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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

First Responders and Their Families

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 @ 12:22 PM

Surviving Life Ministries is a fully online Pastoral Counseling ministry allowing us to serve people worldwide. If you, or anyone you know are experiencing the negative side effects of being a first responder, please contact us. After spending 32-years in the fire service, chances are, I have been where you are and/or heading towards. It is not weak to have a weakness, so don't wait.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)

He is The Way,

Brett Snow, PhD, Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.
Surviving Life Ministries
sl-ministries.com
survivinglifem@gmail.com

Friday, February 7, 2020

Do You Have Them? Using BHAG's and SAG's to Make Your Vision an Everyday Reality

Friday, February 7, 2020 @ 6:55 PM

Kit Hill, Ed.D., Director, The New Life Group, Pleasant Hill Founding Partner & Exec. Coach - John C. Maxwell Team

Caroline M. L. McMillan, Editor & Consultant

What if you told people walking down the street that you had a BHAG? "A what?!" they say. "You know, big hairy-" and before you can finish the sentence you get smacked. So you try a different tactic. "Say, ma'am, did you know I've got SAG's?" This time, you don't just get smacked, the little old lady pulls out a couple of karate moves and leaves you panting on the sidewalk as she totters away.

No, a BHAG is not a new medical abbreviation for something nobody wants to know about. Nor is a SAG, despite its possible implications.

BHAG's and SAG's have a lot to do with your future, both the near future and the rest of your life. A BHAG is a "big hairy audacious goal" and a SAG is a "small attainable goal." BHAG's are more long term, visionary goals. They're wild and crazy!

For example: "I want to stop particulate pollution world wide!" "I want to become the best salesperson in the company!" A father says, "I want to see all of my children reach graduate school if they want to! Or perhaps your church decides, "We want to see a large sub-Saharan African village clothed and fed!

SAG's on the other hand, are the small steps that we can see easily to get to the medium and long-range goals. Using the above examples, maybe you work with the American Lung Association to make people aware of soot and pollutants that they breathe every day to start you towards your BHAG of eliminating particulates in the air.

Or, to become the best salesperson, you take an intensive course in sales and marketing. The father with the BHAG of seeing all of his children through graduate school might take his kids to meet various professionals. And the church with the vision for feeding a whole village might need to start with just gathering information.

”SAG's should be very practical and short term. You can put time limits or event limits on SAG's to make sure things don't become ambiguous or overwhelming. You might narrow your information gathering about poor African villages down to five sources or budget the money or time you spend on a basic sales course.

“Looking up to check your direction and progress is very important and often people get lost when they forget to check.” All goals are attainable, at least in theory, but "attainable" in the SAG sense means a goal that you can see or touch. Stopping air pollution or feeding a whole village does not feel very attainable right now from where I stand but the SAG's under these goals are. BHAG's give direction to SAG's and give them purpose: SAG's under-gird BHAG's and give them structure.

Proverbs 13:4 says that "The soul of the lazy man desires and has nothing but the soul of the diligent will be made rich." Desire is important but it cannot get you to your goals alone. Diligence is one of the main cogs in the big wheel of reaching desire.

Looking up to check your direction and progress is very important and often people get lost when they forget to check. Perhaps you've heard of the airline pilot who says to his passengers after several hours of flight: "I have good news and bad news: We're making good time, but we don't know where we're going."

If you are being unaware, if you are enjoying the getting there too much or if you are going too fast you may end up in the wrong place.

So, if you know your BHAG's, see what your SAG's are, and be diligent there, making sure you look up frequently to check your direction and progress. You should be seeing results in all of your goals whether they are BHAGs or SAGs. Hint: Get a Change Champion to share you BHAG's and SAG's with.

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TIRED & Frustrated At Work?
Ever had these thoughts on the job:

Staff or employees seem unmotivated and lazy?
Managers and team leads have created fiefdoms?
You or your work team seems to lack creativity?
Initiative and courage seem to have drained out of the work place or work team?
An employee or manager has good work skills, but has questionable people skills?
WHAT WE CAN HELP WITH
· Listen and help you evaluate what is happening at a deeper level rather than just looking at the symptoms in the work place.

· Apply field-tested science to help you come up with a plan to address the things that are really going on

· Help you put the plan in motion, monitor feedback, make corrections and help you and your team follow through on the plan.

· Help team members and leaders stay on task in the long run with diligent and consistent follow up.



































140 Gregory Ln, Suite 250 Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 (925) 798 4551 www.newlife.com




How to make goals really happen. These ideas and a change champion are great combination

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Gentler Approach toward Communication/ Conflict Resolution

Thursday, January 23, 2020 @ 11:53 AM

In Christian teachings in the New Testament James 3: 5-10 NIV describes the tongue as being like the rudder which can steer a ship and also likens it to a small spark that can set the whole forest on fire. The tongue can be a source of encouragement or used to cuss at another individual. Scripture further states the difficulty of taming the tongue. I believe that effective communication should not only be addressed psychologically but also from a spiritual perspective. John Gottman Ph.D. (the Gottman Institute) teaches about the 4 apocalyptic horseman that can lead over time to the destruction of a marriage – they are Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling. Sometimes it is hard to listen without becoming reactive when our spouse/significant other is throwing “slings and arrows at us”. If we can pause in responding to another and with purpose and intent avoid reacting to the other or becoming defensive and instead just try to actively listen to what the other person is saying this is a good start in changing a communication pattern. Think of every derogatory word and every negative emotion that is expressed as having a strong negative “energy”. That energy and intensity can cause very real harm not only to the relationship but even can weaken a person’s immune system. If a couple is involved in venting at the other and not finding a way to listen to one another they only cause further damage to the relationship. One or the other individuals (or hopefully both people) must take the first step of beginning to actively listen to one another without reacting or venting toward the other. In therapy I teach a gentler way that couples can learn to respond to one another without their interaction causing further damage to the relationship. It is often beneficial to work in individual therapy to work through the intensity of built up emotional triggers and help them diffuse those triggers before actually beginning the work involved in couple’s therapy. In my opinion it is counterproductive in a therapy process if a couple comes into a session with a high degree of reactivity toward one another and the therapist just allows them to vent at one another. Rather, the therapist must teach the couple a different way to respond to one another for therapy to be successful. http://emapdrschulz.com

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Grand Opening

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 @ 4:42 PM

GRAND OPENING: Celebrate A New Life at TruVida, a Christian Residential Addiction Treatment Center, launches Program For Drug Rehab in a Safe and Nurturing Community
Celebrate A New Life, a California faith based Christian Drug Rehab Program at TruVida, provides healing and recovery services for clients.

This new estate will allow Celebrate A New Life to treat 32 adults at any given time...for drug and alcohol rehab.




LAKE FOREST, Calif., January 01, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- This month, Celebrate A New Life announced the opening of TruVida's residential drug treatment retreat. Celebrate A New Life's Director of Admissions, Robert (Bobby) Nicholl reports that TruVida is preparing additional homes to welcome additional clients looking for a serene setting to start their journey to recovery. Mr. Nicholl adds: "There are many clients who seek treatment at a Christian drug rehab, but they look for a certain type of environment for drug rehab.

Compassion, care, and genuine concern means the world to our clients.
Compassion, care, and genuine concern means the world to our clients.
The new residential properties are located in the Laguna Hills of Orange County, California. The estate is gated and features a tranquil backyard with lush gardens and built in barbeques, pool and spa. "When we previewed homes we looked for those that offer wonderful living space and a peaceful setting that can dovetail with our course of faith based treatment," reports Mr. Nicholl, "These properties meet all of our standards and we are looking forward to welcoming our first clients to our new homes."

Celebrate A New Life gladly invites inquiries from family members and future clients. We are happy to explain our services and our faith based treatment approach, incorporating 12 step programs, therapeutic workshops, individual psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, spiritual counseling, physical fitness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more. "Our Christian treatment center professionals creates each client's therapeutic plan according to their addiction history, physical health, mental health and spiritual needs," says Bobby Nicholl.

About Celebrate A New Life: Celebrate A New Life is a Christian Residential Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Program, located in the coastal communities of Orange County Southern California. As an integrated component of one of the very best treatment facilities and drug rehab programs in the United States, Celebrate A New Life culminates a Biblical Christ centered approach to healing, restoration, and reconciliation to God, family, and to one's own dignity and self-worth. Celebrate a New Life offers 30-60-90 day programs in a comfortable safe ocean environment. If you or a family member is in need of help call toll-free (800) 631-7753
24 hours a day seven days per week.

SOURCE TruVida

Saturday, December 21, 2019

New Book

Saturday, December 21, 2019 @ 10:19 AM

“What is it that can never be taken from us yet is priceless and most desirable? What can be given and received unconditionally anytime? What is God’s glue for creation? Love! “A Very Very Very Special Thing” explains love simply for anyone. God connects us to each other, to creation and to Himself through love. This is how we experience peace, joy and harmony. Love is the most Special Thing, especially for children.”

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Applebooks

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Speaking Engagements

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 @ 2:39 AM

Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services owner and founder, Dr. Vansiea, offers a variety of effective speaking engagements for conventions, meetings, conferences and more.

Utilizing her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), training as a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry (NPP) and addiction counseling, as well as her personal experiences and struggles, Dr. Vansiea provides inspirational and motivational keynote speaking for churches, schools, colleges, youth groups, and organizations of faith.

She is the living, breathing and walking proof of God’s Grace and overcoming trials and tribulations. Offering moving speeches, Dr. Vansiea knows how to uplift someones elses’ life and share a glimpse of hope in how she perseveres in her own journey and in her recovery.

By using her education and her experiences in her personal and professional life, Dr. Vansiea effectively shares her testimony to engage, encourage and empower the lives of others.

Suicide & Depression

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 @ 2:32 AM

I am writing this first blog for my new psychiatry practice “Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services, P.C” on this last day of September 2019. This narrative of the blog is based offer personal and professional experiences and knowledge. It’s never easy to write about challenging topics such as suicide and depression. We live our lives every day with multiple life’s challenges such as relationship, financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, social and mental health etc. to name a few. How do you keep hope alive in the middle of the storms of life when your mind feels so sad, lost, overwhelmed, down, hopeless and loss of desire to continue living? This brings me to the topics of suicide and depression.
How can we not actively have realistic dialogues about this topic when it hits close to some of our homes frequently whether being in our families, churches, workplaces, schools and communities? Let’s be honest, how many times have we been so shocked to hear of one of our favorite celebrities losing their lives to suicide such as Robin Williams and Antony Bourdain? Unfortunately, society places a lot of labeling and stigma on this topic that prevents the active conversation, discussion and treatment in seeking out help when experiencing depression, suicidal thoughts or suicide. These are especially “hush hush” conversations in the black and African American communities as an African American/Americo-Liberian Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry. I for one grew up in a community of faith as a Christian and Liberian, West African community that shy away from the conversation of talking about mental illness and addiction. I lived my entire young life not quite understanding nor knowing that my father had a mental illness and addiction until in my late teenage years to adulthood. I unfortunately didn’t get to know or remember meeting my father until seeing him in a casket at 12 years old.

I felt a deep sense of not belonging and lack of connection not knowing the other parent who I shared 23 of his chromosomes with and a genetic make-up off. Next, I became ashamed as well when I learned more about him in my later years in very late adolescent to young adulthood years that he had a mental illness and addiction. Lack of knowledge, insight, awareness, compassion, love, empathy and education are contributing factors to stigma, shame and taboos that society places on people struggling to deal with mental illness. I didn’t know any better and my family didn’t keep these conversations in my early years about mental illness nor my father’s per say. In all honesty, I didn’t quite gain wisdom, knowledge and understanding about mental illness and addiction in relationship to my father and his journey until my 30’s; and when I became a professional in the mental health field. In addition, I had more understanding when I became grounded in my faith and spiritual walk with God. I truly see now why the bible states in Proverbs 4:7 that “therefore get wisdom. And in all you’re getting, get understanding.”

Second point is what is depression? Depression is when one feels consistently sad and down with some symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness over a period that is worsening and not getting better. Other symptoms of depression are difficulty sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, irritability, decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide. Depression effects your thoughts, feeling and behavior. In addition, if left untreated, it can lead to suicide thoughts and successful intentional loss of life by suicide which I have dialogued about earlier. What can we do differently? I think the key is paying attention to the early warning signs of depression and suicide. For example, if you are reading this blog and someone you know or yourself is having thoughts, have a plan and means to harm themselves please call 911; seek help with a professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “suicide is a major public health concern. Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States.” Let me share some statistics with you all according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports in 2017 that stated, “suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,000 people.” The CDC statistics also showed that “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.” What I also find even more alarming being a veteran and former active duty soldier according to the Department of Veteran Affairs suicide report from data covering 2005-2015 is the high suicide rates as well. The report states that “20.6 suicides every day” with a breakdown being “16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty service members, guardsmen and reservists.”

Please allow me now to share my own testimony when I was medically discharged from the military over 16 years ago while experiencing a complicated pregnancy, dealing with medical issues that were complicated even further with financial and mental health issues of Major Depression. The combination and stress of being pregnant and jobless carrying a child with no income, therefore attributed to my mental health challenges with Depression and then suicidal thoughts. Years ago, I was in a very dark place and my life then didn’t seem very meaningful with all the stressors and to climax the rising hormones of carrying my first child. In addition, my husband at that time had no job and was a full-time student in a Doctorate Degree program.

I felt then hopeless, loss, depressed and not very fulfilled being a professional Registered Nurse that was medically discharged and pregnant at that time with no means of income. I experienced depression and I had suicide thoughts that I was better off being out of this world then being in it. I was also ashamed to tell anyone close to me that I was experiencing depression while pregnant. At some point of my journey my faith was questioned, and I didn’t feel that God treated me fairly. I did manage in my lowest moments to seek out professional mental health services such as psychotherapy/counseling and medication management over the years that made a difference in my thoughts, feeling and actions. Over the several years my faith and walk with God has become stronger to now allow me to pursue my professional venture that I am deeply passionate and compassionate about now as a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry. Living with physical and mental health challenges has allowed me to remain humble and empathetic more than ever in this professional journey that God has placed me in. I now know how it personally feels to be the nurse, patient and provider.

I want this blog to be an open forum to dialogue about everyday realistic nonfictional hands-off topics that are affecting our lives and communities. The goals and objectives that I hope to promote from my readers are to gain, knowledge, understanding, gain insight and awareness and wisdom to seek out help when experiencing these challenges. I was blessed along my life journey to have great psychiatrists; counselors and therapists that introduced healthy options to relief my mental health challenges through “talk therapy” also known as counseling and psychotherapy and/or in conjunction with medication management. In addition, I kept myself and children involved in a community of faith life, improved my diet, improved my prayer life, exercised, meditated and began listening to more gospel music to uplift my spirit. Everyone situation is not the same and there is no one size fits all for mental health treatment and recovery. The key is finding a practitioner or seeking out help from someone that you can develop a safe and trusting therapeutic alliance with to gain help in order to ease your pain which is the number one goal and objective for your healing journey to begin. This is not a forum to cast judgment on anyone but to be open minded and supportive to the needs of others.

Depression and suicide are real, and they go hand in hand. We need to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper and pay more attention to signs of fluctuating mood, excessive sadness, hopelessness, lack of desire to live, conversation about death, giving away belongings, homicidal plans and taking excessive risk. I can’t stress more than ever the importance to surround oneselves with supportive environments whether communities of faith, family, friends or/and seeking out professional help. It is imperative that early intervention for both depression and suicide be sought out early to have a better prognosis and life sustainability. In closing, I would like to share one of my favorite scriptures in the bible from Jeremiah 29:11 that states “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So basically, God wants us to have a fruitful, rewarding and progressive life by seeking out help when we need to in order to develop better coping mechanism to deal with life’s trials and tribulations. Lastly, I wish you all well, much love, blessings and peace of mind so please listen to this song by Darlene McCoy which states “I shall live and not die”

Monday, November 4, 2019

Grand Opening-Celebrate A New Life

Monday, November 4, 2019 @ 6:44 PM

GRAND OPENING: Celebrate A New Life at TruVida, a Christian Residential Addiction Treatment Center, launches Program For Drug Rehab in a Safe and Nurturing Community
Celebrate A New Life, a California faith based Christian Drug Rehab Program at TruVida, provides healing and recovery services for clients.
Celebrate A New Life gladly invites inquiries from family members and future clients. We are happy to explain our services and our faith based treatment approach, incorporating 12 step programs, therapeutic workshops, individual psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, spiritual counseling, physical fitness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more. "Our Christian treatment center professionals creates each client's therapeutic plan according to their addiction history, physical health, mental health and spiritual needs," says Bobby Nicholl.

About Celebrate A New Life: Celebrate A New Life is a Christian Residential Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Program, located in the coastal communities of Orange County Southern California. As an integrated component of one of the very best treatment facilities and drug rehab programs in the United States, Celebrate A New Life culminates a Biblical Christ centered approach to healing, restoration, and reconciliation to God, family, and to one's own dignity and self-worth. Celebrate a New Life offers 30-60-90 day programs in a comfortable safe ocean environment. If you or a family member is in need of help call toll-free (800) 631-7753

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Depression, Suicide and Medicine by Rev. Daniel Gowan

Thursday, October 24, 2019 @ 10:18 AM

D2 Counseling

My heart is hurting.

Last summer a good friend of mine died from his depression. As a minister, it was a privilege to serve his widow by presiding at his memorial service. As his friend I have cried before, during and after his funeral. Suicide invites us to evaluate our relationship with the person, and a lot of “what ifs?” and “if only I had…” surface in our mind. Yet as a counselor I know that depression takes people to places they would not go on their own, and at some point, get so far out there they cannot get back on their own, or even ask for help.

It is beyond the scope of this writing to go into depression, medicine or suicide at any length but there is a stigma that surrounds these issues that need to be considered. Mental illness is an organic chemical imbalance. This chemical imbalance can often be addressed in a number of ways. Exercise is one way. We’ve all heard of endorphins and their effect on the brain. While I personally don’t believe in endorphins while I am on the last quarter mile while running on the treadmill (then I only believe in panting), I do know that somehow I feel better if I work out regularly both physically and mentally. There is a physical reaction, an organic reaction that occurs in the brain that addresses the chemical imbalance when someone is depressed. Another way this chemical imbalance can be addressed is through counseling. Changes in brain chemistry can be made with changes in behavior. You can act your way into right thinking (and feeling) in many circumstances. The process is gradual, though remarkable progress can be made. Another way to address the chemical imbalance is through medicine. Sometimes it is the only way, depending on the imbalance.

Depression is best addressed however with a combination of these resources, including medicine. Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to depression, and its treatment. In fact, this stigma continues with most mental illness. With education and time, I hope this stigma disappears. (We used to believe there was something wrong with left-handed people. Ever heard of a “left handed compliment?” The stigma around being left-handed is the etiological source of this phrase). Anyway, there is resistance to the belief that medicine is appropriate for use in depression. That somehow the individual should just “snap themselves out of it.”

If you subscribe to this approach I would challenge you to tell a diabetic to “just get over it” without their insulin, or that someone should just “snap out” of their high blood pressure. The principle is the same. Medicine can help address the chemical imbalance of the diabetic, one with high blood pressure and the depressed.

I cannot begin to imagine the dark place that my friend found himself when suicide seemed like a good choice. To be in a place where the ending of one’s life looks like a reasonable alternative. To be in that place, something is chemically broken in the brain and the illness succeeded in taking his life. If my practice is any indicator, men seek treatment far less that women do, yet studies show that depression affects both sexes about the same. If you or someone you know suffers from depression (or think you might), please take a step towards health and recovery. You do not have to live like this.

My heart is hurting.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Which Story are You Living in?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 @ 5:11 PM

Vector Ministries

Have you ever been in a conversation where someone completely misjudged you?

Over the last few years I have had a few very challenging situations where somebody I respected misinterpreted my actions, and my heart behind them. Surprisingly, they got all the facts of the situation right but somehow came to a very different conclusion about what those facts meant.
Even though they viewed the same events, they somehow managed to tell themselves a very different story about what it all meant. And, it hurt our relationship.

In the end it was the story they believed, not the actual events that happened, that damaged our relationship.
It made me wonder, how often we do this to God?
When God looks at our lives, He certainly sees the same things we do. But, how might the story He is telling be different than the one we believe about our lives?

Everybody has a story. Our life story shapes and perhaps even defines our lives.

But, what kind of story is it that you are living in?

The kind of story that we tell ourselves will determine how we live our lives. In many cases, the stories we tell ourselves will be a matter of life and death.

When we examine our lives, when we reminisce and look back over the whole beautiful mess of sorrow and joy, beauty and ashes, what story do we see? The facts of our lives remain the same but the relevance and meaning take on epically different dimensions when we discern the story that God is telling.

Likewise, other voices want to shape our story. Other voices, who do not have our best interests at heart, spin the facts of our lives in favor of the half-truth version of our story that brings us only pain and death.

Is your story about the traumas and challenges you have faced? Is your story about heartache and disappointment? Is your story about how you became a realist and are just trying to get by? I hear these kinds of stories a lot. In fact, I have lived under the weight of these kinds of stories.

But I have a better story to live in today and so do you.

Frederic Buechner said, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.”
No matter what terrible trials we face in life, we look forward, clinging to the promise that God will make all things right.

For us Christians, our story always has a happy ending, for even in death we are victorious!
The story we choose to live out of today will determine the kind of day we have. And, in turn, the story we tell ourselves will determine the kind of life we have.

Some facts about our lives cannot be changed. Some tragedies are real. Yet, often we are in dire need of a redemptive reframing of the narrative we tell ourselves. Too often, we blame God for not sparing us from the challenges we have faced when truly we should be blaming evil for coming against us—for attacking us. We should place the blame of our pain, trauma and grief squarely where it belongs; on the evil of a fallen world.

Is your story one where God failed to protect you from harm? Or, is your story one where God gave the strength to overcome the evil that came against you?

I have grown too tired of living out the story of a victim. Instead, I choose to live from a victorious story where, by God's grace, I am an overcomer.

I choose to live my life from the real story, the one where God has pursued me, He is for me, He will continue to lift me higher and higher, and not abandon me to fall. Jesus is the hero of my story and he always comes through!

The story I tell myself makes all the difference in my life.

Are you living out of a great story where our great God is actively pursuing a deeper relationship with you? Or are you living from a story where everything in life is really up to you to figure out and do all on your own?

The story you tell yourself makes all the difference in your life.

I see clients all the time who have legitimate pain because they have experienced real tragedy and loss. Life in this fallen world can be savage and brutal. Yet, what often happens is their pain becomes amplified when they buy into a false narrative.

God has a story too.

God is the author of the greatest story ever imagined!

It is a story so big that everything that ever was or ever will be is a part of His Grand Narrative.

But, is that the story that you are living in today?

I confess that most of the time the story that I live out of is… well… much smaller. Smaller and more centered on myself.

But my faith demands that I admit that I, myself, am not meant to be the focus of my own thoughts, much less the author of my own story.

I am not the primary hero of my story. My story involves a greater Hero than I could ever be.

When I get caught up in the small story—the one where I am the focus—it begins to wreak havoc on me. Small annoyances begin to pile up and form serious grievances. Challenges seem to abound that get in the way of accomplishing my goals.

And, I will tell you another thing: it is much harder to forgive people who offend you when you are the focus of your own story. Worst of all, when I am living in the small story, I tend to blame God when things don’t go my way.

Living in the small story is no small thing—it begins to bring death.

It’s too much pressure to be the center of your own story.

I ache for purpose. I think we all do. I think we all ache to know that our story is a part of a greater story.

The Good News is that it is! Your life is a part of the Grand Narrative that God is telling. You have a part in that amazing story.

No one was ever destined for eternal mediocrity.

No, your live has an integral place in this great and never-ending story that God is unfolding.

Will you live from that story today?

I want to see each of us—each one of God’s people—make the choice to live out of a larger story. And, to interpret our story in light of the goodness of our God who promises to never leave us.

This is why gratitude is so essential to our lives.

Gratitude forces us to look back at the facts of our lives and recognize the hand of God in them. Practicing gratitude and thanksgiving shapes the story that we tell ourselves.

Gratitude is an essential practice. Perhaps it is the greatest spiritual discipline.

It certainly has the power to impact everything in our life because it impacts our mood and it shapes our understanding of the story we are in. And, in turn, the story we tell ourselves impacts how we experience everything that happens in life.

We must become a grateful people. We must deliberately cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Living under the weight of a false narrative will rob our joy and kill our connection with God.

So, what story do you choose to live in today?

Turning Transition Into Triumph

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 @ 2:37 PM

Jeannine Gambles, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate offers support and resources for parents and teens during crucial times of the family life cycle with an emphasis on the adolescent in the family. Parents come to one session, teens come to another. Each week has the same focus to encourage discussion within the family.

Email, call or schedule your intake session online today to reserve your spot.

Session 1
Communication
Session 2
Technology and Triggers
Session 3
Peers and Partners
Session 4
Sports and Family
Session 5
Religion and Rebellion: Balance
Session 6
The Whole Family

When

Beginning October 14th, Each Tuesday 6-7 PM Parents
October 19th, Each Saturday 10-11 AM Teens

Where

Acorn Counseling Education Services
1430 Robinson Rd #430 Corinth, Texas

Specifics

*$30.00 per group *Snacks provided *Certificates provided *Guest Speakers

How to Sign Up

Contact Jeannine Gambles at Jeannine@acorncounseling.services. Each family will have an intake and then be able to attend the very next group. Online scheduling for intakes is also available at acorncounseling.services.

acorncounseling.services
1430 Robinson Road #430 Corinth, Texas 76210
940-222-8703 | 940-239-9867 fax
.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Walking On Water: Eight Questions For Leadership And Life

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 @ 4:47 PM

What can we learn about adversity and risk taking in leadership and life with this passage from Matthew 14:24 - 33? Research indicates the winds blew down the valley that formed the Sea of Galilee at a pretty good clip. It's very possible all 12 of the disciples got into a rather small fishing boat with a sail rig and were trying to tack back and forth against a strong wind and rough sea. Write down answers to the relevant questions that speak to your leadership and life.

1. 24 “”But the boat was already a long distance from the land”,

Where in leadership and or life are you a long distance from land? Where in life does it seem you are far away from a solution?

2.“[n]battered by the waves;

Where are you being battered by waves? What's knocking you back? Or battering you?

3. for the wind was [o]contrary.

What is contrary in your work or home life? What does your opposition look like?

4. In the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea (this was the latest night watch)

Where does it seem late in your work or home life? Too late? Where does seem too late on a project or with a person? Where are you tired?

5. They were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out [q]in fear

Where might you be mistaking God a for a ghost? What problem are you seeing as an opportunity or as a defeat?

6. Jesus said, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

The dark and narrow passageway: Can you recognize a comforting voice in the dark and confusion?

7. Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!”

Where is it possible that God is asking you to come forward? Where might risk -taking be worth it? Can you invite others along?

8. And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Where or how do you get distracted from God and what he has called you to? Are you majoring in the minors? Are you leading by fear or by faith?

Getting someone along side you to help you take calculated risks and walk by faith can help you grow at home, church and work.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Hope in Unhappiness

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 @ 2:27 PM

When you hit a bump in the road, you may feel a bit jostled, but most of the time you can probably recover quite easily and quickly. However most couples will reach a point in their marriage when it doesn’t feel like their relationship has hit a minor bump; it feels like a major pothole. If you’ve ever felt stuck in your marriage, or if you’re feeling that way right now, you are not alone. While there are lots of reasons why couples feel dissatisfied, no marriage is always happy. The encouraging part is that potholes can be filled.

You have more than just two choices: stay in a miserable marriage or get divorced. The idea of a third option can be so freeing! We love to talk about being intentional at Marriage Reclaimed, and a situation in which one or both spouses are feeling stuck in the relationship is no exception. Marriage is no passive or zero-sum endeavor. Your actions, or inactions, will affect the outcome of your relationship – and the beauty in this is that change is possible!

At this point, you may be thinking – yes, but she doesn’t know what we’ve been through. And you’re right – I don’t. What I do know is that if we do nothing, we are choosing option 1 (stay in miserable marriage) perhaps without even knowing it, or realizing that we have a choice in the matter. What follows are some foundational ideas for taking a step forward, being intentional, and making a choice to – if I can borrow from Ghandi here – be the change you wish to see in your marriage.

1. Do some self-reflection
Explore the root of your unhappiness. Are there mental health issues at play? Are you still dealing with baggage from your past, or your partner’s? Are you experiencing stress from your current circumstances or worry about the future? Do you have a lack of spiritual or emotional connection with your spouse? Further, consider your expectations and desires – and whether they are realistic. After all, often it is not what life offers, but what we believe that life should offer us that circumvents our happiness.

2. Exercise humility
It’s easy to say to ourselves, “I’ll change when he/she changes.” But if we continue to rely on someone else to start the change process, it’s more than likely that change simply will not happen. We must take some personal responsibility for our part in the state of our marriages. Regardless of what our spouses may have done, we cannot continue to blame them for being the problem and at the same time expect them to be the solution to our misery. Further, we must notice the positives and love unconditionally. We all said vows which, in one way or another, stated “for better or for worse.” So if you’re experiencing the latter, love through it. In doing so, you will begin to create a culture in which your spouse wants to change.

3. Start the conversation
This is possibly one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have with your spouse, but it is important during this time of doubt to be genuine and to share honestly. There is too much at stake here to hide behind fear or embarrassment or apathy. Finally, know that you are not alone and that you’ll need support to get “unstuck.” Whether this comes in the form of a wise mentor or a clinical therapist, my encouragement to you is to take this action sooner rather than later.

For more information and/or support, check out these resources or visit our website for services that we offer to couples at our practice:

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/marriage-challenges/the-unhappy-marriage

www.wynnsfamilypsychology.com 

https://marriagereclaimedwfp.wixsite.com/marriagereclaimed

Friday, August 30, 2019

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!

Friday, August 30, 2019 @ 6:07 PM

Summer is coming to an end and the new fall routines are starting. Now is the time to reflect on Main Things. These can be different depending on your family culture and values. Remember, don’t let the small stuff elevate to Main Things status. In families, as in the corporate world, you have to be aware of “scope creep”. This happens when things grow bigger and bigger and get more complicated until you lose sight of the original Main Things! For example, early in my married life the small thing of folding towels got elevated to Main Thing Status. Really?! I lost sight of the real Main Thing which was the towels were “folded” and put away by my husband so I didn’t have to do it. The Main Things were Kindness and Acts of Service. I had to let go of “my way of folding” and practice flexible thinking. To this day, we still don’t fold towels the same way…

For me and my family, the three Main Things are God, Family, and Service to others.
God

God

Whether we recognize God’s presence or not, He is around us. The work I do just can’t get done without focusing on this big Main Thing. I realize I am uniquely gifted with talents and learned skills to work with children, couples, and families.To maintain a balance, I keep my “spiritual cup” filled. I intentionally spending time reading, being still to reflect on blessings and being grateful for lessons I’m learning. This last one is particularly difficult for me. There are lessons to be learned when I mess up and I work hard on self-compassion and keeping things in perspective. Not everything is a crisis. I remind myself that my God still loves me despite the mistake. Do I like suffering the consequences of a mistake- NO! I do try to correct and do better next time- YES!

Read more on our blog page or call Dr Pam today! 940-222-8703

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Breakaway Couples Mini-Retreat

Monday, August 12, 2019 @ 12:40 PM

Have you found yourself experiencing an uncomfortable distance in your relationship? Many couples are often unsure of how to approach the situation with their partner and avoid further conflict or possible harm to the relationship. I can help you and your partner learn how to talk to each other, and both of you feel heard and understood. You will understand and develop a deeper appreciation for your partner.

During this all-day retreat, you will learn ways to
communicate more effectively,
build a stronger relationship, &
create an ever-evolving supply of intimacy

Retreat Date:
September 21, 2019
November 16, 2019
January 25, 2020
To learn more and register, visit my website!
https://www.rosalindsmithcounseling.com/mini-retreat

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Managing for Future Generations:The 10 Levers Needed To Steer A Family Business

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 @ 2:50 AM

King Solomon talks about the importance of leaving an inheritance for our children but remember that interference can mean so much more than money.

1. Shared Vision & Values: Regarding strategy, relationships, work ethic, money, and success

2. Shared Influence: Across generations, among spouses, and among siblings/cousins and geared to individual capabilities

3. Valued Traditions: That are characteristic of this family and set it apart from other families

4. Receptivity to Learning and Growing: Being open to new perspectives and new approaches; embodies a critical orientation that underlies mastering change and overcoming obstacles

5. Investment in Relationship Enhancement: The most robust families have traditions and mechanisms they use to play together and enjoy one another; these accumulated playful experiences serve as a buffer during difficult times

6. Demonstrative Caring: Open demonstrations of empathy for family members during good times and bad; making the clear statement, ”You are important to me.”

7. Mutual Admiration: Earned by building trust, based on a track record of being consistently accountable and true to your word.

8. Being There: Especially at times of grief, failure, or embarrassment; how a family interacts with a distressed family member is highly correlated with long-term family harmony and business success

9. Maintaining Space: Respect for individual privacy and for the privacy of each family unit within the extended family constellation

10. Circumscribed/Managed Conflicts: Feuding members all too frequently bring in ”reinforcements”. The family needs to know how to prevent members, who are tangential to a given conflict, out of the middle and then address the conflict with finesse.

How are you going to make sure that the heart of your original legacy is passed on to the next generation? How do you want to set them up for success? Pulling together this group of positive interventions with outside help can make so much of an important difference. Reaching out beyond the family can give you the leverage to steer all of you in the best direction.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The 10 Upsides of Family-Owned Businesses

Thursday, August 1, 2019 @ 3:57 PM

Creating, building, and sustaining a family business is not only a fundamental American dream (over 20 million family businesses in the U.S.– 92% of all U.S. businesses), but is also a powerful dream in most other modern capitalist economies (for example, over 75% of all U.K. businesses are family owned). The benefits of family businesses are manifold, genuine, and in many cases psychologically profound. Remember, though as you read this, that Solomon tells us, "It is better to have a friend that is near than a brother that is far away" which means in families and business it's important to have relationships that are from the heart and not just based on role-obligation or expectation.

Consider WIIFF (What's in it for the family). A family business:

1. Creates a heritage for the family and serves as a medium for perpetuating a family's history, traditions, pride, and core values and belief

2. Serves as a powerful testimonial to the success and potency of a family

3. Provides the ultimate career and financial safety net one’s children and grandchildren

4. Offers participating family members greater independence and control of their fate than a more traditional career path

5. Establishes a very special glue (a bonding material, as it were) that can hold a family together around a common set of interests, activities, challenges, opportunities, threats, milestones, relationships, and daily schedules

6. Demonstrates to an entire community (and various sub-communities) that this is a family to be admired and respected

7. Makes it more certain that individual family members will have the fullest opportunities as adults to “stretch“ developmentally and to self-actualize

8. Improves the chances that family members will be able to involve themselves in meaningful philanthropic activities and become pillars of their communities

9. Makes it more likely that financial advantages, non-trivial net worth (a.k.a. wealth), and “security“ will accrue to the family

10. Provides greater stability and welfare for its employees and for the community in which it operates
------------------------------------

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Spiritual Leadership in the Home

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 @ 1:33 PM

Marriage Center

In my practice, I hear wives talk about how desperately they want their husbands to lead. This desire usually comes as a result of having witnessed their dad or other significant male figure modeling spiritual leadership in the home and/or learning perhaps in church that being a spiritual leader is predominantly the role of the man. But wives aren’t the only ones who want their husbands to lead spiritually, husbands want it too. So what seems to be the problem?

Communication Do's and Don'ts

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 @ 1:27 PM

Marriage Center

If it seems that you and your spouse have grown apart or are struggling to connect, the problem may be rooted in your communication styles. It goes without saying that conflict is inevitable in marriage, but how you handle conflict can either strengthen or weaken your relationship.

There are certain styles of communicating that will make it extremely difficult for your relationship to thrive and can lead to the eventual destruction of your marriage. Why? Because communication is the key to building and maintaining relationships. When communication is mishandled, every area of your relationship is negatively impacted.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Eight Ideas About Grieving Well In Leadership

Thursday, July 11, 2019 @ 10:13 PM

Loss in leadership is inevitable. Certainly leadership is about gain in so many ways which is why we forget sometimes that it is commonplace for us to have loss in leadership.

What do we lose in leadership? You might be surprised about some of the things that we lose along the way.

1. As John Maxwell says few of us end up with people that we started off with. It is normal and perfectly healthy for us to lose people along the way. Not in the bad sense but because people move on, change careers, move on with their life perhaps to a different area and even get promoted to a different area in the same company or organization.

2. Even if we have members of the same original team sometimes the loss of certain key people may make your team a very different one. There are times when the same team will be given a new assignment or purpose that wasn't the same as the old one and everybody feels loss at the same time.

3. There are also times when you make mistakes or have failures or members of your team or group blow it and you have to deal with the losses that come from that. Maybe even as part of that your sense of ideal around the other person or persons has been hurt.

4. Loss is connected to hurt and anger. It can be all kinds of things like losing a chance or losing an ideal. Maybe somehow you've lost some sort of value or values. Perhaps you or your team have lost motivation at least for a season.

5. Unmet expectations, disappointments and a loss of purpose can help us feel frustrated as leaders but also can cause hurt and grief. The loss of opportunity can be a big issue. Not recognizing these can cause dissonance in our leadership.

6. Of course when you have to let somebody go you can grieve even if it's a mutual agreement for them to leave. The whole process of letting somebody go can be a huge loss too. Your loss feelings might be mixed in with your confusion and your anxiety around conflict.

7. In order to deal with grief as a leader first understand that loss is part of the role. Next make sure you express your feelings to God, others and even yourself. Scripture tells us to "Grieve with those who grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice." Be willing to share. Writing out what comes up can also be very helpful as well as writing out a letter to someone you lost as if they were far, far away. Only send the letter if it is wise to do so.

8. Writing out your ideal if the situation warrants that can also be helpful. For example, writing out how a sales project or team building experience was expected to go after a failure or mission creep makes the whole thing go sideways can be very helpful.

Debriefing and a “post-mortem” with a coach can do much to clarify and reset things. Resolving the grief feelings and renewing a sense of purpose can be very helpful.

Monday, July 8, 2019

You Can't Please Everyone

Monday, July 8, 2019 @ 6:59 PM

A big struggle in life for some people is being a "people pleaser".  I know, I am one.  I try to please people, I do it because I want people to like me.  Now, I have come a long way in this and I have learned my lesson (many times) when I get caught in the trap.  But I have had to learn that being a people pleaser is both bad for others and harmful to me.  Do you struggle with being a "people pleaser"? 
Here are a few quotes I found helpful on this topic:

“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”  – Ed Sheeran

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“When you say “yes” to others, make sure you aren’t saying “no” to yourself.”  – Paulo Coehlo

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”  – Lao Tzu

“If you try to please all, you please none.”  – Aesop

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”  – Aristotle

“If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” – Lecrae

“The only thing wrong with trying to please everyone is that there’s always at least one person who will remain unhappy. You.”  – Elizabeth Parker

“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.”  – Dinkar Kalotra

Your Turn:

Do you have any thoughts or quotes about the harmful effects of being a "People Pleaser"?  In 100 words or less please send me your ideas to terry.porter@healthfio.com.  Please remember to like and share this post and follow terry-porter.com/blog.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

3 beliefs that block us from hearing God

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:42 PM

Vector Ministries

God is still speaking to His people.

His communication with us is not simply a thing of the past, a relic of a bygone era.

In fact, God speaks to us all the time.

I work to help people discover more of His presence and power in their lives. That includes learning to hear God speak and discerning how to respond to His leading.

In my time working with people, I have found 3 very common beliefs that block people from hearing what God is speaking to them. I want to share these common misconceptions so that together we can break through the barriers they bring.

The 3 Beliefs That Block Us From Hearing God:

1. The belief that God is not speaking.

Many Christians believe that God only spoke prior to the writing of Scripture. Many others, who believe that God occasionally still speaks assume that they are not spiritual enough to hear Him or that He does not have anything to say to them.

Yet, I find that God is regularly speaking. In fact, sometimes He is quite chatty and He has plenty to say to anyone who wants to take the time to actually listen.

Scripture gives us no indication that God has stopped speaking to His people. In fact, it says the opposite. When Paul said to the Corinthians to eagerly pursue the gift of prophecy he was telling them that it is indeed possible to receive revelation from God that they could each share with the community (1 Corinthians 14:1). In other words, Paul told the entire Corinthian church—who were not known for their stellar spiritual maturity—that each of them could hear from God.

Throughout the history of the Church there are countless stories of men and women of faith that have had incredible encounters with God. Such accounts are given to us to show what is possible.

The same is true for the cases we find in Scripture. Examples of God interacting with His people in the Bible illustrate how ordinary people can have extraordinary experiences with the divine. The stories in Scripture are meant to instruct on what is possible when we walk with God.

2. The assumption that God speaks audibly from outside us

Truthfully, God 'speaks' in a variety of ways, but very seldom audibly. Most of what He communicates to us privately comes from the still small voice within. Since His spirit now resides in us, His voice will almost always come to us from within (as opposed to without). Yet, we often ignore His voice.

If we dismiss our own internal dialogue, we will dismiss the chief way God has designated to commune with us. His voice is often softer, slower and gentler than the world around us. Life in modern society is fast-paced, invasive and loud. So, we have to intentionally cultivate an inner quiet that allows us to be present to ourselves and aware of God’s Holy Spirit speaking.

God honors our freedom to choose, so He rarely speaks loud enough to command us to do something. He seems to reserve that kind of interaction only for the times we are headed for serious trouble.

Instead, His leadings tend to be more gentle prompts, reminders, a series of “coincidences”, feelings and even physical sensations. Sometimes He will bring a verse from Scripture to mind or give us a certain word or phrase. Often, He will give us a certain gut feeling that we can use to discern the situation around us.

Many people have much more mystical and charismatic encounters. But, even if you have not experienced that kind of thing, you can be sure that God has already been speaking to you in a variety of ways.

3. The lie that God is unkind.

Most Christians would profess that God is a loving God. Yet, when it comes down to it, they have failed to really internalize that truth.

Because of that, many people carry the assumption that God is really displeased with them and their choices. They feel that He is disappointed with our sinfulness and really wishes that we would get it together.

Truthfully, God is not as focused (obsessed really) with sin as we are. He has already made provision for it to be paid for upon the cross.

He already knows who and what we are. And, He has chosen to redeem us and set up shop within us anyway. He is under no illusions as to what we have done or what we are capable of. Despite our frailty, He is still pleased with us.

Scripture says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Therefore, any and all words, thoughts or ideas that make us feel bad, shamed or dirty DO NOT come from Him.

In fact, His voice tends to be the exact opposite. He is generally encouraging, uplifting and empowering. He is the warmest, friendliest and most fun Being that has ever or will ever exist! Even when He does convict us of sin He does so in such a way that shows us that we are capable of so much more.

This is relevant because I regularly find that people dismiss communication from God because it sounds too affirming, too encouraging, too friendly, too imaginative, too hopeful and too playful. His words are much more full of life than they are accustomed to. Their own negative self-talk and condemning attitudes tend to convince them that God must share in their abasing self-perceptions and therefore the 'nice' words they hear from Him must be a product of their own wishful thinking.

Now, not every pleasant thought that passes through our heads comes from God. However, it would not hurt any of us to believe that God is more kind and encouraging than anyone we have ever known.

Conclusion

Truly, we all need to examine our thought-life and take our thoughts captive to the love of Christ. Our minds need to be renewed to the truth of His goodness and acceptance of us.

This is truly what it means to have a relationship with Christ—to recognize that we are indeed one of His sheep that hear His voice and to live in constant conversation with Him.

So, here are 3 Great Truths:

1. God is still speaking to us.

2. He speaks in ways that we are meant to understand.

3. His messages to us are encouraging and full of life. When we live from these truths, we will experience a new freedom and exuberance in life.

Help to Hear His Voice:

I have put together some great resources to help you begin to hear God’s voice and to grow in your relational conversations with Him. The AGAPE prayer (https://www.VectorMinistries/resources) is a good place to begin and Spiritual Reading is a great tool for connecting to God’s communication through Scripture.

Be sure to check out the resources page and let me know how they are working out for you.

Blessings!
Patrick

God Likes You!

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:38 PM

Vector Ministries

God likes you.

No, really. He actually really likes... you.

Take a moment and let the words sink in: God likes you. He really does.

Most Christians are accustomed to saying that “God loves us.” It seems that John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” is the most widely recognized verse of them all. We all seem to know it.

Yet, it seems that very few believers actually internalize the truth of it to the point they understand that God not only loves them, but He actually likes them too!

Though many of us know John 3:16, I find that not many of us are familiar with the next verse: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).” God is pleased with everything that He has made—including each one of us. When He made the earth and everything in it, He saw all of creation as being “good” (Genesis 1:1-24). God did not give up on creation, including each one of us, after the fall.

Often people find it hard to believe that God likes them.

Many of us feel embarrassed or even ashamed in His presence. Often we import experiences with our earthly fathers onto God and assume that our Heavenly Father behaves the same way. It may be difficult to believe that God actually likes us, but it is a journey that each one of our hearts needs to take.

The fact is that God likes each one of us so much that He aches to be with us.

Scripture says that Jesus endured the suffering of the cross for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). The joy he was after was the reconciliation and reunion of his people—his friends. Jesus was clear, he considers us his friends (John 15:5). And, so was Father God; He calls us co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), which means that we are brothers and sisters to Jesus. He is our big brother, the firstborn of the redeemed children of God (Romans 8:29).

Christ did not suffer because he felt obliged to put up with us for all eternity. No! He suffered because he could not stand to live forever without us. He died to be with us.

The whole work of God is the reclamation of His creation, including the restoration of His people.

Everything He does is because He wants to be near us. This is what it means that He is a jealous God; He wants a relationship with us. Have you ever pondered over this? God so desires a relationship with us that He burns with jealousy when we devote ourselves to other idols. He so desires our affection that His heart is wounded without it. Christ wanted to be a reconciled family with us that he was willing to suffer and die in order to achieve it.

Why? Well, it seems pretty easy to say that it is because God loves us. But, really, does that explain it? The word love is so convoluted in our culture that sometimes it loses its meaning. I certainly think that in the church it is easy to lose sight of what God’s love for us really means.

Truly, what it means is that God likes us: He likes who we are, He enjoys spending time with us, He likes talking with us, He values our input and listens to our prayers, He plans good out ahead of time: good gifts to give us, and He takes a vested interest in the course of our lives including every detail.

He has stared adoringly at our faces so many times that He has counted the hairs on our head. He knows our every wrinkle, every blemish, every sin and He still adores us anyway. Nothing we have every done will ever change how He feels about us (Romans 8:31).

When we really start to get the fact that God likes us—not just loves us, but actually likes us—our whole world begins to change. For me, it has meant a greater degree of security in who I am, and consequently, more courage to step out into new adventures. It has given me the assurance that no matter what happens in life, and even if I should fail utterly, that God will still be my friend and be proud of me for trying.

Know this: should you fall flat on your face, God will still smile every time He sees you.

I know that this wasn’t something I grew up hearing in Sunday school, but the Bible is clear that God “will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17).” God actually makes us songs to sing over us because He delights in us so much.

Can you picture it? God dancing and singing in Heaven because He so adores His people?

God likes you. Think about it today. Ponder it. And, above all… dare to believe it. It will change your life. It certainly has changed mine.

How do you know that you are following God's path for your life?

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:37 PM

Vector Ministries

I think every one of my clients has asked it in one way or another. Maybe every Christian has asked it. It certainly is a common question.

And, let’s be honest, it’s a good question to ask.

It’s a good question to ask even if our motives are mixed. Sometimes we ask God’s will because we genuinely want to know. Sometimes we ask because we aren’t 100% sure we want to follow His will. And, sometimes we ask God’s will because we really want to try to hedge our bets and mitigate the risk that is inherent in making any choice in life.

Every journey comes with risk. Sometimes we are so scared of making the wrong choice that we want a guarantee that it will all work out. So, we end up seeking God’s will not so much out of a desire to do it His way, but more from a place of being afraid to get it wrong.

But, regardless of our motives—however mixed they may or may not be—I think God genuinely wants to communicate with us. He wants us to seek His will. And, He wants to make His will known!

In most cases, God communicates to us in ways that we are meant to understand.

So, what does it look like to “hear” Him speak to us about our lives? How do we know that we are on the right path, making the right choices?

Generally, the process goes something like this: Inspiration, Affirmation, Confirmation, Formation, Generation, and Opposition.

Let’s take a look at the process in a little more depth:

1. Inspiration—God inspires you with a thought, idea or feeling. You get an insight or urge to do something. Often, we think that these thoughts are our own and don’t realize they come from God. Sometimes we dismiss them outright as being ludicrous or impractical.

Example: One day, seemingly out of the blue, you get the thought that you should move to Denver.

2. Affirmation—As you begin to think about the possibilities of this Inspiration someone or something gives you encouragement to keep considering it as possible. As you step into the idea, you get more reasons to hope that you are on the right path.

Example: You run your crazy idea to start a business by your best friend and surprisingly she tells you to go for it!

3. Confirmation—As you step forward, circumstances come together to help make a way. Life opens up possibilities and opportunities. You knock on the door and it opens a little bit. It’s like when God did the impossible and parted the Red Sea or when He parted the Jordan—after the Israelites stepped in.

Example: You decide to go back to school even though you can’t afford it. You put in an application, and lo and behold, out of nowhere you get a scholarship opportunity that makes it possible to go.

4. Formation—As you continue to walk the path that you are on, it becomes so natural to you that you simply don’t question it anymore. This is simply what you do, birds fly, fish swim, and you do X and no longer question if it is the right thing to do. It is so clearly the will of God. It’s been Inspired, Affirmed and Confirmed so often that it is now ingrained in you and you have been formed by obediently following this path. This has become second nature to you—or more appropriately, this is your renewed nature in action.

Example: You made a decision to volunteer as part of a ministry. Despite your misgivings you felt God lead you into it and you did it. Now you have been doing it for so long that it has become a part of your life—and it gives you life. Every time you go, you just know that this is where you are supposed to be.

5. Generation—Your life with God blesses others. Your journey and the wisdom you got from walking this path now provides Inspiration, Affirmation, Confirmation and Formation for others. You generate new life in others as they seek to journey with God.

Example: You have been following God’s leading in your marriage for years. And, now younger couples are beginning to come around you asking for insight on how to do this life. You get to pass on what you have learned to a younger generation.

However, know that if you are really following God, you will make an impact in this world and you WILL face Opposition.

So, there is a sixth principle to be aware of:

6. Opposition—In this life, you will have trouble. There are forces at work that actively oppose the will of God. As you step into following God’s leading, you will likely encounter some push back. This could come at any point along the journey. You may encounter it as early on as Inspiration. It may come to try to counteract Affirmation. It may create counterfeit experiences to try to tell you that the Confirmation you received isn’t legit. It may come to upend your formation and make you doubt your course. Or it may come to condemn your Generation and tell you that you don’t really have anything of value to offer others.

Example: When I felt God’s call to go to Bible college, I told my mentor who I trusted very much. He dismissed it outright and told me that I was arrogant to even consider college. And, he wanted me to abandon the idea of going to a Christian school. In fact, he said that I had too much baggage to ever consider going into any kind of God-related vocation.

I really valued that man’s opinion. But he was just wrong!

Something else was speaking through him—something negative, something that wanted to keep me playing small.

Opposition often comes from up close. Sometimes it comes from those we love.
But, if we are wise, what often is meant to hurt us can actually confirm that we are indeed on the right path.

No Christian gets through life without encountering Opposition! When it comes try to remember that your battle is not with flesh and blood but with dark forces and spiritual strongholds that stand opposed to the will of God.

Now, just because we run into obstacles or opposition is not, in and of itself, an indication that we are on the right path. But when it comes in combination with the other parts of this process it is a good indication that you are headed in the right direction!

Seldom does something worthwhile come easy. But Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not withstand the advance of his people.

As we step forward, bringing bits and pieces of Heaven to Earth, we will see trouble. But we will see victories as well! And, even more so, we will see how God can transform our lives as well as the world around us.

I am sure you have your stories about how God has come through for you. Maybe you could share one today. Can you tell someone about a time that God did something amazing in your life?

I’d love to hear a good story. I am sure that you have plenty of them to share.

What are some of the things God has done that told you that you were on the right path?

How do you know when you are stepping into God’s will or following His leading?

Blessings,
Patrick

Choose Joy

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:35 PM

Vector Ministries

Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the best books I have ever read. If you have not read yet, then you really should. I plan to write more about it in a future post.

But, for now, you should know that the author, Victor Frankl, was a Jewish psychologist who had his world ripped apart when he was thrown into the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Frankl lost everything and everyone he loved. Yet, amid such incredible suffering, he witnessed firsthand how a prisoner’s mindset made the difference between surviving and succumbing to the situation. Frankl saw that a prisoner’s mindset quite literally made the difference between life and death.

In that place, where everything had been stripped from him, Frankl discovered that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl found that no matter what, we still retain the power to choose the way we will respond.

We retain the power of choice.

Isn’t that interesting? Free will—the thing that we are told that God values so much—remains even when all else is lost. Wow!

Now tell me, why is it so hard to believe that we are actually in control of how we respond to life and its myriad of frustrating and unfair situations?

Why does it feel so untrue that we have the power to choose?

I know in my life it often feels like I am simply riding the waves that life sends out while trying to keep my head above water. I generally feel like I am responding, even reacting, to the things that life throws at me.

But then there was Victor Frankl and he discovered the power to choose his attitude even while suffering from being frost-bitten, flea-bitten and while literally starving to death in a Nazi concentration camp.

I suppose if there was ever a place to test whether hope can prevail, it was Auschwitz.

… [selah]…

Now, let me shift gears mentally for a moment.

Earlier today I was in prayer and I asked the Lord what He wanted to say to people in this post. I heard Him respond “Enjoy your life.”

Enjoy your life?

I was a little surprised. I was expecting something that might be a little more helpful for solving some of life’s more pressing problems.

But no, God said “Enjoy your life.”

Intrigued, I asked Him to tell me more. And, to my surprise, He told me a LOT more.

I felt the still small voice of God’s Spirit rise up like a lion getting ready to pounce. He got loud, serious and direct. Inside my heart I heard the Voice of Thunder say:

ENJOY YOUR LIFE. I WANT PEOPLE TO ENJOY THEIR LIVES. I AM NOT A KILLJOY; I AM THE MAKER OF JOY! I CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH TO BRING LIFE. I MADE THE GARDEN A PARADISE OF EVERLASTING PLEASURE AND I AM THE ONE WHO PAID THE PRICE TO REDEEM IT ALL. I WILL BRING THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS. I WILL BRING EVERLASTING JOY. FOR NOW, KNOW THAT BY ENJOYING YOUR LIVES YOU ARE BRINGING A LITTLE TASTE OF HEAVEN TO EARTH. YOU ARE BRINGING THE QUALITIES AND ESSENCE OF ETERNITY INTO THE PRESENT. BRING JOY AND YOU INVITE HEAVEN INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. AND, WHEN YOU BRING HEAVEN INTO THE WORLD EVERYTHING CHANGES!

Wow! Like I said, I wasn’t expecting that. But I loved it!

It got me to thinking…

I think we all want to be happy. And, many of us Christians know that there is a real difference between the happiness of having good circumstances and the joy that comes from deep within.

I think that most of us believers choose joy—at least on an intellectual level.

But, what about on a heart level?

If so many of us are choosing joy, why don’t more of us actually look joyful?

I know that mentally we make the choice to choose joy. But, how do we live it, how do we truly choose it?

So, I asked God again for more insight. This time I did not hear the thunder. Instead, the Still Small Voice came to my heart, speaking barely above a whisper:

… savor your senses… practice gratitude… exercise humility…
… eliminate hurry, worry, pride, urgency and arrogance…
… take down your defensive walls…
… risk appearing foolish and laugh at yourself if you do…
…smile…

All that sounded good and practical enough (albeit not necessarily easy to do).

Then the scripture ran through my head, “We are fools for the sake of Christ”. I received the divine invitation to laugh at myself more, to risk appearing foolish for the sake of enjoying my life in Christ.

In Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis wrote that “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Lewis envisioned life in Eternity as being filled with such a degree of play and dance that it would seem scandalously frivolous to us when viewed through the lens of our overly pragmatic lives here on Earth.

I think he was right.

When we bring a new level of the frivolity and joy to bear upon our world, we bring a little bit of Heaven’s reality into the atmosphere around us.

To choose joy in the midst of toil and suffering is to bring a little bit of Heaven to Earth.

Even to find joy in the small things, in the mundane and mediocre, has the power to shift our entire experience of life.

To exercise our last great freedom—the power to choose our mindset—and choose to live in joy, is to honor God’s ultimate intention for the universe.

For, if we are made to enjoy life with God then it follows that we can start that right now, wherever we are.

In fact, it is a grace and a privilege for us to know joy as we do—to know Christ. Therefore, it is an affront to those who don’t yet know that gift if we refuse to cherish it; if we refuse to exercise it.

So, it seems a mandate—a direct order from Heaven—that you and I must choose joy!

We simply must insist upon enjoying our lives!

What a wonderful duty!

What a privilege to serve a God who is so committed to our joy that He insists that we that we actually practice enjoying our lives!

In fact, many of the Old Testament laws, like the Sabbath and the festival celebrations, bear witness to the fact that God wants His people to enjoy life. And, when Jesus came, wasn’t he always spending time hanging out at parties and having dinner with friends?

So, here we are, left with only one real choice.

As Christ followers, as the people of God, we must choose joy.
We must choose joy and then actively pursue it like someone who is drowning pursues a life-preserver. For that is exactly what joy is!

Joy is our life-preserver.

We have the power to choose our response to life. We have the power to let the joy rooted deep within us come up high and blossom out.

Suffering in life may be unavoidable. But misery is mostly a mindset.

Let us choose our mindset wisely.

Let us choose to respond from the well of Living Water deep within!

Brothers and sisters, let us help each other smile more and become a winsome people.

Let us choose joy!


Blessings,
Patrick Meyers

Monday, June 10, 2019

Should I Use My Medical Insurance For Counseling?

Monday, June 10, 2019 @ 7:12 PM

One of the questions I’m often asked by potential clients is, “Do you take insurance?” I mean, you pay for health insurance for a reason and you want to use it when you can, right? While I don’t participate in direct billing with insurance companies, there are many insurance policies that will reimburse for treatment you’ve received. These are generally known as Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) or Point of Service (POS).

The Seven Myths of Christian Counseling

Monday, June 10, 2019 @ 6:53 PM

There are a lot of myths in regards to Christian counseling. Probably the biggest myth is that Christian counseling is about telling people what God wants them to do! Today’s Christian counseling is not about telling you what to do our believe, but rather it’s about exploring how ones faith (Regardless of what that is) impacts their own identity and ultimately their life story.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Understanding The Always-Angry Boss

Friday, June 7, 2019 @ 7:08 PM

Do you know a boss or leader who is super-confrontational? Lacks tact? Sees everything in black or white? Can win the point, but lose the person? Henry Cloud and John Townsend talk about what might be missing in that leader's life

"Randy, a bright financial manager, had achieved much success in his field. As chief financial officer for several companies, he was valued for his ability to forecast a company’s financial needs. But whenever someone questioned his decisions or opposed him in any way, he could get vicious. He had a knack for turning normal conflicts into win-lose confrontations; matters of simple disagreement quickly became adversarial. His basic orientation was 'for' and 'against.' If someone questioned him, he assumed that person was 'against' him, and he began to mobilize his defenses to fight off the 'attack.'

This leader lived by fear rather than by faith. In early childhood he had not had been able to put his mom's love inside. He could not "....write kindness and truth on the tablets of his heart." His heart was too busy fighting an imagined enemy.

"Randy’s pattern of insecurity interfered with his ability to keep a job. He would do well for a while in a company, his strengths shining and the CEO generally pleased with his accomplishments, until his adversarial mode of operation would divide the management team. Lines would be drawn until finally the president would figure out what was going on and let Randy go. Randy’s insecurity came from a lack of basic trust at his core. Without a mother’s love inside, Randy experienced the world as a hostile and dangerous place. His role in this world was to defend himself."

Consequences and hard work can do much to help this person heal and grow. Accountability, anger management, therapy and executive coaching can help him get the love and integrity in his heart along with deep, real friendship where he can bring his real self with it's needs and hurts to a safe place.

Cloud, Henry, Boundaries And Leaders: How To Be Ridiculously In Charge

Cloud, Henry, Townsend, John. The Mom Factor: Dealing with the Mother You Had, Didn't Have, or Still Contend With (p. 30).

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

PTSD: Community Awareness

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 @ 6:14 PM

Alpha Counseling

The public is invited to a free workshop on PTSD. The workshop will be on Thursday June 27, 2019 from 6:00 pm until 8:00pm. Learn from multiple professionals on the warning signs and symptoms of PTSD, learn treatment options for PTSD, and learn how you can help. Stand with us and be part of the solution to PTSD!

Alpha Counseling is a safe place in which we encourage our clients to bring their faith into treatment. We treat all mental health and dual diagnosis disorders. We offer an environment of healing, growth, and support. Our highly trained and experienced state licensed counselors are here to help you, and walk with you in discovering solutions in a compassionate and faith driven atmosphere. We are dedicated to helping you achieve your individual, marital, and/or family needs for healing, strength and growth.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Depression Group

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 @ 6:06 PM

Weekly Depression Support Group
Helping build Godly motivation to overcome emotional challenges.