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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.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Five Common Myths about Eating Disorders

Friday, September 08, 2017 @ 10:29 AM

Crosswinds

When you hear this phrase, “a person with an eating disorder,” what type of “person” comes to mind? Seriously. Close your eyes right now for five seconds and imagine this person before you continue reading.

I’m going to take a guess at what you imagined. There’s a good chance you imagined a young, teenage girl, maybe somewhere around thirteen to sixteen years old. She’s probably pretty thin. Maybe too thin. She likely doesn’t eat much and is always dieting. I would also bet she’s white and moderately to highly affluent. Was I right? I’m hoping I wasn’t, but I imagine for some of you, my description was pretty spot-on.

Why is this? Why does our society have such a stereotype for people with eating disorders? There are many factors that have contributed to this stereotype, but one major contributor has to do with the depiction of eating disorders in our media. In the 1990’s, the media began to highlight eating disorders as a real concern. Movies, TV shows, articles, and books began to shed light on this life-threatening illness. While this was helpful in increasing awareness about eating disorders, the stories and characters depicted were predominately white, teenage, affluent girls who were struggling with Anorexia Nervosa. All of a sudden, the public began to associate eating disorders with this narrow population. Unfortunately, this association has stuck, even though it’s not entirely accurate. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They affect all genders, orientations, races, socioeconomic levels, body types, and ages. They also include various behaviors with food, not just restriction. Let’s start to break down these stereotypes by looking at five eating disorder myths and what researchers have discovered.

Myth #1: Anorexia is the only eating disorder. Restriction is the only eating disorder behavior.

This is one of the most common misconceptions. As mentioned above, when people think about eating disorders, they often think of someone who doesn’t eat or eats very little. Surprising to many people, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder and has an estimated lifetime prevalence rate of .2% – 3.5% for females and .9% – 2.0% for males (Stice & Bohon, 2012). BED is more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia, and is more than three times more common than Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa combined (National Eating Disorders Association – NEDA). BED is characterized as recurrent and frequent episodes of binge eating, defined as eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances AND a sense of lack of control.

In addition to restriction and binge eating, other behaviors go along with eating disorders. These may include: vomiting after eating, laxative abuse, frequent diet pill consumption/abuse, compulsive/obsessive exercise, over-exercise, obsession with clean eating, eliminating foods or food groups, food aversion, chewing and spitting, manipulating insulin, frequent body checking, obsessive calorie counting, obsessive weighing of oneself, and eating rituals, just to name a few. Just because these behaviors exist does not necessarily mean a person has an eating disorder; rather, it’s important to be aware of these various behaviors and use them as red flags to ask more questions. If a person associates only restriction with eating disorders, there’s a good chance he or she will miss warning signs in themselves and loved ones who struggle with other behaviors.

Myth #2: Only females get eating disorders.

This statement is absolutely false. Men DO get eating disorders. Although they are less common than females, males constitute about 25% of all eating disorders (Sweeting et al., 2015). Males represent approximately 11% – 25% of individuals with Anorexia Nervosa, 8% – 25% of Bulimia Nervosa, and 40% of Binge Eating Disorder (NEDA; Sweeting et al., 2015). Moreover, subclinical eating disorder behaviors (i.e., eating disorder behaviors that are not severe/frequent enough to meet diagnostic criteria) are nearly as common among males as they are among females (NEDA).

Recently, more men in the media have opened up about their eating disorders and/or past eating disorder behaviors, including Dennis Quaid (actor), Billy Bob Thornton (actor), Richard Simmons (fitness guru, actor, and comedian), Russel Brand (actor), Elton John (singer), Caleb Followill (singer), Zayn Malik (singer), and Joey Julius (collegiate football player), just to name a few. Again, if your mind took you to thinking all these men had Anorexia Nervosa and restricted, you would be wrong. Some of these men struggled with Anorexia Nervosa; however, several struggled with Bulimia Nervosa and others with Binge Eating Disorder. Learn more about men and eating disorders, including risk factors and warning signs here.

Myth #3: Only teenagers struggle with eating disorders.

Although many eating disorder symptoms and behaviors appear during adolescence, individuals can be impacted by these behaviors and preoccupations with their body and food throughout the lifespan. Researchers and clinicians have reported children as young as seven or eight meeting criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. Similarly, more studies and anecdotal evidence are highlighting that many adults, even into their late 60s and 70s are struggling with eating disorder symptoms.

Margo Maine, PhD, a well-known clinical psychologist and author in the eating disorder world, shared some ideas as to why older adults may struggle with eating disorders. She offers that some of these older individuals may have struggled since youth and never sought help and/or recovered, some may have recovered and have relapsed, some may have struggled with food and weight for many years but the behaviors have become more severe over time, and finally, some, after facing challenges of adulthood (e.g., pregnancy, divorce, death, empty-nesting), develop rituals related to diet and exercise which progress into a full-blown eating disorder. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research to know exactly what percentage of the population struggles with eating disorders in the older adult population; however, researchers found eating disorder symptoms in 13% of women ages 50 and above over a five-year time period (Gagne et al., 2012).

Myth #4: Only people in the U.S. and white people get eating disorders.

Believe it or not, eating disorders are not a recent phenomenon. Many people think this is a disorder that has developed due to Western media and cultural values focused on thinness. While these do have an impact, we cannot say they are to blame as the primary cause. Writings and articles have noted examples of females starving themselves for religious reasons during the medieval period (i.e., taking fasting to an extreme to be closer to God), and some even being elevated to sainthood after their death (Davis & Nguyen, 2014).

Race is another harmful stereotype as much of the general public assume only white people are impacted by eating disorders. Unfortunately, even helping professionals and researchers have held this belief, causing the treatment and research to be biased and lacking in this area. Recently, researchers and practitioners have questioned this belief and found the prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites (NEDA).

Myth #5: You can tell by looking at someone if they have an eating disorder and how bad it is.

This eating disorder myth is so prevalent in our society. Even family members and clients themselves fall into this trap of believing this myth. Would you ever tell a family member, “Are you really sure you have cancer? You look healthy. Maybe the doctor was just being dramatic.” Or would you and say, “Wow! You really look like you have dementia.” Of course not! That seems absurd, right? Well, this is exactly what people do with eating disorders; assume one can judge if a person has or does not have this disorder based on their weight, and then make an assumption about how “bad” it is. As a psychologist who has worked with many clients with eating disorders, weight alone does not tell me how “sick” or “healthy” a person is. Although the research is inconclusive, one study reported mortality rates for 1,885 individuals diagnosed with eating disorders over a period of time. They identified crude mortality rates were 4.0% for Anorexia Nervosa, 3.9% for Bulimia Nervosa, and 5.2% for eating disorders not otherwise specified (Crow et al., 2009). These statistics highlight the seriousness of the disorder, regardless of a person’s weight.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do to combat the incorrect beliefs and assumptions that exist in our society about eating disorders. I challenge you to notice yours and others’ biases and assumptions in this area and question them. Are they accurate? Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, contact Crosswinds Counseling. We can help!


References:

Crow, S.J., Peterson, C.B., Swanson, S.A., Raymond, N.C., Specker, S., Eckert, E.D., & Mitchell, J.E. (2009).


Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 1342 – 1346. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09020247


Davis, A.A., & Mguyen, M. (2014). A case study of Anorexia Nervosa driven by religious sacrifice. Case
Reports in Psychiatry, 2014, 4 pages. doi: 10.1155/2014/512764

Gagne, D.A., Von Holle, A., Brownley, K.A., Runfola, C.D., Hofmeier, S., Branch, K.E., & Bulik, C.M.

(2012). Eating disorder symptoms and weight and shape concerns in a large web-based convenience sample of women ages 50 and above: Results of the gender and body image study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45, 832-844. doi: 10.1001/eat.22030

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) – https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

Stice, E., & Bohon, C. (2012). Eating Disorders. In Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 2nd Edition, Theodore Beauchaine & Stephen Linshaw, eds. New York: Wiley.

Sweeting, H., Walker, L., MacLean, A., Patterson, C., Räisänen, U., & Hunt, K. (2015). Prevalence of eating disorders in males: a review of rates reported in academic research and UK mass media. International Journal of Men’s Health, 14(2), 10.3149/jmh.1402.86. http://doi.org/10.3149/jmh.1402.86

Monday, September 04, 2017

We Are Blessed to Give

Monday, September 04, 2017 @ 2:50 AM

There I was... down on my knees in our hallway, with my head tucked deep in the bottom section of our linen closet putting away Kleenex and bathroom tissue from our latest run to Costco for household supplies. As I sat back to review my "compact stacking work", a deep wave of gratitude (as well as a moment of intense personal introspection), washed over me.

I sat back, looking at my full closet of supplies. I am able to go at any time and pull out a box of Kleenex or a fresh roll of tissue without the concerns of running out. Now, it may seem rather "inelegant" to mention these two specific "private human necessities" rather than something like laundry soap or bars of bath soap, but I'm reflecting over what a privileged life looks like, and when I look into my closet and see these items...
... I view myself as extremely privileged.

Others May not Have the Same Priveleges We Have

I'm wondering how many mothers tonight are cleaning their little baby's bottoms with leaves or grass in a mud hut somewhere, because they don't have even the foggiest idea where they would obtain something as luxurious as a roll of toilet paper. (Or a diaper.)

I'm thinking about the countless people tonight in the flooded typhoon zones in India and the southern parts of the United States, who have lost everything. I am certain that among them there are those who would weep uncontrollably over a fresh box of Kleenex or a place to use that toilet paper where it is sanitary and not submerged underwater.

Why am I allowed to have such grace and such provision when others are going without? And, even if I empty my entire closet out again and again and give it away, I will be able to go find my own basic supplies and replenish them with ease. (Although there were times in the past when we struggled just to make it.)

Oh my friends!
If tonight you may find yourself not feeling as blessed, well fed, or as opulent as others living around you, stop and check yourself! Check your heart! Many of us have clothing in drawers and closets that we will never wear that could go to someone else, (and would be viewed as treasure)! We have multiple pots and pans under our kitchen cupboards, lots of Tupperware and drinking glasses! The list goes on and on!

I'd like to encourage you to open your linen closets, your cupboards, your shoe closets, your clothing drawers, your pantries and garages. Begin to see all of the items contained in them with new eyes!

It is a privilege to "be privileged" to give!

Find some good sturdy boxes and put the best of what you have in those boxes! And yes, although
the families all over Texas are needing what you have, there are neighbors right down the street from you (who no one sees) that might need that Kleenex, the cans of soup, the fresh fruit sitting on your counter, or even that pair of tennis shoes that you keep thinking you're going to use again.

If you have been blessed with "the privileged life" (meaning you have food, clothing, housing and a warm place to sleep tonight), today is your opportunity to sit back and let a wave of gratitude pour over you!
Today!

This is your day to be thankful for the privileged life that you've been granted, and it's a day to rise up and be the hands and the heart of Christ extended outward to a troubled world where loss, constant pain and sorrow are raging through mass flooding, fires and wars.
We are privileged!
Yes indeed!
We are privileged!

Privileged to be able to extend what we have to bring them comfort!
"For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them,
'Truly, I say to you, as you did these things to one of the least of these my friends, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:35

Friday, September 01, 2017

Divorce Wont Make You Happy

Friday, September 01, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

People who are unhappy in their marriages tend to believe that the reason they are unhappy is because of their marriage. But, the research shows that people who are unhappy in their marriages are not any happier after a divorce.

Happiness is tied to circumstances. Sometimes, being in the center of God’s will means we are in a difficult and painful circumstance. God has never promised us happiness. He does, however, promise His peace. In the bible Stephen wasn’t happy when he was being stoned to death. Paul wasn’t happy when he was in prison. But, they both had God’s peace. We don’t always need to leave a situation because we’re unhappy. Sometimes God is working in the situation to grow us, teach us, or prepare us.

Being unhappy in your marriage is an opportunity to learn to depend more on God and to focus more on healing and growth than on happiness. Even if your spouse is unwilling to go to counseling for their own issues or is unwilling to do marriage counseling, you can still go to counseling on your own. You can learn how to create healthier boundaries in your marriage, deepen your relationship with God, and establish healthy relationships with friends and family who can support and encourage you. Growth is not only possible during a difficult situation-that’s the time that it is most likely to occur.

Also, if unhealed emotional wounds from your past are what lead you to choose your current spouse, they are influencing your behavior in the marriage, and if you leave the marriage without dealing with these wounds—the unhealed wounds go with you and lead to more unhealthy choices in the future.

Ultimately, your marriage may not survive, but don’t give up until you have done everything you can to change the dynamics in the relationship including starting the process of your own healing from the past.