Thursday, 29 December 2011

What Defines You?

They say that “reading maketh a man” well, that is true, for whether you are man or a woman, reading will increase your knowledge base. Reading helps you to gain more insights on various topics and even gives you a better grasp of concepts that others might not even have a clue about. Also, as you read, you will come across new words and you may have to use a dictionary to search for their definitions. This is why those who want to learn new words should read with a dictionary close at hand. Can you imagine if you learnt a new word every day, beginning on the first day of January? At the end of the year you would have added three hundred and sixty-five words to your vocabulary! That would be impressive, don’t you agree? I invite you to take up the challenge.

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What defines you? [image from]

Don’t be afraid of challenges. Life is punctuated by them and the quicker you learn to overcome them, the stronger you will become. On Sunday, November 13, 2011, the Gleaner carried a story outlining the fact that the Prime Minister’s wife was ready to attempt an ambitious challenge- the launch of a project to help street boys. As I read about the project, and comments she made in several interviews, something struck me. During her interview she was asked about her preferred type of clothing and in responding the Prime Minister’s wife posited that her clothes did not define her. Perhaps her comment stood out in my mind because moments before I was reading another online article about a project in the United States of America. In this overseas project, celebrities were invited into schools to read  to young children. This created a furor in one state because a particular school invited a movie star who had previously done some questionable work posing for a popular magazine. Trust me on this; the poses were not the kinds that your grandmother would be proud of.  When the celebrity was interviewed about her take on the issue, she said that she was now making normal movies and the photos or poses did not define her. After reading these two articles back to back, I laughed out loud at the coincidence. However, for the rest of the day I started thinking seriously about what really defined people. What defined me, I thought?

Let me ask you the question, what defines you? Is it your financial status that defines who you are? Is it your high grade point average or is it your intellectual abilities and material gains?  I would hope that your response is none of the above. Although my question to you might be rhetorical; you must be clear of your purpose and meaning in life. You must be clear on what you stand for - or in other words - what defines you.       
While your ‘definition’ is your prerogative, here are some points to consider as you mull over the question.   
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
  • You were bought with a price, (1 Corinthians 6:20).  
  • You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9).
  • You are a peculiar people unto me above all people (Exodus 19:5).
  • You are the apple of mine eyes says the Lord (Zachariah 2:5).
  • You were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Let me close by reminding you that what defines you should not be what defines the common man, for you are not common; you are a special. Whatever defines you should please your Heavenly Father. He should be proud of your actions and thoughts, and should be delighted with all that you do.   

Jacqueline Champier
Instructor, Department of Behavioural Sciences

Sunday, 25 December 2011

‘Tis the Season for Strengthening Relationships

In this celebratory season many persons are highly motivated to turn to God in prayer and praise. These individuals desire a closer relationship with their maker. Indeed, during this season places of worship are often packed to capacity. That is a good thing! We affirm all persons who make an effort to close the gap they sense between themselves and their heavenly father. However, we would like to add that it is an ideal season to strengthen other relationships. In bolstering the bond in all relationships three adhesives are critical: time, talk, and trust. 

A relationship grows much like any other item in nature; it requires time to grow and develop. Therefore in nurturing a relationship with God time needs to be spent with Him. This time should be time set aside deliberately and intentionally each day that is dedicated to worshiping Him. The individual makes that decision as to how much time and at what points in the day these times are set aside. These times are separate and distinct from those other moments that arise because of felt needs or circumstances that cause the individual to turn to God. During these times that are set aside, a variety of relationship enhancing behaviours may be employed, some of these are prayer, praise in word or song, meditation, study of the Scriptures, fasting, testimony, and witnessing. Hence, time with God is meaningfully spent in coming to worship Him and in coming to a better understanding of Him. It is time in which this understanding is shared with others and He is glorified. The time spent is rich with emotions, thoughts and actions, and the individual moves on to other activities empowered by the experiences with God. Sometimes the periods are short; sometimes they are lengthy because while quality is vital in terms of the wholeness of the experiences, quantity of time spent with God in some instances is critical. 
While time is vital in building a relationship with God, it is also important for building the relationship with family members and friends. During these weeks of celebration we often have added opportunities for spending time with our family members. Several days away from work and school are available. Some of this time ought to be set aside just for nurturing family relationships, spouses who dedicate several periods for being together to go on walks, to sit at sunset or sunrise by the beach, to climb the Blue Mountain Peak, to snorkel in our Caribbean waters, to discover one of our tropical trails, to visit one of our botanical gardens and sit amidst an array of flora on a lush green grass bring healing strengthening of the relational bond. Certainly there are hundreds of other activities that may be pursued to make time spent together well spent. The same may be said of friendships, for it is in this season that friends visit, that friends hold social events, however humble or grand, these convivial moments should strengthen the tie that binds. Some persons play dominoes, others scrabble, uno or simply have a chat among the variety of meaningful interest, what is of greatest importance is not what we do but why we do it. We do these things to build the friendship. Too often we lose sight of that imperative. Therefore, the true test of whether the time was well spent is not about who won the game but how much stronger are the bonds of friendship and this principle underlines all or human relationships. 
Time is the stage upon which action takes place and the most important action in relationships that takes place on that stage is communication. This is what was referred to as talk, but clearly communication is more than just talk for it involves both verbal and non-verbal exchanges between the communicators. In the sharing of our thoughts and feelings with others they have an opportunity to know what we think and how we feel; similarly we get to know what they think and how they feel, but beyond that both parties often gain greater insight into their own thoughts and feelings while expressing them. So that communication is not just about giving and receiving it’s also about self-discovery. For these reasons, and several others, communication is key to building relationships. Some of our holiday communication therefore will centre on spirited religious topics, salient social concerns, hearty health and wellness wishes, fascinating financial projects, puzzling political problems about which we need to pray, satisfying intimate interludes, among others. For these and other reasons we must find time to talk. 
If time is the stage and talk is the action upon it then trust is the foundation upon which both are built. A verse of Scripture implores us to “trust in the lord with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding”. Trust is a vital element in the warp and woof of the fabric of relationships. It is necessary in our relationship with God, our family, and our friends. Trust is always risk-taking. The stronger the relationship, that is the closer we are to the other person, the greater the proportion of trust we are willing to extend. That is why if trust is to grow we must spend more time and talk in nurturing our interpersonal relationships. Trust is an expression of confidence, reliance, and certainty based on past experiences; that is why, it grows over time. It also grows out of the kept commitments in relationships. This season, we have good reason to build trust in our often neglected relationships. 
“Life”, says the song writer, “is moving faster than it ever has before; what tomorrow brings us isn’t certain anymore”. Therefore, while it is true that we want great relationships they are often compromised as they are caught in the hustle and bustle of our turbulent days and they suffer, parents neglect children and feel guilty, but somehow they find consolation in observing that they are trapped by economic realities and social factors. Spouses drive-off in opposite directions early in the day and meet each other after sunset drained by the daily deluge. Nonetheless, by grace we are strengthened to press on. This season is a season in which we may repair the breach and keep the promises we made to ourselves and others by setting aside time for God, our family and friends during which we enter meaningful experiences that cause us to communicate at a deeper level so that trust may be more firmly entrenched in our hearts. This is the season to strengthen relationships.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

What if your spouse is not your type?

HAVE you ever noticed that when it comes to mate selection, most persons have their preferred types? If you didn't notice, look back at the persons who you have dated or those who you have admired over the years and see if they have similar characteristics. If they do, I would not be surprised.
If you are still not convinced, take your male friends, for instance. You will notice that while some of them admire only curvaceous black women, there are those who would die for the thin browning. A male friend once told me that if a woman doesn't weigh over 200 pounds he is not interested. Yet I have other friends who only go for the pencil-thin, high maintenance Barbie doll types.
I have always encouraged people though, that when choosing their mates, they should select persons from their preferred groups, because to do otherwise could spell trouble. Although love goes deeper than skin, if you overlook your preference, for whatever reason, and choose a type that doesn't suit your fantasy, sooner or later you will find that you are miserable, since your spouse is not your type.
The type issue does not only affect men, it affects women also. There are so many women whose husbands have turned into couch potatoes, yet these men refuse to get rid of their paunches, although they know that they would not stand a chance if their mates had met them that way. I guess men get away with this because some women are not so fussy about the physical. And since women are naturally caring, they will still love and respect their mates regardless of the change in type. Where I see a bigger problem though, is when this happens the other way around. For example, when the man marries a thinner version of you but after a few years he is forced to live with your fluffier version, which is just not his type. This can pose a challenge.
It matters not if the change is caused by baby fat, slower metabolism, ageing or ill-health, the realty is still the same: you are no longer his type. If, for instance, you are no longer his type just because you have gained some pounds in the wrong places, you can do one of two things: either you turn a blind eye and tell him to accept you for who you are and live with the consequences, or you can shed a few pounds.
Remember that it is not only the weight issue that will cause a change in type; it can be a change in your demeanour, spirituality, interests, or just your overall world views. Whatever it is, communicate with each other about the change and make adjustments where necessary. Remember also that this type thing is not a simple matter, for some people it is a very serious thing.
Jacqueline Champier is a counselling psychologist from Mandeville, and a lecturer in the College of Humanities, Behavioural & Social Sciences, Northern Caribbean University

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

So often we hear people talking of ‘thinking outside the box’ for it is a fairly popular saying. Believe it or not, people thinking outside the box are not popular at all. We talk so much about some things, but that is all we do, just talk. Look at exercising for instance, so many people talk about the benefits of exercise, yet the only thing being exercised are their lips. Their talk is without action. 
To think outside the box is to think widely, it involves thinking of the impossible, or the almost impossible. To think outside the box means that you think of things that others may not necessarily be thinking about; like thinking of creative ways to do things. In a nutshell, you can say that thinking outside of the box is to think big. I believe that university students and graduates should not only think about having a degree in hand so as to apply for a job. University students should start thinking of creative jobs for themselves and for others. Just last week I was watching a documentary on a science fiction station when some young people actually made faces at the idea of watching a documentary. Documentaries might not be much fun but they are actually educational and inspirational. I watched in awe as a new type of car was being introduced. The car did not need to have a human driver around the steering wheel. You got that right! You would just sit in the car and be chauffeured to your destination, just like that. Using computers to commute - that my friends is thinking outside the box.
Whether this invention takes off or not, whether it becomes popular all over the world or not, is really not what I am interested in. What arrested my attention is the fact that a new day has dawned. People are thinking big. If you are really serious about making a valuable contribution to society, you’ve got to believe in your abilities and more so, you’ve got to believe in the God who created you. 
  • When Thomas Edison invented the light-bulb in 1879 he was thinking outside the box.
  • When Alexander Bell invented the telephone in 1875 he was thinking outside the box.
  • When Samuel Morse’s demo of the electric telegraph popularized the machine, in 1838;  he was thinking outside the box.
  • Today, one can truly say when Glen Mills took on Usain Bolt and trained him to outrun others, Mills was thinking outside the box.
On a note of counsel, let me admonish you, as we approach the close of a new year - if you have not already done so, I implore you to put on your thinking cap and start thinking. Think about something worthwhile. You may help to heal the world or make a big difference in your community if you take the time to think outside the box.

Contributed by
 Mrs. Jacqueline Champier
Instructor , Department of Behavioral Sciences 
Northern Caribbean University

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

What to do if hubby walks out on you?

Jacqueline Champier

I have heard of cases where women didn't even have the slightest inclination that their hubbies were planning to surprise them, until the day they came face to face with an empty apartment. Yes, it happens.
A woman might be in a rocky or even not so rocky relationship for years and may also have children, but because she knows that ups and downs are normal in a relationship, she might not have thought that the man she sleeps beside each night would have left her                                      without warning.

For the man in your life to surprise you by packing up and leaving is just not an easy pill to swallow. When this happens, the woman could easily become traumatised and may need to seek professional help. Sometimes the source of a woman's pain is not only that she has been dissed, but the low down way in which the dissing occurred.
Well, in every emergency a woman has to do what she has to do, so if he walks, immediately she will have to start thinking of her next move. If the relationship can be saved, good for her, but until then she must always remember that life goes on and her life should not come to a standstill because her man has upped and left her abruptly. Regardless of the situation, the road ahead might not be easy, but like Yolanda Adams sings, This too shall pass, and the earlier she embraces this concept, the better it should be for her.
So should your hubby decide that he is going to walk out on you, don't panic, here are a few suggestions that could be of help to you.
1. Accept your situation. The longer you remain in denial is the longer it is going to take for you to put your plans in place. You are human and it is normal to go into denial, but that should only be for a period of time. It should not last for the remaining portion of your life. Like I mentioned above, you may not be able to accept your situation all by yourself, therefore, seek the best help available to you, since the first step in getting over what happened lies with you accepting your situation.
2. Get moral support. Sometimes women hide the fact that things are not going right at home or at least nowhere close to how it should be going. It is not advisable to keep everything to yourself, especially if you are hurting or dying inside. While you have to be discreet and you have to keep your family affairs close to your heart, you are going to need people around you to support you. Whether you are single or not, you are going to need to have some people in your corner. You do not always have to give the details but the people in your corner can strengthen you and encourage you when things are not going right.
Here is an activity for you to do. Use a piece of paper to write down the names of your friends with whom you talk each day, each week, each month, each year. If you cannot think of persons to fill these categories it means that you need to broaden your network. People need people, you cannot make it alone. The more confidential persons you have in your corner the better off you will be.
Even if you are a very secretive person, if your hubby walks out on you, your secret will be out and you may be alone and lonely. It is during these unfortunate moments that you are going to need people to lean on. Sometimes it is these same people who will prevent you from reaching your breaking point.
3. Talk with a trained counsellor: Hubbies have been walking out on wives for centuries, so you would not be the first person to experience this situation. If it happens, do know that you will be doing yourself justice by finding and sharing with a trusted friend or a trained counsellor who can help you. When you talk with persons who are interested in your well-being, you will gain new insight and new world views which will help you to pave the way forward.
4. Cry if you must. Take the advice that Dr Grace Kelly gives in her book and cry if you must. Where there is a loss there is grief, and where there is grief there is pain, so if you must cry to relive yourself of pain, then it is okay to do so.
5. Continue to live. The worst thing that can happen to you is if you stop living because of your loss. Take some time off if you must and mourn your loss but after this is done, dress up and go out if that makes you happy. Continue to do the things that you find enjoyable and the things that cause your spirit to soar. Life is short, so as much as it lies within you, live your life to the fullest and enjoy every moment of it.
6. Redefine your goals. After you have got over the rough spots and have accepted your reality, you will need to redefine your goals. You have got to know where you go from here. During this period you must play your cards right for you do not want to make bad choices, so think twice before making any rash decisions.
7. Keep an open mind. You should never, ever say never, or that all men are alike; this is not true. You may want to keep an open mind and trust in the Divine.

Jacqueline Champier is a counselling psychologist from Mandeville, and a lecturer in the College of Humanities, Behavioural & Social Sciences, Northern Caribbean University

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Sabbath and Redemption/Deliverance

And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.  Deut. 5:15

While the Sabbath’s original purpose was to commemorate and celebrate the creative work of God, which would take place before the entrance of sin, it had the versatility to still be applicable to the post sin era.  It not only continued to celebrate God’s creative work, but it would also come to serve as a way of celebrating God’s work of redeeming mankind from the slavery of sin and death.
Discussions on deliverance or redemption usually take place in the context of contending with issues of being in bondage, or of finding oneself trapped in a situation that has terrible implications for ones future wellbeing.  To be in bondage is to be bound to a situation over which you have no control.  You may wish to get out, but you cannot, because you are held captive by a power superior to yourself.  To be delivered from that situation requires the intervention of a power source superior to yourself and to the power of your captor as well.  Then to be redeemed, while related to deliverance in some ways, gives more detail about the relationship of the deliverer and the redeemed.  Redemption suggests prior ownership of the redeemed by the redeemer, who now reclaims the one who has been captured, having wandered away from the boundaries of the owner’s protection, and is held captive by a source that is more powerful and that is unwilling to release the captive.
The experience of the Israelite nation becoming slaves in Egypt served as an opportune object lesson to illustrate the kind of deliverance that God seeks to grant each of us who live under the tyranny of sin.  For as through the instrumentality of Moses He delivered Israel from Egypt, so through Jesus Christ the possibility for the entire world to be liberated from sin was achieved.
In Deuteronomy 5:15 deliverance from Egypt was given as the reason for observing the Sabbath.  Did that in any way negate the celebration of creation as the original reason for Sabbath observance?  Not at all.  Although we are only but the offspring of God’s original creation of the human species, this is reason enough to submit to the sovereignty of God.  Granted, creation could never be as personal to us as it was for Adam and Eve who came from the very hand of God.  Adam, we’re told even helped in the naming of the animals, which was how he realized his lack without a companion.  Things could have hardly gotten any more personal than that, if indeed it could.  To have been delivered from the Egyptian bondage, or to be delivered from sin, however, gets as personal for us as would the creation experience be for Adam and Eve.  The point not to be missed in both instances however is that in both cases the basis on which God asserts His sovereignty is adequately validated: (1) you are a product of my creation; (2) I redeemed or delivered you.  In Psalm 100: 3 we are challenged to know that the LORD is God, it is He that made us, and not we ourselves, and as such we are HIS people and the sheep of his pasture.  Therefore come into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.   Why?  Because He is our Creator.  The Apostle Paul says that we are bought with a price; and therefore we should glorify God in our bodies and our spirit, which are GOD’s. 1 Cor. 6:20.  And he further says that as such we should not be servants of men (1 Cor. 7:23), implying that our allegiance should instead be toward God our Redeemer.
As our Creator God is our life giver.  But then sin came, and with it death.  Psalm 51: 5 tells us that we were born in sin.  In other words we were born to die, for the reward of sin is death.  The coming of Christ as our substitute who died our death has delivered us from the death sentence of sin. This is not a mere deliverance from death it is a deliverance from the works of sin.  Rom. 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”  In fact in verse 14 we are assured that sin will not have dominion over us.  Praise God for His Grace through which our redemption is assured.
As we accept the invitation of God to walk out of the Egypt of our sinful bondages, we gain that very personal reason to acknowledge the right of the One who is the source of our deliverance to require our worship, in the way He requires it.  So Deuteronomy 5:15 resonates personally with us when it is read in the context of our deliverance from sin.
As we seek to obey God’s command care should be taken that we do not get into a mechanical mode of making the Sabbath a part of our worship experience.  Because much like creation preceded the call to observe the Sabbath in celebration of that experience, so is deliverance a prerequisite to answering the call to worship.  True Sabbath observance as a commemoration of God’s delivering us can only take place when we have been delivered.  Anything short of such an encounter with God would make us vain law keepers (legalists) who are trying to work their way to the Kingdom.   Salvation comes only by faith in Jesus, and not by works of the law.  So there is no salvation that will come from keeping the Sabbath.  Rather we keep the Sabbath because Salvation has come; because we have been redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; delivered from bondage of sin; exonerated from the death sentence into which we were born.
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  We all need a savior.  The Good News is that there is a Saviour!  He has in the flesh achieved the righteousness of the law, which righteousness He wishes to share with all of us.  As we come to Him He imputes His righteousness to us and declares us righteous; He justifies us.  Then He imparts His righteousness to us and makes us righteous; He sanctifies us.  When God is satisfied that sufficient has been done to redeem mankind then the declaration will be made by Jesus: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Rev. 22: 11, 12.  At the glorious second return of Jesus Christ the redeemed ones will all be given new bodies – the corruption will gain incorruption and the mortal shall put on immortality.  Jesus will glorify us. 2 Tim. 2: 10.
How should our worship of God be characterized by the fact that we have been delivered? An instructive observation occurs when we look at how persons who have been delivered from certain negative situations have responded.  Again we look at our object lesson – the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.  In Exodus 15: 1-19 we see Moses’ song that exalts God for the marvelous things He has accomplished for his people.  A true worship of God involves giving testimonies of God’s His divine intervention into our lives and experiences; He is always exalted.  We then see in verse 20 how Miriam chimes in with her timbrel, while drawing a following of women with her, who themselves had their timbrels too, and they danced and sang unto the Lord.  The worship of God is to always be a joyful experience as we celebrate the triumph that God has afforded us over our challenges.
Then there was the crippled man at the gate called Beautiful, whom Peter and John healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  The scripture says that following his healing; his deliverance from the restrictive bondage of paralysis that held him from his birth, he entered with them into the temple, leaping and jumping and praising God.  To experience God’s deliverance is to be propelled into spontaneous praise and worship.  This is how Sabbath should be observed.
As was the case before the fall that Sabbath was instituted to celebrate God’s creative work, so after the restoration, according to Isaiah 66: 23 the Sabbath will be continue to be a part of our worship experience, “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”  This will be the experience of the redeemed.  Considering all of this, wouldn’t it be fitting that as we enter into a saving relationship with Christ that we celebrate this redemption by obeying His call for Sabbath observance?