Posts by traceymetzger

It’s actually a pretty difficult time of the year for many. There are images everywhere of ideal family dinners but for some that is not a reality. There is pressure to buy presents and spend money yet there are those who are struggling financially. There are emotions that the holidays stir up that lay dormant for much of the year.

I understand. There is, however, a way to manage some of the things that make it difficult.

As I unpack the ornaments, I unpack memories with them, sweet reminders of past Christmases. Many of the ornaments that decorate our tree commemorate a milestone…Our First Christmas, Baby’s First Christmas…etc. Many of them were gifts from my mom. While the memories are sweet, the pain of loss is bitter.

For years I would slip away from the activity of decorating to collect myself and shake off the sadness but I have learned over the years to change my mindset. Now, I look forward to the tradition as a way of setting time aside to be with the memories and celebrate all the love that my tree holds:

  • a faded ornament from my grandparent’s tree
  • little treasures made with tiny fingers that are now full grown hands
  • chubby faces of babies dressed like santa and an elf (the things we do to our children!)
  • gifts from friends old and new

ImageHere are a few tips to help you navigate the holidays with cheer!

1. Identify those things that cause stress 

Is there something you are dreading during the holiday season? Are there difficult relationships that you will have to deal with? Is the financial pressure of gift giving stressing you out? Unless you identify the sources of stress you can’t address them.

2. Find a way to limit if not eliminate those things.

If there is something that you are absolutely dreading, you can take control over how it affects you by changing your mindset. Go with a different attitude and you may be pleasantly surprised how things turn around.

You may discover as you dig a little deeper that you are striving to meet other people’s expectations of you which is not a healthy motive for continuing to put yourself in a negative situation. If you can’t eliminate it altogether then consider limiting the amount of time or maybe gathering in a place or time that would be less stressful.

If finances are stressing you out let people know ahead of time that you will be scaling back and giving smaller meaningful gifts instead so that the expectation is set ahead of time.  Maybe it’s my age, but I enjoy thoughtful things my children have done like recording a song for me or putting a slide show together as opposed to store bought things.

3. Carve out some time for yourself

Even if it is something really small, do something YOU love to do this season.  Last night on our way home from picking up my daughter from work we drove around and looked at houses in our neighborhood all lit up for Christmas.  Normally we zoom in and out hardly noticing. While I was organizing my closet the other day I put on Miracle on 34th Street.  I am the only one in my family who really loves that movie so I made a cup of tea and watched (and was still productive!) Ok, so I did two things for myself!!

4. Let something go

Unless you are incredibly organized or not very busy it is likely that something is going to get missed this year. For me, it’s Christmas cards.  I love to send them, I love to get them but I am letting it go this year.  There are just too many things to do and not enough time. Making that decision freed me of having it hang over my head. It just wasn’t in the cards this year. (pun intended)

5. GIVE!

This should really be first but if the holidays are difficult, stressful or sad for you the absolute best thing you can do is GIVE. It’s getting a little late in the game but I am sure there are still causes that need and would gladly accept last minute help. It may be giving of your time or a gift for someone in need but it will be the thing that brings you great joy this season.

ornament

Wishing you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xo

words

Last week I started a micro-blog called PositivelyDepressed.com. It is part of a project called 102 words. The objective is for the writers involved to discipline themselves to write every single weekday but only 102 or less words. It has been a challenge for me to limit my words because I love words and I use lots of them. My husband is painfully aware of just how many I need to use everyday!

These days we have so many opportunities to put our words out there to the world. We can easily disguise our life behind the mask of social media.  One can craft a persona just by typing out inspiring messages or boldly proclaiming our beliefs to the world. But are we really living what we say? 

How easy it is to talk about the love of God and the grace and mercy of Jesus. How hard is it to love someone who has hurt us or forgive someone who has wronged us or withhold words of judgement?

Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Much of what I do involves words…speaking, writing, coaching. If I was to literally interpret this verse, it would be difficult for me to limit the number of words I use each day. The challenge then for me is to be very intentional about what I say. If my words cannot be few – may they be true.

God, help me to live what I say.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

I have noticed a pattern in my life.

God gives me a dream or an idea.

So…

I get really excited and start making plans and goals and start working towards making it happen.

Then..

It takes WAY longer than I expected.

Or…

Something happens to completely distract me and the project comes to a standstill.

And…

I get frustrated and begin doubting that the dream/idea was from Him.

So…

I surrender it back to Him and stop trying to figure it out myself.

THEN…

He brings it to pass in His timing.

Now that I recognize the pattern I can relax in His timing and not feel so frustrated when things don’t fall into place in my timeframe. Have you ever experienced that?

time

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: I have started a new project to offer a daily dose of encouragement to people who struggle with dark days called Positively Depressed.  You can find it at http://traceymetzger.tumblr.com/ Please feel free to follow along there or share with someone who may need it!

find your calling, purpose, ministry, passions, “Calling” – I’m not crazy about the term because it produces a lot of angst for some people. I admit I have used it many times for lack of a better word, but in recent years I have grown tired of how it is thrown around.

It creates unnecessary pressure for those who may wonder if they even have one. For some, it can become a frustrating quest and a breeding ground for feelings of inadequacy. I have encountered people who, because they do not have a job, title or position that is focused on a specific cause, struggle with feeling “less than” those who do.

That is partly due to how this term is used. I have heard countless times in church, read many times in books and articles that it is important for everyone to “find their calling” as if it is hidden somewhere.

It is true that there are some people whose passions are very focused and translate into a job or position in life which makes it clear to everyone else what their “calling” is.  For example, I have a dear friend whose passion is to spread joy. She has found a way to do that by bringing hula-hoops around the world and sharing the gospel and love of God everywhere she goes.  It is pretty evident that she has “found her calling.” When you meet her, passion exudes from her.  (Her name is Carissa, and this is her website – you should check it out!)

On the other hand, there are many people who are using their God given gifts and passions to impact the world around them positively without a title or position or what would be considered a “calling” in the sense that it is so often used.  Their “calling” is much more subtle than a missionary for example.

My husband is a great case in point.  (Fortunately he doesn’t read my blog on a regular basis because he’d probably kill me for using him as an example!) He is a business owner who uses his knowledge, his love of people and his passion for excellence and success in order to provide security and provision for his family and employees.   Is his “calling” to run a quick-service restaurant? No, not really. It is difficult to sum up his calling.  But every day he influences his team members by being an example of a godly business leader.  Future leaders are learning from him.  He has been an example of a faithful husband and father to me and our children.  He helps advise me as I lead the non-profit For the Girls International. His scope of influence is far and wide, but he is not in the ministry and would not really even consider himself to have a “calling” in the sense that we hear it used.

Some may see what I do with For the Girls International and surmise that my calling is to encourage women. That is true, but if you asked my husband, he would tell you my calling is also to be his wife and mother to our children. On a day when I am encouraging someone suffering from depression one might think my calling was to counseling or coaching but it is just part of what I believe my “calling” is. I am wildly passionate about all of those things and believe they are all part my calling.

So, in the broader sense of the term I would define my calling to be this:

My calling is to be led by the Holy Spirit daily, ever becoming who He has made me to be, allowing what I “do” to naturally evolve from there.

It’s really just a matter of semantics but sometimes words can confuse people and cause unnecessary pressure.  I would really like to hear your take on the whole idea of having a “calling.”  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

vulnerability

I thought that might get your attention!

But, it’s not what you are thinking. What I had was a vulnerability hangover.

Let me explain.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak at my church. It was a message of encouragement but within the message I told the entire congregation about the fact that my depression had gotten so bad last year that I decided to treat it with medication. It was pertinent to the conversation because I was talking about shame – something I felt a great deal of and had to fight off. I felt good about sharing because even though I knew it would be uncomfortable, I believed it would help someone.

It went well and many people thanked me for my transparency. On Sunday night, I felt like I had accomplished what I set out to do.

Then Monday came.

I woke up and thought, “I can’t believe I shared such personal details with 3 services worth of people not to mention those who may watch the video.” I was experiencing a vulnerability hangover. I didn’t make that up. It is a term coined by Brené Brown, researcher of such topics as courage, vulnerability, authenticity, empathy and shame. Brené explains that a vulnerability hangover is “the feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect… and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”

I’m happy to say that because I have been sharing bits and pieces of my story for a while now, my hangover was not too bad. I was able to shake it off pretty quickly having learned these 3 things.

#1  It’s worth it.

The discomfort of vulnerability is worth it when you weigh it against the value of connection.  Connection, true connection is what people who are in need are looking for.  It doesn’t help them to see someone who acts like they have it all together all the time – it only adds to their shame and impedes their ability to open up and share themselves. When true connection is made, we share. When we share we heal.

#2  It’s not the critic who counts. (thank you, Theodore Roosevelt!)

At the heart of the vulnerability hangover is the fear of being judged.  Since depression is classified as a mental illness I battle the fear of being defined by my struggle. There are people who will disagree with how I choose to handle and overcome depression but in the end it is not those people who I necessarily feel drawn to connect with.  I have come to terms with the reality that there will be those who may not understand or have a different opinion than I do. I have resolved that I answer only to the One who has called me to share my story in order to help others.

#3  It’s not about me.

We live in a me-driven world. As a Christian and follower of Jesus, I want to live as He lived.  He lived His life entirely for others.  Notice I said I WANT to live as He lived. That doesn’t mean I always do, by any means. But when I am feeling exposed and vulnerable I remember that in order to live the way I claim to want to live, it requires dying to myself and living for a greater cause.  Ironically, it ends up being the best thing for ME. It is where I derive true joy and peace – so in the end it sort of is about me.  But that’s how God works.  The more we pour ourselves out on behalf of others the more he pours joy and peace into us. It’s a pretty good deal.

Final thought on vulnerability, again from Brené Brown. (can you tell I love her and her work?)

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. 

Amen.

Have you ever experienced a vulnerability hangover after taking a courageous step to share a part of yourself?  I’d love to hear about it ~ please leave a comment!

This has been my year to be brave.

In the beginning of the year, actually at the end of 2012 ~ this verse leapt off the page to me and I didn’t really know just how much I would need to draw upon it until now.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged; the Lord your God is with you wherever you go ~ Joshua 1:9

For five years I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of my story and my struggle with depression but never in as much detail as this past Sunday.

A few months back my Pastor asked me if I would share my story as the wrap-up of a series called UNMASKED.  It was timely request.  After 7 years now of cycling in and out of rough bouts with depression I finally feel like I have a handle on how to cope with it.

Every time I make it through a rough patch I believe that I am done with it forever although I know that is not probable.  The difference now is that I feel like I have all the tools I need to fight. Until this past year I always felt like I was missing something. Now that I know how to combat the shame associated with depression I believe that I will never suffer as badly as I have in the past.

You can hear my story here. The message begins about 21 mins into the video.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 8.47.23 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shame affects every one of us without exception so regardless of whether you suffer from depression or not I believe this message will encourage you.  At least that is my hope and the reason that I have chosen to be brave and share.  As always I welcome your feedback and comments…

I have always been a dreamer, but I’m not the only one! (Thank you, John Lennon – couldn’t resist!)

Nothing excites me more than hearing passion pour from the lips of someone filled to the brim with a dream.

Several times in my life, I have felt a dream burning inside of me but didn’t know what to do with it. I meet people all the time who have dreams dancing around in their brains, and the common question I hear over and over is,

“How do I get started?”

Are you that dreamer? I would love to help you!

Whether you have a dream to start a business or organization, adopt a child, move toward a new career, or if you just need some guidance in your life journey, I would consider it a privilege to equip and encourage you along your way.

As I pursued my dreams both personally and professionally, I realized that the same basic principles always got me where I wanted to go. Those principles are the foundation of the coaching process I have designed to bring about desired results every time!

Are you serious about getting started but just don’t know how? Are you in the process of pursuing your dream but have reached a roadblock?

Email me today to set-up a free 15-minute phone consultation to determine if Dream Coaching is for you.

I will be taking a limited amount of coaching clients beginning in January of 2014. 

Find my phone, Yesterday Danny and I were flying home from New York and about half way through the flight I realized I had misplaced my phone.  I spent most of the flight being so frustrated with myself. I am constantly backtracking to find things I misplace.

Thanks to “Find My Phone,” an iPhone feature, I was able to see that it was still in N.Y. somewhere on 23rd Ave in Queens. It had to be at the car rental place. Uugh. I called and the girl at the desk searched and couldn’t find it.

That’s because she wasn’t meant to. Darius was.

Around 1pm I received a call to Danny’s phone from the Darius the manager of Budget.  The shuttle bus driver had turned my phone in to him. He had noticed the message on my home screen that said that the phone was lost and directed him to call Danny’s number.

I was thrilled and thanked him a thousand times. He told me to email my address to him and he would send it to me ~ no charge! Nice.

I emailed my address to him but Darius noticed something on my signature line caught his attention.

Here is our email exchange. Read from the bottom arrow up.

screenshot

That made my day! I love how God can take a really annoying personality flaw and use it for someone else’s good!

Have you got an out of the box story about how God has spoken to you or someone you know?  I’d love to hear it.  One of the chapters of the book I’m writing is God Can Talk. It is not always how you would imagine!

beauty for ashes, mourning, joy, garment of praise, prisoners, Isaiah 61A few years back I was praying for direction for FTGI.  I was hoping God would direct me to something in the Bible to steer me.  One thought led to another and I ended up in Isaiah chapter 61. It is a beautiful poetic chapter charging us as Christians to (among other things):

  • proclaim good news to the poor
  • bind up the brokenhearted
  • to proclaim freedom for the captives
  • release from darkness the prisoners
  • to comfort all who mourn
  • to provide for those who grieve

I love the way it describes the way that we are to bring hope ~~ bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair!

Whew! Like bringing oxygen to someone gasping for breath. What a privilege to be charged to bring such hope to those who are hurting!  Everywhere you turn in this life whether they look like it or not there are people with deep hurts and need for hope.

Here I am send me, prisoners, Isaiah 61

This week I have the privilege of bringing good news to some prisoners.  I have been invited to bring a message of hope to the women residing in a Pinellas county jail. I’m sure the platform won’t be fancy.  I’m sure the facility will not be particularly comfortable. I won’t receive a speaking fee.  I haven’t even given a thought to what I will wear. And yet this may be the most literal interpretation of what God has called me to do.

I find myself overwhelmed with the responsibility and yet I know that all I need to do is show up and allow God to speak his life and redemption through me.

There will be approximately 100 women attending.  I am looking for 100 women to partner with me to pray this week over these prisoners for their hearts to be open to the redeeming love of Jesus that I hope to bring to them. If 100 women pray for one nameless but specific prisoner we will have each one of them covered.

Will you partner with me? Leave a comment to let me know.

Praying that at the blessing comes back around to you!!

On a daily basis I post a picture or encouraging word on our Facebook page for For the Girls International. To let you in on a little secret…I usually post things that resonate with me personally.  That’s how it works.  I see something that hits a nerve for me and I figure someone else probably needs it too.

Occasionally I check to see how many people we are reaching with our Facebook posts and the data I saw yesterday was very telling.  In case you don’t know how it works, the more people that “like” or “share” a post the more people it reaches.

The last 7 posts (not including the announcement of my incredible granddaughter’s birth – which generated a lot of interest!) averaged a reach of 284 people.

Then a few nights ago I posted this (because I needed it):

Tough times, hardship, depression,

The reach for that post rose to over 2000 just for that one post! I don’t have time to figure out the math (that would seriously take me several hours) but that is a huge increase in reach.

So why was that post so popular?

3 reasons:

Because we all have our struggles.

Because we all need to know it’s ok not to be ok.

Because we all need to know that God loves us and is working through our struggle.

This is a tough time of year for me.  Thankfully it’s not as tough as it’s been in the past but the process of writing my book causes me to unearth some past hurts and pain that stirs up some emotions that I struggle with.

Reading that post helped me take a deep breath and know that God is allowing me to go a little deeper and peel another layer off to become more and more whole.  He loves me that much.

Sharing that post helped me realize that the more we are transparent about our struggles the more we help others to know that it is ok that they struggle too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ so please feel free to share.  It helps to know that we are all in this together :)

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I'm ok, you're ok, mental health, depression

And sometimes it’s ok not to be ok!

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