Still Under Construction with Melissa Jansen, BS, BCLC

Still Under Construction

I live in a war zone. Not a literal war, but in a brand new neighborhood, filled with concrete trucks, plumbers, electricians, builders, hardhats, Don’s Johns and a supervisor that sounds like Tony Soprano. As I tried to navigate this work zone this morning as I was walking, I was thinking about what a house looks like before it is ready for move in. I was also reminded of the song by Sidewalk Prophets called “Keep Making Me.” The song refers to the mess we often make of our own lives, and the lyrics ask God to make the songwriter broken and lonely, as He gently builds him up to maturity. In other words, he/we are still under construction. He isn’t finished with us yet. I relate to that completely!

Most of us have been lonely at one time or another in our journey. Sometimes it’s that we’ve chosen to be single, or chosen to live alone. Sometimes we isolate. Some of us have also been broken, maybe even beyond description or recognition. Looking back, perhaps that is just where we needed to be. When we are by alone, with our empty selves, that is where God often meets us. It’s in the stillness and the silence that we can finally hear what He is saying or what steps He wants us to take. Solitude can be great, but it can also be scary when we don’t seek the right guidance. I remember numerous times in my own solitude, often at 2 am when I could not sleep, that God just simply told me to rest. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). It is so comforting to know He’s got me covered.

Brokenness is not a fun place to visit. When we are spiritually broken, that’s when God can finally “fix us.” I spent many years trying to fix myself, fix my family, heal my grief, build my career, plan my future, and I failed over and over again. Truly, at one point, I felt like a filthy rag doll that was tossed in the trashcan, never to be used again. And then God showed up. You see, He is in the business of construction. He puts out the danger/warning signs. He has all the right tools. He doesn’t let us take shortcuts. He gives us the right armor, to protect us. Sometimes we try to mend our own brokenness by stuffing it, numbing it, or ignoring it. God is very clear in scripture that He has a plan for our lives, and He has not given up on us:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)

If you are lonely, allow the only One who can meet your needs fully do that.

If you are broken, allow the only One who can build you up and put you back together do that.

If I’m honest, I realize I am still under construction. God is still at work. How grateful I am that He doesn’t give up on me before the work is completed.

Out of Context with Melissa Jansen, Life Coach

bible

Out of Context

One thing that really annoys me is when people “quote” well known, feel-good phrases, but refer to them as biblical. Not only are they not God’s truth, but they may actually lead a person down the wrong path, leaving them disappointed.

One such statement that I have heard and perhaps you have heard, time and time again, is “God never gives us more than we can handle.” First of all, that is found nowhere in the Bible. Secondly, it is just not accurate but people will say it when they want to encourage a friend or make themselves feel better about their own circumstances. The actual Bible verse that some may use to support it is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (New International Version). The context of that verse is temptation, not suffering in our own lives. We can choose a way out of temptation, according to Paul’s words, but we can’t choose a way out of suffering. In other words, God may actually allow (not give) us more suffering, or losses, or disappointment than we think we can take. Evidence of this are the cases where someone loses a marriage, a job, and a home (or even a child) all within the same year. Such was the case with Job from the Old Testament, even though Job never cursed God or told him that he gave him more than he could handle. On the other hand, it is not accurate to say that God must not be caring or omnipotent if he would allow one to face so much adversity. Hello, free will? God is the giver of free will. Yet He is merciful, He is just, and He is fully sovereign over our lives.

The second misuse of words, out of context, is “God helps those that help themselves.” It says so in the Bible, right? Wrong! In fact, it goes directly against the notion that we need a Savior, in all areas of our life, or we could just pick up the latest self-help book or video and be done with it. God isn’t only our helper. He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, our Rock and Alpha and Omega. If we believe that, and I do, then I pretty much usurp Him and all of those roles if pick up my own bootstraps, direct my own steps, and plan out the rest of my future. Experience tells me that doesn’t work, and may in fact cause me to fall flat on my face or worse: fall into the dark pit. I think people misquote and misuse this statement, thinking it comes from the book of James, on faith and deeds: “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (James 2:14, NIV). The context of this passage in James is addressing grace, sin, and how faith in God transforms our thoughts and our actions. However, God’s grace and mercy are not dependent on how much footwork we do or how many good deeds we perform. I, for one, am so grateful for that fact!

Next time you hear someone use these words or perhaps you begin to use them yourself, back up and remember the context from which they originated. There are so many other rich verses which are actual truth to pull from, we don’t need to use these feel-good promises. The Bible is full of truth which is really what we need to apply to our lives and to use when edifying others.

Just my two cents worth.

Self-Care with Melissa Jansen, Life Coach

self care pic

Self-Care

As a life coach, I often hear my clients talk about their exhaustion and not being able to set or meet goals because they have no time for themselves. I am a huge proponent of self-care, so in most cases, that is the first issue we tackle together. Self-care, simply, is taking time to nourish ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In doing so, we are then in a healthier place to focus, prioritize, get our needs met, and be available to others to meet theirs.

I have been a fairly disciplined person all my life (thanks to my dad) and I have established some habits for self-care that I thought I would share, in case you are struggling with exhaustion or just don’t seem to be able to move forward. You may not agree with the order of importance I have set for myself, but these are habits of self-care that work for me:

Spiritual

Set aside time, every day, preferably at the same time each day, to spend with your Creator. This may involve prayer, meditation, thanksgiving, listening to worship music, or some reading, but take at least a half hour to get centered, and start your day off right. If you don’t have time in the morning, perhaps you can spend the last half hour before your head hits the pillow, by doing this. I truly believe if you practice this type of self-care, your spirit and your attitude will be positive throughout the day and better help you face your challenges.

Physical

Our bodies are a temple. They are aging by the day, and we must take care of them. This includes paying attention to what we eat/drink, how we exercise, and if we get enough rest. Everyone has a different idea of what healthy eating looks like, and there is no “right” diet to follow, but perhaps you need to do a weekly evaluation of what your meals look like. You might want to increase the amount of water you drink, drop the diet sodas, skip the happy hours, and set a plan for exercise 3-4 times a week. This can and should include a variety of things – walking, running, dance class, yoga class, swimming, and weights. Do not try to do it all or you may injure yourself. Just try a bit of everything and be sure to mix it up so your body gets the full benefit. Also, get outside. Vitamin D is great for your health! Sitting on a couch with a remote is not. Finally, I cannot express enough the importance of rest. 8 hours a night. If you don’t have to pull a college all-nighter anymore, or stay up to watch videos on your phone, or check Facebook, don’t do it. Your body will pay later. Rest will help you focus and meet your challenges throughout the day. P.S. Get the annual check-ups….all of them!

Emotional

Take time to evaluate your state of mind. Are you happy? Depressed? Lonely? Have healthy relationships? Many, many people cannot set or meet goals or get beyond today because they struggle emotionally. Some will definitely need professional help, or medication, or both, to stay balanced. This might include the help of a licensed counselor or coach. If you are lonely, join a group. Look at churches, community, meet-ups, and your own neighborhood. If you are struggling in a relationship (any type), consider setting boundaries. Boundaries are healthy in marriages, in parenting, at work, and in our friendships. If you have a relationship that is toxic or suffocating you, end it. Now. Sometimes happiness is not the goal, but contentment is. What makes you content? What are you passionate about? Dig deep in your soul search and start seeking the people, places and things that will bring you that contentment.

Mental

Be sure to feed your mind. The saying, “Garbage in, garbage out” is true. Pay attention to how you exercise and challenge your mind. What do you read? Watch? Listen to? How much time do you spend on social media, or playing video games? When is the last time you read a book? My goal is to read one per month, and I don’t count People or Us Weekly magazine. My grandmother and my mother both worked crossword puzzles daily, and I am sure it increased their knowledge and vocabulary. Neither went to college, but my mother wrote and published a book. If you find yourself bored, or with little to no time left to get all your goals accomplished, it’s probably because you are not taking care of your mind. Turn off the TV. Turn off Facebook. There is so much to explore and your brain will love you for it.

Self-care. It’s a simple concept, but so very few people pay attention to it. I hope today is the day that you decide you’re going to start. You’re worth it. Write and let me know if and when you incorporate these self-care habits and how it’s working for you. Be blessed

Parental Joy with Melissa Jansen, Life Coach

Parental Joy

I’ve been talking to a lot of clients lately who said they never got the manual on parenting. You know, “Parenting for Dummies.” That’s because it doesn’t exist, I tell them, as much as we would all consume a book like that if it did! Parenting, by far, is the most joyful role we have, and certainly the most challenging. No matter whether your first born or second born was the perfect angel, you weren’t ready for Lucifer. Just kidding! Or maybe it was the opposite, and you stopped after the firstborn. Sometimes, I tell them, it’s a natural and passing phase. For instance, when I was in the child care business, the parents of my students would often fret over their toddler who was biting, which is common during the Terrible Twos. I found it much more offensive when the parent of the bitten one asked me point blank if the biter had been tested for HIV. Argh! Then there were the helicopter/rescue parents, who had to make sure they did everything, bought everything, and wrote everything for their kids, including their college essay. One time I had to leave a Christmas party because the moms could not stop talking about what tricks they had to pull to get their daughters sparkly jeans before the store sold out. Sad but true. Truthfully, I made a lot of my own mistakes as I navigated the murky waters of parenting, most especially during the teenage years. I am so grateful that God carried me through them.

I vividly remember one episode when my oldest daughter still wasn’t home from a concert at 2:00 am. I tried the cell phone. No answer. I was literally in a tug of war with my anger and my fear. My body went from pacing to praying on my knees for her safety. Just about the time I was ready to call the police, I heard a still, small voice in my ear that said, “Don’t you remember what you did to your parents? When you backpacked around Europe and didn’t call them for weeks?” Oops. I’m pretty sure that was the voice of God, and I was so grateful for it, as I heard the lock turn and my daughter walk through the door, safely. On another occasion, a different daughter was having a bit of an authority issue and seemed to think that the state and federal laws did not apply to her – and thankfully I did not kill her, because I hear murder is a felony in Virginia. Just kidding, again. While I don’t condone a lack of submitting to authority, in that case I heard another still, but BIGGER voice say, “Don’t you remember things you did, when you did not submit to my authority? Don’t you think I was disappointed by them? Yet I forgave you. I was merciful to you. I love you.” Wow! That was convicting.

Now that the kids are grown, we always tease them with threats about what comes around, goes around, and assure them they will experience the ups and downs of parenting. The truth is, they will have to explore and experiment with their own parenting techniques, and maybe by then there will be a manual published (wishful!). I only hope that they will reflect on their own past rebellion, and the parallel that I have come to see between parent/child and God/us. The fact is, the manual actually has been written, and in our hands, for over 2000 years. That, plus that the fact that God is not a helicopter parent, and allows us to stumble and fail at times, gives me great relief. Aren’t you thankful that we have a heavenly Father to model parenting for us? He is the perfect mix of discipline and mercy.

If you are struggling as a parent, or don’t know where to set boundaries, give us a call. At Reflections, we have therapists and coaches who can come alongside you and help you in the journey of parenting. We’d love to share with you a biblical perspective on parenting and pray for you in your challenges and struggles. Call us at 941-301-8420. http://www.reflectionscc.combabyBlues_1661772c

“Lost in Eden: Reviving Sexual Intimacy in Marriage”

hugging couple

Lost in Eden: Reviving Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Christa Hardin, MA

Does your sex life need a recharge? If so, read your Bible. While, I am joking a bit, it’s actually true. When God created male and female, He also made space for them to have intimacy, calling them to be fruitful. In Song of Songs, we read about about the sensual and fragrant metaphors of grapes, cedars, apples and myrrh as healthy sexuality is described between two lovers. In the Bible, along with information about every other marital need, God has given us a framework for purity versus Playboy-style sexuality in this fascinating imagery. Unfortunately, as you well know, somewhere along the way to now, perfect intimacy is obsolete, and it’s earliest echoes are from times lost in once-perfect Eden.

So going back to the beginning as best as we can, let’s look at a few things God says about sexuality and healthy touch. God gave males a seed, or sperm, to put into a woman and God created that to be a fulfilling and especial, fruitful time. It is a pleasurable time created for a couple to enjoy as well as a time to make future generations. Other brief biblical references are in Proverbs 5:16-18 where a man is chided for having sex with strangers and recommended to enjoy only the wife of his youth. It’s clear that God wants a couples to have a healthy sex life, just as it once flourished in the Garden of Eden when a husband and wife were free to roam and be together whenever they desired. In order however, to tend to this lush sexual garden well as married couples of today, let’s spend some time thinking about what a precious and well-tended intimate garden looks like.

Growing Well

In a garden, we see is variety – it isn’t always the same, right?  A healthy couple isn’t afraid to enjoy variety and different ways of experiencing one another sexually as they become more and more intimate and safe, such as varying positions, touches, times of day or places.

There are also different seasons in a garden, which definitely occurs in sexuality, considering some couples want more or less intimacy than others and some couples have troubles of infertility, vaginismus, sexual dysfunction, issues from medications, more or less hormones at varying times, illness, age, childbirth, menstrual cycle, emotional issues, and fatigue to boot with many these different seasons.

There are many ways we can tend to our marital “garden” sexually so we can thrive. Some couples need extra space and time to process after a sexual moment together while others need more foreplay. More often than not a couple isn’t perfectly balanced in their individual desires so it’s important to talk about it. Don’t get angry if your spouse wants to talk about it at an agreed-upon time. Take a deep breath and leave the embarrassment to the middle schoolers learning about it and certainly not the marital bedroom.

Timing The Sex Talk

Unlike the typical middle-school human sexuality talk, which is intentionally framed with very carefully and guarded dialogue, you can and should talk openly and freely with your spouse. For the sake of ease, here are some grounds rules to help it go really well.

Find out when your spouse feels comfortable talking about it. Some spouses don’t want to talk right before or right after sex whereas others feel that is the very best time. Some would rather talk about it on another day completely, or even while the wife is menstruating so they have something to think about for a little while before trying anything different, whereas others could talk about it any time as well as feel comfortable engaging in sex of all kinds even during the female cycle. There is no end to couples preference in this area.

Here are some ideas for your talk with one another and questions for one another:

When can I safely tell you about my ideas for our sex life?

What are some things that have hurt your feelings in the past sexually (from me or anyone else) or have made you feel devalued in your sexual experience?

Is there anything you want to add in or try to accomplish during our time together (longer orgasm, new position, new lotion)?

Also what are the ways we are intimate that feel best to you?

What makes you feel ready to be in the mood?

How often would you ideally like to be intimate together? How does it relieve sexual or stressful tension for one or both of you?

What’s something one or both of us think is preventing us from having a better sexual life together?

Do we need to carve out room for intimacy in our schedule?

What do you find most attractive to me during our intimate times? Are there certain phrases, comments, touches or scents that drive you wild?

What do you think God wants for our sexual life together? Do we honor Him and one another during this time?

Who could be our accountability partners (counselor, coach, or male for the husband, female for the wife) if we struggle in this area?

For more, call our marital experts at 941-301-8420, http://www.reflectionscc.com or write to me at christa@reflectionscc.com Stay tuned for the complete text, Release, where you can find the rest of this chapter as well as other essential marital topics!

The 411 on Girlfriends by Melissa Jansen, BCLC

The 4-1-1 on Girlfriends w/Life Coach Melissa Jansen

Relationships are wonderful. Relationships are sticky. Relationships are WORK. Whether it’s a family member, spouse, child, boyfriend, boss, co-worker, or neighbor, no one has it the skinny on how to relate. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my closest girlfriends….and why I love them so much. In my 50 plus years, I’ve moved 10 times, and I’ve made acquaintances, friends, and best friends. I did not really have a true “bestie” until the 8th grade, when I formed a close bond with a girl my age with similar family dynamics, who walked alongside of me through the horrible hormones, traumatic events, and getting married. We recently connected in person, finally, and never lost a beat. We only talked for 3 hours but could have gone on for days. Then in late high school, I met another girl who, like me, wanted to just have fun, live life to the fullest, and though we were and are very different, we bonded. We don’t live near each other anymore, so we have to work at communicating. Her life has taken a different road than mine, but we love each other nonetheless. After getting married for the second time, I reconnected with a college acquaintance/friend, when we were both in our twenties, and having our babies. Geographically, we lived near each other for 23 years, and grew closer through a painful divorce, diets galore, political debates, and many laughs and tears. Though we do not talk every day, or even every week, there is an undeniable bond between us like no other, and she knows that I would do anything she asked me to. Then there are the mentor girlfriends, those that are 10 to 15 years older than me, who have gone before me, with husbands and kids and trials, and I cherish their counsel. In between the BFFs and mentors, I have formed friendships with others, and we know we can depend on each other. They know what my funeral memorial will look like, since I have shared it with them. However, there have been lost relationships that are painful. Women who died too young. Women who I used to talk and exercise with, who suddenly disappeared. Women who I studied the bible with for weeks, and never heard from again. Women who I worked with, but once the job was over, moved on. Ouch. Losing those have hurt. Don’t get me wrong….I am grateful for the ones that still exist. I would be a lonely soul without my friendships. Living in a new state for just 9 months, I’ve had to form new ones. It’s like starting all over again. I guess in a way I kind of like starting with a new slate. Perhaps that’s because I know that the solid rocks of my inner circle are always just a phone call away.

If you need help learning about how to find and be a friend, don’t hesitate to book a  coaching appoinment with us so we can help you make sure your friendships, the ones God ordained, can make it for the long haul! 941-301-8420, http://www.reflectionscc.com

Reflecting on The Meaning of Life with Melissa Jansen, life coach at RCC

The Meaning of Life

How many times have you heard people refer to the age-old question, “What is the meaning of life?” Perhaps you have figured it out yourself. No doubt there are thousands of self-help books and workshops out there you can read or attend, and yet everyone has a different way to arrive at the answer. In more recent years, people I know have been focused on their own life purpose. In fact, there was such popularity in churches over Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life that people outside of churches and Christian circles began to read it and try to make some sense of their own journey.

I read the book for the first time, probably back in the 1990’s, and did an in-depth he study of it with a small group and later with my family. While it has many wonderful elements, my favorite chapter highlights the acronym SHAPE. SHAPE stands for S- Spiritual Gifts/H-Heart/A-Abilities/P-Personality/E-Experiences. As Warren explains, these each help determine God’s will or life purpose for you. The spiritual gifts (which can be identified by a free online inventory) tell you how you may be used in ministry. The heart determines why you say what you do, feel like you do, and act the way you do. Your abilities (such as teaching, speaking, or administration) are your natural talents so that you can accomplish God’s purposes, your personality affects the way you use your gifts, and the five common experiences that influence the way you serve others are educational, vocational, spiritual, ministry, and painful experiences. Whew! That’s a lot to take in. The good news is that the SHAPE plan actually works. At least in my experience, once I mapped these five out, it gave me a clearer picture of my passions and what purpose I could serve here on this earth. The fact that it was aligned with God’s will was just icing on the cake.

As a life coach and lay counselor, I have met literally hundreds of people who still don’t know what their life purpose is and struggle for years, in a vicious cycle. They say yes to everything or the wrong things, and are frustrated. Yet, when they finally are able to pinpoint it, with the help of a good coach, they feel free and grateful to answer the question of the meaning of life, or at least, the meaning of their life.