Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Notes on Emotional Connectivity

How does it feel when someone is truly invested in your well-being and validates your needs and feelings? How does it feel to be seen?

I've known it with just a few people and it's pretty awesome. I treasure the few that have touched me in this way, those that pause with intention to truly see me, to connect, and know me -- even if I've looked away, fearing to be known.

Empathy: It's an amazing gift to receive and to give.

The subject of emotional connectivity is of huge interest to me. I am intrigued, I want to learn the skill, I desire the experience. By contrast, the topic of emotional neglect has been brought to my attention as well since it stands in stark contrast to connectivity, empathy, and relationship. One builds and nourishes, the other erodes and sickens. Our nearest relationships can be measured on a spectrum, except this spectrum has no center, no neutral. Relationships are never neutral.

I have three little journals here with me tonight, each used for a different collection of notes. Today, however, I noticed a similar theme weaved throughout all three, so I've decided to gather some of those thoughts in a collection here. I hope to do so in somewhat of a cohesive way.

Notes 10/27/2018:

A prayer~ "Lord, give me eyes to see and affirm progress, not perfection. Remove criticism from my lips, and give me a heart of thanksgiving. Open my lips with words of encouragement, and use them to build up and give LIFE."

"The mouth (words) of the righteous is a fountain of LIFE..." Prov. 10:11

"The southing tongue (kind, helpful words) is a tree of LIFE..." Prov.15: 4

"He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty." Job 6: 14

Affirm, encourage, validate, congratulate. Have compassion. Share in another's joy, no matter the subject. Touch, look, give attention, seek to understand.

Notes on emotional neglect:

Over time, neglect causes wounds. These wounds are the result of what is not done (contrasted by abuse, which is something that is done).

Note of urgent reminder: Put down your phone, lest it become a tool to inflict emotional neglect.

Reading notes:

Parents who under-notice, under-value, or under-respond to their children's emotions inadvertently send a powerful message to the child that says, "You don't matter." People who didn't receive emotional validation from their parents in childhood will likely struggle to provide it as parents. If you have emotional blind spots, you'll be blind to other people's emotions as well.

Emotional neglect is a cycle that can be broken with awareness, intentional discipline, and practice.

Summer reading notes, 2017:

Affirmation praises God for the work of the Holy Spirit (fruit) in the lives of believers. Affirmation returns the glory to God and encourages the individual.

True encouragement affirms attributes of God in ALL people made in His image. Therefore, affirmation of people can return praise to God.

Thinking on what is lovely and of good repute in a person helps to develop words that encourage and build up.

To be a source of help and encouragement requires the development of observation. Study those you love, and those you've been given momentary opportunity to love with affirming words.

Notes on creativity and individuality, summer 2017 (in preparation to teach my kids):

God is Creator, and created us in his image; we also create and express creativity and individuality. Because God was so creative in making us each differently, our own individual expressions and appreciation for creativity is going to differ.

So learn to appreciate differences. Don't look down on others for liking and expressing different styles, music, art, fashion, decor, humor, etc.

Don't even give a hint of disapproval for such things as individual preference, but cultivate a heart of appreciation and praise for individuality. No one ever stood out for good/change/innovation/justice... by being like everyone else.

Choose to be inspired and motivated by others, and be FREE to be who God made you to be.

Affirmation and inspiration is the opposite attitude of jealous comparison.

Thoughts on superficial/external affirmation:

As with so many things, we've over-reacted to the self-centered nature of the self-esteem movement. Being anti-self-esteem is not the answer.

For crying out loud, it's OK to say "You are so pretty" to your daughter (or any girl)! The Bible says it as a matter of fact about Sarah, Rachel, and Esther (to name a few). They were simply beautiful women. Same goes for the handsomeness of the boys in our lives. Don't we want the proper expression of femininity and masculinity in our children?! Then affirm it when you see it! Note what is good, what is lovely, commendable! Saying, "Your outfit looks great!" affirms things like thought, order, and creativity. Don't withhold kind words for fear of vanity. Let your people know they are seen by you! Be known for commending rather than critiquing.

Maybe this building of confidence by us will keep them from trying to find it in all the wrong places and through the wrong means later on...?

Obviously, also affirm the things that cannot be "seen" such as:

-how a situation was handled
-discernment/ wisdom
-problem solving
-social skills (ex. humor, politeness, confidence, poise)

Closing thoughts on emotional connectivity:

Do you know what it's like when someone is unable to connect emotionally? Do you feel like you are able to have a meaningful relationship?

No. It's awkward and confusing at best, and likely detrimental.

How about relationship with the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to be in relationship with God and be void of affection and emotion? How can we be aware of him and relate to his indwelling if we don't at least partially relate through feeling?

I frequently ask myself to what extent I am emotionally stunted. Maybe this is peculiar to you, dear reader, or maybe the world is filled with emotional dysfunction. I'm not one to know.

I've loved noting how Jesus was full of uninhibited emotion, and how he beautifully related with the people closest to him. It has been helpful to realize how my relationship with the Lord can be alive with emotion rather than lethargic with only logic. He created us to be emotion-filled people; he has intended for us to experience him and this life he abundantly gives. We cannot fully experience anything through logic and knowledge alone.

I want to learn to feel and to connect deeply; openly and out loud.

(Images 8/2018)

Monday, November 5, 2018


It's warm here in this corner of the world, and not at all like the cold, damp wind my mother described this past weekend, or the frost and sleet I normally associate with November. I've lived in southern California a good long time now, but the warm November temps still catch me off guard. I kinda love this weather, even though I can't figure out how to incorporated fall decor when my backyard rose bushes are producing such lovely pink blossoms. I'm clipping them daily and bringing them in because they are far prettier to me than orange gourds. I should have worn a summer dress today.

Saturday night was unusually foggy, though. I really loved it. It was well into the evening before I was able to head out for my Saturday run. Saturday runs are almost non-negotiable in my mind, but since it was late I had decided on a shorter run than planned. But the ocean spray, dark and misty air, and silent plumes of fog wafting passed me were just too alluring. I kept on running, hardly mindful of the fact that wherever I stopped to turn around would only mark the halfway point. I arrived home all wobbly-legged over two hours later, satisfied. I had chased fitness goals, mental clarity, and peace on a foggy night.

Jon had a fire crackling when I came in. I don't know, but maybe the fog and the fire cast a romantic spell on us; we entirely lost that supposed "extra hour of sleep" of November time change.

Marriage has proven to be hard. We were warned like all couples are warned, and then we learned from experience. We've also learned to persevere, to keep pressing into our relationship. In a rush to get out one evening last week, we had packed a selection of cheese, cured meats, crackers, fruit, and nuts from the kitchen, along with a blanket. Jon sped down the freeway in his GTI like a 19 year-old punk. At age 40 I should be afraid of such driving, but speed really doesn't faze me. We were chasing the sunset, chasing romance. We found our sunset, then later a spot on the crest of the cliff to set up our little dinner under the darkening sky. If you had been watching us, you wouldn't have seen us smiling much. Life isn't like the movies, but it can be so, so sweet nonetheless.

Press into it. Chase after the good stuff with intention and perseverance. And maybe try to kiss a lot.

San Francisco 7/2018


Thursday, October 18, 2018

From My Viewfinder

I stayed up too late last night (again) and I'm paying for it now. Since tonight will likely run late as well, sitting for a moment seems reasonable. Andrew has a writing assignment he wants me to help with; I'm not exactly taking a break as I intermittently focus on the feudal system of the Middle Ages and work on my post. I'm adding a few ocean pictures from the weekend. These pictures are of the water before the rain came.

Yep, we got rain on Friday! At long last! It came complete with lightning and thunder. Jon and I were on a date together, darting from roof cover to roof cover, trying to find a restaurant that could seat us within an hour. Without the outdoor patio space, seating was really limited. My younger boys called from home to tell me about the storm, and Michael texted from a high school football game to say the lightning show was pretty cool. Olivia came home drenched... and smiling. Rain after several months is such a novelty to us.

The ocean is endlessly fascinating to me. I am captivated by its movement, colors, texture, and all the surprising expressions of temperament and mood. Every moment is new; art in motion; vastness and power beyond comprehension. Who can keep from thinking of the Artist, and what he must be like beyond surface comprehension?

A small portion of my running route viewed from the pier~

Saturday I found myself out on the pier once more, but this time I took pictures of birds. I had my 50mm prime lens, so these images were taken from very close range (less than 2 ft. at times).

It's interesting how much can be seen through a small camera viewfinder. Through a little peephole, we can see vast landscapes, for example, or intricate details of an insect. In comparison, my ability to see the whole picture of reality is extremely limited, but with intent to understand there is still so much to be seen and understood through the means God grants us. He gives us viewfinders by which to see reality.

What matters most in my understanding, though, is grasping the fact that the Artist of my soul and the Writer of my story has unlimited sight and knowledge, and he creates with eternity in view. Amazing.

Breaktime over.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Beauty of Blur

"When life gets blurry, adjust your focus."

This quote resonates with me.

There are times when blurry is better; obscured detail is kinder. Obscurity is a softer place for memories to land, and allows for creativity and personal rendition. Blur prevents full interpretation and simply commands acceptance. This is not a denial of the truth, rather an intentional letting go of what cannot be understood with clarity. Maybe it's also called forgiveness.

We can't solely focus on the past, always trying to make sense of it, trying to understand its impact. If things seem blurry, adjust your focus on what is true.

"Perfecting the past blurs your focus of the future."
 -Marvin Davis

"Perfecting the past" is a futile pursuit, and constant attention in the past diminishes the clarity we can set for ourselves now. I get to focus on what I can understand, what I can know with certainty; I can meditate on what is true. And this is freedom for the future, and a step towards freedom today.

Maybe a combination of the two - focus and blur - is ideal: Focus on the present and the future, and trust that the details of the past were both lovingly ordained and redeemed for something beautiful. We live by faith, not by crystal clear sight!

(Just some passing thoughts on past acceptance and present mindfulness as I scrolled through and organized summer pictures again at lunch time today. It's a reminder to think me to think rightly.)


Monday, October 8, 2018

More Notes on Being "Enough"

More summer pictures; another day-long excursion with my kids.
At this point in August, we were making sure to scratch off all the remaining activities on our annual "Summer List."

We rode the trolley through town and beach hopped.

Magnificent views

Moody beach at high-tide

The pools were filled with people. It took some serious strategizing, patience, and interesting maneuvers to get these shots!

As a follow-up to my last post (HERE), I had more to say on the topic of being "enough." For various reasons, I think many women struggle with this one. It can be blamed on our backgrounds/upbringing, on our own proud expectations and comparisons, on toxic relationships, on people and their unhelpful comments, or on a society that says "we can do it all." I'm sure there are other reasons as well.

But it's still true. I'm still not enough.

We sing of it from the pew-- words like wretched, worm, broken, vile, worthless... they are all true. We have nothing to offer God, no basis on which to claim righteousness or acceptability. We have nothing but filth beyond comprehension. Less than nothing.

BUT! If you surrender your life to Christ -- all that you think you have and all that you wish you were -- He gives you LIFE! And HOPE! And He is enough... so much more than our understanding of enough!

And so despite how we may feel at times, we don't remain empty and broken. Not for a single moment if we are in Christ. We are made ALIVE, made right, conquerors, whole. We are even now being transformed into the loveliness of his image day by day; we are made beautiful in his sight. 

So when my heavy eyes look in the mirror, or I bend my neck over the kitchen sink with hands moving mechanically, or I lay at night tired and wide-eyed... I am a daughter of the King, an heir with Christ for eternity. And that makes me more than enough!

Friends, the truth of God's Word is that we are loved and precious to God. In Christ, we find redemption and eternal value and purpose. So when the mind fights against the onslaught of lies regarding our worth in this life, let us remember the armor (Eph. 6) we've been given; strap that belt of truth on a little more snuggly. There's a reason TRUTH comes first in this battle of life, because without it confusion and lies abound. 

Maybe your battle is different than mine today, or maybe you can't even relate. Likely, however, we all need to be reminded that in whatever battle we face today, there's always a truth revealed in scripture that must be meditated upon and applied. 

Because truth makes all the difference.

So smile. Live like you are loved. Love like you are loved.


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