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Sunday, June 17, 2018

What's on your face?!

Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 8:12 PM

“Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.” (Proverbs 27:19 The Message)

Now that is a sobering thought! If I am not at peace with God, myself, and others, my face will reflect my struggle. When I spend time with Jesus, my face reflects Him. When others look at my face what do they see? If I studied your face, what would I see?

If you are sad, I might see liquid pools of pain. In every culture tears are the language of the soul. God placed tear ducts in our eyes because hurt is meant to be shared. When hidden from others, bitterness tends to creep in. Although anger may cover sorrow the face will become lined with hardness.

On the other hand, tears touched by God’s love are mingled with a sweetness that is emitted only from a surrendered heart. For you see, the sweetest perfumes are extracted though tremendous pressure. Myrrh is costly because it takes time for the tree that has been cut to yield its fragrance. Has sorrow softened your heart so that your face reflects Jesus the Man of Sorrows?

Jesus, please transform my heart so that my face bears a strong family likeness of You. Where bitterness has hardened my heart like a rock, please strike it so that water will flow out from my eyes. I am willing for the river of God that brings life to all things to flow through me. I want my expression to be softened by Your comfort. When I am sad or scared, may Your comfort soften my expression. When I am angry, may Your spirit of forgiveness relieve the tightness of holding onto offense. Transform my countenance so that people are drawn to You in me. Amen.

Your Past Doesn't Have to be Your Future

Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

The Pastor's Place

I sat one day thinking back over my life, wondering where did the “I” of me go? Somehow I felt I got buried alive emotionally at a very early age. I wasn’t raised in a physically violent home but the emotional neglect of bonding, the verbal abuse and the brokenness of spirit took a toll on me that caused me to believe a lie that I’ve carried—until now.
     I know my dad loved my mom. I’d see him hug and kiss her cheek and say “I just love this woman” and sweet, endearing words of that nature. I observed my mother’s response every time. I saw her react in hatred, bitterness and disgust. That look, and the body language told me, “I don’t love this man” and “This is how you treat a man; this is how you are to behave; this is you.” It sounds strange but that’s how a lot of us grow up—into the image of our parents. Year after year, we carve out an identity that was never ours to have. We reflect their image and most may not even be aware of it.
     The second Commandant from God says we are not to make a graven image, don’t bow down to it or serve it. This is a serious command, not an option. There are things we worship other than God Himself. We tend to worship statues, external objects, sports heros, etc. But my understanding of this is quite serious in my opinion. A child seeking to find their own identity is very often stripped or even raped internally of their identity under the duress of family settings. Watching the same thing repeatedly for years brands that idea or image in your psyche causing you to identify with the image you created or carved in your mind with the underlying thought, “This is how I’m supposed to be; this is how I should behave.” And there you have carved a graven image, a false image, bowing your identity to it and serving it as “me.”
How you see your life becomes cloudy in the window of your mind. How you see yourself is how you react emotionally to circumstances in the home. The many influences of childhood will determine whether you make for yourself a graven image or the real “you.”
      The Bible shows us plainly in Ephesians 4:22 that we are to “lay aside your former manner of life, the old self, which is corrupted with the lusts of deceit and be renewed in the spirit of your mind which, in the likeness of God, is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” We don’t have to keep living with a false identity that was created with lies. Once you see the truth, it becomes easier to see what lies were told to shape your being. Things like, “Can’t you do anything right?” Or, “Why don’t you ever listen?” “You’re just a no good, do nothing.” These and other accusations deeply harm a child’ self-esteem.
     We can let God recreate us in the truth of who we really are, who He intended us to be before we were ever born, in His holiness and truth. This tells me I don’t have to keep on living with my parents’ attitudes and behaviors that I learned day after day. God wants to tear down the idol I built on a lie. What a freedom comes as we are delivered from evil. We become corrupted inside by lies of what we see daily, constantly. When we give this up to God, asking for forgiveness, He brings His righteousness into the circumstance of our heart and creates a renewed identity because He breaks the power of the lies by telling us the holy truth and we become free.
     Dagon, as pictured here, was a foreign idol that was set up next to the Ark of God. When the people awoke in the morning, Dagon was face-down. The next day they found Dagon broken into pieces, his head and hands were broken off. (1 Samuel 5: 1-7) It takes time to change the dagons of our lives. As a side note, next time you're in Starbucks, look at their icon. Idol worship still exists.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Greatest of All - Love for Self

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 10:48 PM

For many years I lived a life defined by other’s expectations of me. From a very early age I was told I was smart and I spoke well, so instead of engaging in activates that I longed for in my heart like dance and sports I conformed. I read books, participated in plays and basically said and did all the things that were expected of me. It all looked great on the outside and looking back it was not all bad.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I heard the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s song Greatest Love of All that I paused to think, “what if”. Now mind you, it was only a pause – a momentary interruption in the normal ebb and flow of my teenage life. But that brief pause planted the seed of “what if” that allowed me to begin to think a little differently.

Later as a young adult, I can recall sitting in my bedroom miles away from everything familiar on a cold, rainy and just plain dreary day again listening, a little deeper this time, to the lyrics of Greatest Love of All. I was 21-years old and had made the very grown up decision to relocate 1,025.7 miles (15 hours and 21 minutes) awawy from everything I held dear. And again, living a good life but just not fully the life I wanted. This time however, a second song immediately followed. It was Stephanie Mills’ “Home”. Now I know what you’re thinking, “God does not speak through R&B music”. Well, I am here to tell you that on that faithful morning God used the morning DJ on a Milwaukee radio station to play just the right songs at just the right time and in just the right order to get this girl’s attention!

The lyrics that struck a chord in me where:

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity……
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
(Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All)

AND

Maybe there's a chance for me to go back
Now that I have some direction
(Maybe there's a chance I'll get home)
It sure would be nice to be back at home
Where there's love and affection
And just maybe I can convince time to slow up
Givin me enough time, ooh, in my life to grow up
Time be my friend
And let me start again
(Stephanie Mills, Home)

I won’t say that everything changed overnight, and I immediately began to make decisions without giving a second thought to what others believed. I will say that this revelation started me on a journey of self-discovery. One that has had it’s ups and downs and wins and losses, but a journey that I will never regret, because it has led me to discover the fearfully and wonderfully made woman God designed me to be!

What I have learned and strive every day to pass along to those I encounter and engage with, is that living authentically begins with accepting ourselves as we are, flaws and all. It is living a life where our daily actions align with our beliefs and values. It is being true to ourselves and boldly embracing the amazing person that God has designed us to be!

The Hidden Problem of Cops and Alcohol

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 1:02 PM

Cops. You either love or hate them.

We love them when they rescue Miss Kitty from the storm drain, but not so when they write us a ticket for doing 50 in a 35.Whatever your perspective on cops, consider this: cops have significantly higher rates of alcoholism, along with suicide and divorce, than the general public. Which means that along with the power comes a measure of pain.

Alcohol abuse among cops is both serious and widespread. Some studies estimate that between one-quarter to one-third of all police officers in the U.S. have drinking problems. And it's no coincidence that law enforcement is considered one of the top most stressful occupations in the country.

What makes it so stressful? Interestingly, physical danger doesn't top the list. Among the top stressors are: poor supervision too lenient or too tough); no reward system for a job well done; ambiguous policies and procedures; and a public that doesn't truly understand and often views them harshly.

Well, hey, we all have problems, right? Why don't these cops just take up yoga or see a therapist?

Problem is, it's not how they roll.

Police culture is like...John Wayne! Be strong. Don't let 'em see ya sweat. Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness.

You get the idea, pilgrim.

Booze has been part of cop culture since the first NYPD officers began pounding the beat in 1845. In the days before "patrol" meant riding around in a climate controlled SUV, a nip or two of brandy was essential to spending eight hours on foot post on a cold winter's night.

Drinking also was—and still is—the preferred method of dealing with the stress of the job. See, cops don’t generally like to tell their families about the nasty stuff they deal with. They can try to talk to their civilian friends, but frankly if you haven’t ever walked the walk then you’ll never really understand.

Cynicism and distrust of others is very common given the nature of police work. It’s hard to just walk into some strange therapist’s office and begin spilling your guts.

So they drink alone. And when they get together after work. Because sometimes the only person a cop will talk to, is another cop.

As a former EMT and reserve police officer, I'm blessed to serve members of law enforcement as well as other First Responders in my practice, Milestone Group. This work has included helping these men and women identify their inner strengths and the resources--family, friends, faith--that they have. If you're a cop looking for help, or you know someone who is and you live in Monmouth County, NJ, please give me a call. I'll be happy to help. My number's 732.291.1993.

There's also a wonderful hotline, Cop2Cop, manned by retired law enforcement men and women. If you’re on the job and you think you might like to talk to someone who’s been there, done that, here’s their number: 1.866.Cop.2Cop (1.866.267-2267) and website: http://ubhc.umdnj.edu/cop2cop/main.htm

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 @ 11:28 AM

As a young child I enjoyed dressing up in my moms high heeled shoes, jewelry and any piece of fancy clothing that I could get my hands on. It was like being transported to a magical land of make believe. I would spend hours pretending to be a fairy princess or a celebrity! It was great, but at some point, the make believe would end, the clothes, shoes and jewelry would go back in their proper places and I would once again go back to being Crystal. The little girl that lived on West 6th Street.

Even as a teenager and young adult I would spend hours getting lost between the pages of a romance novel. I would spend hours reading about and dreaming about love everlasting, moonlight kisses and magical romances. Again, this was enjoyable, but there would yet again come a time when I had to return to reality and embrace my life for what is was. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but most of all tangible and real!

Today as a wife, mother and mental health clinician I still find myself getting lost from time to time in a great day dream. The key word however is dream and the reality that it is just that a series of thoughts, images and sensations that are occurring in my mind, not in my reality.

So often, however, it is hard for many to accept the everyday realities of life. This leads them to hide behind their titles, careers, money, marital status and so on. Many of us on the outside looking in buy into the mask, engage in the superficial conversation and walk away with the belief that because everything looks good it is good. This is so far from the truth!

With the tragic deaths this week of Fashion Designer, Kate Spade and Celebrity Chef and TV Personality, Anthony Bourdain, it has become all to clear that we must pause as a society and take the time to look behind the façade that so many put forth. We must begin today to ask the uncomfortable questions of those we love and often of those we have chance encounters with.

Questions like:
• How are you doing spiritually?
• How is your marriage really going?
• How are you doing with your finances?
• How are you doing with your purity? In both thought and action.
• How are your private thoughts about yourself?
• What do you need most right now?

We can no longer accept the standard polite “I am good” or “things are fine” responses. If we claim to love someone we must be OK with maintaining eye contact during those few moments of awkward silence that often come when we ask the tough stuff.

We must begin to look past materialism and titles when we feel in our gut that something is just not right. Feelings of hopelessness are real. People are hurting. People are dying because of the stigma associated with Mental Illness. We no longer have the luxury of keeping it safely tucked away in the shadows only to be discussed in secret discreet whispers during family gatherings.

According to a 2016 Center for Disease Control Report, suicide claimed the lives of nearly 45,000 people and was listed as the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States. However, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. In 2016 there were twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19, 362).

When you feel something is not right 9 times out of 10 something is not right. Below are a few warning signs that someone may be having suicidal thoughts:

•Unusual Focus on death – talking openly, dwelling on the topic or researching ways to kill themselves

•Making plans for death – updating their will, giving stuff away, saying goodbye, writing a suicide note

•Becoming withdrawn – avoiding close friends and family, losing interest in activities & social events, becoming isolated

•Showing signs of despair – talking openly about unbearable pain or feeling like a burden to others

•Changes in mood or sleep patterns – depressed, anxious, sad, or angry. They may also be very irritable, moody, or aggressive. They can also suddenly become calm once they have decided to go through with it. They may also sleep a lot more or a lot less

Proverbs 20:5 says “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out”. We must start today to be that man/woman that will take the time draw out what is really going on within a person.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). It’s always open, and you can speak to a trained counselor.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Distractions

Saturday, June 02, 2018 @ 2:17 PM

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

If a sound came from heaven, would you hear it? Sometimes, I wonder if I would! I can get so caught up in distractions that I may not be listening. There is a price to pay for too many distractions, but for me, not hearing God would be the biggest cost.

So why do I allow them? In part, distractions effectively keep me disconnected from feelings of confusion, fear, and uncertainty. Not being in control feels threatening. And I can’t control the sound from heaven; the voice of God. The uncertainty of not knowing when or what He may say can be uncomfortable. The next assignment I am given may be difficult. Sometimes I doubt my ability, or fear the focus and energy it will require.

I think we have trained our minds to run from being in the present moment. It is a symptom of the Distraction Syndrome so prevalent in our culture. Yet God says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Gratefully, I think He understands our fleshly resistance to His command. Perhaps that is why He told the disciples to wait in the Upper Room and pray. They were positioned to hear!

Perhaps, like me, you need to practice not acting on the urge to distract. Just stay with the feelings that arise when you are still. Times of quiet meditation will make hearing the sound from heaven easier. Sometimes God speaks softly. At other times, He sounds like a mighty rushing wind. Either way, rest assured that what He says is coming from Perfect Love. And His love is exactly what we need to meet us in our hearts, to replace the fear that has driven us to distraction.

Lord, we confess that our ceaseless activity is a manifestation of mistrust. Without the knowledge that You are working on our behalf, we do not cease from activity. Please help us to notice when our mind tries to run. We need your grace to develop an ‘Upper Room’ posture that does not give in to the distractions that are around us. Open our eyes to recognize that this is a critical season; we need to put our hearts in a position to hear what Your Spirit is saying. May the Upper Room Transformation be the result.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Five Things You Can Do to Improve Your Relationships Now

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 1:49 PM

When individuals seek counseling their relationships are often directly or indirectly affected by the issues they are facing. Counseling can help by providing an objective point of view and tools to help build communication and understanding between people, but you don't have to wait to make some immediate changes that will begin to improve your relationships now. Here are some tips that can help:


1. Learn to listen non-judgmentally. You cannot force another person to change but many people try to. The more you push the more they resist. You might even be able to compel the other person to change, for you, for someone else, or for a secondary gain (such avoiding a breakup) but the truth is, lasting change will only come from an internal transformation.

The renowned psychologist Carl Rogers founder of the "person centered approach" to understanding personality, proposed that all individuals have a concept of the person they should be, what he called the “ideal self”. Given the right environment they will grow toward that “ideal self”. In the wrong environment, that "ideal" is something that they see as continually out of reach.

When a individual doesn't feel valued by others they tend to devalue themselves as well. They can become defensive and resistant to change. That does not suggest that they need others to approve of their behavior, but rather that others listen and try to understand their perspective.

Rogers believed that most people know what they need to change, but the truth often hurts, which is why they tend to push back when pressured. When someone feels valued as a person they are more likely to accept the possibility of change without being pressured.


2. Don’t spend the time another person is speaking formulating your response: Just try listening. If you’re thinking of what you’re going to say next, you’re not really listening. Sometimes, especially during a heated conversation, there is a tendency to ignore what others are saying and focus on why they are saying it, even going after their motivation (“why are you bringing this up now?).

Reacting this way is essentially ignoring the message and attacking the messenger. Thus, healthy communication ends and a conversation becomes a battle of words, with each party defending themselves and attacking the other. At this point the whole point of the conversation may be lost. “What were we talking about actually?”

Show that you are listening by “reflecting”, restating what the other person said in your own words: “What you are saying then is that you feel unappreciated?”.


3. Not every statement requires a response. Don’t “one up” others with your similar or more terrible experience. Learn to be comfortable with silence. Silence gives power to a person’s words. It can encourage the other person to continue talking or go deeper. It can also give power to hurtful words when they are directed toward you. Silence can be more effective at demonstrating that word hurt than than a verbal retort that hits back.


4. Speak using “I” statements. Statements prefaced by "You" tend to be confrontational and critical. For example, “You don't care about me” is more confrontational than “It feels to me as if you don't care". The first assumes the other person is uncaring. The second is a personal statement. There is a difference. You statements tend to be attacks and cause defensiveness. I statements are more effective at keeping communication open and resolving issues.


5. Share power. This doesn’t require much explanation. A healthy relationship involves sharing power. People who continually demand their way usually end up in frequent unsuccessful relationships.

What do your boundaries convey to those around you? {Part 1 - Physical Boundaries}

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others." - Brene Brown

What do your boundaries convey to those around you? {Part 1}Boundaries have been coming up a lot in sessions these past few weeks, so I felt they were a relevant topic to discuss. I will focus this email on physical boundaries and the next email on emotional boundaries.

I encourage you to take a look at your own boundaries while reading through this and identify where you can build them up. I will guide you through the process of identifying what your boundaries look like, how they make you feel, and how you can strengthen them.

What ARE boundaries anyway?
Many people have not been introduced to the idea of boundaries or what they look like. Boundaries are established by you, based on what helps you feel comfortable and safe with another person in which you are in relationship with. They are totally subjective to each individual person.

What purpose do boundaries serve?
Boundaries are important for all relationships - not just romantic relationships (which many people think of when you mention boundaries). They allow you to acknowledge what you feel and provide safety in relationships.

How do I know what I need?
Most people actually allow more than they are comfortable with, but don't take the time to be mindful of themselves in a safe situation to figure out what their boundary would ACTUALLY look like. Instead they trudge through life being triggered, feeling anxious, and often not being able to enjoy the relationships in their life. What do I mean by this? Well, when I help my clients establish their boundaries, I first ask them to establish a physical boundary - whether this be with items in the room or through a line that they draw on the ground. After they establish their boundary, I ask them to notice their body and see if this physical boundary indeed feels safe for them (our body is our best resource, and often provides great biofeedback). Often times it is discovered that the client in fact ISN'T comfortable with this physical boundary and there is a deeper emotional reason for this.

Whether this be that they are afraid of taking up too much space, so they tend to make their boundary smaller than they are comfortable with.

They never knew that they were allowed to set a boundary or didn't know what that looked like and therefore were experiencing major anxiety whenever someone would come closer than desired.

Maybe they thought that they were setting boundaries by not welcoming the person and being somewhat off-ish, but the person moved toward them anyway.

However, until they took the time to be aware of themselves and establish that their boundaries were often being crossed, they would not have had the opportunity to identify what had been causing the discomfort and anxiety that often occurred in social situations. This exercise empowered each of my clients to recognize that:

1. They have the right to set boundaries with others in their life.
2. This gets to look however they need it to look.
3. Having boundaries is healthy, and they had clarity around why so many situations in their life felt uncomfortable.

They were no longer in the dark and had answers to questions that were lingering, and this was so relieving.

How do I set boundaries?
If through reading this, you wonder if your boundaries need further building and strengthening, I would love to help you do this. However, I don't want you to do it all at once. I will send 2 follow up emails this week to encourage you through this process.

The Importance of Emotional Boundaries

Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 12:24 PM

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. - Brene Brown

A few days ago, we talked about physical boundaries and the importance of taking the time to be aware of what your body is telling you about the physical boundaries that you have set. Today, I want to focus on emotional boundaries.

What are Emotional Boundaries?
One of my favorite sayings is, "you teach people how to treat you". Many people respond to this with, "I can't control how others treat me". You are right, you cannot control others, however, you can control how you respond to the way that others treat you.

Emotional boundaries focus on two things:

1. They focus on what you are willing to accept from another person's behavior.

2. They focus on only taking responsibility for your feelings and emotions and not the other person's emotions. Emotional boundaries can get sticky when we start to take on other's emotions. What do I mean by this?

Do you have relationships in which the other person has no regard for how their comments will affect you? I want to take a moment to empower and encourage you that YOU HAVE A CHOICE! You can choose to stand there and let them treat you that way, to let them call you names, to let them yell at you, but you do not have to. You can demand higher respect for yourself.

Do you have a boundary in place to protect you and your emotions? What does it look like?

Are there things in your relationships that are destructive to you?

A lack of emotional boundaries are:
1. Not being able to say no to someone and sacrificing your own emotions.
2. You are giving, giving, giving, and not receiving anything in return from the relationship.
3. You are being abused - the other person gets to do and say whatever they want and you allow it.
4. You feel emotionally exhausted after engaging in conversation or time with this person.

Do any of these feel relevant in your life?

"Lack of boundaries invites lack of respect." ― Anonymous

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart

Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

My wife had a toothache that developed into unbearable pain the day before the recent holiday. Her dentist’s office was closed for an extended time and she decided to make an appointment with another dentist who handles emergency situations. The x-rays from the visit revealed a likelihood of an infection that was treated with a medicine. Thankfully not a root canal needed, but the pain drove her to seek relief even though the timing was not good.

Emotional pain can be similar to a physical pain in many ways. Disappointment, worry, anxiety, depression, or feelings like abandonment, shame, fear, powerlessness, damaged, invalidation, and hopelessness are common and come in varying degrees for different people. The pain can be intense. It pops up unexpectedly. It can pop up with bad timing. If you try to ignore it, it will only get worse. Sometimes the source is hard to identify. The only lasting solution is not a quick fix, but takes time to heal. For true healing to occur, the root cause must be identified and dealt with properly.

Root causes of emotional pain are often not easy to determine. It may take the help of a “soul doctor” (counselor) to get better. The root cause of emotional pain almost always involves some sort of offense. At the very least, it takes the form of a perceived threat to a person’s comfort, pleasure, or power. At worst, an offense is a gross injustice or disregard for truth. In my experience as a counselor, I have found that when a person is willing to do the hard work of identifying and rooting out offense, it transforms their inner life for lasting results. In the previous few articles I have written a lot about offense, but this article deals with the best solution; that is forgiveness.

The things I learned about forgiveness during the 3 year research project to culminate my seminary degree, changed my life forever. I still consider myself a learner on the topic. One only learns about forgiveness if he practices forgiveness. Since offense creates the need for forgiveness, and since offense is part of an inescapable human condition, the only way to learn about forgiveness is to practice it. How does one practice forgiveness? As an answer to this question I authored the book called Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart.

Below is an overview of the book. The goal is to help people in three aspects of life: understanding what true forgiveness is (and isn’t), applying this understanding to inner life change, and applying it to relationships with people. I divided the content into three sections of three chapters each.

The first section, Part One, is called Foundations. The chapters in Part One are called The Cycle of Offense, Misunderstandings, and Divinely Initiated (the basic theology of forgiveness with many biblical references).

Part Two of the book is called Transformational Healing: Between God and Man. This section is the heart of the matter, distinguishing forgiveness from reconciliation. The simplest definition I have discovered for forgiveness is “surrendering to God the right to judge.” Forgiveness is a matter of getting your heart in the right place before God, and nothing (or at least very little) to do with how the offender responds (or doesn’t respond). The three chapters of Part Two are called Receiving God’s Gift, Surrendering to God, and Trusting God for Change.

Part Three, applying forgiveness to relationships, is called Conflict Resolution: Between God, Man, and Fellowman. Whereas forgiveness is for the offended person restoring right relationship with God, reconcilation adds the offender to the mix. The Bible is clear about the necessity for brothers and sisters in Christ to relate to one another in love, peace, and harmony as much as possible. When God’s Gift of forgiveness is truly received in our hearts, we are genuinely prepared for the reconciliation to be pursued. Reconciliation requires two hearts surrendered to a higher judgment, not just one. In some cases complete reconciliation is not possible (eg. Death, imprisonment, lack of safety), but again, the freedom of forgiveness (escape from the pain of offense) is still possible. The three chapters in Part Three are called Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Reconciliation in Relationships, and Conclusions. I refer to marriage, church, and community relationships for practical application.

At the end of each of the three sections I include a few pages of material to encourage looking into more detail on the topic. These sections are called Follow-up and Practice. I include End Notes that correspond to numbered references throughout the text. These references are included in an eight page Bibliography at the end of the book. These are great resources for further study of the topic. At the end of the book, I also include a Study Guide. This study guide presents questions for further exploration and deeper reflection. The questions can be used for self study or group study.

Finally, the book includes three Appendices. Appendix A includes a number additional resources (sample prayers included) that have been meaningful in my own journey and have helped others in our counseling ministry. Appendix B is about my personal healing journey including forgiveness. Appendix C is the content of a pamphlet entitled Overcoming an Abortion that has been distributed by the thousands and helped many find Christ Jesus as a Refuge for their pain. It highlights the truth of Jesus being our pain bearer and our escape for the debt of our offenses and payment for the debt of offenses against us. No matter how much guilt or shame we carry, Jesus is our Refuge, and best solution to the pain.

You may have heard of the three typical responses to emotional pain; flight, fight, or freeze. Escaping the Pain of Offense is not a book about escaping in the sense of a flight (nor fight, nor freeze) response to pain. The above details about the book show that substance and sufficient effort is necessary to become a victor and not a victim. The book is different from other books on the topic of forgiveness in that it emphasizes the inner life transformational growth journey. Personal growth occurs by embracing forgiveness as an ongoing process of changing our inner person.

Forgivenss does not solve all the problems a person may have, but it prepares the heart for answers to be implemented. I recommend John C. Maxwell’s book called The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Maxwell’s book contains a chapter called “The Law of Pain.” He shares how to turn pain into a growth experience. Maxwell elaborates on 5 specific ways to grow through struggle. I would add (perhaps as a per-requisite) “Seek Corrective Understanding and Consistent Practice of Forgiveness” to his list below.

You grow best when you::

1. Choose a Positive Life Stance

2. Embrace and Develop Your Creativity

3. Embrace the Value of Bad Experiences

4. Make Good Changes after Learning from Bad Experiences

5. Take Responsibility for Your Life

Maxwell’s book will help you with many aspects of personal growth. But all the growth expertise in the world will not help a heart that is unwilling (or lacks the emotional capacity) to change. And it’s not all or nothing. Any part of your heart that resists positive change will hold back the entire growth process. The human heart changes bit by bit, incident by incident, offense by offense, forgiven offender by forgiven offender, etc. For the Christian, fully surrendering judgments to God is the path to growth. A mere decision does not qualify as full surrender. Thoughts and beliefs must be accompanied by surrender of the soul (mind, will, and emotions). Growth is only as current as the last time you allowed God to take his rightful place as Judge in life circumstances.

Is there an area of your life in which you know growth needs to happen? Maxwell’s book is filled with very insightful practical application to help. But is there a part of your heart that feels pain, stress, or negative feelings mentioned at the beginning? I wrote the book Escaping the Pain of Ofense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart to help people find freedom through forgiveness. The book has helped many people already. For those who think their level of understanding and practice of forgiveness is adequate, I encourage you to rethink whether your beliefs are holding you back from God’s best for your life. I am not saying this to sell more books. I am sold on the idea that greater measures of truth about forgiveness are essential for positive change. My book is available online or by contacting me. I am so convinced of the message that if you cannot afford to buy a copy, I will make it available at cost. Write me and remind me of this offer. Check out more about the book at http://book.bluerockbnb.com .

Also write me with your feedback or requests for more input on the topic. May this not only be the beginning of a successful New Year, but also a new beginning for a brighter future of real, healthy, and new growth in your life!

This article is published at:
http://authoredhersh.blogspot.com/2018/01/escaping-pain-of-offense.html

More on simpliar topics is on the blog site.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The LGBTQ Need Stronger Family Support

Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:38 AM

Sitting on the couch, you are stunned. The news isn't exactly surprising, but your heart doesn't know that. Fear, nervousness, the concern over how someone in your Sunday School will react... all these emotions and thoughts flood your mind. Then you think, will I ever see grandkids? Who can I talk to about what to do about all this?

For many families, revealing issues with an LGBTQ family member can stress their support networks and challenge beliefs. Things that used to be outside the family or theory get up close and personal. For a christian family, situations like this can challenge their religious beliefs, and cause conflict within the family and in figuring out how to put feet to their beliefs. Finding support at church can be challenging or at least uncertain in how the family will be supported or not. What happens when struggling families don't find the support they need?

LGBTQ children comprise 46% of the homeless population*. The Durso/Gates study published in 2012 showed that service providers for these homeless children indicated 7 in 10 clients had experienced rejection by their family and 54% experienced abuse in their family. The National Alliance on Mental Health states “LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than straight people. Between 38-65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation.”** Regardless of worldview, these children are important to our families and to our communities at large. And our society watches us to see how we care for our children. Strengthening and maintaining connections within the family provide these children with the protection, guidance and support they need.

I understand these issues in a very intimate way. My father was a pastor in a denomination that moved to ordaining openly gay pastors. He left gracefully not wanting to cause division or conflict. He lost a lot, personally and professionally for his personal beliefs. A few years later, my brother came out as being in a longterm gay relationship. Throughout the next few years, my family worked to maintain our relationships while still openly communicating about our beliefs. This process was not easy but boy is it worth it! My brother and his husband come to family gatherings, have joined a church, and he continued to see a relationship with Christ as possible and positive. He even shares his faith with their children. He has always been one of my favorite people.

Sharing my story and feelings about maintaining a relationship with a family member whose beliefs are not mine feels powerful. Helping other Christians to maintain these critical relationships by sharing the comfort I've received is a calling I can't ignore.

If you would like to learn more, go to our website. The group is for anyone over 18 who is looking for support in a situation like this. We will talk about our struggles openly and share stories that will help give you hope. And we will relate to the intense feelings you may be having about this topic. Meetings will start when 3 members join.


*Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. LosAngeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund.
**https://www.nami.org/find-support/lgbtq

Monday, April 09, 2018

Standing Upright After The Storm

Monday, April 09, 2018 @ 5:35 AM

For many people, extraordinary hardships, difficult relationships or traumatic childhood sorrows have felt as if hurricane force winds have battered and bent them into a deep weariness. Often, there are those who rudely condemn or dismiss the pain that others might be either going through or are working their way out of. NOTE: Their day of sorrow will come and perhaps they will have pause to reconsider their cruelty of words.

Storms test not only our "staying power" but also the depth of our friendships and family relationships. Oh how hard the heart can quickly become when we see others in a season of “weary bent down struggle”!
However, Pain that is hidden, is still pain! The anguish of traumatic past events can filter and twist our perceptions about life, the Love of God, and our most intimate of relationships.

God created your heart, and when it’s weary, there is inevitable devastating pain.
If that pain is not dealt with, serious consequences can occur emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Heartbreak is very real, and it’s very serious.

If you’re in a season of refining or harsh storms, “lean” in. Trust the loving shelter of your precious Savior’s hand and know that He will lead you to the other side of the raging storm. Refuse a sense of entitlement and don’t demand to be understood! ( For instance-“I have a right to be less than I can normally be! I’m WEEEEEEARY!”)

Instead, intentionally humble yourself and look, discern, so you can understand what the Lord is doing around and in you.

He will faithfully lead you and...
...you will be strengthened as you go.
On the other side of this refining time is a fresh perspective and new mercies.

You WILL stand upright again, and you’ll be all the wiser about life and how to navigate storms...
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and at the EXACT right time, you will be lifted up, stood upright again, and will be honored (and vindicated) before a watching world.

Here’s my question for you:
Do you have a sense of how God is using your current circumstances to prepare you for a great calling? 

Jesus himself, spoke these words to us addressing the core issue.
"Everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me, will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me.
For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous,
for I have conquered the world!”
John 16:33

Monday, March 05, 2018

What is Truth?

Monday, March 05, 2018 @ 7:57 PM

The Pastor's Place

Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"

Truth can be anything you believe to be true--even if is a lie. The longer you are told a lie about the same thing continually, it eventually becomes a truth to you.

Psalms 24: 3,4 asks, "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully."

Believing a lie to be the truth is lifting up your soul to what is false. People swear to the truth; in the courtroom, your right hand is laid on the Bible and you are made to swear to tell the truth. Suppose as a child, you were called a name over and over, i.e. stupid or ugly or no good--either in words or actions--how your parents treated you in relation to being stupid or lazy or any other negative word. The child starts to believe they are stupid or worthless or unloved and eventually those things become a truth they live by through life. That child has lifted his soul to what is false and was deceived by a lie. Just like Adam and Eve.

Jesus always told the truth. He told us, "I tell you the truth" many times in His teachings. His truths are different from ours and makes it difficult at times to relinquish our lies that we believe are real. So, what is truth and what are lies and why are we so reluctant to face the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Jesus also told us, "I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life; no man comes to the Father except through Me."

Truth in a lot of cases is hard to face but in knowing the truth, feeling the pain of it, releases us from its influence and we are truly free.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Its Important and Necessary to Grieve

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

Nothing in life can prepare us for the death of a loved one, especially when it’s child who has delighted its parents and relatives. This past year, a dear friend (she's fine with me writing about this- though with no mentioning of names) suffered the immense and traumatic loss of her 10 month old child to the quick onset of pneumonia. It shocked their family into an emotional vertigo and everything spun out of control.

So many friends went to their knees in prayer and cried out to God for this child. But in the last few days of her sweet life, her little lungs couldn't take the stress. Suddenly... she was gone.

Ecclesiastes 3:2,4 describes that "there is a season for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance."

Whether death results from a sudden accident or an extended illness, it always catches me off-guard. Death is so deeply personal and so stunningly final. I find that nothing can emotionally prepare me for its arrival. Oh my yes, I'm stunned, but mostly heartsick for my dear friend. And the baby.... oh how soft and beautiful she was! How can she be now gone?

With every death, there is a loss. And with every loss, there will be a deep and profound grief. Talking about that loss and anguish and rage is so very necessary. It cleanses the emotional buildup of sorrow and shock, leading the way to the very personal understanding of how fragile and temporary life is for us.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “grief” as a, deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. It originates from the Latin word “grevis” or “gravis” meaning "heavy".

So, grief could be described as a heavy, devastating injustice or trauma to our souls.

Grief doesn’t come and go in an organized, specific passing of time. Just when I think the pangs of anguish have gasped their last breath, another wave sweeps in and I am forced to revisit the memories, the pain, the absolute.

Sometimes I do everything I possibly can to resist the demands of grieving. I want to avoid this fierce, yet reverent journey. I fight against the waves of anguish, terrified of being overwhelmed, of being discovered, of becoming lost in my brokenness. (Yes... this is pretty transparent writing folks!)

When a traumatic loss happens we can feel disconnected from everything around us. Our thoughts scatter like the wind, with very little to hold them down. Our "emotional skin" feels intensely fragile to the touch.

Our culture tells us to move past this grieving process quickly. “Hurry up!! Life and death happen! Take a few days, weeks perhaps, to grieve, but for goodness sake, don’t stay there too long!”

Grieving can make those around us extremely uncomfortable. Friends sometimes don’t know what to do with our pain. Loved ones struggle to find the right words to comfort our aching wounds.

Yet grief, as painful a season as it is, is a necessary part of our healing. To run from grief is to run from the very thing that can calm the pain of our aching soul. Grieving is the process God uses to bring us to a place of wholeness. Grieving is His great gift to us. It is a necessary part of our journey. Healing.

The hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" is one I've been deeply strengthened by many times in my life when loss or sorrow threatened to take me under. I've been humming it the past week as I grieve for and with my dear friend. I want to fix this...change it!... go back in time and reverse the way this trauma played out!
I can't.
Oh Lord.... help.

As I finish my cathartic writing here, I'll share where the hymn I mentioned was "birthed" from.
Take time to read this information and then the words of the hymn will mean so much more to you. They sure do speak to me right now.

The hymn was written after several consecutive traumatic events in Horatio Spafford's life.
The first was the death of his son at the age of 2 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire).
His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire.
While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

"It Is Well With My Soul"©

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot,
thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Tips for Talking to Kids After a Traumatic Event

Friday, January 26, 2018 @ 2:32 PM

God’s word is full of sorrow, suffering and —hope. God is always in control even when we may not understand what has happened or why. God cares and he promises he will turn our suffering into glory.That said: Parents absolutely must take care of themselves so they are able to give their kids what they need. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Children (and parents) keep in mind that it may take a long time to mentally and emotionally to recover from the trauma (s) your community has experienced, and everyone needs to be able to express and cope with their stress in different, non-destructive ways.

A Guide for Parents

  • Provide Kids and young adults with opportunities to talk about what they are seeing on television and to ask questions.
  • Do not be afraid to admit that you cannot answer all of their questions.
  • Answer questions at a level your child can understand.
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for your kids to talk. They probably will have more questions as time goes on.
  • Use this as an opportunity to establish a family emergency plan. Feeling that there is something you can do may be very comforting to both Kids and adults.
  • Allow your kids to discuss other fears and concerns about unrelated issues. This is a good opportunity to explore these issues also.
  • Monitor your kids's television watching. Some parents may wish to limit their child's exposure to graphic or troubling scenes. To the extent possible, be present when your child is watching news coverage of the event. It is at these times that questions might arise.
  • Help Kids understand that there are no bad emotions and that a wide range of reactions is normal. Encourage Kids to express their feelings to adults (including teachers and parents) who can help them understand their sometimes strong and troubling emotions.
  • Be careful not to scapegoat or generalize about any particular cultural or ethnic group. Try not to focus on blame.
  • In addition to the tragic things they see, help kids identify good things, such as heroic actions, families who unite and share support, and the assistance offered by people throughout the community.
  • Pray for your kids, and your community together. 

Additional resource: Talking to Children about Disasters https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Pages/Talking-to-Children-about-Disasters.aspx

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Painful Sting Of Harsh Words

Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 4:01 AM

I have been thinking a lot this week about arrogance and those “finger pointing” individuals who enjoy belittling others and just love to be plain old “snarky”. There is a such a harsh “sting to the heart” when the cruel words of someone else intentionally does a “verbal slap down” or shames you. Usually it occurs when THEY believe that THEY are absolutely right or have "superior" knowledge, and that others are the "lesser" and are the wrong- big-"dummies".

This mean and sour arrogance which uses power to belittle or harm others is something that crushes and cripples hearts and dreams.

As a believer, our faith should not be arrogant —nor should a person of faith belittle others! We should never use our faith to pretend that we are superior or more informed than others! NO! NEVER! Belittling is a form of bullying! It’s when someone makes you feel as though you are little, minuscule, not good enough.

Arrogance is the opposite of humility, and humility is supposed to be a Christian virtue. Jesus Christ who, in coming into the world and living and dying alongside of us, lived out what humility is.

You will never reach the place of honor or full use by the Heavenly Father, (and can actually be disqualified from many opportunities) until your insecurities and need to needle, belittle, compete with, or shame others is addressed, repented of
- and buried!

Those who have the sickness of pride in their hearts speak of others’ sins with contempt, irritation, frustration, or judgment. Pride is crouching inside of our meanness and belittling of the struggles of others. It’s cowering in our jokes about the ‘craziness’ of our spouse, the mocking of that ‘too sensitive friend’. It may even be lurking in the prayers we throw upward for our friends that are — subtly or not — tinted with the color of exasperated irritation.

Sometimes, we use sarcasm to voice harsh words we otherwise would not say, often intentionally hurting others. Once the pain is inflicted, however, we retreat, saying, "Oh, I was just kidding." But the sting of our words hurts so much that those we have injured withdraw. Our words don't feel like jokes at all.
Jesus' words should be a warning to those of us who are tempted to use sarcasm as a weapon: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken" (Matthew 12:36).

Sarcastic remarks usually seem like “no big deal” to the person who makes them. But to the recipient, those words make lasting impressions that scar to the very core of the heart.
Many times, sarcasm shames a person, causing them to feel belittled and unworthy. When shame takes root in the heart, it can cause disastrous behavior, because the person now feels worthless and seeks desperately to find anything that will make them feel otherwise. Shaming others is a serious offense with serious consequences. Jesus said, "By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:37).

Are your words kind and constructive? Do they desire to seek peace and unity, or are they driven by your fleshy desire to sting, aggravate, retaliate, tease, belittle, control, alienate, shame, and manipulate through sarcasm? YEAH... alllll of those HURT PEOPLE!

The enemy is camping out at the gate of your every relationship. Children, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents,co-laborers and more. He is lurking around every corner, seeking to find that one open crevice where he can enter. If he has been entering in and camping out in your home or relationships through the use of sarcasm, it is time to boot this verbal enemy out and lock the gate behind him.

Die to your need to be snarky and always the one with a chirpy sarcastic comeback! Allow Christ to show you His ways that love, peace, and compassion can be the source of every word that proceeds from your mouth.

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourself then! Bow low under God’s mighty hand, that he may use you to the fullest at the proper time.
1 Peter 5:56

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Three Little Known Ways to Make Resolutions Stick

Sunday, December 31, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Do people really expect New Years Resolutions to stick anymore?  Most of us probably have given up on the whole idea because it has fizzled so many times in the past.  Do you think that real change is just too difficult to attempt?

Maybe the reason most resolutions fail is because we have been given wrong information on how change happens.

Coaching people for 15 years, I have seen these tips actually helped my clients keep their resolutions.

These are surprising, because they are counter intuitive.  They can also be applied to any changes you would like to make.

1.)  COMMIT TO A DIRECTION AND NOT A SPECIFIC THING.

Most advice tells you to be very specific and detailed writing your resolutions. The reason for a direction is that unless you are clairvoyant, you don’t actually have any idea whats going to happen in the future.

Try this experiment:

Think of a time you expected your future to look exactly like ______________? Go ahead and fill in the blank. So I ask you, “Did it turn out like you pictured it?”

So with a direction you allow for the creative wisdom of the universe to bring you amazing, wonderful events, people and situations that you could not even imagine in your wildest dreams.

 

2). CREATE YOUR EMOTIONAL STATE BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING.

 Create your emotional state before you do anything. I am a firm believer in the principles of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). One of the main concepts of NLP is that “Everything comes from state” (feeling  states). What that means is that whatever state you are in determines how you are going to do whatever you do.

This means that if you get yourself in a state of abundance and gratitude for your abundance(whatever that is at the moment) you will pull situations to you that contain all kinds of abundance, when you least expect it.

We all have so many blessings and focusing on them will bring more of the same.

More recent research in the field of science, especially epigenetics has validated further how important our emotional states are on our health and behavior.

We now know from the  new field of epigenetics  that our feeling states actually influence how our cells behave.  Dr Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist who taught at  the University of Michigan Medical School  and conducted pioneering studies with stem cells  at Stanford University wrote  The Biology of Belief.   In this book and in his videos in he explains the science of Epigenetics.  Epigenetics  explains how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs  and our very environment control our biology. This  affects  both our emotional and physical well being.

Dr Lipton explains epigenetics in this 4 minute video.

Because your state is so vitally important to your level of manifestation and success and happiness I suggest to my coaching clients that they spend the first 6 minutes that they are awake doing specific things to get themselves in a resourceful state. ( This is the most powerful time of the day because the veil between the conscious and unconscious mind is very thin at this time).

And you may be wondering how anything significant can happen that fast. Believe me if you know how to do it, it does happen that fast.

And don’t take my word for it- try it yourself. I promise you that if you commit to doing this for 2 weeks, with the understanding that you will evaluate it in 2 weeks to see whether you want to keep it or not, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new things that come into your life.

The best part of doing this is that it brings surprising things into your life. This gives you a new sense of vitality! Try it and you’ll see…

3) TAP DAILY TO CREATE YOUR MOST RESOURCEFUL EMOTIONAL STATE AND REMOVE FEAR.

As you have probably surmised by now, I believe in the law of attraction. So my last tip is to tap every time you are overcome with the harmful emotions of fear, shame, humiliation, anger, worry and resentment.

These feelings will just bring you more of the same unwanted emotions so lets get rid of them as soon aw we are aware of them.

There’s a process to tap which releases emotions that are unwanted . The process is called EFT tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques.

I teach this to all my clients because it is so helpful. And I use it myself every day.

In the EFT community we call it creating good feelings for no reason, because there are always good feelings lying just underneath these painful ones. Most people don’t realize that or they would tap more often!

If you would like to know more about this, contact me on this page of my website: https://www.susanquinn.net/free-coaching-session/

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Six Tips on Staying Healthy through the Holidays: A Wholistic Approach

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 @ 1:58 PM

For many of us, staying healthy through the holidays may be challenging. There may be extra stress of many types, and more temptation to eat unhealthy foods and to over-eat. What can we do?

Here's some suggestions:

1. Get plenty of fluids, especially pure water: at least 40 oz/day. Consider keeping a thermos of healthy soup with you.
2. Get plenty of rest.
3. For those with difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep: daily healthy eating, stress management including moderate exercise such as          walking, and prayer will reduce problems with these. Reading Psalms and Proverbs in the Bible, will provide guidance.
4. Some suggestions for dealing with stress:
          make a list of all the things that feel like stressors and how you feel about each one, share your feelings with the Lord in prayer.
          Make a list of at least 3 things you are thankful for each day.
          Consider joining a small group at church.
          If you have a Christian counselor reach out to them as needed.
5. Healthiest foods: most vegetables, especially natural sweet potatoes or yams. Most fruits, especially berries, cranberries. At least 60-90        grams of protein/day. Start with a 20-30 gram breakfast smoothie.
6. The Dr. Oz show website has suggestions including a Holiday Breakfast Smoothie and suggestions for eating before going to the holiday        gathering.

 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Desperate People Don't Look Pretty, but This is Who Jesus Came For

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 8:23 AM

Admitting that you’re desperate out loud (and honestly)... often means that you risk ridicule from onlookers who may thrive on others who are in pain. But, don’t worry, those individuals will eventually be in a place where life hits them head on as well, and desperation will shock them! As a Christian, to be desperate for Jesus to help us, means that we humbly have to face our brokenness.
To see and admit our need for healing.
We would have to admit we are in need.
That we got off course.
That we are hanging on the edge of a rocky place and we are getting scared and weary of the exhaustion.
And friends, we are all at one time or another , all of these things!

We do need Jesus!
Of course we will be reminded, all too regularly by others who are masking pain and doubt, that "desperation isn't attractive".
DESPERATE PEOPLE DON’T LOOK PRETTY. But this is who Jesus came for. He came for those who could admit that they can't do life well on their own and for those who are empty and want the sanity that Jesus offers.

We must let go of our ugliness and be willing to run to Jesus! It doesn't come easy either! Accepting the fact that we have bought the lies others have spoken over us, is not easy! “I spread out my hands to you O God! My soul thirsts for you like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6).

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE WHEN GOD CALLS YOUR NAME?
Can you hear the tone, the gentle kindness which he uses when He says your name?

Do you know what it feels like? Do you feel the softness of heaven’s breath coming near your very soul? Do you feel the warmth of it all?

AS HE CALLS EACH OF OUR NAMES, HE MAY SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
Sometimes, many times - as a matter of fact, He reminds me, "Let go of the past. There is nothing there for you. Go forward. Don't pause in the road I’ve laid before you and don't look back for one moment!”

Dear Reader,
Close your eyes today and “hear” His voice as He speaks softly. Listen with your heart. Close out all of the sounds. The ticking away of time, the screaming laundry or dishes, the buzz of your phone demanding that you respond, and especially shut down your own voice that tries to convince you that you are absolutely hopeless or are too broken.

Climb up under a shaded spot - under His shadow, right at His feet and soak in His presence on purpose. Not by accident.

LOOK AT HIM FACE TO FACE ON PURPOSE TODAY AND HE WILL MEET YOU THERE.
Listen to what He tells us in His word - at this very moment.

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy One, your Savior.

I paid a huge price for you:
That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back. I'd trade the creation just for you.”
-Isaiah 43:1-3

Monday, November 06, 2017

Understanding and Taking the Enneagram Personality Test

Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 6:15 PM

Laura Novak

In my work as a therapist, I enjoy using various assessments and personality tests that can aid clients in their journey toward self-awareness and personal growth. The Enneagram is a personal favorite of mine and can be a great tool to help you delve into a deep understanding of yourself. The enneagram helps us understand our compulsive, unconscious drives. Anyone that wonders, “why do I keep doing the same thing over and over again,” and all of us wonder that time to time, could benefit from the wisdom of the enneagram.

The Enneagram takes into account how various unconscious messages heard during childhood may affect your personality. In our childhood, we begin to develop our way of relating to the world, based on what our experiences were as well as our own natural temperament. Then patterns develop, and sometimes certain patterns don’t work for us. The Enneagram also helps us further understand our strengths and weaknesses.

There are nine different personality types, and with each type, there is an explanation of how that type functions at a healthy level, and average level, and an unhealthy level.

The nine types are as follows:

  1. The Perfectionist (the rational, idealistic type)
  2. The Helper (the caring, interpersonal type)
  3. The Achiever (the success oriented, pragmatic type)
  4. The Individualist (the sensitive, withdrawn type)
  5. The Investigator (the intense, cerebral type)
  6. The Loyalist (The committed, security oriented type)
  7. The Enthusiast (The busy, fun-loving type)
  8. The Challenger (The powerful, dominating type)
  9. The Peacemaker (The easygoing, self-effacing type)

The following is a link to the test: http://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/dotest.php (there are many free tests available online.)

Here is another website about the enneagram, as well as another enneagram test, you might find helpful – https://www.enneagraminstitute.com.

If you explore more deeply, you will learn some concepts that further explain your enneagram type, such as wings, security points, stress points, and instincts. There are many components to the enneagram. If you are interested, there are MANY helpful books to further your understanding, including the following:

The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Riso

The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge by Beatrice Chestnut

Keep in mind that no types are right or wrong, and no test can fully explain you. However, this can be good a starting point in gaining clarity, further understanding our strengths and weaknesses, and understanding differences between people. Plus, it can be fun and you may find yourself having some “a-ha!” moments when you read a description of your type. For more information on the enneagram and how it can provide insight for your life, contact Laura Novak, LCSW, CADC.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Grief Must be Expressed

Friday, November 03, 2017 @ 11:48 AM

Many theories have been developed about the stages of grief. Each of them points out that there is no time frame; each individual will proceed at his/her pace. Although there are stages, these stages do not necessarily follow in any order; emotions will ebb and flow, rise and drop because we are human, and each of us is unique. My frame of reference indicates that, although we can offer certain guidelines to clients, and prepare them for the path their grief may take, it is best to allow them to naturally experience their feelings as they unfold naturally, and merely be present and bear witness to their individual grieving process.

During my own grief, I learned there are feelings in me that are so strong and deep, they NEED to be fully expressed, and that was necessary for my healing. The sadness or pain must be expressed. Sadness has movement and will express itself in its own time. By being mindful, and aware of our emotions and honoring them, we heal naturally. The experienced counselor will help guide and support clients through this process.

The processing of our painful emotions tests our resilience and permits us to find positive meaning in life. It is important clients seek professional counseling in profound grief and loss, to ensure their mourning is appropriately managed, and they do not become stuck or depressed. The wise counselor will intervene and treat. There are many creative resources to assist clients in expressing and moving through the grieving process. An experienced professional will collaborate with you and find the best natural fit for you to tangibly design storytelling, rituals, memory books, poetry, art as a tribute to your loved one in their honor.

When we grieve, the sadness overtakes us and rules our life for a while, and then a shift toward healing takes place. We learn to reconstruct a new way of being in the world, holding the memory of those we have lost in our hearts and minds forever. Our hearts may become tattered and torn (never broken, we must not allow that), and the sadness may never leave our hearts and that is our testimony of how we love. The sadness shows how deeply we have loved: the investment we have made in loving those we have lost and continue to love.

 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Turn Your Will Over

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 @ 6:15 PM

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” ~Matthew 7:7

Does anyone notice the door? Do you get it? What do you see in the picture? I took this picture in downtown San Diego and thought this was the perfect quote to go with the picture.

Last time I checked the Lord's Prayer did not say, "MY will be done…" It says "THY will be done..."

In the 12 step program there is a saying, Let go and let God. Not let go of just the parts that I want to let go of but to let go of ALL of it. When we turn our will over to GOD, we are free.

BUT I have to do the ACTION of seeking HIM, asking for Him to take over and I have to actually do the ACTION of letting go and of knocking. God will be the one to open the door, not me.

That is why this picture is so classic! Did you notice it yet? There are no door handles!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Get Fit Spiritually and Physically with the Daniel Plan

Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 1:19 PM

What is the Daniel Plan?

The Daniel Plan is a plan for health utilizing faith, food, fitness, focus, and friendship. It was authored by Pastor Rick Warren and Drs. Mark Hyman and Daniel Amen. It is a research driven, evidence based program to get fit both spiritually and physically. Here are some excerpts from the book:

The Focus of the Daniel Plan

The Daniel Plan is unique because it is based on the Bible. It is based on God’s best plan for our lives. And while change of any kind is never easy, it is a necessity for our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Making radical changes in our lives requires radical commitment, perseverance, and doing a lot of hard work on our hearts. Pastor Rick Warren teaches us about five key elements to make sure the changes that we make actually stick.


1. Lasting change requires building your life on the truth. Nothing will change permanently until you dig down to the bed-rock of truth about your life and God’s purpose for it.

“If you continue to obey my teaching, then you are truly my followers. And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” John 8:31-32 (NCV)

2. Lasting change requires making wise choices. You won’t change until you choose to change.

“Get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness” Ephesians 4:21-24 (TEV)

3. Lasting change requires new ways of thinking. If you want to change how you act, you must begin by changing how you feel.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)

4. Lasting change requires God’s Spirit in your life. You cannot change by willpower alone. You must have God’s power.

“Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?” Galatians 5:18 (MSG).

5. Lasting change requires honest community. The deepest changes in your life will only happen as you open up to a few trusted friends who will support you.

What Foods Can I Have?

From Dr. Daniel Amen

  • Cravings can be the culprit that derail your good intentions to stick with a brain healthy program. Here are 10 simple changes you can make to your daily habits to get better control of your cravings.
  • Avoid your triggers
  • To control your cravings, you have to control your triggers. Know the people, places, and things that fuel your cravings and plan ahead for your vulnerable times. For example, take a snack when you go to the movies so you aren’t tempted by the popcorn and licorice.
  • Balance your blood sugar
  • Low blood sugar levels are associated with lower overall brain activity, including lower activity in the PFC, the brain's brake. Low brain activity here means more cravings and more bad decisions. Low blood sugar levels can make you feel hungry, irritable, or anxious—all of which make you more likely to make poor choices. Here are tips to keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day so you can reduce cravings and boost your self-control.
  • Eliminate sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined carbs
  • If you really want to decrease your cravings, you have to get rid of the artificial sweeteners in your diet. Things like candy, potatoes, white bread, pretzels, sodas, sweetened alcohol, and fruit juice causes your blood sugar to spike and then drop, so you feel great for a short while and then you feel stupid and hungry. Be very careful with high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods because they work on the morphine or heroin centers of the brain and can be addictive.
  • Eat slow carb, not low carb
  • Carbohydrates are so important for good health. Bad carbohydrates such as simple sugars and refined products are the ones to avoid. Choose high fiber carbs like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains! They will keep you fuller longer and help you with weight loss.
  • Drink More Water
  • Dehydration can contribute to increased hunger. When your body sends signals that it is hungry it can actually be an attempt to get more water. Sometimes hunger is disguised as dehydration. If you drink a glass of water before your meals to make you will feel fuller and can moderate your food intake.
  • Prioritize Protein
  • Do you want to feel satisfied longer? Make sure protein is an important part of your diet. Protein fills you up and regulates your blood sugar while making your body release appetite suppressing hormones.
  • Manage your stress
  • Chronic stress has been associated with increased appetite, obesity, sugar and fat cravings, addiction, anxiety, heart disease, cancer, and depression. To decrease your cravings, get on a daily stress-management program including deep-breathing exercises, prayer, and other relaxation methods.
  • Follow the 90/10 rule
  • Make great food choices 90% of the time. For the remaining 10%, cut yourself a little slack and allow yourself margin to enjoy some of your favorite foods on occasion.
  • Get moving
  • Scientific research has found that physical activity can cut cravings whether you crave sugary snacks or things like cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. Instead of immediately giving in to your cravings or focusing on how much you want something, get moving if at all possible. Make this a high priority and stay committed to exercising each week.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. 

Can I Exercise?

DO'S
• Do choose activities you enjoy; the best activities for you are the ones you’ll do.
• Do get an exercise buddy or accountability partner to keep you honest.
• Do start off moderately, with a few minutes of exercise, and slowly increase.
• Do drink lots of water before, during and after your workout.
• Do cool down after exercising to relax your muscles and gradually lower your heart rate.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Helpful Strategies for Dealing with Change

Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 8:15 PM

Change is inevitable; we cannot escape it. And change is hard!!! Whether change is something that hits us by surprise, or we are enveloped in some long-suffering pain, we are called to examine some of those habitual behaviors that keep us bound in a comfortable controlled environment, rather than dare push that circle of comfort. Once we do make the decision to step out of that comfort zone, we must boldly move forward and never stop moving, always implementing our innate potential.

Ecclesiastes: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..."

We must accept that pain is a necessary part of life, but pain and change are opportunities for growth. Regardless of age, the seasons of transition are many: puberty, graduation, first job, marriage, kids leave home, job loss, death, retirement, etc. THE DEMANDS OF LIFE DON'T MATTER NEARLY AS MUCH AS HOW WE RESPOND TO THE LIFE CHANGE. Attitude, open mind, creativity, positivity, and trusting yourself are key.

Change is Hard

Change is stress inducing and risky. Change causes us to make adjustments to our habitual way of being. We are forced into the unfamiliar. Our brains have stored up certain chemicals based on our life experiences. When we are forced to deal with change, the brain experiences shock and discomfort. It is accustomed to operating at ease, in the habitual style. It becomes scrambled when patterns change and it has to create new chemical cocktails. This brain scrambling is transferred to us by the effects of anxiety, stress, shock - an entire host of emotions that leaves us confused and seeking clarity. We need faith, a strategy, a plan and goals to execute our plan, and know that it is okay to ask for help.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."

HELPFUL STRATEGIES

  • Attitude/open mind/positive/creative
  • Accountability/self discipline
  • Adaptability/dare to risk/ INNER WISDON
  • Vision/dreams/plans/goals
  • Proactive/prioritize
  • Don't give up/ask for advice/try a new strategy
  • Remain flexible and adaptable/ LISTEN
  • There are no failures/ INTENTION
  • Eliminate guilt, fear, regret/
  • Use DISCERNMENT
  • Know that you have made a difference/ ZEST FOR LIVING
  • Maximize what works and give gratitude/ Implement CHOICE
  • Free will
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
  • Be brave BRAINSTORM IDEAS


The demands of life are opportunities for GROWTH. Our purposeful response to them is necessary.

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor." Henry David Thoreau

1 Corinthians 5:17 "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

How to Heal Care Starvation

Sunday, October 15, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Navigating and Healing from Broken Relationships

For those who feel completely disconnected and inconsequential to their existence, some part of you still cares enough to read this blog-----now please, I want to talk to that part of you...the part that seeks to understand you and your actions even while battling an unknown condition called “Care Starvation”.

Over time, as a trauma therapist, it has become apparent that so many of my clients, regardless of their current issues, have the underlying problem of experiencing unhealthy attachments to their primary caregiver. In addition, they attempt to navigate toxic relationships often with this same person. I have spent years studying attachment theory, bonding theories by Bowlby and early imprinting, but the therapist side of me keeps asking “How can I apply these theories to help someone heal and get ‘past their past’ in the present day?”

Often these clients are being negatively affected by the people in their lives that they should by now have a loving, caring relationship with? We commonly accept that our past relationships often define our current relationships and therein lies the problem. While every clients’ history, family and individual circumstances are unique, I have found there are still certain common threads that must be addressed by anyone suffering from something I have termed “Care Starvation.” So, what exactly is “Care Starvation” and are your current problems being caused from this?

The Roots of Care Starvation

Care Starvation starts very early when one does not properly bond with their primary caregiver and especially if one’s emotional or physical needs are not met early on. Often one begins to feel distrustful and hopeless. In response to these situations, a child develops behaviors that serve and protect them. They may split off this “injured part” of themselves, they may act out for attention, get “sick” often, show unstable moods or retreat into a fantasy world. As the individual ages, they may do high risk behaviors such as medicate their feelings through drugs or food or be incapable of maintaining a stable relationship. As a suffering adult, we tell ourselves to “just get over it” or there is no benefit in reliving the past. The important thing to know is that if we do not get help for our Care Starvation, it will continue to surface in ways that do not serve our higher good. The truth is that we often reject these “dissociated parts” of ourselves that are in pain and unhealed. We can only ignore them for so long.

One of the most common symptoms of Care Starvation is the feeling of disconnection or feeling shut out or distanced. Not feeling like you belong anywhere, for any purpose, in the entire universe is recurring theme during session. This is because early on you were given the message that you were not important, that you shouldn’t have been born or that you were simply not wanted. In other words, you were “inconsequential.” Even if these messages are not spoken, a child can hear them loud and clear and accept it as truth. Once this belief sets in, all kinds of unwanted, self-destructive behaviors can result.


Common Symptoms of Care Starvation

  •  Loneliness, even when others are around, including family members that love you 
  • Sadness and not understanding where the emotion is originating from 
  • Feeling like you don’t fit in regardless how much people try to reassure you
  • Not feeling good enough even if you have over-achieved
  • Feeling like something bad is going to happen when everything is going well 
  • Doing things to sabotage yourself or displaying behaviors that do not serve your higher good 
  • Feeling on edge, constant alert and distrustful for no good reason 

Worth the Risk--Treatments to Heal Care Starvation

The best way to begin healing is to be honest with yourself and give yourself permission to “feel and explore” your emotions in a safe environment with someone that will have unconditional positive regard for you—this may at times not feel so great. Often a client feels guilty about saying anything negative about their parents or care-givers and their pain is palpable, but I remind them that it’s not about “blame” but about how things affected them and their emotional self and once expressed, healing is free to happen. It’s fine for this to feel risky since we are accustomed to shoving down our own feelings and disconnecting—the payoff is almost always worth it!

Secondly, we have to be willing to accept any parts of ourselves that we have previously rejected. That means exploring the parts that we are sad about, feel disconnected from and are angry about. Then we must begin learning how to accept ourselves. In theory this sounds easy, but in real life it has to be a purposeful act and usually will need a specific path facilitated by a therapist based on your goals.

We have to grieve. Once we realize that we did not receive what so many others got by having their needs met, we have to come out of denial and come into acceptance. This can take different forms:

  • Choosing to forgive 
  • Processing through different stages of grief 
  • Allowing yourself to experience and feel the emotion of anger. 

As the noted therapist Irvin Yalon states, “Sometimes I have to remind clients that sooner or later they will have to relinquish the goal of having a better past”.

Lastly, putting all the pieces together and letting go of shame (which never serves us) proves the catalyst that can propel us to healing and joy. This means we can see patterns over time, understand ourselves better and choose whether or not to forgive. Suddenly, we have the power we need to allow our strong, wise adult self to make healthy choices. Our rejected, immature parts no longer have to be driving our emotions and actions. At this point, we set good healthy boundaries that are right for us and when Mom calls mad and hangs up abruptly, our day is no longer ruined or defined.


Monday, September 18, 2017

God Answers Prayers in Different Ways

Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 9:49 PM

Recently a client was telling me she still has anger toward God because He wasn’t answering her prayers as she went through a divorce.  She remembered that God ‘told her’ to leave the house three years after she discovered her husband had been continuously unfaithful.  Afterwards, she kept calling for God to help her have the strength to get through all the muck that a divorce brings. God seemed to be silent. She said, “I haven’t been able to shake off the anger.”

As a counselor, who believes God intervenes in our lives with and without prayer, I thought for a moment how I was going to reply to her.  At this moment, she was enrolled in college and working two part-time jobs.  She stresses over school, but no longer stresses about the divorce, which is now final. In fact, she said, her life is so much better than before.

I queried as to what she is asking of God and, for which, she is not receiving an answer.  She said she was asking for strength.

God Does Answer Prayers

My client was facing an age-old mystery.  In the Bible, Jesus tells us, if we ask for something and we really believe, we shall have it.  Mark 11:24. But, Christians can tell you they believe God will answer the prayer but they don’t always see any physical evidence of that happening. God never said how He was going to answer our prayers.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul writes to the church at Corinth: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now, I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. In ancient times, there were no modern mirrors that could exactly reflect our image face-to-face. The looking glasses at that time only gave us a distorted image. Therefore, when God answers a prayer, we cannot always tell it was answered as we understand ‘answered prayer.’  The answer to prayer in our minds is often what we want in a particular situation.

God can only answer prayers perfectly. So when we pray we must have the faith God is working behind the scenes to bring us to His perfection.

God Speaks In Different Ways

The Bible is full of answers to our prayers.  If you’re looking for what God is saying go no further than the Bible.  My client was praying for strength.  Strength is mentioned in the Bible many times.  Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’   My client prayed for strength, but heard no audible voice or any real change in the divorce proceedings.  But, by her own accord she said ‘I got through it and now I am living better life.’  Seems to me, God answered that prayer.

Find Power In Weakness

Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 4:18 PM

The world cares very little for those with broken hearts. People often break the hearts of others by their cruelty, falseness, their injustice and their coldness. But God cares! Broken-heartedness draws Him down from heaven. He comes to the broken and bruised, with the sweetest tenderness.

Jesus said this about His mission on earth :
"He (the Heavenly Father) has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.”
(Isaiah 61:1)

God repairs and restores the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed, the wilted flower and, by His gentle skill, makes them whole again until they grow into the fairest beauty.

The love, pity, and grace of God ministers sweet blessings of comfort and healing to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people. The God of the Bible is the God of those who have been brought low, whom He then lifts up into His strength.

God is the God of those who fail — (not that He loves those who stumble and fall better than those who walk without stumbling) — but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace than those who are strong believers!

There is a special divine promise which says,
"My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

When we are aware of "our own insufficiency", then we are ready to receive His divine sufficiency. So in reality, our very weakness is actually a component of strength!
Our weakness is an empty cup which God fills with His own strength.

You might think that your weakness disqualifies you for, strong, beautiful living, or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. But really it’s something which if you give it to Christ, He can transform it into a blessing, a source of His power.

Dear friends. I encourage you today to take a moment, right now, and enter into His presence. Know that His desire is for you to trust Him completely. Allow Him to minister to your deepest need, for truly...
...His grace is sufficient.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

7 Thoughts to Understand Forgiveness

Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ 5:08 PM
  1. Forgiveness is a Choice. Choice empowers clients to engage in a healing process that promotes relationships with mutuality and satisfaction, and frees them from debilitating emotions and resentment-filled relationships. Forgiveness can play a powerful role in healing. Forgiveness is a process of readying oneself to let go of a deep betrayal or inflicted emotional wounding . Forgiveness does not mean forgetting what happened. In Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25 we learn God requires us to forgive, because He forgave us for our sins.
  2. Forgiveness is a JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION that involves jumping the hurdle of difficult emotions and self-preservations that block the desire to renew trust. Initially, the choice to forgive gives us a fresh perspective. Secondly, it prepares us to work through difficult emotions. And thirdly, it challenges us to transform our pain and suffering into a significant, meaningful event. "Forgiveness is a path to freedom." R.D. Enright.
  3. It's OK to REMEMBER while forgiving. Forgiving does not imply forgetting. Forgiveness begins by perceiving the offense. Clients are often unwilling to forgive because they fear forgiveness eliminates justice, overlooks a grievous wrong, or provides an offender with an easy way out. This misperception is clearly stated in the idiom "forgive and forget." Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Individuals learn to forgive in order to HONOR THE SELF and eventually LET GO of DEBILITATING EMOTIONS. 
  4. It takes great courage to forgive. We must forgive because God forgives us and expects us to forgive. It is not healthy to carry bitterness and vengefulness in our hearts. Just as letting go is a process, so too, is forgiveness. One of the hardest things we will ever do is to forgive ourselves. "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong." M. Gandhi
  5. Forgiveness has two sides: MERCY AND JUSTICE. For integrity to exist in relationship, the harmful behavior must be entirely stopped. Reconciliation is an ideal following forgiveness. In order to reconcile, the following is desired: an honest heartfelt apology, assuming responsibility and making amends for the wrongdoing, asking for forgiveness, and promising it will not happen again. If the offending party is unwilling to work toward this goal, then (if married) professional marriage counseling is recommended. The only choice for the wounded party is to maintain SELF-RESPECT, DIGNITY, and SAFETY.
  6. C. S. Lewis - "don't excuse the wrongdoing, forgive it. Real forgiveness is a tough process; but it is absolutely necessary for mental health. James instructs us to submit ourselves to God and get rid of anything impure. "Cleanse your heart" means to examine your motivations and feelings that are displeasing to God. Through the cleansing process you become ready for all that God has for you. 
  7. Because forgiving involves changing emotions, it takes a very long time. Trauma disorganizes our worldview. It obliterates our sense of security, causes loss, and destroys our belief in justice. We may obsess about the tragedy, ask why, or what we could have done to prevent it. Retelling the story is the brain's way of reducing the anguish and pain and reconstructing a new worldview. Forgiveness in traumatic events is not always won.

 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Forgiveness can Be Hard to Do

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 4:50 PM

My client was struggling with forgiveness. He didn’t want to forgive. "The person never asked for forgiveness, wasn't really sorry, they meant to do it and if forgiven, I might have to be nice to them. " Of course, this is why God really shouldn’t forgive us either. Why should He? He is sovereign and gave us free will to follow Him. Its our job to lead a life free of sin not His. Right?

Forgiveness is one of the most stubborn words in our vocabulary. When we forgive, we become vulnerable to attack. We have given permission to another person to have wronged us.

In a recent sermon, Pastor David Mullen of Ascension Lutheran Church quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer from this book The Cost of Discipleship: “My brother’s burden which I must bear is not only his outward life, his natural characteristics and gifts, but quite literally his sin. The call to follow Christ always means a call to share the word of forgiveness—the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.” Pastor Mullen followed with his own words: “To forgive is to die to self in a real way.”

When we forgive, we push down our own pride. We become the servant. It is the cost that we don’t want to pay to the other. We would prefer to hold onto to the wrong for egotistical leverage.

It is what God did when He allowed Jesus to die on the Cross. It became His job to help us lead a life of forgiveness, even when He didn't have to. (Col.3:13).

When my client finally went through the grueling task of forgiveness, he sobbed nearly uncontrollably. For the first time in his memory, he was able to forgive the childhood abuse: Then verbal berating he took, the beatings with a belt buckle, and Bible verses used against him, padlocking him in the house all day alone. The next session he told me that he visited his…..mother…….for the first time without anger toward her. He also began to control his anger toward his wife and family and others he was using to shift his own internal anger onto others.

What an emotional relief to forgive instead of invoking the stressful burden of revenge!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Peace is Thinking Like Jesus

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 @ 11:53 PM

Thinking like Jesus: Peace.

Jesus offers salvation. Of course, that is at the end of our lives. In between birth and ‘right now’ there is life and problems to solve. Sometimes those problems are overwhelming to the point of extraordinary worry. Worry is the intellectual thought that something in our future will go badly. Anxiety, the feeling of fear, is the emotion that follows a worrisome thought.

In Matthew 6:25 Jesus addresses the issue head-on. He commands us directly not to worry. If we are having worrisome thoughts we are, in effect, in a sinful state. Jesus tells us not to look around and see what could be going wrong in the future because He is there in our future. He says in Jeremiah 29 that He has plans for us to prosper. But instead of thinking about that, we are like Peter looking down at an angry sea instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus.

In Philippians 4:7 Paul tells us that Jesus offers us a peace that transcends understanding that will guard our heart (that are now pounding from anxiety) and mind (what we are worrying about) with His peace which transcends all human understanding.

We don’t always understand the feeling of peace that Jesus offers us. It is not just a physical resting, though His peace will give us that. It is a peace we feel because our thoughts are on Him and not on the problems in our lives. When we focus on the problems and not Him, we are not receiving that transcending peace. So ask the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts and focus on Jesus helping us instead of the problems that are trying to sink us.