Friday, September 21, 2012


Over the years, I’ve collected a huge amount of knowledge about several topics that are near and dear to me personally: pregnancy and birth, breastfeeding, attachment theory, positive parenting, special needs, sensory play, education, psychology, self-discovery… the list could go on and on, honestly, because I have tons of interests and experiences! ;)

But until recently, I didn’t realize just how important these things really are. I think for a long time I have unconsciously devalued my own knowledge and experiences. I’ve viewed them as being largely inconsequential; perhaps they are helpful for me, but they’re probably not all that interesting to anyone else, or useful beyond their everyday application in my life.

But whoa, was I ever wrong. I am only in my first semester of graduate school, studying to become a school counselor– but I draw on my experiences and the knowledge gained from them every single day. The counseling techniques and theories that inform them make so much sense to me because I have been reading about and practicing so many of these things for years now with my own children. (As a sidenote, it is incredibly encouraging and validating to see that I have been on the right track with my personal research on these things!) My years of experience with special needs, evaluations (both in the school system and privately), therapies, IEPs, and the school system itself is invaluable. So many of the things I already know and have experienced are proving to be helpful to me as I prepare for my career. And even in my personal life, I have seen that my knowledge and experiences are useful outside of my own immediate circumstances, as people have come to me to talk about some of these things.

But this post isn’t just about me; it’s about you, too. The things you’ve experienced, the things you’ve learned about, the things that you’re interested in and passionate about– those things matter! Let’s be honest, there are always going to be people who invalidate your knowledge and experience– but don’t do it to yourself. Recognize and appreciate these things, and put them to good use!

So, tell me– what have you learned or experienced that is helping you and others? :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Importance of Being Heard

In my classes, I have been reading about several different approaches to counseling. And while each method differs in some ways, they each have had some very important things in common. The more I think about this, the more I believe that these common components are helpful not just in counseling, but in everyday life. One commonality I’ve noticed is the importance of actively listening and empathizing when a person is sharing their thoughts and feelings.

You’ve probably had this experience: Something has happened in your life, and you have feelings about it. Maybe you feel angry, sad, worried, scared, depressed, rejected, or lonely. You talk to the significant people in your life about it, but you walk away from the conversation feeling frustrated, unheard, and still feeling the same as you did before. And you can’t figure out why. You know the person you talked to cares about you, but they seem to be trying to jump straight into determining the cause of the problem or offering solutions to the problem. And yes, you want to find solutions, but you also desperately want someone to be with you through your pain, to walk with you and understand why you are hurting.

Here’s the thing: a person is unlikely to make any forward progress or feel better emotionally until they know they have been heard and understood. As friends or family, if we don’t take the time to listen to their pain, and to communicate that we truly do understand what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling it… then we probably will not be able to help them in a significant way.

But that’s not easy! Meeting someone where they are, in their pain, and walking alongside them as they move through it is hard. But it is loving, and it will speak to their heart in a way that platitudes, advice, and quickly-devised solutions will not. So I encourage us all to make the effort to really hear and understand the people in our lives. It’s such an integral step toward health.

Monday, September 10, 2012


For the past year or so, I have spent a lot of time thinking about truth.

It began last fall as I inwardly puzzled over the scriptures about Jesus and the fig tree. The story seems bizarre at first, with Jesus cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit when it wasn’t even the season for figs. I mean, I can understand irrationally cursing something for not doing what I want it to do (see: every experience I have ever had with a printer), but this is Jesus. I kinda think he didn’t impatiently curse stuff for not doing what he wanted. Just a guess on my part.

So I wondered, what’s the deal? The story confused me. I knew there had to be more to it than met the eye, so I dug deeper. And I found that although it was technically not the right season for figs, the tree was in leaf– which meant figs should have been on the tree. Upon first glance, it appeared as though the tree was bearing fruit, but a closer inspection revealed that it was not.

The tree gave the appearance that it was something it really wasn’t. And upon cursing it, Jesus guaranteed that the tree would never fool anyone with its false appearance again. From then on, it would be seen for what it was.

And that is what Jesus did; he saw people for who they were, and he exposed the truth. To those who appeared outwardly righteous when they really were not, he exposed their inner unrighteousness. To those who appeared outwardly sinful and broken, he scrubbed away the layers of sin and revealed the truth that had been hidden beneath: God’s image in them and his unfailing mercy and compassion for them.

So for the past year, this theme of living in the truth has been on my mind. I want to do away with false pretenses in my life, revealing myself for who I really am. And I want to encourage others to do the same. Let’s stop hiding our broken relationships, addictions, and sins under a facade of righteousness. And in the church, let’s commit to being a mirror that reflects the truth back to the people around us– not the truth of their sins and struggles, but the truth that they are deeply loved by God and made in his image.