Roger and the value of every life.

Recently, my son brought home a worm that he was supposed to nurture and care for that would turn into a beetle. I confess that I am not fond of bugs. I appreciate their place in God’s creation, but I don’t want them in my home. My son was excited about this insect he named, Roger. He fed him, made sure he had air and talked to him daily. However, when we went on vacation after three weeks of nurturing, I didn’t think Roger was ready to travel and I didn’t want him left home to possibly turn into the beetle and be in our home roaming freely, so I relocated his plastic cup home to the trash and figured he could survive in a landfill if God wills it at this time.

Being the amazing mother I am who always wants to teach a lesson to my children, I decided that if my son was ready to be a father, he would have come up with a plan to care for Roger on our vacation and since he didn’t, I had to do what I had to do with Roger. Hopefully, you see the sarcasm in “amazing mother” and that at this point you will  continue reading although some of you may think I’m heartless. My son is definitely not ready to be father as he didn’t even ask about Roger’s whereabouts for a week and thankfully he isn’t physically able to become a father also at this time.

When he asked about Roger, I told him the truth and he cried and was very upset for a while. We talked about Roger having a future in the landfill and that he was a part of nature and not a human life with a soul, etc. He has sense moved on, but our discussions about the value of human life have continued. Kids often understand God’s plans more often by simply believing and not adding worldly spins on matters of human life than adults do. Ask most children about killing a baby in the womb at any point and they will most likely think you are crazy for even considering it. My son didn’t question that “Roger” was a living thing as a tiny worm even before he became a beetle… How then do we as adults question a baby from the point of conception as anything other than a living being?

Again, some may want to stop reading at this point, but hear me out. I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t value all life. I believe there is a purpose for all human beings no matter how they enter the world. The God I serve is able to make beauty from ashes. I’ve met clients who were born from incest or rape. I’ve had clients who gave birth to a child from  rape and incest situations. In addition, I’ve had clients who’ve had abortions. In my experience, the ones with regrets are the ones who’ve had abortions not children. Let me also state that there is a beautiful way to deal with hurt and unwanted pregnancies such as adoption. In some ways, abortion is really an issue of faith in God. If I have faith in God, shouldn’t I believe he can allow things in my life that don’t come according to my plan into beautiful things.

Finally, as we value all human life, we must also value those who disagree with our beliefs by loving them, showing compassion, forgiving, and praying for them as we  won’t them to do for us. In addition, if you or someone you know has had an abortion and wish you hadn’t, I want you to know that God still loves you and can make beauty from the pain you main feel about this decision. God never wastes our pain. I truly hope my son will forgive me for putting Roger in the trash, and I hope we both learn what we should from this experience.

Praying you value every human life today,

Dr. Atwell

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

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I didn’t know, but I knew…

Have you ever heard someone make this statement? Have you ever heard a story and thought, “Surely, they had to know”? As a counselor, I have the privileges of hearing stories weekly of people in all types of situations and circumstances. It is truly and honor to walk through tough times with people or to help people process painful pasts.  I don’t take it lightly that people trust me to share their deep concerns, thoughts, etc. With that said, there are often times, I say to individuals, “You knew, didn’t you?” and most often they respond with something similar to, “I did, but I didn’t want to know, so I suppressed it”.

At the end of WWII, when American soldiers discovered for the first time one of the concentration camps they had heard about in Ohrdruf, an American general ordered for the major of Ohrdruf and his wife to visit the camp.  After visiting the concentration camp, the major and his wife killed themselves and a letter was found after that said, “We didn’t know, but we knew.” (www.clevelandandjewishnews.com)

Wow, you may say, “Thanks for depressing us today!” Here is the good news, turning this blog around…As a counselor who is also a Christian, I can offer hope to those who want to know. I believe as the Bible states, that the truth of God is written on the heart of all people (Romans 2:14-15 …They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them”; Ecclesiastes 3:11: eternity is written on the heart of every man). Some people just suppress the truth, while others embrace it. I believe it is why atheists can’t explain where guilt, conscience, and the desire to worship something comes from. Most who dare to be honest with themselves, suppress the truth of a divine creator because they don’t want to ultimately be accountable for their actions and what they’ve done with their lives.

The good news (the gospel) of Jesus Christ is that while we are accountable for our choices in life, He came to pay our debt. We could never do enough to make ourselves right in the eyes of a perfect God, but the good news is that Christianity isn’t about what we can do, but what was done for us. As we celebrate Easter, embrace what you know deep down, that a good God exists, He created you, although choice led us to go against Him, He provided a way back to a relationship with Him through Jesus who bled and died in our place and defeated death as He rose again so we don’t have to experience death (eternal separation from God and all good things).

As the end of your life, don’t let it be said as the mayor and his wife, “We didn’t know, but we knew.” May it be said about you, “I did know about God and I knew Him through his son Jesus!”

Happy Easter!

Dr. Nat

 

Is it ok to be angry?

This week I was given the honor of leading the devotion for Hendrick Motorsports at the weekly devotion lunch. It is such a blessing to join a company who values the word of God and its people enough to take time out of a busy week to focus on encouraging employees. The topic I was given to present to a group of about 90% men who work in a competitive sporting industry was “anger”. It seemed as if the topic was of value, so I thought I’d share with my faithful blog readers.

What is anger?

A feeling of frustration at someone; an expression of letting someone know that you are not happy with the way things are going between you; a possible desire to make things better between two people.

Regardless anger is an expression of frustration that often is masking other emotions such anxiety, sadness, guilt, hurt, shame, insecurity, and/or fear.

Example of how anger masks fear?

The anger a wife may have towards her husband for talking to his friends or texting them more than she perceives he talks or texts her, may MASK a fear that she has of him not enjoying talking to her as much as he does his friends.

OR

Someone is angry at God because a loved one was hurt may MASK a fear that He isn’t completely trustworthy to heal the hurt.

Does God get angry?

Yes, God gets angry: 2 King 17:18 God gets angry, BUT Psalm 7:11 says God is a righteous judge! It’s ok for God to judge it helps us know that He will get vengeance on those who’ve hurt us. Seeing loved ones go thru terrible things, you can only live by knowing God will judge one day and right all wrongs.

Jesus got angry: Matthew 21:12-13:Jesus overturned the tables (it was a den of robbers instead of a house of prayer) BUT in the next verse, V14- The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. He didn’t lose his compassionate nature even in the midst of frustration/anger.

The Holy Spirit gets angryThe Holy Spirit is grieved (can be explained as anger), but gives us instruction on how we can righteously respond and not grieve Him (Ephesians 4).

The difference is God’s anger is righteous and our often is unrighteous? JD Greear says, “Unrighteous anger is often loving the wrong thing or loving the right thing out of proportion. One way to tell is to ask yourself ‘What is my anger defending?’ Is it control, convenience, comfort, or hurt?” God’s anger is slow, controlled, loving, and redemptive!

How can we handle anger properly?

A: ASK for help.We need God’s help through the power of the Holy Spirit to respond righteously. We are called to PUT on the new man which is characterized by patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Asking for help may also include seeking counseling, talking to family ad  friends, reading and meditating on God’s word and other helpful books.

N: Negotiate boundaries by turning the other cheek. Matthew 5:38-40 suggests, turning the other cheek (face is synonymous with ‘relationship’ in Jewish culture). It doesn’t mean not confronting the issues (turning requires effort), This scripture actually speaks of: confronting the issue, setting boundaries which may require change (turning) and then re-offering the relationship (other cheek) when possible.

G: Give grace; Don’t carry the burden of righting wrongs. It is God’s job. He is in control of the sun, moon, and stars, so let him handle it. Romans 12: Repay no one evil for evil. He is a righteous judge. Ephesians 4: 26-31 Don’t sin from anger, don’t let the sun go down on wrath, don’t steal, encourage one another, listen…Get rid of it… Proverbs 19:11 Overlook offenses… Proverbs 15:1 have gentle words… not hard ones. Giving grace is a way of controlling anger.

“Anger doesn’t produce change, GRACE does!” JD Greear.

E: Engage with God through prayer; Pray without ceasing so you can encourage one another! Our speech should be: only for building one another up, confront issues in love and praising god. 

Be angry and sin not!

Natalie 🙂

PS. Rick Hendrick has the best man cave I’ve ever seen! Wow…cars, sporting collectibles, and musical gems! However, as I left I remembered that nothing compares to the love and grace of God 🙂 and we have the chance to share this with others as we give grace and disallow anger to cause us to sin.

PSS. I had to control my anger as I saw that my alma mater, Liberty is a sponsor of one of the drivers who is also a student because I sure could use a sponsor to pay for my doctorate! 🙂 jk-kinda…

Life lessons learned from running a marathon

This past weekend. I ran my first and likely my last marathon (26.2 miles). My feet still hurt, but it is a great feeling to accomplish such a physical and mental task. Running has been a part of my mental health routine, friendships, physical health routine, fundraising efforts, and life in general for the past 11 years. Through the years of running, I have experienced those scriptures coming to life about “running the race”.

Here are the lessons I learned along with some scripture and my paraphrasing :).

1-Don’t start out like an idiot. If you do, you’ll burn out and not be able to finish strong if at all. Read Proverbs (all of them) to help with this one. *Tip, I read one a day, there are 31 and typically about 31 days in a month.

2-God gives you different people for different parts of your journey. God blessed me with some friends who helped me train, a supportive family who cheered me on and gave me time to train, friends who ran the day of, new friends along the way, and a friend who ran with me the final leg to push me across the finish line! This reminds me of Hebrews 12: 1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

3-Take advantage of the aid stations. Ask for help and stop for aid when needed. Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

3-Be thankful for the cheerleaders. There were people all along the course with signs, some serious “Run with purpose” and some funny such as “Don’t trust your farts.” Sometimes we need people to encourage us in a serious manner and sometimes we need those who will make us laugh. Appreciate them all :). I Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”

4-Enjoy the scenery. Sometimes, we need to look around us to get our minds off the pain of pounding the road. God has given us a beautiful world to enjoy. John 1:3, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

5-Act your way into a feeling. Keep going, don’t listen to ever ache, pain, mental or physical and just keep going. Feelings are often misleading. If you wait until you feel like doing something, you will likely never do it. Just act!  Psalm 119: 32 “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.”

6-It’s ok to take a bathroom break. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself past the point of no return. After the break, keep going.

7-Some miles in the middle are really hard. Pray your way through. Pray for others and get your mind off of your own stress. Isaiah 40: 31 “..but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

8-Help those around you. It helps to get your mind off of yourself. There was a sweet girl I met who needed me when I needed her with three miles to go and by encouraging her, she encouraged me to keep going also. Encourage those around you. I Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”

9-Compete with yourself not others, this is your life/race. Don’t try to look at what others are doing, life the life God created for you. Let Him write His story with your life which is not to be like any other. I Corinthians 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly;

10-Don’t quit, Keep going. When you want to stop, don’t, keep fighting, finish! 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

11-Be thankful for those who come alongside you in the end to help you finish strong. Thank you to my friend and brother who came to push me at the end! Hebrews 12: 1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Happy running,
Love you all,

Natalie

 

Don’t stop believing!

It breaks my heart that as adults we often stop believing we can do anything. This past weekend, I ran more than I ever thought I could (20 miles). On January 1, I had a moment of insanity (you may think) and registered for a marathon (bucket list goal). My friend and brother asked me to do the Idiot run to prepare, so I said yes and that was the 20 mile race. Why you may ask, didn’t I think I could do this? Well, I was born with club feet and have had four surgeries and am basically circus freak with two different sized feet (a 6 and an 8 if you were wondering). I also have asthma. So what makes me set outrageous goals and seek to meet them?

Honestly, the grace of God, amazing parents, a supportive husband, and a very strong will. Don’t hate the strong willed child, parents! God will use them if they are molded properly. My parents also still believe I can do anything I set my mind to do and ask God to help me with. Kids are so amazing in the belief that they can do anything. Why do we allow them to become beat down by the world and stop believing? So, how can we change this negative mindset that overwhelms so many?

1-Encourage those around you.

2-See the good in those in your life and push them to be the best and who God created them to be.

3-If your friend or child, etc. wants to set a lofty goal, support him/her by doing it with him/her, praying for him/her, and help in any way.

Go set some goals and find some supportive people to surround yourself with today!

Natalie

Instead of New Year’s resolutions try …

Considering my nature is nerdy and goal oriented, I set yearly goals each year along with my immediate family that we keep posted in an area we see daily. It is true that you will reach 100% of the goals you NEVER set, so I set goals in hopes of meeting at least some of those each year. I also strongly believe people can change and should seek to improve each year in some areas.

Yet, I realize we are not all the same. Some people struggle to set goals or feel intimidated by New Year’s resolutions. While some set goals but forget within weeks. Fitness centers are full in January and not quite as full by February.

Therefore, let me recommend this…Pick a theme for 2019 such as generosity, truth, health, friendships, family, education, spiritual growth, etc. Once you’ve picked a theme, then focus your daily, weekly, and/or monthly thoughts, plans, and activities on the theme. Let’s say, for example, I choose “generosity” as my theme, then daily I may find ways to give a little to someone such as an extra tip to a waiter. Monthly, I may choose to donate more than normal to an organization or charity I support. If family or friendship is my theme, I may choose to be intentional about communication weekly with family or friends. I may choose to do something special with or for those individuals or I may choose to pray for them more. The theme can truly infiltrate many aspects of your life. It can impact how you talk, give, act, pray, etc. At the end of the year, you may even find you’ve completed many more goals that what you would have not having a theme.

Finally, as a Christian, I believe my help for change comes through the power of the Holy Spirit and through reading God’s word. My personal relationship with God helps me to set the right theme for my life which mostly focuses on how I treat others rather than shallow goals the world values such as physical appearance.

Lastly, I do NOT recommend learning to riding a hoverboard as an activity if your theme is physical activity… I tried yesterday and failed. I may have a broken wrist and definitely  bruised my pride.

Happy New Year!

Natalie

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