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December 2016

A Child's Heart - It's In You

Hello and Welcome-

My heart earnestly thanks those of you who have subscribed to the blog. You are my encouragers! Quite a few of you have encouraged me right into creating this blog! When you post a comment, I'm encouraged. When you "Like" a post, I'm encouraged. Just like you, my goal is to honor God and share His message. In turn I hope to encourage you to stay strong in your faith. Now, let's get to the Soul Focus.

Soul Focus:  A Child’s Heart—It’s in You

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Wow! Christmas is here. Family, friends, programs, presents, food, and a lack of rest. How did it go? In all of that busyness I wonder if you stopped to play. You know, play, as a child would. Don’t tell me you’re too old, too grown-up, too inflexible, or too whatever else. It’s good for you to PLAY! Before you were anything else, you were a child. You still are in God’s eyes.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

One way to get in touch with your inner child is play. Think about your favorite activity as a child. What was your best toy? What did you do as a child that you loved but haven’t done for so many years? What fun activity did you do where time seemed to stand still? Here's an example from my childhood. I remember all the kids on my street playing tag in the late afternoon leading into sunset. We didn’t notice the waning light because we were just doing play and nothing else mattered. Not dinner, not the dim light, not the call of our parents. My plea to my mom was always" just 5 more minutes". 

If you're not yet swayed that play should move to the top of your To Do List, then how about I throw some science your way.

  • Play allows your brain to relax. Your mind needs to wander away from problem-solving tasks. By doing so, you increase your problem-solving potential when you go back at the task.
  • Play stimulates the five senses which is incredibly important for brain efficiency. It’s called neurobics. No kidding! Did you know that the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) require continual and challenging stimulation? Our senses map to different areas of the brain and the sensory input helps us engage functions such as planning, problem solving and critical thinking.
  • The brain needs to be challenged in different ways. We get into habitual routines such as driving the same route to work, eating the same foods in the same eateries, using the same problem-solving technique over and over, and performing daily tasks in a similar routine. This makes for efficiency but it’s not that great for the brain.

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Clearly, I've established play is important for your brain. But, enough of the science. Here’s the practical reasons:

  • Play builds relationships. You are and always will be your child’s best first toy! Young or old you should be inviting your kids, family, and friends to play with you! Trips, activities, new experiences, games, art, sports, puzzles—play brings you together. It’s about the act of being together. Let go of the striving and competition.
  • Play reduces stress. Play stabilizes emotions. Researchers have found that coloring can reduce anxiety in adults and children.
  • Play is very good for our physical, emotional, and social health. And, it helps us spiritually as well.

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Play is probably one of most direct ways to getting in touch with your inner child. When I was a child I was amazed at the world, asked questions, and was in a continual state of wonder. My heart and mind were open. I received the world through a child’s heart. I met God with that heart.

One of the wonders of a relationship with God is how we can relate to Him. When I come before God as a child, I feel great comfort and security. I'm amazed how this shift in my thinking, in my approach toward Him, has changed the relationship. It has enriched my soul. But, this can happen only with an open heart. As for myself, I closed off my heart for specific reasons and that act has had consequences. It's taken a lot work to re-open my heart as it was when I was a child. With an open heart I'm more fully able to live as the woman God created me to be. How do I engage with the world through an open heart? For me, it starts with attending to the world with a child’s curiosity. I focus on the details of nature. I try to live with joy. I find ways to play. And, I make it a priority to connect with the child that lives within my heart. 

It's your turn. I would love to hear from you! Share your favorite childhood "play" memory. Share what you do today to keep the "play" in your life. Or, share how you relate to God as His child. You could inspire the rest of us to get our "play" on!!!  

Fondly, Terri

I Get To...

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There are plenty of things you get to do. With gratitude, take stock of everything that makes up your life.

What are three things you get to do today. Here's a few ideas: dream, play, create, and on and on. Be specific. Do one of your ideas today. Just for 5 minutes. Get lost in what you get to do!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome. Like this post or share it on Facebook. 

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In 2017, I'll be posting excerpts from my unpublished book, Now That's I've Found You, God: Being in an intentional and authentic relationship with God. Be looking for more information in the next post on January 6th.

Post References

http://www.nifplay.org/science/overview/

Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? Renee van der Vennet. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2012.680047

Brain games: using neurobics to keep sharp. M. Galea. Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine July 2007 (297): 76-77

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesn’t-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too

http://www.huffingtonpost/com/stevanne-auerbach-phd/playing-adults_b_2338894.html


Soul Focus - When Eyes Meet, Souls Connect

How many people do you see? A strange question but an important one. If you were out and about yesterday, did you see the individuals that passed you? Specifically, did your eyes meet theirs? Did you acknowledge their presence in one small way? I'm thinking about a smile, a turn of your head toward them, a nod, or letting your eyes meet their eyes. Have you thought about the potential impact of a small acknowledgement and how that could be a gift for someone? We can't read hearts or know what's going on in others lives but what if your acknowledgement touched their heart?

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I know small acknowledgements make a difference because I've seen it. As I walk the often crowded hallways of the medical center, I choose to deliberately make eye contact with individuals who are coming toward me and give them a smile. I don't stare down people or scare them with a huge toothy smile. I save that for my friends! Kidding aside, there is a proper way to make eye contact. Eye contact should be brief somewhere around 4 to 5 seconds. If it's not acknowledged, we shouldn't sustain eye contact. Did you know brief eye contact (less than 4 seconds) or a glance in a person's direction to show acknowledgement is acceptable in nearly every culture? It's sustained eye contact or staring that may be interpreted as confrontational or disrespectful.

As individuals pass by me in the medical center, I specifically focus on making eye contact with those who look worried, tense, or lost. When they recognize I'm looking at them, more often than not, the person's face changes (their face softens, their eyes or mouth smiles back), they may nod or speak. They realize that I see them. In some instances, the person determines that my eye contact makes me approachable and they will say, "Can you help me?" or "Do you know...". This is one example of the impact of acknowledging that you see someone. When eyes meet, souls connect.

In our busy-ness during the month of December, we have a tendency to look through people or look past people. Even without the additional activities, when we are in each other's physical presence we may fail to look into one another's eyes because we're looking at phones, computers, or anything but the person directly in front of us. Recently, I registered for an appointment and the individual never looked at me until they handed me my paperwork. Their eyes were on the computer the entire time. For the person who has one experienafter another experience where they aren't seen, it can be disheartening. The soul cries out, "Does anyone see me? Does anyone care to see me and who I am?"

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At this time of year, we should remember that for some individuals the holidays magnify a sense of depression, loneliness, and anxiety. The end of a year and the beginning of a new one doesn't always provide a reason for celebration and hope. For those whose hearts are hurting, this time of year can intensify their pain. For all the reasons above, you and I need to see the people who pass by, sit next to us, work with us, speak with us, or serve us. 

We are all seen--seen by God. Yet, this concept can be difficult to believe by the one who feels they are unseen by the souls who pass through their life. One small act, one soul at a time. You have a chance to be an encourager for the person who is experiencing loneliness, depression, emotional turmoil or a sense of hopelessness. It all starts with being aware of those around you and actually choosing to see someone. It's how we can make a difference.

(Below are links and references for the above content if you want to learn more.)

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Note to Self - Be Encouraged

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strength those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities, and make the most of one's resources. --Vauvenargues

I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, accounting to what his deeds deserve. Jeremiah 17:10

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Thanks for being a reader!

Please comment and let me know

how this blog can encourage you!

 

References and Information

People at risk: Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the rate of suicide increased with age for widowed, older men? The reasons for the increased risk for older men included financial insecurity, uncertainty about the future, and depression. Older men who are widowed often do not have a strong support system and this is one of the factors for the increased risk for suicide. Having this information helps us more quickly identify those people who may need additional support and help.

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml#part_145397

http://www.medicinenet.com/holiday_depression_and_stress/page3.htm

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

https://www.thebalance.com/business-and-social-etiquette-how-to-make-eye-contact-3514819

Greenlee, K. and Hyde P.S. (2014). Suicide and depression in older adults: Greater awareness can prevent tragedy. Journal of the American Society on Aging, 38 (3), pp. 23-26.