlights of your work?

K: By far the greatest joy for me has been witnessing the mystery of someone entering the Kingdom and their eyes being opened to the reality of Jesus. It is a high privilege that I have experienced throughout my years in ministry.

M: What do you enjoy the most about being a counselor? What is the biggest challenge?

K: I love it when I begin to see transformation take place in a person’s life. It’s a holy moment and one that needs to be celebrated. At the same time one of the biggest challenges is inviting people into change. As humans, we desire change but are resistant to it at the same time.

M: You enjoy Middle Eastern culture. Tell us more about your interest in this area.

K: I lived in the Middle East for many years. I love that part of the world. They have amazing food and they know how to make everything a celebration! God used the generosity of Muslims to show me what real hospitality looks like. Muslims believe that every guest that enters their home is a visitor from God. The result is that they lavish one with hospitality and honor no matter how little they may have. We have much to learn from them.

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Finding Rest in the Terrain of Life http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/finding-rest-terrain-life/ Mon, 20 Jul 2015 14:40:41 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=816 by Doreen Stelling, Spiritual Director The hike promised amazing views of the Maine coastline.  That sounded good to me!  To get to the trail we first crossed a beautiful beach cove, took some pictures and stepped on the trail heading up. My husband, Dave and I were on vacation last week celebrating our 25th wedding […]

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by Doreen Stelling, Spiritual Director

imagesThe hike promised amazing views of the Maine coastline.  That sounded good to me!  To get to the trail we first crossed a beautiful beach cove, took some pictures and stepped on the trail heading up.

My husband, Dave and I were on vacation last week celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and Acadia National Park was one of our stops.  We have hiked many mountain trails over the years.  Usually I enjoy the process of getting to the intended view, but this time I just wanted to get there!  The trail was labeled moderate, and I guess the other side was–but not the side we started on.  There was a lot of climbing and heaving yourself up rocks.  It has been a few years since I have hiked even a small mountain trail, and my 50-year-old joints were complaining.

This is supposed to be fun I told myself.  Why am I not enjoying this?  It’s an effort-filled hike, not a pleasant one.  I thought about how I should think about this as a metaphor for some aspect of life, or how I could lament my older, achier joints.  No, I just wanted it to be over with so we could get to the next stop on the map.

We finally caught a glimpse of the beach far below and took pictures.  Then we came upon some boulders that were made for sitting and taking in the view.  I was aware of the grumpiness building inside me and I didn’t want to ruin the hike for Dave, so I thought it wise to sit, catch my breath and nourish my body with a snack.  Slowly, I began to relax.  Slowly, my energy was being restored.  Slowly, I was reminded of the importance of stopping to rest.  But wasn’t the vacation our rest as we stopped from work and the daily routines at home?  Wasn’t this hike part of the stopping to take in nature? Well, yes and yes.  I realized in that moment the importance of taking the time to nourish one’s mind, body and or soul even in the midst of vacationing.  Five, 10 or 15 minutes can make a difference.  I can easily say that I had a refreshed perspective to continue the hike.  As we stood to hike on I thought about the importance of noticing what is stirring inside me.  When I do notice that I am about to make my life or someone else’s life more difficult, choosing a short break to be still, eat or close my eyes is a gift that I can give myself as well as those around me.

I guess the hike could be a metaphor if I want it to be.  Mostly, I am reminded simply to take breaks to be still, to be nourished, then continue to “hike” whatever “trail” I am on.

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Breaking the Silence http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/breaking-the-silence/ Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:28:09 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=801 by Erin Luginbuhl, M.A. This week, millions of Americans will feel the pinch of the IRS on April 15th, if they haven’t already, while several politicians are slated to join the 2016 campaign field.  No doubt both topics will come up at the water cooler in passing small talk, despite the old adage which says […]

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by Erin Luginbuhl, M.A.

This week, millions of Americans will feel the pinch of the IRS on April 15th, if they haven’t already, while several politicians are slated to join the 2016 campaign field.  No doubt both topics will come up at the water cooler in passing small talk, despite the old adage which says it’s impolite to talk about sex, politics and money.  I often have sensed the awkward tension surrounding these culturally taboo topics.

Think of your own home for a moment.  Do you, as I sometimes have, inadvertently follow this adage, particularly in regards to sex and money?  Both carry much pleasure, pain, power and unfortunately shame.  According to author and researcher Brene Brown, shame needs three things to grow exponentially:  silence, secrecy, and judgment—the very things our cultural adage encourages.

Take, for instance, what Dr. John Chirban has to say in his book How to Talk with Your Kids About Sex: Help Your Children Develop a Positive, Healthy Attitude Toward Sex and Relationships.  In it, Chirban addresses the importance of having an ongoing conversation about sexuality with your children and notes most parents engage in “telegraphic exchanges”.  He provides an example of a father and child at a sporting event when the child notices a billboard for Viagra accompanied by a picture of a man smiling.

Chirban writes, “Your child asks, ‘What’s Va-gra? Vi-a-gra? What does that mean’ to which you probably can’t come up with a better response than ‘Let’s just watch the game!’  Though it may seem minor at the time, this communication essentially sends a telegram to your child that reads something like this:

DEAR CHILD—I’M UNCOMFORTABLE WITH TALKING ABOUT SEX (STOP)

PRETEND NOTHING HAPPENED (STOP)

DON’T ASK IN THE FUTURE (STOP)

SUPPRESS CURIOSITY (STOP)

XO—PARENT”

Though this seems like such a simple exchange, there truly are bigger ramifications—for silence and actions communicate just as profoundly as words.  In college, I recall reading one of Suze Orman’s many money management books and was struck by her words, “We all know that kids are sponges.  They don’t do as you say, they do as you do”.  Perhaps in your own home, your parents were silent on the topics of money and sex and, unknowingly, you have simply followed course.  Talking about sex and sexuality is hard, uncomfortable, and awkward, especially if you have yet to sort out your own understanding of its impact on you personally, but it’s not too late to offer your children and your family something different.

Dave Ramsey, financial guru, often praises individuals who call into his radio show for their debt free scream as they, specifically families with children, have chosen to change their family tree and offer an experience in which money now offers freedom instead of slavery.  In the same way, Chirbin offers suggestions and strategies to assist in creating comfortability and emotional safety as you engage your family in honest, healthy conversations about sex and sexuality.  For these very conversations can shatter the bonds of shame and secrecy and cultivate wholeness and life.

So, let’s lay to rest impropriety and rewrite that old adage which keeps us silent and offer something different to our children.  Let’s build open relationships that eradicate shame instead of encouraging it.  Let’s offer something different to our children that they might experience freedom as they move into the future.  Now that’s a topic worth talking about.

 

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A Trip to Costco and a Lesson on Grace http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/a-trip-to-costco-and-lesson-on-grace/ Tue, 17 Feb 2015 01:35:52 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=790 by Rachel Blackston, M.A. Our cupboards were bare.  I had just fed Hannah the heel on a loaf of bread with a small smidgen of peanut butter scraped from the bottom of the jar.  I was avoiding it…a trip to Costco. We were on the brink of nap time so I knew the risks as […]

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by Rachel Blackston, M.A.

Our cupboards were bare.  I had just fed Hannah the heel on a loaf of bread with a small smidgen of peanut butter scraped from the bottom of the jar.  I was avoiding it…a trip to Costco.

We were on the brink of nap time so I knew the risks as I loaded Norah (7 months old) into the carrier and Hannah (age 2) in the large section of the cart.   “I’ll just run in and out in 30 minutes,” I said to myself as I gently tried to calm the part of myself that was overtaken by anxiety.

Earns CostcoOnce in the store, I knew I was headed for a danger zone when Hannah spotted the section of merchandise from Frozen.  “I’ll just let her out of the cart for a few minutes,” I thought to myself.  Fifteen minutes later, she was running up and down the toy aisle singing, “Let It Go” with a toy microphone.  I braced myself for the transition to move from the Frozen section to the frozen food section.   I attempted to share my rationale with my 2-year-old.  It was a total fail.  As I hoisted her back into the cart, she kicked and screamed, “I want Elsa, I want Elsa, I want Elsa.”  Being a good therapist, I tried to validate her emotions.  Her screaming only intensified.

With Hannah back in the cart, I began surrounding her with bulk items including a hot rotisserie chicken and an oversized box of diapers.   In my attempts to appease her, I opened an enormous package of animal crackers while I ran through the freezer section that felt like a walk into an arctic blast while my baby was dressed in a onesie.

I must have looked like a spectacle, and people weren’t shy in offering their comments.  Some just looked and said, “You have your hands full.”  Others offered parenting advice or looks of contempt.   Some people had nostalgia in their eyes.  One older gentleman said, “You are lucky.”  With Norah’s now overtired screams, I asked him more and he told me of his grandchildren that he’s never met because of an estrangement with his daughter.  I was touched by his openness, and my heart was moved as I saw the sadness in his eyes.

On a normal day, I would have felt shame when others looked at me in these moments when I wore my need and failures as a parent all over me.  However on this particular day, I decided to embrace my inadequacy.  I allowed myself to be present with others, taking in their kindness and practical help.  I had people offering to hold my baby and load items in my cart.  One particular interaction with a Costco employee brought me to tears.  Nearing the checkout line now 77 minutes into our trip, I mentioned to a man in a red Costco vest that I forgot the toilet paper and wondered where I could find it.   When he pointed to the back corner of the store, it felt like heading back there would be scaling Mt. Everest.  As he saw the look on my face, he nonchalantly asked my brand preference and proceeded to retrieve it for me.  I was stunned by his kindness.

Finally, as a stranger offered to help me load the van, my eyes welled with tears as I thought of the humility and love of Jesus.  I didn’t deserve kindness on that day.  My parenting was subpar, my boundaries were poor, my toddler wasn’t buckled into the appropriate section of the cart, and the trip was poorly planned.   I was a mess, but I left feeling loved and connected.  As I was reflecting on this story, I thought of words on a recent Lenten blog by Ann Voskamp,  And it all comes round like a circle — His grace that you accept for yourself — is the same grace you then extend to others — which then graciously circles back to you.”  God used these strangers to remind me of His radical grace and commitment to me, despite me.  

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What’s In A Man? http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/whats-in-a-man/ Tue, 13 Jan 2015 00:32:29 +0000 http://www.redeemercounselingcenter.com/?p=784 by Lindsey Coates, M.A. I’ve never been a man. That’s a pretty indisputable fact. I have found myself wondering often, though, what it is like to live in a man’s skin. I used to make gross assumptions based on cultural stereotypes and snide remarks from angry women, but I have come to realize those are […]

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by Lindsey Coates, M.A.

I’ve never been a man. That’s a pretty indisputable fact. I have found myself wondering often, though, what it is like to live in a man’s skin. I used to make gross assumptions based on cultural stereotypes and snide remarks from angry women, but I have come to realize those are pretty poor representations of men. Actually, seeing all men the same is a pretty poor representation. I would never tell someone to base their understanding of all women just by knowing me – that would be ludicrous!

Comedian Chelsea Peretti does a bit in her standup routine about what it must be like to wake up every day as a man. She wonders, out loud, if men just open their eyes in the morning and say, “I am awesome! People want to hear what I have to say!” That may be true for some men, but as I counsel men and get to know them on a deeper level, that seems to be another misconception. I like to read Esquire often because I feel like it gives me a glimpse into what men are being told to do. Men’s magazines are just as patronizing and ridiculous as women’s – sometimes even more so! I have felt so much more compassion towards men when I have seen that they are given the same cultural mandates that I am given as a woman, just with different packaging.

I recently re-watched the movie Nine. It is a brilliant film that received no press when it was released in 2010. Nine is the story of Guido (played by Daniel Day Lewis), an Italian movie director who is tortured by his own self as well as the women who have rotated in and out of his life. Throughout the film, Guido runs from every situation and into the arms of another woman to solve his problems. He is confident, witty, chic, and handsome on the outside, but insecure, terrified, and manic when he is alone. He can’t sleep, can’t work, and begins to drown in his own demons.

The character of Guido got me thinking…what is it like to be a man? What is it like to live in the image God created for man – to exude strength, compassion, leadership, servanthood, paternity, and childlike faith all at the same time? That seems like a pretty tall order to me. In a culture where we receive so many paradoxical messages about what it means to be a man – “Be sexy”, “Be tough”, “Be sensitive”, “Be in shape”, “Be resilient”, “Be anything and anyone but who you are…” – what is a man supposed to do?

In this new year, I have been challenged several times to focus on who I am becoming rather than what I have done. I wonder what that would feel like if I were a man. I know the challenges and gifts of femininity, but I can’t help but wonder if other men struggle like Guido – trying to be everything everyone wants them to be to the extent that they don’t even know who they are or what they are becoming. My prayer for all of the men I know this year, and even for the ones I don’t know, is that they are able to live into who they are becoming, and not what Esquire says they must become.

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