Emotional Sobriety: Be Sober AND Vigilant


Scripture of the Day
1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Jamia’s Nugget
Emotional sobriety. Sensitivity. Trauma. What’s too much? What’s not enough? How do I deal with it? How do I help others deal with it? How do I teach my children to cope with it?

The importance of maturing to an emotionally sober state is everything to our well-being, and it is a process that we must all journey through. In 1 Peter 5:8, our adversary can come in many forms – trauma, abuse, PTSD, drug abuse, mental illness, or just unfinished business from the past that hasn’t been dealt with and cripples us to productive discernment. In fact, we can all rest assured that “whatever we don’t WORK out, we will ACT out”, and that – friends – is common to us all! However, there are some that have real challenges with adjusting emotionally so that they can make logical and reasonable decisions about life. For that reason, they may find it difficult practicing and applying this command to be “sober-minded”.

First, let me preface this by saying I am no one’s therapist. I am not licensed, and I have no educational background in mental health.  I am simply a mother who has a child that suffers from mental health and is always seeking to understand HOW to parent her in a way that is loving, encouraging, empathetic, and honorable to our Lord and HIS power and ability.  After reading several books about childhood trauma and its neurological, emotional, and social effects on development, I have learned that the emotional part of our brain is multi-layered and lies beneath the logical/reasoning part, which means there is a lot to work through before a person can reasonably respond. When mental illness is involved, there is a delay or stagnation in transforming emotional movement, which is detrimental to the process. Aware of this, learning to act instead of REacting is a day-by-day process that requires love, intention, discipline, and perseverance – for the caregiver as well as the individual. 

Scott Breck, Mental Health Specialist defined mental health as “the commitment to reality at all costs.” Jesus puts it this way in Luke 14:28 – “For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it?” The problem is that all of us tune out at different aspects of the “all costs” part while some can’t handle the emotional commitment to “all costs”. Productive mental health necessarily means a commitment to truth in the way we see ourselves, our relationships, our careers, and more… DESPITE the costs. Many are not willing to sacrifice all and may ultimately find themselves responding like the Rich Young Ruler walking away “grieving and distressed” because it costs too much and the sacrifice was just too great (Matt 19:16-26). Without a commitment to reality at ALL costs,  “dying to self” for the Christian becomes nearly impossible (Luke 9:23). It’s even more difficult for the Christian that has given way to allowing trauma, emotional baggage, or the like sabotage godly discernment. Emotions are needed and have a purpose. They are meant to inform us by compelling us to take action. They were never meant to dictate the way we live our lives. When emotions are not dealt with then they must go somewhere. Ultimately, they will end in places no matter how much one tries to stifle, bury, or ignore them, manifesting in unhealthy responses that may hurt us or those we love. How we choose where is a process.

Q: So how does one get better or how can we encourage someone that has challenges with emotional sobriety?

Because I am speaking from a place of personal experience as a parent and a friend to several that have some of these challenges, trust I am working through this myself through prayer, biblical guidance, and secular resources. If I may make (3) suggestions that the Lord continues to help our family work through as an encouragement to inspire emotional sobriety:

(1) Seek, first, to understand before criticism and judgment.

Trust me, I am still growing in this area! When our brains are not functioning at their best capacity, trauma triggers a fight, flight, or freeze response cementing emotional drunkeness. As a caregiver or person that cares for an individual going through this, many times listening is the BEST response without criticism and judgment. Frequently, medication or other psychological advances can assist in healing so a person can reach the logical/reasonable layer of the brain where the Word of God can then be shared and comfort received. As a caregiver or an encourager, we must be careful of the “spiritual bypass” trap. Remember, the emotional parts of our brains are multi-layered, and overtop lies the logical/reasoning layer, so quoting a Scripture to a person going through an episode may bounce right off them because they are not in a “reasoning” state of mind and not necessarily because he/she is faithless, but because they are not in a state where they have the ability to “reason” through a mindful response. Patience and compassion are key to overcoming episodes and loving them through the process of reaching the top layer. Gaining the expertise of a professional is most impactful.

(2) Encourage the person towards emotional sobriety by promoting emotional and biblical awareness during times of strength.

We are constantly working through this one. The soldier prepares for the battle, and so should we! As we work alongside trained professionals, there are still ways we can assist the process rather than hinder it. Communication is so key to healing. Practicing and enforcing healthy boundaries during times of strength help the individual prepare for times of weakness. Boundaries are in place to keep us and our loved ones safe. The Bible teaches “the things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:27) but what does that look like in practice when you or the person you are encouraging is in a manic situation? God works through His Word definitely, but also through the church, therapists, friends, family, technology, and more! Since “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12), remaining spiritually grounded is of the utmost importance because it’s the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD that has the ability to help one resist and stand firm against these evil forces (Eph 6:13). Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless), restoring and refreshing the soul; The statutes of the Lord are reliable and trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Without God, we are left to our own devices, which can be a potentially dangerous and a fatal place to be.  An intentional conversation that frequently promotes awareness and biblical healing in a loving and encouraging way during times of strength must be consistent. Reflection on those equipping conversations during times of battle gives them and caregivers tools for the battle. Those suffering from emotional insobriety have a distorted view of life through the lens of an emotional firehose! It’s often uncontrolled, irregular, and manic, so reminding them of the tools they have at their disposal (God’s Word, Armor of God) may help gradually while God fights their battles!

(3) Spiritual maturity doesn’t necessarily mean emotional maturity. 

Have you ever met a person that seemed spiritually put together, frequently quoting Scripture, but something about them was a bit off, and you couldn’t really put your finger on what it was? It is very possible for a person to SEEM spiritually mature, yet emotionally damaged where they are not able to respond to certain situations in healthy ways. What do I mean? It all goes back to the way our brains work and how they are wired. If emotions are multi-layered and buried under the one reasoning layer, then there are frequent challenges and delays toward logic and reason. Quoting a scripture during a traumatic episode, for some, has no power if their emotional state has been ignored, hidden, or criticized and responses are irrational, manic, and uncontrolled. Knowing this, helps caregivers step into empathy and compassion rather than criticism and judgment. Jesus said in Matt 9:12-13 “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” What does compassion look like when we are ministering to a mentally unstable episode or emotionally driven situation? How can you motivate them to seek professional help or calm down enough to get to a place of thinking ability? What does empathy look like when I may never understand what a walk in their shoes even looks like? What does love look like when they have reacted in a way that is dangerous and unsettling or even fatal?


Look, I don’t have all the answers. God knows I don’t. But these problems are surfacing more and more in our society and we must learn a better way to work through them with love and understanding (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Bottom line, we need to have a good balance of the Word, love, patience, compassion, and empathy when ministering to others. We won’t always get it right either. But we serve a God that is BIGGER than our mistakes!! May God bless us all in our endeavors as we extend the grace and mercy that has been so lavishly bestowed on us.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13

4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. 13 And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love….

Chasing Failure

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

CHASING FAILURE seems to be the best way to describe the effort necessary for success. We, as a family, completed this 7-day devotional titled “Chasing Failure,” and it was a great reminder of how to emphasize effort over results. As a Christian who believes that the beginning of knowledge begins with a humble submission to the Lord and His teachings, my goal in life as a servant, wife, mother, daughter, friend is to emphasize the “lived experience” and all that comes with that. Sometimes, focusing on the end, spirals into anxiety, stress, and discouragement. It has certainly shifted as I continue to mature. In my youth, certainly before children, the end was how I secured my path. It was spontaneous and, often, unstable. As a homeschool mom, reasonable spontaneity keeps the days exciting and fun, but scheduled academics establishes structure and stability. Now, my time is consistently inventoried, so I can focus and dedicate on specific tasks more succinctly. Proceeding toward goals with a resolute readiness without fear of failure or success is how I grow, learn, and understand the lessons of life. This reality only came to me recently as I constantly labor to be the supportive sports mom to my three kids. Observing their efforts gives me abundant insight with a holistic perspective. Team unity, emotional stability, and sequential reasoning, critical thinking are obvious when they are “all in!” It’s like a beautiful masterpiece that fits together piece by piece resulting in a personal win whether they score the victory or suffer defeat. No matter what, they grow in learning from their mistakes while assessing their strengths and weaknesses, which is a natural manifestation of any undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, my kids play to win, but they also are learning there is also great victory in striving through the struggle to simply execute well. Life’s accomplishments is so much more than a list of accolades and failures. Rather, it is the lived experience that truly gives the young and old, alike, fulfillment and completion.

Demonstrating Responsibility through Accountability in the Homeschool Journey

As a parent of four magnificent children, this is something I wish I would have known when I began our homeschool journey some 10+ years ago. The thought of using accountability to create responsibility may be something we naturally do as parents, but we can have a greater impact with intentional goal-setting in this area. According to the Bible, everyone is accountable to God and some sub-structure here on Earth: children to parents, wives to husbands, employees to employers, students to teachers, etc. Have we ever thought about how accountability can set the parameters for our lives? Accountability builds intention and demonstrates responsibility, and through consistent feedback, we sharpen our responsibility in all said areas.

It’s no different with our children! The hearts of our children need shaping and accountability is the tool that will produce responsibility. The Bible puts it this way,

“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” ~ Prov 4:23

One thing that I love about homeschooling, is the privilege to speak to their hearts consistently through reasoning, life examples, quiet conversations, and more. I am able to speak to their souls when I ask questions about their decision-making and the possibilities for better insights in the future. As God continues to show me both the letter and heart of His ways, I have devised 7 goals for accountability in my homeschool this year.

  1. Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first.
    As a parent, our children watch EVERYTHING we do. If we want to build accountability and responsibility in the hearts of our children, how are we the lead learner in this endeavor? Are we being intentional about the way we are first accountable to the commitment to homeschool in the effort and preparation? For me, it took a few years to figure out my rhythm and what I was willing and not willing to do. I am not an artsy mom, so any curriculum that involved arts and crafts with ubers of supplies and planning was not for me. Once I figured that out, I was no longer in denial about it; but owned it and moved forward with curriculums that suited my strengths as a teacher. Customizing the type of curriculum to my children was a breeze then.
  2. Set goals. (spiritual, emotional, social, and physical).
    About 5 years ago, this was a game-changer for me as a Christian, wife, mom, and educator. When there are not goals in place, there is no vision, and
    “where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Proverbs 29:18
    So now I loosely set goals for each part of the child. I often journal areas that need sharpening so I can look for life opportunities to teach and reflect.
  3. Consistently give feedback.
    Don’t we all do better when we know the areas that need strengthening? I have found that one of our jewels has a real hard time with accepting feedback; but thanks be to God, where I lack, God gives abundant grace (2 Cor 12:9). Now that I am aware, I can take frequent opportunities to gently give feedback.
  4. Create a culture of two-way feedback.
    This has been a pretty new phenomenon in our homeschool. I think I have been of the “old school” philosophy of “do what I say because I said so.” There are few occasions where that still holds true, because children should always respect the authority of their parents (Eph 6:1) but training our kids classically, as they increase in wisdom and wonder, I have found that it is much more valuable for them to respectfully interject ideas, questions, and reasoning into the discussion. This has fostered better practice in critical thinking for them and me. Instead of shutting down questions and supposed disrespect, try using questions to foster conversation, allowing them an opportunity to discover truth, beauty, and respectful communication. It’s a consistent work in progress and intention. Patience and persistence is key for teaching the beauty of logic, the ability to reason well.
  5. Make accountability a habit.
    Accountability can be defined as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. There must be a heart of willingness to accept that responsibility. Our children demonstrate that responsibility through consistent practice. At times they are rewarded, and other times they must accept good for goodness sake. If we take away the consistency, we confuse them and perhaps teach a conditional reward system versus a biblical one that pleases God.
  6. Keep track of your commitments and hold each other accountable.
    One would agree that it is irresponsible to make a commitment and not keep it. This is far different than not accepting a commitment because of too many prior commitments. Time management is an essential element so that teachers and students alike can understand the abilities and constraints. This is a trait that we must execute well as adults, and we see its beginnings reared in childhood. When we are not able to keep our commitments, other obstacles like tardiness and procrastination arise. As parents and lead learners in the homeschool journey, we must model proficient time management, consistently aligning our motives and actions with this verse:

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” ~ Colossians 3:23-24
  7. Use accountability as your structure for life lessons.
    Accountability is everything to our homeschool. God continues to teach me this lesson as I humbly submit to His will and His ways for my life. Our children learn as they humbly submit to my authority as a Christian, mom, and educator. They will forever be accountable to someone, and it’s a truth we must all get used to and accept. Pride has a funny way of showing up when we don’t accept this truth.

    **Bonus: hold others accountable by supporting and encouraging one another
    This is the bonus rule for our homeschool. As mom submits to Christ, the kids submit to mom through Christ, therefore encouraging and supporting one another. The more Bible we all learn and practice, the more our hearts are shaped through action, thought, and deed. It’s a constant sharpening, a fluid grace, and forward-thinking that helps us as teachers and students through this magnificent journey.

    Be encouraged as you lay your victories and worries at His feet and move through knowing for certain,

    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

To God be the Glory

Teach to the WHOLE child

“Do you realize that if you push a child too hard it can do a lot more harm than a poor grade!” ~ Ms. Crump, Opie’s Teacher, Andy Griffith 💖

This quote came up in my memories today. As a homeschool family, I have always known that grades aren’t everything in the scheme of learning. Spiritual health, emotional health, physical health, social health, and academics all have unique characteristics in each of our children. How we balance assessing these areas is equally important.

Interesting reading this nugget from Ms. Crump with the lens of a college sophomore, 8th grader, and two 5th graders. Our diamonds all have different seasons, different needs, and different abilities, yet God requires parents to do the best they can, equipping and training them in all. Defining the how’s, why’s, when’s and what’s of “push” is the key to developing a great relationship with our children in every season. Pray for God’s guidance as we grow in executing these areas without leaving others undone!

Nuggets from Andy Griffith 💖

As we contemplate 🤔 another school year under new “pandemic” 😷 circumstances, let us not forget that our “students” are still children and need a fair balance of academics, play, problem solving, conflict resolutions, and discussion⚠️. Being at home will never replicate a 6-hour day of public school📆; instead, it should be rich with reading📚, writing📝, discussion📢, critical thinking 🤔, and more. Change your thinking 💭 about what learning looks like‼️Homeschool won’t fit into the 6-hour box that most families are used to 🤣. Seize smaller moments of in-depth conversation as your students (big or small) mature right before your eyes. Time waits for no one 🕧, so make the best of those small opportunities 💖. Before you know it, these precious moments add up to a lifetime of love, learning, memories, and growth 🤓💕! The children are learning from us how to persevere or how to give in🤓! Which will we choose to be our legacy? #togodbetheglory#deut6#parentteacher#conversationsbuildmemories