Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions/New Day Resolutions


Q. I know that each year I struggle with the idea of New Year's Resolutions. They are very cliche! If I am going to start the new year off on the right foot, what are some biblical suggestions you could give me?

A. On New Year’s Eve, you will take a quick glance at the past to review your accomplishments, failures or near misses. Then, the eyes of the mind turn toward next year. Questions formulate within the confines of imagination as to the possibilities of the near future:

What can change?
How to make a change?
How much to change?

Who to change?

How much effort must be infused in order to achieve the desired result?

Is there really any hope in the world today?


The New York Times gave the following as their New Year’s Resolution Top Ten List:
1) Spend more time with family and friends 2) Fit in fitness 3) Tame the bulge 4) Quit smoking 5) Enjoy life more 6) Quit drinking 7) Get out of debt 8) Learn something new 9) Help others 10) Get organized

Here are some questions I would suggest you ask yourself when thinking about what the Lord would desire from you in the coming year:
  • What must I do or give up in order to reach the majestic heights of the goal that imagination will establish?
  • How willing are you to pay the price to become the person you were designed to be by your Creator?
  • What are your intrinsic attitudes, values, and personal desires? Why do you do what you do daily? Is it to bring glory to the Lord, or for your own personal gain?
Examining your life to such a depth will change your relationships with God and the way your view day to day life. To this end, I do not adhere to the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. I think of Mt 6:34, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (KJV) Is there the luxury to wait for one specific day in the year to make changes which need to be made now, or should have been made yesterday?

Lu 9:23 also says, "And he said to them all, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'" (KJV) Maybe your New Year’s Resolutions need to become a thing of the past and a new tradition that was inaugurated by Jesus which could be tagged NEW DAY RESOLUTIONS. As the old saying goes, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Be blessed by every sunrise. God makes all things new for those who will allow Him to do so.

Editors Note: Dwight Wilson, counselor for Pathways Professional in Sheffield, Hartselle, and Athens, is the author of this week's column.

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org
or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Check back in the New Year to see our complied list of Top New Year's resolutions/New Day Resolutions from our followers and readers.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

A Letter From Pathways...

Thank you to all who have been such wonderful supporters of our Q. and A. blog this past year. We have seen tremendous growth in social networking since our launch this past summer. It is yet another way the Lord has blessed us in being able to reach more individuals and families who need solid, professional Christian counseling.

We really do count it all joy for those who support our ministry. If you have told someone about us, donated items needed or given a monetary donation, you have helped to extend our ministry even further. It is through your support that we were able to nurture and restore those who were hurting through counseling this past year. For all you have done, we thank you.

Our hope is that if there is a counseling need in the state of Alabama that we will be there to help. We are honored to serve the state of Alabama through the counseling ministry of the Alabama Baptist Children's Homes & Family Ministries. With our 13 counselors across the state, we want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

In HIM,

Pathways Professional Counseling

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How do I teach the true meaning of Christmas?

Q. I have been talking with other moms and we all seemed to be stuck on how to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas. We struggle with the candy canes, Santa Claus and presents to teach our kids it is all about Jesus' coming. Do you have any suggestions?

A. This is very common question. Just Google "teaching kids true meaning of Christmas" and you will come up with many ideas and suggestions. I believe the answer starts with us as adults. We sometimes struggle to keep the perspective of this time of year on the true meaning of Christmas. How much more difficult then is it for children entangled by gifts, Santa, and parties to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

First, let's define the true meaning of Christmas. It is not about presents to buy or receive, or about fancy parties or events. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but rather need to be in the proper perspective. So what is a proper perspective? December or Advent is about being thankful for God's grace in our lives so much so that he sent his ONE and ONLY son to die on a cross for our sins. (John 3:16) That is wonderful grace! He didn't have to do it, but he sent his son as a baby only to save mankind, by dying on a cross. This time of year is to celebrate the Messiah's arrival on Earth and to thank our Lord for doing so.

The best gift is not an iPad, iPod, new cell phone, game, or toys, but it is knowing and desiring Jesus as their Lord and Savior.The hope for parents is that your children will know the greatest gift they can receive any time of year is eternal life in Heaven with Jesus.

So how do you do this? Here are some wonderful suggestions from other parents out there who are working hard to teach their kids the meaning of Christmas:
  • Read the Birth of Christ of the Book of Luke several times
  • Give to Others
    You can sponsor a child in your own town and take kids shopping with you to buy the presents the sponsored child wants. Spend time talking to your child about how some kids do not have anything for Christmas. Also, pray with your child about the sponsored child you are buying gifts for. You can even do this with an international agency to send money to kids overseas. Have your kids do things around the house to make money to send. This is making them a part of the giving process.
  • Attend a Christmas Eve Service as a family
  • Have a Birthday Party for Jesus
    Make a cake for Jesus and have your kids sing "Happy Birthday" to him. Spend your 'party' time talking about this is the time of year that Jesus was born. Jesus was born so that he could grow up and live a perfect life. He then gave his life for us, that we might live forever.
  • Buy a nativity scene for children to play with" Click here for Little People Nativity
    A year ago, a friend of mine did this with her son. He had learned the story of Christ's birth and knew something bad was going to happen to Jesus. He then decided that he would put Spiderman and Superman in the nativity scene to protect baby Jesus. This is a great example of a child who obviously felt a connection with the story of Jesus. So much so, he wanted to protect him. Having a nativity he can play with gave him that since of connection.
  • For older children, take them to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to let them see what poverty really looks like
  • Ultimately, make sure your perspective is in the right place. Most likely, your kids will follow your lead.
Jesus' birth brought the greatest joy any of us can experience. I want to challenge all families to look at Christmas in a new light this year. Let us know how it works for you or if you have other traditions or ideas. Just post a comment for all to see and share your experience.


*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Blues

Q. I read your article last week about grief and the holidays. I haven't experienced grief, but the holidays are very difficult for me. What can I do battle the holiday blues?

A. For some individuals, the holidays are a time of loneliness, depression, stress, grief and other emotions that produce feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. They long for the holiday season to be over and never return.

It is important to understand that the bad feelings are not the real problem. They are the result of issues in life, whether caused by medical needs, relationship issues or other circumstances. A solution may become obvious once the real issue is identified and resolved. To effectively resolve these, you need to first understand what is happening in your life.

The factors that lead to these emotions are almost limitless. These could be issues that have happened in the past or are currently happening; they may be within or outside your control; they may be real or imagined; and they may be tied to thoughts, beliefs or attitudes. Also, be aware of underlying medical issues such as biochemical imbalances, effects of alcohol or other drugs, side effects of prescribed medications, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, in which a person’s feelings are tied to the change in seasons.

Along with identifying issues in your life, become aware of specific circumstances that can trigger these negative feelings. This will help you avoid those factors and instead focus on those things that help you have a positive mindset.

Some factors that may trigger negative emotions or feelings for you are stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, finances and the inability to be with friends and family. Time constraints and demands such as shopping, family reunions, parties and guests can add to the feelings of tension, as can post-holiday disappointments such as bills and the departure of guests. Some outward expressions of these negative feelings are headaches, difficulty sleeping, overeating and excessive drinking.

Most importantly, remember that God loves you and wants to be an active, daily part of your experience. Make worship a priority. A prayer like the one found in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer,” could help drive away the “holiday blues.”

Tips for coping with the Holiday Blues:
  • Keep expectations for the holidays manageable.
  • Leave the past, live the present and expect the future.
  • Do things for others.
  • Enjoy inexpensive or free activities.
  • Be aware that drinking alcoholic beverages can increase feelings of depression.
  • Spend time with caring and supportive individuals and groups.
  • Take some personal alone time to recharge your batteries.
  • Try celebrating the holidays differently and create a new tradition.
  • Set reasonable limits regarding the purchase of gifts.
  • Make a list and prioritize important activities.
  • Let others share the responsibility of holiday tasks.
  • Contact a professional, Christian counselor to help you resolve issues in your life that may be triggering the blues.

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor. This article was written by Dwight Wilson, counselor in Hartselle, Sheffield, and Athens.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.