One single step can lead you in the right direction.
“Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin nailed it. But I think he forgot one more inevitability… change.
Change will undoubtedly happen multiple times throughout your life. Some changes are planned, like taking a new job or moving. Some changes are unplanned, like losing a loved one or a job.
When unexpected change hits hard, we often feel like life is falling apart.
The idea of life falling apart in and of itself is very subjective and personal. There’s no standard for what it looks like. I have felt like everything was falling apart several times, whether in my marriage, work, or family dynamics. My experience may not reflect yours, though. Everyone’s experience is unique.
Even though your world falling apart may look different from mine, certain things can help us cope.
Here are five things you can do when everything’s falling apart:
1. Take a break.
Hear me out; I don’t mean give up on your responsibilities and walk away. Just take some time for yourself. Once you identify what makes you feel like everything is falling apart, can you step away to clear your mind? Maybe you’re caring for a sick loved one. Can someone else step in and give you a weekend to rest and refocus? Maybe work is chaotic. Can you take time off? Perhaps your relationship is in distress. Can you spend some time with a friend to decompress and enjoy some activities together?
Sure, you have responsibilities that you can’t give up on, but what would happen if you took a couple of days off to focus on your mental and emotional health?
2. Embrace the present.
Pain from the past or worries about the future often leads us down this path. It’s so easy to be dominated by these two time periods and lose the present. I get it. But you know what? The present is a gift. It’s where life happens. Unfortunately, we can’t change the past and we have no control over the future. However, we can live in this moment.
If you’re seeking help in navigating the chaos, I applaud you. You’re strong enough to make it through whatever you’re facing. In the wise words of Ted Mosby, “Sometimes things fall apart to make way for better things.” (I love that guy!)
3. Connect with others.
There is power in community. It can be tempting to retreat and insulate yourself from others, but you need people. The weight you carry isn’t meant to be carried alone. Maybe you only feel comfortable being completely vulnerable with a small number of friends or family. Connect with those people and ask for help. Help may look like a cup of coffee or a shoulder to cry on. Help may look like wisdom from someone who’s fought the same battle you’re fighting. Either way, you don’t have to walk this road alone.
4. Evaluate what you can control.
When everything is falling apart, the one thing you may desire most is beyond your reach: control. If we’re honest, we probably all want control. When life is spiraling, control is often unattainable. Maybe the lack of control is what led to everything falling apart.
Some things are simply out of your control.
Step back and ask yourself, “What can I control?” The health of others, the people you work for, or your partner’s emotional state are just a few examples of things you can’t control. You can control how you react to people and what you focus on.
5. Practice self-care.
Self-care is a common buzzword. It can be easy to brush it off as something unimportant that you don’t have time for. Sure, self-care is trendy, but that’s because more experts have recognized that paying attention to your needs can improve your well-being.
So take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Self-care is also subjective, so you have to find what works for you. I run for self-care. It heals me and is a necessity. On the other hand, my wife loves to craft, whether that’s painting, drawing, or creating with her Cricut.
Don’t get discouraged when something doesn’t work. Keep trying until you discover what is beneficial for you.
It’s not easy to get life back on track when it feels like everything’s falling apart. It may seem daunting, but you can do this. You’re strong! The most extraordinary journey begins with a single step.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Untitled-3-01.png5001200Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2022-01-25 13:03:362022-01-28 14:51:555 Things To Do When Everything’s Falling Apart
Can you remember the last time that you had a huge belly laugh?
When was the last time you stopped and had some fun?
You may have heard the saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I submit that desperate times call for FUN MEASURES. When our life gets hectic and busy we often forgo fun and play. The National Institute for Play (NIP) believes that play can dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, and the education we provide our children.
Additionally, the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies finds that the amount of fun couples have together is the strongest factor in understanding overall marital happiness. The more you invest in fun, friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will be over time. The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high and significant.
Here are 5 ways to have more fun in your life…
Make it a priority. When something is a priority, we make room for it in our lives. We place it on the calendar. If it has to be rescheduled, we quickly do so. Fun should be one of those things. It brings emotional, physical, and relational benefits to your life which include boosting the immune system, fostering empathy and promoting a sense of belonging and community.
Discover what you enjoy doing, even if others don’t feel the same way about it. That’s ok! This time is about enhancing your life, not a time to keep up with Joneses. If you like trivia, find a live trivia game. If you like puzzles, get the biggest one and go for it.
Be creative and adventurous.Having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Try something that you have always wanted to do like going paddleboarding or kayaking with a group of friends. Start an herb garden for your window.
Share fun with friends and family. Once you have found what you enjoy doing, then it’s easy to find what you can enjoy with friends and family. It could be taking a family hike in a park, having breakfast for dinner with friends or making cookies for first responders. Whatever it is, do what you find fun—and it may even bring joy to others.
Become a Fun Ambassador. Now that you and your family have recognized the power of fun, pass it on to others. Sharing the positive impact of spending time with friends and family encourages others to do the same—it’s CONTAGIOUS.
★ Having fun is not a one-time endeavor. It is an attitude and opportunity for enjoyment to flow through all aspects of your life. Get out your planner now. Schedule some playtime for the next week—a minimum of 15 minutes per day.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/woman-in-black-and-white-polka-dot-dress-standing-on-floor-3746241-scaled-e1596205199214.jpg164500Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-07-24 14:37:552021-04-05 17:17:335 Ways To Have More Fun In Your Life
Some people eagerly anticipate the arrival of a new year, trying to find purpose and hoping for new opportunities. Others feel stuck in a rut and could really care less.
At the ripe old age of 28, Dr. Jeff Fray, psychologist/consultant, had met all of his life goals. He earned his doctorate and built up a practice that included eight or nine counselors. Yet he felt like he was living life on a treadmill.
From the outside looking in, one might assume Fray had it all. Instead, he felt trapped like a wild animal in a cage with bars of insecurity, money, fear of failure and rejection, and lack of purpose.
“I certainly wasn’t experiencing life to its fullest, I was in a rut.” said Fray, “ I thought I had purpose, but what I really had was ambition. I had a plan in my mind of how things were supposed to go. What I have learned is, when people have ambition instead of purpose, they have a vision for the future. But if that vision isn’t working, they often wind up manipulating people to fulfill that vision to which they have attached their sense of worth and purpose.”
After some soul searching, Fray decided he felt tired of living in the cage. He and his wife made a radical decision to sell their home, camper, cars and the practice he worked so hard to build. They purchased a 50-foot sailboat. After 18 months of preparing and equipping, they set sail on the journey of a lifetime.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but beyond a shadow of a doubt it was the right one,” Fray shared. “For a year and a half we sailed with our three children who were 4, 9 and 12 at the time. It was an opportunity to re-engage as a family. We had just 300 square feet of living quarters, but we had a huge backyard. We home-schooled the boys, which led to some interesting moments for sure!”
Other than a one-week chartered “test-sail,” the Frays had never sailed before, so the first several weeks were literally baptism by fire.
“Our first night out of the harbor we were up all night saving a boat from sinking,” Fray remembered. “One week later, we saved another boat. Within the first two weeks, our alternator broke, which meant we had no electricity, and then our hot water heater rusted through. We missed our turn into Georgetown Harbor in the Bahamas and took the boat up on a reef. The only thing that saved us was that the tide was coming in and the current moved us off the reef.”
The Frays had their sights set on sailing to the Dominican Republic and many other places. But after the adventures of the first two weeks, they felt tempted to stay put.
“The harbor is beautiful and there are hundreds of other families who live there and home school their children,” Fray said. “One night, new friends came over to our boat for dinner. They told us that this harbor is known as Chicken Harbor and is where the dream of the southern Caribbean gives way to the good enough.”
In his quest to find purpose, Fray realized a critical piece of information. “Life is hard. When people get to a safe place that is better, like Chicken Harbor, it is tempting to say, ‘Safe is good enough’ and you end up missing out on the ultimate purpose for your life.”
The Frays stayed in the harbor one week to make boat repairs and then headed out. The first night, they ran into another storm and began the testing again. As time went by they persevered many other trials, including adjusting to living in very close quarters.
“In 300 square feet, we had to learn to honor and respect each other,” Fray recalled. “You couldn’t escape conflict. We developed our team at a whole different level. Every family member had a role to play. Our 4-year-old took the first watch every night with his mom. The 9-year-old was our mechanic and our oldest was the first to get his dingy license so he was captain of the dingy taking us back and forth to land. We all had a sense of purpose.”
Their year-and-a-half adventure took them to many places most never get the opportunity to see, including uninhabited islands where Christopher Columbus landed, huge waterfalls in the Dominican Republic, and the remote coast of Venezuela.
“It was amazing,” Fray said. “During our time at sea I came to the realization that my purpose is to do the next thing wholeheartedly the rest of my life. While I don’t recommend everybody do what we did, I can tell you it gave us the opportunity to examine our priorities and discover our purpose, which gave us a road map for the future. Years later, our family is still impacted by our sailing sabbatical.”
On the cusp of a new year, is the rudder of your life ambition or purpose? Do you feel trapped in a cage? If so, it is never too late to make changes. The beginning of a new year presents a great opportunity to establish a new direction or build on an existing strong foundation. Don’t be afraid to enter uncharted waters, which may be the course to newfound purpose in the coming year.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/FindingPurposeInTheNewYear-markos-mant-672369-unsplash.jpg4501300Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-12-31 00:00:002021-01-05 13:46:31Finding Purpose in the New Year
Does giving make you happy? You’ve probably seen stories in years past about the Secret Santa who travels the country, randomly handing out $100 bills just before Christmas. In 2018 he struck again. But this time he landed in Phoenix, AZ. He enlisted some help from a homeless man named Moses to give away – get this– a total of $3000.
Moses chose to give $100 to anybody who actually noticed him, and although many recipients were complete strangers, others were not. Moses also received a Secret Santa gift that he described as a new beginning for his own life.
You might think that Moses was happier about getting something for himself, but that’s not the case. Despite being homeless, he said it felt so good to give to others.
“Kindness is a bridge between all people,” said the Secret Santa. “If you are ever down and you want to lift yourself up, go do something kind for somebody.”
Believe it or not, there is truly something magical and actually chemical about the feeling you get when you give to others.
According to a U.S. News and World Report article, What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy, studies have consistently shown that giving makes people feel good as the body responds by producing “happiness” chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. Selfless actions like volunteering or donating money can help to decrease the risk and symptoms of depression and stress. One study even found that giving time and assistance to others also reduced the mortality risk tied to stress, a known risk factor for many chronic diseases.
Another study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that volunteerism reduced mortality rates more than exercising four times weekly and attending religious services regularly, which is also linked to improved mental health and a longer life. People who volunteered for two or more causes had a 63 percent lower mortality rate than those who didn’t volunteer during the study period.
Many believe it is better to give than to receive. Giving may make us happy. The research seems to confirm that giving in various forms contributes to our well-being. It has been said that giving is good for the soul. But it turns out that it is not just good in December. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that giving is good all year long.
Click here to read the entire article. It originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on December 23, 2018.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/WhyGivingMakesYouHappy-bruno-martins-433884-unsplash.jpg4501300Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-12-24 06:30:002020-10-16 15:21:21Why Giving Makes You Happy
Use these steps to help your kid end the cycle of deception.
Ever caught your child in a lie? I have.
My son would ALWAYS tell me the truth when he was younger – no matter what. As he has grown, telling the truth has been a bit more challenging for him. In middle school, he would lie at the drop of a hat. I would get so frustrated, and my reactions only made the situations even worse.
Now that he’s in high school, he still lies from time to time, but thankfully not as often. I am indeed beginning to understand something as a parent: Stopping a child from lying has more to do with my reaction to the lie than the actual lie itself. In fact, I’ve discovered a strategy that works.
Ready to hear it?
This strategy focuses more on the child than the lie they tell. When children lie, we have to focus on how lying triggers our reaction to the act of lying itself. Children with traumatic backgrounds often lie to survive, and all children lie because they’re afraid or stressed. But often, it really is more about our reaction or overreaction that ignites lies in children.
When your child lies, start by asking yourself three things:
Then, try these steps to help your child stop the cycle of lying:
Once you hear your child lie, check your mindset and your reaction. Encourage and reassure your child that you love them. Be calm and walk away if you’re upset.
Address the problem. Later, when your child is working on homework or watching TV, talk about how much it bothers you when he or she lies to you. Let them know that no matter what, you want them to feel safe enough to tell you the truth. It is essential for your child to trust you and understand that everything is going to be okay, so try not to overreact.
Remember that discipline is about teaching, not punishing your child. This will help you create a positive and safe atmosphere for them, and provide security in the relationship.
Think about your example. If your child hears or sees you telling lies, it will be easier for them to mimic what they see you do. Always be the example for your children in everything – they are watching!
Build value in truth-telling and celebrate the successes of being honest by affirming their choices to tell the truth. Do not celebrate catching them in a lie (gotcha moments).
Remember, how you handle it when your child lies can either build up or tear down your relationship. If you want to stay connected, work to establish and maintain a safe environment and focus on changing the behavior in a positive way. Though you may not see results overnight, they will eventually learn to catch and redirect themselves.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/andrew-neel-137513-unsplash-scaled.jpg13662048First Things Firsthttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngFirst Things First2018-08-27 14:12:172022-07-21 12:05:03How to Stop Children from Lying
Research says that young people who “sext” are more likely to have sex, and that dating violence is on the rise.
So, picture this scenario: Your child sits down at the dinner table and asks, “What is sexting? What is sex?” or “How do babies get inside their mommy’s tummy?”
In response, would you:
A. Laugh and change the subject?
B. Get irritated and tell your child that those questions are not appropriate at the dinner table?
C. Thank your child for asking such a great question and either seek to answer it or tell them that you will talk with them about it after dinner?
Just thinking about answering these questions has and will cause anxiety for many parents. When asked about talking with her children about sex, one mother replied, “My parents didn’t talk with me about it. I think I would just die if I had to talk with my son about it. He’ll figure it out.”
Let’s consider that statement for a moment.
When young people are left to figure things out for themselves, the results can disastrous. Parents can help their children/teens understand that relationships based on sex aren’t healthy or cool by talking openly with them about topics such as sex, love, lust and romance. It’s also an opportunity to help your child think about how certain actions now can impact their goals for the future.
If you are on the fence about talking to your children about sex, sexting and the like, consider the benefits.
Children develop an accurate understanding about their bodies, and about sexuality, instead of getting inaccurate information from friends or the media.
They learn that talking to you about sex doesn’t have to be embarrassing.
You equip your child with information they need to make wise choices for the rest of their life.
You are teaching them life skills like self-discipline, problem-solving and planning for the future… skills that will help them move toward productive living.
So, here are some helpful tips for taking the plunge and starting that conversation with your kids:
Be an askable parent. Encourage open communication. Tell them it is okay to talk with you. If you don’t know the answer, find the answer together.
Don’t overreact. The number one complaint from teens is that parents jump to conclusions when they do ask questions. The goal is to keep the dialogue going.
Take advantage of teachable moments. The latest sexting research, the pregnancy of a friend and television sitcoms are teachable moments.
Listen. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen as your child shares. It is a great way to learn what they are thinking. Hint: If you want to know what is really going on, do carpool duty and keep your mouth shut.
Less is more. State the facts, be honest and keep it simple and age appropriate.
Share your expectations and values, too. Whether it is sex, drugs, alcohol or something else, tell your children what you expect. Be clear about your family values.
The best way to protect young people is to educate them. Are you an askable parent?
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/CanYourKidsAskYouAboutSex-alp-studio-328877-unsplash.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-08-09 00:00:002020-10-28 17:08:26Can Your Kids Ask You About Sex?
Does your kid lie and you don’t know what to do about it? Here’s a classic example. “You tell your parents that you’re spending the night at my house and I’ll tell my parents that I am spending the night at yours and then we both can go to the party.” Except the parents ran into each other at the store. You are so busted!
How do you handle lying in your family?
It drives me crazy when my kids lie to me. Then one day I really tried to look at things from their perspective and ask myself, “Why would they lie to me?”
Even little kids are smart enough to want to avoid consequences or even just letting their parents down. Put yourself in your kids’ shoes- they know that they are going to get in trouble for getting into the cookies, leaving a mess in the kitchen, or breaking whatever. So they choose what they perceive to be the easier path. So, my wife and I tried to make telling the truth the easier path.
When our kids were little, they knew that telling the truth, especially a hard truth, would directly impact their punishment. Sometimes the truth nullified the punishment altogether. “Thank you for telling me the truth about breaking the lamp. Remember, you were told not to horse around in the living room.” And that was it. “Thanks for telling me the truth about eating those cookies. You’re done with sweets for the night.” And we’re moving on. Reward the behavior that you want to get more of. Cultivating honesty in our kids was way more important than finding out who got into the cookies or made the mess in the kitchen or broke whatever. Pick your battles. Honesty is worth parenting toward.
There was a definite flip-side to our approach to honesty. If we caught you lying, that was going to increase your punishment big time. You will be nuked from orbit. Now, it isn’t even about the cookies or the lamp anymore – it’s about the dishonesty.
We wanted to send a message that we know it can be hard to tell the truth and we will reward that difficult choice. We also wanted to send the message that lying was a relationship-destroyer and would have serious consequences. This definitely impacted our kids’ choices. It was not uncommon for our kids to take a minute (or an hour) and come back to us and say, “Okay, look, I lied about ______. This is what really happened…” Thank you! This didn’t mean that there were no consequences for whatever they did, but telling us the truth was always rewarded. Incentivize honesty!
We need to make sure that we are modeling honesty, too. More is caught than taught. Our kids are always watching and listening. Create a culture of honesty when your kids are younger and the stakes are smaller so that as they get older, they are in the habit of telling the truth.
With my older kids, I try not to ask questions that I don’t already know the answer to. They know this. So when I ask, “Hey, where were you last night?” What they hear is, “Ugh. Dad already knows probably.”
We have made telling the truth a family imperative. Lying shreds the fabric of trust in relationships. I tell my kids, “If I can’t trust you, your life is gonna be very dull.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Screen-Shot-2018-08-08-at-9.52.49-AM.png7821339John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2018-08-08 09:54:472020-10-29 09:40:13My Kid Lies and I Don’t Know What to Do About It
When precincts open on Election Day, U.S. citizens over 18 will have the right and responsibility to vote. When our country was founded however, only white men with real property or wealth were allowed to vote. But now, no matter your gender or race, citizens of this country have a say in who gets elected. Despite this amazing opportunity that many in other countries are not afforded, plenty of Americans don’t vote. But you can teach your kids about voting to change this trend.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 61.4 percent of Americans eligible to vote actually did so in the 2016 presidential election.
What are our young people learning about our country when we don’t take the responsibility of voting seriously? Do your children understand the meaning of democracy? Have you discussed the election and the importance of voting with your children so they will understand that it is everyone’s responsibility to vote when they are old enough?
Dalet Qualls became a U.S. citizen in April of 2018, and she’s looking forward to the privilege of casting her vote.
“I have been working on becoming a citizen of the United States for at least seven years,” says Qualls. “I had to be a resident for five years before I could even begin the process. I’ve watched many elections take place that I have not been allowed to take part in. The fact that I can actually vote in the next election almost doesn’t seem real.”
When asked what she thought about the low voter turnout, Qualls said she felt like it was a waste of privilege.
“We are really good about speaking our mind and complaining, but when it comes time to letting your voice count, the low turnout at the polls speaks volumes,” Qualls says. “I feel like all of us are responsible for exercising our right to vote. I’m not just speaking for myself, I’m planning for my children’s future.”
It is important to teach our children that voting is not just a right; it is a responsibility. Clearly, children younger than 8 might find choosing a leader to be confusing and even a little scary. However, older children could benefit from this teachable moment in time.
Here are a few tips for teaching your kids about voting.
Talk about your values, what you believe and why you hold those beliefs.
Ask them what they have heard about the election, the candidates and the process.
If your children are older, get them to research each of the candidates running for a particular office, then discuss what they learned about them. This is a great way to teach young people how to be critical thinkers instead of taking what they hear in commercials at face value.
Hold an election in your home. Give your kids the chance to share what made them decide to cast their vote for a specific candidate.
If possible, take them with you when you go to vote.
“I hope people never take for granted the privilege we have to vote,” Qualls shares. “There are many countries where people don’t have this opportunity. Many men and women have fought for this right, and paid the ultimate price for it. May we never take it for granted.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/HowToTeachYourKidsAboutVoting-frank-mckenna-720257-unsplash.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-07-23 00:00:002020-10-30 13:39:18How to Teach Your Kids About Voting