Oblivion is Bliss – Oklahoma Kids and Child Abuse

Oblivion is bliss. Wait I thought the saying was “ignorance is bliss”? Well it might be, but today I’m talking about the kindergartner sitting in their classroom filled with bright colors and happy faces who is totally zoned out. Little Tommy is zoned out to the point he doesn’t hear the teacher calling his name or see Little Sophia reaching over to share her markers. He doesn’t feel anything. He chose to not feel anything because it was better than feeling the welt on his head where daddy threw a beer can at him that morning and remembering the yelling fight between his parents. Being oblivious was better than feeling the gnawing pain in his stomach because he wasn’t given dinner or breakfast because mommy was “busy”.

But Little Tommy is a rare happenstance right? Only drug addicts or alcoholics abuse their kids right? Unfortunately no, abuse happens in many families. Today in lecture we talked about some of the psychiatric disorder kids suffer from after suffering abuse. I was a little taken back myself. Oklahoma ranks #8 in the nation for abused children. In 2015 there were 31 deaths due to abuse and just over 55,000 investigations of reported abuse. These numbers are huge! And they have so many far reaching implications for everyone in the family, community, and state. These kiddos don’t grow up to be better versions of their parents, in fact there were over 9,000 arrests of kids under the age of 18 in the state in 2016. If they make it to adulthood without being criminals, they are much more likely to struggle with developing meaningful relationships (teen pregnancy anyone?), depression, heart disease, and a host of other problems occurring from extreme chronic stress and trauma. It shouldn’t surprise us that Oklahoma is #2 in the nation for heart disease; many of these cases stem from people suffering immensely in their childhoods. These statistics should break our hearts and cause us to question, where did we go so wrong?

Words hurt just like objects and can destroy a mind and body

Why
Neglect was listed as the largest category of abuse in recent studies in Oklahoma with the largest category being kids 3 and under. Choosing not to feed kids, keep them appropriately dressed, not showing affection, and other forms of neglect are sooo preventable! Why is this an issue? The answer may surprise you. There is so little of the Gospel and the hope the gospel provides. No hope means more drug and alcohol abuse so kids get forgotten. No truth means we have no reason to care for others besides ourselves. No gospel means we don’t understand love and what it means to be affectionate to our kids. No accountability means we forget to develop patience with the little buggars when they are on our nerves and don’t put their needs above ours. Oklahoma needs an ocean of truth and hope that only the gospel of Christ will provide.

What You Can Do
For starts, go home and hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Teach them the gospel. Show them by example how to share the gospel with others. Then choose to step out of oblivion yourself, interact with your community, advocate for kids who are suffering, encourage parents who are struggling, be the parent you know your kids need.
If you struggle with addiction, intimate partner violence, or just with anger towards your kids, know that it is okay to not be perfect. Kids don’t need perfect, they need a parent who recognizes when to get help. Counselors aren’t just for crazy people, medications can be helpful, and being honest with those around you can inspire others to seek help too. Choose to be different and let’s make Oklahoma different. If you’re up for the challenge you can prayerfully consider adopting a kiddo who has a challenging home situation and help them join the 2400+ Oklahoma kids adopted every year. There are so many ways we can all seek improvement. Seek out how God can use you to make a difference.

Hope comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Be more than a statistic, be a parent.

Below are additional resources and statistics:

How to Report Child Abuse 

American Society for The Positive Care of Children

Oklahoma Plan for Childhood Abuse Prevention

 

Holiday Health Check. How Are You Spiritually?

Wait! Stop Winter! You’re running over fall. Be nice and wait your turn! Goodness, 4 inches of snow and a week of frigid temperatures does not look like a typical early Oklahoma November. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday but it is being run over by Christmas with this weather. I just can’t keep a Thanksgiving mindset when I run to the store and they’re playing Christmas carols while it’s snowing outside! But I am trying to be grateful, the snow is pretty and God controls the weather too. Anyway, Thanksgiving is still coming and Christmas right behind it, providing the perfect season for a little soul searching. How is your spiritual health?

Our backyard, this view was gorgeous that morning

Priorities: How are you prioritizing God in your life? Are you investing in your daily spiritual walk? Maybe think about picking up a new podcast this week. Below are links to two, the first is a 5 minute once weekly podcast and the second is a longer podcast. I absolutely love the 5 Minutes in Church History one, it’s time efficient, thorough, and entertaining. The second one is totally worth your time with sound, deep, biblical teaching that will keep you grounded in your faith.

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols

Grace to You Podcast – John McArthur

How about time in Scripture? You don’t have to wait till New Years to try to pick up a new habit of daily reading or to renew your former habit. We miss out on so many blessings when we don’t have His words on our heart daily. Engaging an accountability partner is a great idea to help each other out too.

Attitude. This one is a hard one for me. Remembering to be a thankful person who trusts God for what’s next can be a challenge; but if we trust Him to redeem us by His love and grace we have to trust Him with the rest of our lives too. We can’t be complaining, gossiping, irritable, people. We are called to be joyful, encouraging, patient followers of Christ. Does your attitude reflect your newness of life?

Compassion. Holidays are easy times to think of others but right here on the edge of the holiday season and following the season to the rest of the year, we have the privilege of  being the heart and hands of Christ to a church and world filled with hurting people. Visit a home-bound member of your church. Volunteer around your community. Watch the kids of a young couple at your church free of charge because they just need a break. Send a card to a person who recently experienced crippling loss. Buy coffee for a young person (not too young lol) and ask them about life. Experience the joys of having an overflowing heart when you choose to love the people around you.

Faith. Can you defend yours? What exactly do you believe? If you came across a high school friend on the street could you share your testimony with them? These are tough questions and the answers require a lot of diligent study, thought, effort, and prayer. It’s the 21st century, Christianity is still under constant bombardment from all sides. As a soldier of Christ we have to put on the full armor of God and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks.

Many Christians today are considered “nominal” meaning they show up on Sundays and Wednesdays (sometimes), live to check boxes that earn them points toward heaven, only live pure lives in church service, or overbook their lives so that church and the things of God are just an afterthought. Are you a nominal Christian? Or are you a passionate follower of Christ, your Savior,  who takes joy in pursuing righteousness, and live a life that beams the light of truth to those around you?  Take this spiritual health check seriously and let’s be accurate reflections of the church we are called to be. 🙂
If you have a family the infographic below has some fun ideas:

What are ways you stay accountable for your spiritual health? 🙂

Other Tips:

  • This is not an exhaustive list
  • This is not a “to-do” list
  • This can be a fun exercise, especially with a spouse, friend, or family

Does Your Mind Need To Be Back In Your Body?

Body. Mind. Spirit.

Daily in my training I am reminded how these three entities and everything in our bodies is connected. Literally everything. This past weekend I attended a yoga workshop encouraging women to love their bodies and a training session the next day on therapies for facial bones, postural evaluations, and some esoteric topics of the minute movements of intracranial structures that affect the entire body’s function…. wheww, that was a mouthful. Anyway, why did I go? Because everything is connected! And because I felt totally amazing afterwards, it had been a stressful week and I needed to slow down and refocus.

OMM Lab – Where we train to help people put their minds back in their bodies

After the weekend I had a few thoughts about points brought up from people of very different backgrounds that all revolved around putting your mind back in your body.

First I should clarify what I mean by the above statement. Putting your mind back in your body is not the result of a paranormal reality that everyone is having an out of body experience and needs to do the Voodoo to put it back. Not at all. Putting your mind back in your body means being aware of how your body works, its level of health, and its purpose in life.

The Struggle
Society as a whole struggles to know their own body and where their mind belongs in relation to it. As a Christian I find this appalling. We worship ourselves as society. We adore how we look, we are obsessed with what others think of us, we spend hours on self-gratification, self-fulfillment, and self-indulgence. It sounds a little odd on that you can be totally obsessed with yourself and still not have your mind in your body at all, but it is a problem as ubiquitous as obesity or Alzheimer’s.

We have to be still, know that He is God

Why is This an Issue?
Next time you go out to eat notice how engaged you are with whoever you are with. Notice how engaged the people are around you. Not very engaged? It is too easy to live for distraction from anything besides the present. But not living in the present costs us in our relationship as well as our own health. (Check out my previous posts on spending more time with family  or taking time to see baby rabbits for practical ways to live in the present). When we feel discouraged or depressed we reach for our phones and devices. When we feel hungry, or bored, or anything else we reach for food. When we feel pain we reach for meds or something to just take it away and seldom deal with the cause. We have high blood pressure chronically and make no lifestyle changes. Why? Because to fight any of these, to live intentionally and to live in the present we have to remember God connected our minds to our bodies and sometimes we have to take inventory! What are the consequences? Mind out of body problems, like not being able to tell when things go wrong, growing mindless altogether as in the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and succumbing to chronic pain and mental illness.

The Sides
As I observed the various perspectives this weekend as well as previous experiences on putting your mind back in your body I noticed two camps. Eastern cultures regularly use healthy behaviors blended with mysticism to create a religion (that later dropped most of the religious aspects and it back to whole person health i.e. yoga and similar arts). Exercise classes like Yoga have taken the world by storm and for a very good reason – they are great at putting the mind back in the body. The second camp is Christianity which among many church circles avoids looking inward and many times forget their body and soul are connected at all. In fact many Christians view Yoga and mind practices as pagan or Satanic. Some Christians view regular prayer as a way to reset the body and I am inclined to agree that although this is not the purpose of prayer it is an undervalued benefit. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that refocusing our soul on God helps put our mind back in a proper place inside our body; remember, everything is connected.

Putting our minds back in our bodies is crucial for our health

The Analysis
The sad part is that one camp offers profound health benefits while denying God any of His creative glory for designing such unique, infinitely complex, and incredible organisms. God made us so incredible we have mechanisms to help us heal. The other camp is drowning in obesity and stiff religiosity. They can be seen reaching for another donut and vehemently stating God thinks it’s sin to sit with your legs crossed thinking about your breathing. Not exactly a pretty picture of being good stewards of our dynamic bodies. And a few people do get it right, that health is something to be taken care of, God is a God to be glorified, and we are people that have lives to live!

The Conclusion
Saying we are designed to never experience suffering is wrong and so is refusing to do anything on our parts to minimize it. Saying we cannot acknowledge God as ultimate Creator, Sustainer, and Healer is wrong, and so is saying He has not given us mechanisms for self repair (hello, we do not go to the ER every time we get a paper cut). So roll out your yoga mat, stretch, check your mental and spiritual health! Go outside and be amazed by the beauty of God’s creation while you exercise, spend time in prayer, and get your mind back in your body.

What are your thoughts on health and living intentionally? 🙂