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Quarantine means “house of freedom” in 2 King 15?!? What…

This morning as I was reading in 2 Kings 15 about king Azariah, I noticed the scripture mentioned the word “quarantine” so I read the commentary below with astutness. Of course last year when I read it, I probably just kept on reading, but this year it really stuck out to me amid the global pandemic of COVID-19. The commentary indicated the word quarantine in this context meant “house of freedom”. King Azariah had leprosy, (Hanson’s disease) which is a horrible skin disease that is highly contagious, so he had to quarantine and the meaning of “house of freedom” basically for him meant he was set free from his governmental responsibilities during the time.

As I begin to think and pray this morning, I wondered what God could be trying to set us free from during this COVID-19. Is he trying to free us from the addiction to modern comfort, busyness, guidelines for church, school, or work that we have become enslaved to in some ways. I can’t answer this for you or for the world, but I will be praying and asking God to show me what things in my life I need to be set free from during this time.

The word quarantine is also derived from the word quaranta which means 40. It is where the 40 days for fasting come from in scripture. Fasting is also a way to get freedom from your self and desires and be able to focus on God also. Maybe you can fast and pray about what God wants to set you free from during this time…

At any rate here are few funny things I’m finding myself:

Free from wearing normal pants to work. I can wear my pj bottoms if I really want to, which I don’t, but I do have some interesting patterns of leggings!

Free from having to hold IN gas/flatulence if I have it at work. No one can smell anything or hopefully hear it in my earbuds. Note, I am not typically that gassy, just to inform you, but I did make chili on Monday…

-Free from having to rush around town picking up kids from school and having to stop and start work to do so.

Free to not fix my hair beyond a bun (on certain work days).

Free to read a ton of books (although I’m working so much that I haven’t been able to yet).

Free to say no to people and things in order to stay home with my family.

-Free to make my kids watch documentaries with me (since they are homeschooled now, lol).

Free to be more creative at home with kids and build forts in the middle of the day.

Free to clean out closets or other areas/things (which I sort of enjoy, feel free to judge me).

Free to try new things such as volunteering for Meals on Wheels.

Free to write more often/blog, etc.

Freedom comes with a price. The price is high here as in most cases in history, so be thankful and allow it to force you out of my comfort zone and to seek God in new ways.

I pray you can be encouraged today as you focus on what this quarantine can mean for you as far as new freedoms..:),

Dr. Atwell

 

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Overcome evil with good: tips during the COVID-19

As I mentioned in my post last week, many people are freaking out and are feeling very unsure about a lot of things in our world at this time. Here are some ideas/activities to help you shift your focus.

1-Go visit your elderly neighbors. Take some groceries, fresh baked goods, and toilet paper (since this has been a hoarding nightmare).

2-Go for a walk, run, etc. and thank God that you woke up today, be thankful that the sun came up, etc. Be thankful intentionally for at least 10 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed how this will shift your focus.

3-Be creative, think of new things you can do to make an impact in your home, neighborhood or community. Have your kids create a list of things they can do to be more helpful around your home.

4-Take this time to learn something new such as sewing, cooking a new recipe, etc.

5-Turn off the news, and sit for with your family, pet, finish reading a few books, or just enjoy the quiet.

6-Consider how connected we all are in the world and be amazed for a moment. One virus thousands of miles away has impacted the world. What one thing can you do that will impact the world for good? It could be simply offering to pray for others.

7-Donate to a local food bank/pantry. Call churches, shelters, etc and see what you can do to help aid effects of relief, etc.

8-Contact local schools and see if you can help deliver meals to hungry children.

9-Be wise with your money! If you aren’t, sit down and develop a budget.

10-Sit and talk to others (at least 6 ft apart :)). Don’t just sit and scroll on social media.

11-Make someone laugh today.

12-Ask God what you can learn from your circumstances.

13-Consider a positive perspective and solution to problems around you.

14-Call friends who are healthcare workers or send them cards and let them know you are praying for them.

15-Watch educational documentaries with your kids. Talk to them about history. Tell them about your history. Recount God’s faithfulness in your life with them.

16-Take this time to teach your kids life lessons or common sense lessons. For example, how to pump gas, how to manage money, how to wash clothes, how to take the trash out, how to make friends. how to choose a career, how to study the Bible.

17-Go explore the outdoors. Go hiking, etc.

18-Support local small businesses which can be hit hard during these times.

19-Ask someone you love for forgiveness. Reconnect with an old friend. Offer forgiveness to someone who has hurt you. Life is too short. (My older sister and I prayed this morning for this very thing and as we did, I was reminded of the time she threatened someone with a lipstick…well in my mind it was lipstick…If you knew her, you’d know she couldn’t even hurt someone with lipstick).

20-Make up your own tip!

This challenge in our world is a great OPPORTUNITY! Seize the day!

You’ll be amazing once you start doing some of these things how your anxiety will decrease and how you will not have time to be fearful.

Overcome evil with good today!

Dr. Atwell

Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

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A rare form of generosity…

I love the quote by Simone Weil, “Attention is the rarest form of generosity.” Personally, I believe her quote rings true today more than ever. At a time where people can physically,  be it at times technologically, connected, people often seem more disconnected to true genuine conversation and ultimately relationships than ever before. So you may ask what was going on in the world and personally for Simone Weil to make this statement in the early 1900s.

Simone Weil who lived during a tough time in culture 1909-1943, including both World Wars. According to some, she was a philosopher and political activist who eventually turned to religion. We can learn some about her through her essays and writings, but to me she seems like a person who was seeking truth and looking for ways to overcome the evil in the world. Some say she became a Christian and emphasized martyrdom and sacrifice as you sought to share her beliefs and give attention to the hurt of others, which led to her dying an early death at age 34. Simone wrote “Attention is the rarest form of generosity” in a letter to a poet friend ins 1942. It is likely she make this statement out of personal experience. Maybe she felt as if no one was truly giving attention to people (the part of creation made in God’s image). It was after all a time of world war, mass killings of Jews, development of nuclear reactor (which became a part of the first  nuclear bomb), families being torn apart by war, etc. Whatever the reason, I can’t help but wonder if it was stated out of the feeling that no one was giving attention to hurting people in the world, likely including herself.

Maybe Simon believed that if people would show true care and concern for one another by giving them attention that people would respond with love and not fear which often leads to terrible behaviors. Consider the pharaoh in Egypt who thought the Jews were becoming too numerous so he treated them like slaves. What if he would have paid attention to them, learned more about them, listened to their stories about their God? Could this have caused him to love them and in turn not lose his first born son? (Exodus) What if Hitler would have given attention to the Jews in his country, learned from them, and given them a chance to be a part of the country he ruled? Could Germany have been a great nation still today instead of millions dying,  including Hitler, for a terrible ideal?

What if you paid attention to those around you? Would it improve your marriage? Would it impact your kids’ behavior? Would it allow for you to make a new friend? Would it change the trajectory of someone’s life? It certainly could! Finally, what if people paid attention to you? Consider how it could change your life.

While we can’t necessarily make people pay attention to us, we can be people who give attention to others.  So, if you want to be a generous person give your attention to someone today. Here are some a tips for when you try:

-Be aware of the messages sent from your body language (make eye contact, think about your facial expressions). Put your phone down!

-Ask open ended questions and/or specific about the person and his/her situation? Demonstrate concern.

-Paraphrase to show you want to understand when engaging in conversation.

-Don’t interrupt or insert your own personal stuff while you are listening to someone.

-Verbally affirm others.

-Notice the person in the corner or notice the person who no one else is noticing and be friendly. Get to know your neighbors. Make a new friend at work.

-Spend quality time with others without technology and give undivided attention. (Don’t act like you are in a hurry).

I am a firm believer that most of the hurts in the world come from relationships, but so does our healing. My faith leads me to believe that ultimate relationship is with God alone. I believe He alone fills the void in our lives, but also uses others to spread His love and attention. Simone Weil also said, “At the centre of the human heart is the longing for an absolute good, a longing which is always there and is never appeased by any object in this world,” which makes me think she came to the same conclusion and belief I have in God.

I hope someone give you attention today!

Dr. Natalie Atwell

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If mirrors could talk…

When I thought about making a New Year’s/January post, I wanted to mention the statistic I heard recently that only 45% of Americans have made a new friend in the past 5 years (www.studyfinds.com). This is sad, right?

As I listened to many this week discuss goals, resolutions, diets, fasts, etc.  the only ones who mentioned relationships in those lists were mostly the ones looking for a mate. (Humor me with a detour for a moment)…The natural progression of the conversation of wanting to meet a mate goes to where does one find someone to date. These days around 40% of people first meet online. This stat may even be higher if you consider how others meet on social media by having “mutual” friends/contacts. With the increase of people meeting online, there has also been an increase in people sending “selfies”. As you can imagine these selfies come in all shapes and sizes with or without clothing from what I hear. So let me report this study I read recently in Psychology Today (Dec ’19 issue), “senders (of unsolicited photos of their genitals) scored significantly higher on measures of sexism and narcissism…” Basically, if you are sending these types of pics, it is likely you could be a sexist or narcissist. Also, “the flurry of emotions by those who received unsolicited images include anger, objectification and shame”. Therefore, if you are sending these, you should stop unless you want people to think or know you are sexist and a narcissist. In addition, if you are receiving these by a potential suitor, changes are he is not the one for you! Furthermore, what would your mirror say, “Really no one wants to see that. Some things should be sacred. Also, stop looking at yourself. Appreciate things besides your looks. Ok, I understand the need to check for things in your nose or teeth, but otherwise, go outside and enjoy God’s creation.”

Back on the main road…I wish you all a Happy New Year! I didn’t think about 2020 being a new decade until it has been mentioned by many this week, but wow ok a new decade to focus on doing amazing things for others!  Let me challenge EVERYONE to set a goal of making a new friend in 2020. As Christians, it should be a goal every year to make new friends and meet new people as we share the gospel and make disciples. This was a command by the way…Matthew 28: 19-20 ” 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I pray each one of your mirrors at the end of the year 2020 says, “I’m proud of you, I didn’t see you much this year!

Go out and make a positive difference today, make a new friend,

Dr. Atwell

PS: Michael Jackson’s “Man in the mirror” song wouldn’t work for nasty selfies people send to others…but we can all learn from that song in some aspects.

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A great recommendation from a teenager

Teenagers these days often are described as being self-centered, lazy, unmotivated, and addicted to social media instead of living life without posting about it or considering using a filter for pictures they post.

I was encouraged this summer as I met a very amazing teenage boy at the beach who was so kind to my not quite teenage boys. He took them riding in a boat, helped them learn to kayak, and never acted like they were bothering him. He and his brother were very respectful and truly a joy to be around. One day, the teenage boy told me he was reading the book “Make Your Bed: Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world” by Admiral William McCraven. He also told me he wants to be a navy seal one day.  I have no doubt that he will achieve his goal and will be a great leader one day.

After I met him and talked to his mother about how she is raising two amazing boys, I saw a book at the library that caught my eye, “Sea Stories: My life in special operations” By Admiral William McCraven. Since this man obviously caught the attention of a neat teenager, I thought maybe I’d enjoy a book written by the same man. The book did not disappoint. I found someone who is very successful to also be humble and gracious.

Here are some things I learned from the book:

-Turn hardships into laughter, self-deprecating, unforgettable, and unforgettable stories.. it’s all in how you remember it!

-Don’t lie to your parents, they know. Give your kids a chance to tell the truth.

-Don’t underestimate the power of one act of kindness. Call a kid, encourage someone today it may make all the difference in the world.

-Take it one evolution at a time. Don’t quit, it’s not the smartest, fastest or strongest who are always successful. It’s the ones who stumble, fall, falter, persevere, who get up and keep moving.

-Sacrifice is worth the reward. God is always working. His hand is in everything . When it’s your time to go, it’s your time.

-People are always listening:). 

-There are angels and spirits among us. Be aware.

-War gives your life meaning. Everyone longs for an honorable fight, a battle of convictions.

-Don’t be a bench sitter

-People deserve a second chance

-Be kind to people who are going thru tough times. Continue to fight regardless of your injury! Lose the paperwork…

-Bombs can be carried in shoes… Your decisions effect others sometimes long after you intended them to.

-Overcome evil with good

-Have hope that God can turn brokenness into something beautiful. 

-Leaders must be prepared to trust who are fighting for them and to make tough decisions.

-Sometimes rough men have to protect the innocent. 

-The sacrifices of the men and women in the armed forces help to save those who may be the best great scientists, doctors , pastors, etc.

-Millennials ask why, sacrifice and say they will be just fine, they are more inclusive, more engaged, not always unmotivated.

-It feels great when justice is served

-Practice the tough plans and drills, go over them and over so you are prepared.

-Tomorrow has stories too.

 

Be blessed today. Keep going, don’t quit, If it isn’t over yet, it is not the end…A brighter day is ahead.

Dr. Atwell

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A fresh start

Hello! I’m back after a blogging sabbatical!

Being one of those weird people who loves school supplies, I get excited about the start of school to see what new school supplies have been invented or changed each fall. However, as a mother of two school-aged boys, I was not thrilled about the prices.

Anyways, the start of school represents something we all need in life at times. We need a fresh start. Sometimes we need a change of careers, a change in wardrobe, a fresh start in our perspective, the chance to make new friends, try new ministries, or maybe even a fresh start with our loved ones..

A fresh start with others is often prevented by fear. In this instance, fear is often rooted in the fear of rejection. Public speaking is one of the greatest fears documented, and I believe it is rooted in the fear of rejection. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can help us to realize that our fear of rejection is actually just that… a fear and not a reality. Most people in your life are likely not trying to reject you. While I realize that in some cases some people are rejecting you or have rejected you, consider forgiving and try to work towards a fresh start even if only in your heart. Often times people who’ve been rejected in the past also assume that everyone in their life is somehow trying to reject them. Consider trying to stop, slow down, think, and finding out where this fear of rejection is truly coming from before reacting.

Some of the ways we can work towards a fresh start with others is by asking for a fresh start which often requires forgiveness.  It also helps to learn how to apologize well. Don’t apologize by coupling your “I’m sorry” with a “but” in any way. Just say, “I’m sorry”. It will go a long way I promise.

In closing, if you truly have been rejected or have tried something and it didn’t work out, be care not to say, “I”ll never do that again”. When you say “I’m done trying or I’ll never do this again” then God can’t use you. Faith is risky but worth it. Maybe you have to change your situation a bit, try a different place/scenery, or be patient, but don’t stop trying altogether especially if you are seeking the good of others and to please God.

I’m thankful that God’s mercies are NEW every morning. Seek to give others and yourself a fresh start everyday.

Natalie

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I really shouldn’t…

read the news before I go to bed…I discourage this for my clients all the time, but for some reason, this week I’ve read my “news briefing” (which makes me feel important like they are specifically ‘briefing me’ :)) before I go to sleep. The news is …ugh… most of the time, I can’t watch it, but need and want to stay somewhat informed whether it is fake, real or somewhat in the middle, so I typically go to the ‘NEWS’ app and scan the titles. HOWEVER, last night I dug a little dipper into a couple of horrible stories including the evilness of the California family (a blog for another day) and the Nassar doctor (I just can’t put the Dr. before his name right now) story surrounding 100s of young athletes over the years which led to me not sleeping well and getting up at 5:15 feeling the need to blog…

The funny thing is or actually I believe the spiritual thing is, I have thought about/felt God prompting me to write this post for the past couple of weeks. I was going to title it, “SPEAK UP” or “How to teach your children to SPEAK UP”.

In my profession, I have the bittersweet task often of being the first one to hear people disclose terrible things that have happened to them sometimes 40 years prior or 4 months… It has been a true humbling and honorable experience to be someone God uses to help people heal from true evil that has been done to them. People often think if they don’t talk about it or deal with it that it doesn’t affect them. I explain that it is similar to having a house that hasn’t been dusted in many years. It may look like everything is in place but you still sneeze and are affected by the dust and may not realize that just keeping things neat and orderly isn’t enough. Yes, once you start dusting, it may feel worse at first and your sneezing may increase momentarily, but when it is all clean out and up, you feel so much better and free.

My approach to teaching parents and encouraging victims always includes:

SPEAKING UP! Preferably sooner than later! Whether a boss or co-worker is saying inappropriate things to you, a dirty old man at church (unfortunately church is full of imperfect people) makes comments to you, a classmate smacks your bottom, or a family member/neighbor/stranger or ANYONE says or does anything (even if the person touches your shoulder and you feel weird) SPEAK UP, tell someone you trust and if you don’t have someone you trust, keep searching until you find someone who hears you!

The good news about SPEAKING UP!

Speaking up helps people learn: If you inform an adult that your 8th grade classmate smacked your bottom and he gets in trouble. You are actually helping him to learn that you DO NOT touch a woman inappropriately and without her permission. He hopefully will learn early on NOT to do that again. Boys this applies to you as well. If a girl says something that makes you feel uncomfortable or touches you, when you SPEAK UP and call her out, you are helping her to learn.

-Speaking up helps individuals stay out of trouble: I have boys and they are silly, which is normal. However, they at one period thought they could give me a love tap on the bottom like their dad did while flirting with me. It is my job as a mother to inform them that is it NOT appropriate to touch a woman like that unless you are married and know one another is joking. Basically, my husband had to stop doing that because they needed to see it modeled. Maybe you think this is extreme, but if it helps my kids learn, then it was worth it! Of course, there are times when the kids aren’t in the room ;).

Speaking up breaks the cycle: I’m that weird mom who stands in the doorway of men’s restrooms talking to her boys the entire time they are in there. Yes, they’ve had karate, Yes, they are getting older, BUT… I WILL CUT YOU  if you touch my kids inappropriately. My boys think I’m nuts and hate it, but I’m not their mom to be cool or friendly. Part of my job is protecting and preparing them. Things happen in public restrooms and other places. Teach your kids this…Yes it is an ugly truth but knowing it will hopefully help them. If enough crazy moms stand up, maybe we can begin to break the cycle for some.

Speaking up shows love: This one is very personal to me…You see I firmly believe that children must be taught to speak up against anyone. My neighbor and I are like family, but we’ve even had the conversations with our children that even if one of us tries something, they should speak up! They should learn that even those that are closest to them can and should be held accountable. One way to teach this to your children is to create an environment where your children feel safe telling you anything. My parents are not perfect, but they got this one right at a very crucial time for my older sister and me…A family member once tried to “show himself” to us “and have us touch him” as little girls and my very brave (sometimes she doesn’t realize how brave she really is, although she can’t even give someone the stink eye she looks and is SO sweet…) SPOKE UP. My sister told that person to stop and we got out of the bathroom and when our parents came, she told them what happened. She felt safe telling them and they responded by protecting us. Part of your children feeling safe is knowing you’ll listen and respond (this is love)!  I want go into long details except to say, our dad confronted the person (mom couldn’t go or trust me she’d be in jail to this day, which is basically what she told our dad…You go or I will…) and eventually we were NEVER around that person EVER AGAIN until his funeral. I truly believe I would not be who I am today without my parents allowing us to speak up and then responding appropriately. It wasn’t easy and it tore a family apart, but it was worth it! If you have to tear a family apart, turn a neighborhood upside down, or take on a corporate executive, DO IT!

Proverbs 31:8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. (By the ways, this proverb was based on what a mom taught her son).

God love you and He didn’t intend for us to ever even taste evil, but because of Adam and Eve chooses to think they knew better, we live in a very broken world. The good news though is that Jesus came to make all things new…He is doing that now and will wipe away all evil one day. This is what I have hope and faith in that keeps me going. I hope you will consider this hope too.

With love,

Natalie

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I said, “Give me the dang iPad…”

Most of my friends feel the same way I do at this point in the summer, which is that we are ready for the wonderful children that God has blessed us with to return to school. Routine, structure and order are great things. God is a god of order. The sun comes up and the sun goes day each day. There are seasons and things function mostly along with a natural order. Summer is a nice time to relax and try new things with your family and friends if you are a parent, but it can also be challenging.

One of the challenges I am having is to cut out technology with my children. I limit their time better during the school year, I’ll admit. I try during the summer and I’ve had days where we’ve had zero tech time, but my kids sure fight me on it. Why is this, one may ask?

Well, it has been argued by many researchers that screen time creates notable changes in brain chemistry, mostly in the area of dopamine release. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical and is highly related to addiction. People want to feel pleasure and if screen time increase pleasure then of course, one wants more and more. Dopamine also plays a role in sugar and cocaine addictions to name a couple. In May 2013, “internet use disorder” (IUD) will be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. So what is the harm, well first of all, you do not want to allow your child to become predisposed to any type of addiction.

Harmful effects of too much screen time in children:

  • Harm to the ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary
  • Weakening of cognitive muscles (which may not be reversed)
  • lack of the ability to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Loss or harm of empathetic abilities—the near-instinctive way you and I can read situations and get a feel for other people—will be dulled, possibly for good.
  • Difficulty in friendships or other relationships. Screen time can become preferred over real-world interactions due to the pleasure associated.
  • Agression, losing touch with reality.
  • Anxiety: being overstimulated constantly can increase anxiety
  • Increased risks of pornography exposure
  • Increased risks of other types of exposure that you are ready for your child to have.

These effects  and others have been known for years. (Psychologytoday.com) However, sadly the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that the average child spends seven hours of their day looking at a screen, be it a video game, computer, cell phone, or television.

Suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org)

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
  • Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
  • Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

Here is a helpful tool: HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan.

My recommendations:

-Teach your kids how to limit and the value of limiting screen time. Make them want to spend time with you doing things outside of using technology.

-Model limiting screen time for them. Don’t be an absent parent b/c you are too busy looking at social media.

-Learn how to turn off all technology and go to bed on time. No one needs to be on all of the time. Those who need should not need you 24/7. At some point, they need to figure out what to do without you. Your kids should know how to get help if you aren’t available.

Have dinner together. Don’t allow technology at dinner time or at restaurants. Why do people go out to eat and stay on technology? Can’t they at least just order take out and go home to ignore one another?

Enjoy God’s beautiful creation, go outside, enjoy his creation of actual humans and interactions with them not just interactions online.

Setting new limits as we speak for my family,

Natalie