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056 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 3 – Slow Down

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SLOW DOWN

We hope you enjoyed last week’s episode about exercise, from our series on 101 Ways to Cope With Depression and Anxiety. Over the next seven weeks we will continue discussing over one hundred ways to cope with anxiety and depression. As we mentioned in our episode on depression and anxiety, depression and anxiety can cause discouragement and a sense of overwhelm.

Our goal for the next few weeks is to provide you with a list of coping skills that are attainable.  No one can say that they cannot do any of the over one hundred activities that will be discussing.  That’s encouraging!

Each week there will be a theme for the particular activity that is featured.  We have grouped the one hundred and one skills into ten different themes. We have already discussed God and exercise. We will continue with slowing down, fun, animals and nature, socializing, aesthetics, creating and learning, touch and smell, and helping.  

Today’s Episode

Today’s episode marks the third week in our themes:  slowing down.  In Genesis 2: 8 we learn that God made the seventh day holy and rested. From our understanding of God, He was modeling a behavior that He wanted man to imitate.

We are made in His image, and He saw it fit for us to designate time to rest.  The Sabbath was created for us to set aside work to focus on Him, but also to rest from the work that provides for our living. 

Our list today does not specify anything Sabbath-specific, but it does encourage activities that will create a refuge from the rat-race life; little mini-breaks from the bombardment of work and life stressors. 

If you have joined us in the past two episodes, you’ll remember that we have been using Philippians 4:8 as a guide. Think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. This verse is the underpinning for the series. 

Whatever is…True

29. Write in your journal.  Journaling has a “purging effect”.  It can organize your thoughts. It helps you to look at issues and ways to overcome them. It also helps you to recognize how much you have overcome in the past. 

Whatever is…Pure

5.  Slow your breathing down. Four Square Breathing is a good way to slow your breathing down which will help everything else to slow down as well.

54. Tense up your muscles and then relax them in a progressive manner. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can help alleviate disturbing and disruptive emotional symptoms. This relaxation technique can help your body get out to the fight/flight response.

78. Clean a specific area in your house. People who view their homes as more cluttered find that their depression increases through the day.  Those who see their home as more orderly are less likely to be as depressed as those with messier homes.

81. Stretch. Studies reveal that stretching calms the mind, giving the mind a mental break.

97. Float on a raft or float in a pool.  Floating calms the mind and reduces stress.  It puts you in a state of sensory deprivation, creating a happier state of mind.  It also decreases the sensation of pain.

Whatever is…Lovely

6.  Use relaxation imagery meditation. Guided imagery is great way to disconnect from life’s stresses and focus on something positive and up-lifting.  With this technique, you find a quiet place to relax and then think about the most peaceful environment you can imagine.

9.  Take a leisurely drive in your car. As a child, we would occasionally, usually on Sunday, take a car ride as a family. This was a time to ride around on rural roads looking at nature or new things we had not seen such as a new house.

68. Take a yoga class. Yoga is a good way to slow your body and mind down. When you are with a class, you are more focused on fitting in. This “peer pressure” helps you to stay focused and actually do the disciplined yoga that you might not do on your own.

Whatever is…Of Good Report 

72. Tour a historical battlefield. Traveling and sight-seeing can help a depressed person look beyond themselves and boost their confidence. Visiting a historical battlefield is a way of experiencing an event with others and looking back in time.

Conclusion

Slowing down is an intentional act, not a lazy one. There’s a difference between proactively slowing down for the purpose of re-energizing for later work versus being aimlessly sedentary.

Today’s episode includes several different types of options for you.  If you are home and need to slow down, journaling, stretching, guided imagery, breath-work, and cleaning can provide you opportunities to unwind. 

If you’re looking to be more social, taking a yoga class or visiting a historical site with friends will offer great benefits. God is very creative and has provided His people with a variety of ways to cope with life’s stressors.

055 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 2 – Exercise

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SHOW NOTES

We hope you enjoyed last week’s kick-off to our series on 101 Ways to Cope With Depression and Anxiety. Over the next nine weeks we will be discussing over one hundred ways to cope with anxiety and depression. As we mentioned in our episode on depression and anxiety, depression and anxiety can cause discouragement and a sense of overwhelm.

Our goal for the next few weeks is to provide you with a list of coping skills that are attainable.  No one can say that they cannot do any of the over one hundred activities that will be discussing.  That’s encouraging!

Each week there will be a theme for the particular activity that is featured.  We have grouped the one hundred and one skills into ten different themes.  God, exercise, slowing down, fun, animals and nature, socializing, aesthetics, creating and learning, touch and smell, and helping will be the themes.  

In the last episode, we discussed God as the foundation of where we find peace of mind and provided many healthy activities that you can do to improve well-being and mood. 

In 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 we learn that our bodies “are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

…Honor God with Your Bodies – EXERCISE

The American Heart Association recommends that we have at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. For someone experiencing depression, summoning the motivation to run may feel like trying to pry your feet out of cement. 

Many people suffering from depression have an all-or-nothing thinking habit which discourages them from being active.  They may think “if I can’t run five miles, then I shouldn’t exercise at all.” 

That’s where today’s suggested activities steps in. This week we will take Philippians 4: 8 into the realm of exercise (think on things true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Meditate on them.)  Although running is one possible mood-booster, it is not necessary to be physically fit or to improve depression.  

Whatever is…..Lovely

We will begin with walking.  Have you ever noticed that taking a walk seems to clear your head?  It gives you a change of scenery and an opportunity to appreciate the world outside of your 9 to 5 existence (or in the case of someone struggling with severe depression, out of your bed.) Walking has been shown to improve memory, along with many cardiovascular benefits.  

2.  Go for a walk. According to Harvard Health Publishing, walking for 2 1/2 hours per week can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 %, and some studies show that walking can be as effective as drugs at reducing depression.

If you struggle with the idea of starting the habit of walking or any other form of exercise, remember this:  If for the last few months you have completed zero minutes of exercise, five minutes today is a great start. 

Don’t feel that you must complete an extensive and exhausting workout the first time you try.  Try five minutes today. Try five minutes tomorrow.  That’s still ten minutes this week that you did not do over the past few months. 

You may surprise yourself by going past five minutes! Next week try ten minutes each time.  (Don’t forget opportunities to park further away in parking lots to add some distance for your feet, or to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Find ways to add an extra minute here and there. Your body and mood will thank you!)

Another great way to take in the scenery is to tap into your inner child and ride a bike. You never forget to ride a bike!

10.  Take a bicycle ride at the park. Cycling can help reduce stress naturally.  According to Dr. David Conant-Norville at Vanderbilt University, activities that require quick reactions, balance, and decision-making skills like cycling help control ADHD in children. In a study, adults who performed a short but complex exercise were 40 % more likely to solve a problem that required focus than participants who were idle.

25. Go kayaking down a gentle stream in the mountains.  Kayaking provides an immersive experience of communing with nature, which provides a calming, meditative experience.

48. Go for a swim. Aerobic activity reduces depression symptoms. Swimming in particular offers a quick way to release endorphins – the feel good hormones. At the same time, some of the fight-or-flight hormones are taken up as well, reducing anxiety.

Whatever is…Noble

Being a good sport is a fine quality. That’s why we’re looking at certain activities as “noble.”  They provide the body and mind health benefits, but they also build strength of character. 

8.  Play a sport. According to the League Network, sports stimulate the body’s production of endorphins, the team participation builds self-esteem, the activity promotes better sleep, and the social engagement provides emotional support by sharing a common interest.

34. Run or walk in a 5K race. For those suffering from mild to moderate depression, running can be just as effective as anti-depressants.  Running is so effective, a psychotherapist in California practices “on-the-run” sessions. 

79. Horseback riding. Horseback riding has many physical and mental benefits.  It helps the rider develop greater confidence and to cope with fear.  It increases energy and is a great stress reliever.

Whatever is…Pure

We all have experienced those moments that require intense focus.  When we focus it means we have to eliminate all other distractions and place our attention solely on one thing.  It’s a “pure” action. 

Some people feel close to God when they are outside on the golf course or fishing.  I know this seems like a joke or an excuse, but for some people these activities pull them away from the distractions of other people and concentrates their focus on God’s creation.

17.  Go fishing. Fishing is a great way to spend time in the outdoors, to get some physical exercise, and relax. Studies have shown that a weekend fishing trip can reduce the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in war veterans for as long as three weeks afterwards.

56. Go to the driving range. Smacking a golf ball can relieve a lot of tension. Golf requires a lot of concentration which can help get your mind off of other things as well.

Whatever is of…Good Report…

We are told to think on things of good report.  This pertains to others and how we experience the world with them.  What better way to get to know people and enjoy the company of others than to play with them?

74. Go bowling with friends.  Socializing just once a week can lessen one’s chances of suffering from depression, along with improving our immune systems.

Conclusion

How we feel is tied to how we think.  In cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, we learn that if we change the way we think, then our behaviors, actions, and feelings will change.

Unbeknownst to him, Paul was an early cognitive behavior therapy pioneer.  His letter to the Philippians was all about focusing our thoughts on what is good and that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

Our hope is that our coping skills list are opportunities for you to see that you can do more and be more than you ever imagined all while improving your relationship with God.  

054 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 1 – God

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SHOW NOTES

For the next ten weeks we will be discussing over one hundred ways to cope with anxiety and depression.  As we mentioned in last week’s episode, depression and anxiety can cause discouragement and a sense of overwhelm.

Our goal for the next ten weeks is to provide you with a list of coping skills that are attainable.  No one can say that they cannot do any of the over one hundred activities that will be discussing.  That’s encouraging!

Each week there will be a theme for the particular activity that is featured.  We have grouped the one hundred and one skills into ten different themes.  God, exercise, slowing down, fun, animals and nature, socializing, aesthetics, creating and learning, touch and smell, and helping will be the themes.  

This week we will begin with the most foundational and profound theme:  God.  In Him, we move and have our being.  When our focus is on Him, it changes our view of our world. 

We are told in Philippians 4:8 to think on things true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.  We are told to meditate on them. This is the thread that ties together the next ten weeks for our series.  While we will be talking about God specifically today, His hand is in the different themes we will address in later episodes.  

Science and Faith Collide

Researchers studied the impact of six weekly prayers in hospital patients.  The stress hormone cortisol was studied through saliva samples from each patient.  The prayer intervention showed significant improvement of depression and anxiety, as well as increases of daily spiritual experiences and optimism compared to those who did not.  Wow, this is Philippians 4:8 in action!

Whatever is…..True

15.  Read the Bible. The Bible has many verses and passages that address anxiety. Philippians 4:6-7 states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Isaiah 41:10 says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

53. Pray. A study by Dr. Harold Koenig and other colleagues at Duke University showed that six weekly prayers with patients at the hospital reduced their stress and anxiety while raising their optimism.

Lovely

26. Walk on the beach and look for seashells.  The color blue has a calming effect.  Gazing into the ocean literally changes our brain waves, putting the mind into a meditative state.

33. Visit a cathedral or church to view the stained glass windows.  Viewing artwork stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain. It also serves as a positive distraction for those who are chronically ill.  

90. Lay on your back outside and watch the clouds.  Being in nature separates us from the bombardment of technology in our lives and allows us to be alone with our thoughts. Interestingly, a study found that people would rather administer to themselves mild electric shocks than to sit alone with their thoughts.  At the onset of the study these same people said they would pay money to avoid being shocked.  Modern society has indulged this need to be entertained.  Cloud watching is a pleasant form of distraction that will not seem as threatening.

87. Go sailing.  Spending time in nature allows us to slow down and appreciate God’s creation. The chemical composition of salty air balances serotonin levels.  The rhythm of waves have a relaxing effect on the body. 

Good Report

59. Write a letter. Letter writing is a great way to express yourself. It forces you to organize your thoughts instead of letting them ruminate in your mind.  After writing the letter, you don’t have to send it for it to be helpful.

70. Attend a bible study.  Community is important to the wellbeing of those struggling with mental health issues.  Finding a group and a church that is not antagonistic towards mental health can provide support for someone struggling with depression and other conditions.  More churches and church groups are partnering with mental health professionals to give much needed attention to those suffering from depression and other conditions.

76. Write down what you are thankful for.  Making the habit of identifying three things you are grateful each day for even a few weeks can create improvement in depression.  In fact, some scientists believe that the impact is as strong as an anti-depressant!  Practicing gratitude can also decrease overeating, increase empathy for others and improve self-care.

84. Sing a praise song.  Singing lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.  It improves life quality and decreases anxiety. Research suggests that singing as part of group even synchs the heart rates of group members, which is almost like a meditative state.

Conclusion

You have probably noticed that each of these God-themed activities require different amounts of energy and motivation.  Some activities are solitary (just you and God) others involve being with others or nature.

If you are feeling particularly unmotivated, activities such as reading the Bible or prayer may be a good starting point.  Prayer journaling and letter writing may be a next good step.  Finally, working your way up to being a part of a bible study and/or singing in a group will provide great fellowship and give you the opportunity to feel less isolated.

053 Personal Growth: How Discouragement Leads To Depression

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SHOW NOTES

In 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) determined that 44.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness—that’s nearly one in five adults.  Only 19.2 million received treatment.  Many mental illnesses have their seat in depression and anxiety, and because of that, we want to educate you on depression and anxiety and what can be done about them.

In the next 10 weeks, we are going to give our listeners a resource.  We are going to jam-pack you with coping skills.  If you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, these suggestions will offer a wealth of ideas of how to cope.  

Every day we are faced with clients who do not know where to start.  They come for guidance and many times they struggle with coming up with even one goal to accomplish. 

More often than not, they are experiencing some depression and or anxiety.  They are so overwhelmed; they have just about given up on how to begin.  That’s why they come to us and that is why we have developed this new podcast series “100 Things to do When You Have Depression & Anxiety. 

Let’s Take a Look at Discouragement

There’s an old story that I think you may relate to.  The devil held an auction one day.  He was selling his tools from his toolbox.  Pride, laziness, arrogance, hate, envy, and jealousy—they all had high price tags.

There was one tool, however, that was marked “Not For Sale.” It was worn down, and looked rough.  Someone asked, “Why isn’t this tool for sale? It must not be worth much.  It looks like it’s been used a lot.”

The devil smiled and whispered, “That tool is discouragement!  It’s priceless! I’m not parting with it.  It is my most used tool.  When I use it, I pry open a heart, get inside and do anything I want!”

Discouragement is an entry point for Satan.  Discouragement can easily lead to feeling defeated, and as Christians, this is exactly what Satan wants.  He wants us to forget what God has done for us. 

He wants us to forget Christ’s death on the cross and victory over sin and death, because what else can Satan do?  If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then Satan cannot claim our soul, but he can give us a feeling of defeat and a sense of displeasure in this life.  

Let’s Look At the Bible

In the Bible, numerous people were depressed. Job was depressed for the whole book of Job after everything was taken from him. Jeremiah was so depressed for the people of Israel that he wrote Lamentations.

Jeremiah was very discouraged that his friends had left him and that he had many enemies, but no friends. After being beaten publicly, Jeremiah was so discouraged that in Jeremiah 20 verse 14 he says, “Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!” (NIV)

Elijah wins the battle with the Baal prophets on Mount Horeb. He has them all slaughtered. But afterwards, he becomes discouraged. Queen Jezebel makes death threats toward him. Elijah flees alone.

We pick up the story in Kings 19 verse 4, “while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” (NIV)

Both Jeremiah and Elijah had become suicidal. They did not want to live any longer.

David, the Articulate One

David had many ups and downs. He slayed Goliath and was chosen by Samuel, but King Saul tried to kill him while he was in his service. He was king and defeated many enemies, but he sinned with Bathsheeba, killed her husband, and God confronted him through the prophet Nathan. His child did not live.

In Psalms, David expresses how he felt at different times. David talks not only about his feelings, but how it affected his body. We hear symptoms of anxiety and depression.

In Psalm 32 verses 3-4, David talks about the guilt he feels: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of the summer.” (NIV) Note that if David didn’t talk about it, his bones ached.

In Psalm 38 verse 3, David again talks about his symptoms, “Because of your wrath there is no health in body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin.” (NIV) David is describing depression.

In Psalm 38 verses 10-12, David gives even more insight into what is happening to him. “My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception.” (NIV)

David is expressing how discouraged he is. His life is threatened. His friends are not there. He is alone and has anxiety (“my heart pounds”). The anxiety has taken all his strength (“my strength fails me”). He is depressed.

Know the Signs of Depression

The phrase, “I’m depressed” has become as commonplace as “I’m sad.”  But sadness is not necessarily a sign of clinical depression.  The diagnosis of “Major Depressive Disorder” requires several features that last two weeks or more.  These include:

  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or numb. 
  • Loss of interest in activities.  (These include activities you once enjoyed.)
  • Significant change in weight (lost or gained) with change in appetite.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Psychomotor retardation or psychomotor agitation (Moving slowly OR fidgety/purposeless movements such as pacing).
  • Low energy
  • Feeling worthless and/or excessively guilty (low self-esteem)
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death (without a suicide plan or with a plan for suicide)
  • Struggling to function at work or at home

Note how Jeremiah, Elijah, and David mention some of these symptoms. All of them had feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities (and so they were alone), low energy, excessive guilt, and thoughts of death.

Another depression condition is called dysthymia.  Unlike a Major Depressive Episode that lasts a few weeks, dysthymia lasts years.  It is a low-level depression, marked by symptoms of hopelessness, low self-esteem, low appetite, low energy, difficulty concentrating and sleep changes.

Both Major Depression and dysthymia can be treated with medications and talk therapy.  If you feel that you are experiencing depression, a doctor or therapist can diagnose and treat you.

What are the Signs of Anxiety?

  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Nervousness.
  • Feelings of dread.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Twitching muscles.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty concentrating on things other than the fear you are focused on.

Note how David mentions the rapid heart rate and feelings of dread. David was anxious, and it leads to depression. His body was stuck in the flight/fight mode too long, and it was worn out.

When anxiety persists for too long, then we become very tired. The energy is sapped from our bodies. We have negative thoughts and tired bodies. Depression sets in. (Read more about anxiety symptoms.)

When these symptoms interfere with your ability to function at home or at work, it is time to talk to a therapist and/or doctor. There are many different types of anxiety disorders.  A therapist can determine what type you are suffering from. (Learn more about anxiety attacks and panic attacks.)

Could I Be Suffering from Depression or Anxiety?

Oftentimes people go to their doctor when they do not feel physically well.  Because mental health has been stigmatized so much,  many people would rather be treated by a doctor than consider that they have depression and/or anxiety and seek the help of a therapist.   

101 Things to do When You Have Depression & Anxiety

In the next few weeks, Vincent and Laura will be covering different activities that you can do to reclaim vitality in your life.  These coping activities will help you connect with the wonderful things God has created for us to pleasure in.  You will open your eyes to new sights, hear new things, and experience new accomplishments.  

There’s no way that you cannot do one out of one hundred things on this list.  It is impossible.  With that in mind we encourage you to pick one!  You’ll probably want to do more!

All of us have had discouragement. How we handle it is one of the keys to good mental health. In today's episode, Laura and Vincent discuss how discouragement can lead to anxiety and depression. This is the introduction to their 10 week series on "How To Reduce Anxiety and Depression."
All of us have had discouragement. How we handle it is one of the keys to good mental health. In today’s episode, Laura and Vincent discuss how discouragement can lead to anxiety and depression. This is the introduction to their 10 week series on “How To Reduce Anxiety and Depression.”

052 Parenting: For the Mother Who Needs To Have the Hard Conversations

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SHOW NOTES

Jill Martin is the mother of thirteen children.  She is a pastor’s wife, writer and fitness instructor.  She encourages women through her blog and community “Strong Hearts, Strong Women.” 

She loves to help people grow.  She has “no problem talking about the elephant in the room.” Her family has been very involved in her husband’s work with the church.

“Educating and equipping people is ingrained in who we are.”

Adoption

Jill and her husband had two children before entering into adoption.  They decided they would “(allow) God to be the chooser of our child.”  They wanted to be open.

The Unexpected Triple Adoption

The couple ended up with twin newborns, one needing open-heart surgery.  “They had wanted to separated the twins, at birth, and place one up for adoption and see if the other one made it.  The nurse was upset, social workers were upset, no one was in agreement, we got pulled into the picture and someone said, ‘Oh, the Martins!’ and that was the beginning of it.” 

In the bed next to the twins was another baby in the PICU that was born in the ER and before you knew it, there was three babies that was our first adoption.  It was basically triplet newborns, one needing open-heart surgery. 

We had a one year old and a two and a half year old at home.  After that, everything seemed easy. It’s not like we said, “let’s go adopt three newborns that were all prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol and one needing open-heart surgery and make our life crazy. It’s just how the Lord worked it out.”  

God’s The Best Designer of Families

This journey helped them to feel confident that God is the best designer of families.  They trusted in Him through the process, through the experiences. The family has learned a lot about putting others first and serving.

Many of her adopted children have disabilities. The biggest common denominator is that they had poor prenatal health.  Many exposed to drugs and alcohol. 

Many people are nervous about adopting children with prenatal exposure and with special needs.  Some are afraid that they cannot handle that and try to avoid these types of adoptions.

The Martin’s have children in wheelchairs, on feeding tubes, on oxygen, kids with Down Syndrome, autism, and spina bifida.  Jill admits that she has been nervous and afraid at times, but that she don’t let that stop her.  She still does what God asks her to do. 

For the family as a whole, “The kids have experienced things many other kids have not,” Jill finds.  At the time of this interview, the family is preparing for their terminally ill son’s death.

The family “is intentionally walking that journey with your children as they watch their sibling get ready to be with Jesus.  That is a new road for us, but we are honored.  We feel privileged. We can be a part of that, and help our children to journey that in a good and honest way.”

Fitness and Stewardship 

Jill feels that stewardship goes beyond tithing. All of the parts of your life are part of stewardship. 

“It’s important for us to be the best vessel we can be, so we can be a better servant.”

Through her fitness coaching, “you might be doing a lot of pushups and squats, but I’m going to make you talk about the deep, dark stuff as well!” She says, “no matter how many push-ups you do, if you’re heart’s not right with the Lord, then you’re a hot mess and so we have to push ourselves to work on all the things.”

It’s important to be physically, emotionally and spiritually strong.  It’s not good to be deep in the Word, but “not be able to get off the couch.  How’s this good? It’s a package deal so that we can do all the things that God asks us to do.”

“I don’t want to NOT do things because I can’t, but because God said not to.” She compares taking care of your body to people who want to do mission work, but who are in a lot of debt.  If you are a good steward of your money, you don’t have that obstacle in front of you. Just like taking care of your body.

“How could I take care of all these kiddos in wheelchairs if I wasn’t taking care of myself?”

Parenting Strategies

“People always want to know ‘Do you have time to take a shower?’ I live by systems.  I love systems because they keep my brain in gear.”

There’s a lot of routine.  She uses routine systems with chores, laundry, dishes and meal-planning. “We are very intentional. We plan our menus, we plan for schooling, we plan our days, otherwise we would be like a circus around here.”

This makes it easier for the adults, but even better for the kids with developmental delays because they know what to expect.  This gives comfort to kids who have come from chaotic backgrounds.  

One thing that gives Jill comfort is that she has “let go of things.” This means she will use paper plates, and not let it get to her.  She advises giving yourself permission to let go. 

Create traditions, routines.  These are simple, little things.  That kind of structure lets kids know what to count on.  It creates a sense of home.

How Do You Deal With The “Big Stuff?”

“Be willing to talk about the hard things.  You have to make yourself do it.  You have to bring up the conversation. Know that there’s no right answer. We all love answers and kids look to parents for answers, but it’s alright to say “I don’t have the right answer. There isn’t just one answer.”

Teaching your kids to talk about the hard things is important.  You don’t have all the answers, yet still talk about these things anyway. “You don’t have to be the expert.”

The Martins are acutely aware of this now as the family transitions through the terminal illness of their son.  It has provided opportunities for the family to ask questions and to learn more about themselves and God.

“God designs your journey different from my journey.”

Also important is to recognize different personality styles: “I’m an extrovert, but she may not be.  I have to find that middle ground with her.  Tell her it’s okay if you need time to think on it and let’s plan on a time tomorrow afternoon to talk about it.” 

Help her see that it’s okay to have different personalities.  It’s good to learn personalities before things get hard. You’re more competent to wrestle the hard things because you’re not second-guessing yourself.  If we understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, then there is space for grace.  

Teach your kids how to cope by helping them identify their favorite activities and encouraging them to do it when times get difficult.  Help them process it and see what God is doing in their lives.

Effective Methods of Discipline

Say Less

“I’m a chatty person, so the biggest thing for me has been to learn to say less.  Sometimes they don’t need me to tell them what they did wrong, they just need to deal with it.  We tell kids what they’ve done wrong too often.”

“How Many Times Did I Tell You Not To….”

Kids are not learning how to accept responsibility for their actions when we just point out what they did wrong. They are only reacting to what we told them they did wrong.

If we want our kids to take ownership of what they’ve done, I start with, ‘Try again.’  My other famous line is ‘What happened?’

Kids want to turn it back onto the parents, so it is important that you ask them what they did.  Tell me what you did, and we’ll go from there.  It calms the parent when the parent says less, and asks the kids to tell what they have done.

“We have a few kids with behavioral problems stemming from their lives from before they were adopted.   Attachment disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, but at the end of the day it boils down to defiance.”

Don’t Take It Personally

The hardest thing is not to take it personally. It can easy to feel like they are being spiteful, and they maybe are, but even if they are, it’s still about them.  It’s a selfish thing.  They are immature emotionally.

“They are turning the table on you, but it’s not about you.  So, I have to remind myself of that. You also have to be consistent. They complete their restitutions (if they’ve broken something), I inspect it, and if it doesn’t meet our standards I say ‘Try again’ and ‘What can you do differently?’”

“They are looking for the loophole.  You have to be consistent and persistent. I need to be tougher than my kids’ toughness.  I need to be stubborn back, but in a healthy way. I need to do it in a way that says, ‘No, I’m the authority here and you’re not. Try again.’  Is a boss going to let you away with these things?” 

Jill explains to her kids, “I’m not doing you any favors by letting you off the hook all the time. Do what was asked of you, try again, follow directions, let me know when you’re done.  I’m training you to be an adult.” 

“This will also teach them how to respect what God asks them to do in their life.  We don’t need them to be expert loophole finders, because that will teach them to find loopholes with God.

Speed Round

What are you most excited about today?

Jill’s son is terminal and they are purposefully going through the journey.  Her kids are asking the hard questions, but it is good to see them grapple with these things as it prepares their futures as adults. 

“To see your children face these things is exciting because in the middle of the hard there’s also hope.  You see where they are going with it.” 

What is your biggest stumbling block in your relationship with God?

“When I was younger, feeling to need to know the answer all the time.  There was a blessing to it because of the pursuit.” 

“Who doesn’t love black and white things?  As I get older, I know it’s just not that way.  I stumbled in figuring out how to make more room for grace – how to accept there are many answers.

“Obviously Jesus is the only exception, but in other areas there are some gray areas.  There are David’s and Paul’s in the bible, they are very different, but both gifts in the Bible that God has made.  Being different is okay.  You are a gift to this world and the more I pursue understanding that I get over the temptation for the right answer all the time.”

What has been the best advice you’ve ever received? 

“Pursue God first in all things.  Don’t rely on someone else’s answers.  There is a temptation to ask a hundred people, but go to God.” 

“Find the answer from your relationship with God and the Bible.  When you hear other people’s advice you can weigh it against what you’ve already learned.” 

Who do you admire most, other than a biblical figure and why?

Jill most admires her husband.  The two have opposite personalities and different tactics, but their core passions are shared. 

“It’s important to remember that God made him that way just as much as God made me this way.”  Don’t allow that (difference) to be an irritation; (then) that person becomes a gift to you. This also allows you to give room for grace. 

What is your favorite book, besides the Bible, and why?

Brene Brown’s “Rising Strong”.  “It’s about getting back up.  It’s not about falling, because we all fall, it’s about getting back up and doing that in a way that’s really honest and intentional.”

What is your most effective relationship habit?

“Talking about hard stuff.  Nothing goes under the rug here.”

Parting wisdom

“With all you’re getting, get wisdom.  If you have time in the day, don’t waste it on Netflix.  Listen to podcasts, sermons, read books, music.  Things that will put life back into you.  Use your time well.  You’ll never regret reading things that build you up.”

Contact Jill:

Blog:  https://www.martinfaithandfitness.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StrongHeartsStrongWomen/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/stronghearts_strongwomen/

Jill Martin
Jill Martin
Jill Martin is the mother of thirteen children with many of them with special circumstances. In this episode, Jill discusses how she manages so many responsibilities. Jill gives advice on discipline. Jill describes how she discusses the hard issues with her kids and gives encouragement and tips on how to do it.
Jill Martin is the mother of thirteen children with many of them with special circumstances. In this episode, Jill discusses how she manages so many responsibilities. Jill gives advice on discipline. Jill describes how she discusses the hard issues with her kids and gives encouragement and tips on how to do it.