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Friday, June 26, 2020

Let Go & Let God

Friday, June 26, 2020 @ 2:35 AM

A Place 4 Me

We often hear people say, “You just need to ‘Let Go and Let God...’”

In our 4-Session Series, we want to Walk With You Through the PROCESS of letting go of baggage that has held you back and kept you from reaching your full potential.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are offering this series (and our other classes & workshops) for only $49/each session.

These confidential sessions are offered online, at your convenience, by one of our licensed or trained staff.

Now is the time... This is YOUR YEAR to Let Go & Let God!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

When all else fails and your own devices aren't sufficient to fill the emptiness reach out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 @ 11:11 AM

Evelyn Leite, MHRLPC has thirty plus years of experience working with chemical dependency and mental health. She is also a Spiritual Director, teacher and trainer for accredited college programs, formerly presenting classes for Oklahoma University in Norman, OK and Oglala Lakota College in Rapid City, SD. Also an adjunct counselor and consultant to an addictions and codependency treatment center in Port Hueneme CA. She worked for several years for Keystone Treatment Center in Sioux Falls, SD and is published by Hazelden Publications and Treatment Centers. She is the developer of several training programs in Codependency, Grief, Suicide Prevention, Conflict Resolution, PTSD and developed the well known Family Restoration Program. She offers nationwide workshops and spiritual strength in the face of crisis.
Everyone connected with an addicted family member or employee needs hope, help and encouragement. Life with an addict is an emotional rollercoaster when a debilitating addiction such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating or other is controlling the home or business. Conflicting feelings of confusion, guilt, shame, self-blame, fear, and anger are the rule and love does not conquer all. You want to help and you don’t know how so you try little bit of everything. Just when you think you are getting somewhere everything falls apart. Your frustration leads to debilitating stress that takes a toll on your health. Often addiction is accompanied by physical abuse, neglect of duties, and/or mental illness which makes the situation feel more impossible. Help is available and starts with the correct information.
Evelyn has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.
Evelyn is currently enrolled in the John Maxwell Certification Program.
Evelyn has many award winning books:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Why a ministry? There is no money in it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 @ 8:31 AM

Why a ministry? There is no money in that.
A chord was struck in me when a person asked my wife and I why we chose to start a ministry because of there being no money in it. Normally, I would not entertain a reaction to comments like these and move to discard them as ignorance. However, for some reason, this has been eating at me for a few days compelling a response. At first, I wanted to discard this comment as being a meaningless thought from the same minds as those who tend to apply the word “hero” to a skilled athlete as well as calibrate their scales of value and worth by using personal pleasure and selfish gain. Fortunately, I decided not to stay silent.
Let me start by defining what I deem to be a hero. A hero is someone who pushes past every human impulse of danger knowing that there is a greater purpose than their own, someone who is gifted with calmness and precision to remove evil from a distance and who also carries the courage to do the same at arm’s reach, and also someone who sacrifices their own physical and/or personal-self for a purpose which they cannot fully understand.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NLT)
Now let’s look at value. The money that may lack in ministry is replaced by joy and abundance graced by the hands of God. This being the result of rightness, sacrifice, love, and humility. Are the services we provide less valuable or credible because we do not accept blue cross/blue shield, or that we chose not to be state licensed which would place us under the thumb of secular materialism and evolutionary deception? Maybe it is due to the fact that we bridge the Word of God with modern behavioral science, rather than accepting the mainstream theories of who we are, how we are, and what we do to be determined by neuro synaptic activity and whatever gene decides to be transcribed at that moment. Or, maybe it is because we consciously chose not to confuse the order of cause and effect when learning about epigenetics, neuroplasticity, circadian rhythms, CLOCK genes, and levels of glucocorticoids and melatonin and knowing how these can influence our behaviors. In other words, what comes first, belief, then thought, followed by action? Or, is it action first, then thought, followed by belief? If you are told you have PTSD, did it develop before the traumatic experience, or after?
Just because someone maintains a level of cost for their services so that all people can receive it, which likely lessens the probability for providers to afford an oversized home overlooking the ocean, is their purpose and what they can offer less valuable? Are the people who spend their entire adult lives overseas helping underprivileged cultures less valuable because there is no money in that? Is it right that cancer treatments financially destroy those in need of it, and that the cost of private insurance can be equal to that of most mortgages? If monetary reward is the measurement by which we all should use to weigh value, then maybe we should advise against anyone joining the armed forces as there is no money in that either. Let this pandemic open everyone’s eye’s to how off course our society is in regards to what is considered valuable and important. Think about what surfaced as being truly essential. Although all jobs can be viewed essential as they provide a way of living for all families, however, did any of these have to do with the NBA, NFL, filming industry, music industry, etc.? No. It was the farmers, military, first responders, Pastors, ministries, healthcare workers, utility workers, and the shipping industries.
My wife also being a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor with a BA, and I having over 32-years in the fire service along with 9-years of college awarding me a PhD and, because we are not interested in overinflating the cost of our services so that we can drive a fancy car, live in a mansion, and have other worldly materials, which are meaningless apart from God, does this render our services worthless and ineffective? If so, then continue on your way and we will do the same.
“If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” (Matthew 10:14, NLT).

Thank you to all the workers of this nation and all nations under God.

May The Lord continue to be your refuge.
Dr. Brett Snow, Licensed Clinical Pastoral counselor.
Surviving Life Ministries.
survivinglifem@gmail.com
sl-ministries.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Truth about Cannabis Products by Dr. Jodi Cabrera

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 @ 7:12 PM

FACT OR FICTION; GET THE FACTS

May 17, 2020
I have noticed a troubling trend in my caseload and in the referrals, I have been receiving for the last 4 years. The call usually begins with a distraught mother, father, or other relative calling me because their loved one is in crisis. Their loved one is irrational, argumentative, agitated, threatening violence, irritable, and, embarrassingly, delusional or hallucinating. When in my questioning to assess the situation, I ask if the individual has stopped using cannabis yet, the concerned family member seems surprised, sometimes mystified, and befuddled. How did I know? How could I have known?
The answer may not be popular in our society that has long encouraged and supported cannabis and cannabis-related products as a wonder drug, as natural, and as created by God. I am not disputing the medicinal effectiveness of cannabis, either inhaled or edible, buds or extract, or even CBD. Though to be honest, the problems noted in the news with vaped cannabis and the complications for the lungs (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI)) do concern me. I am writing this short article to share a concern I have noticed as a trend when, usually young, people seem to suddenly develop severe behavioral symptoms and psychosis after they have been using, usually large, amounts of cannabis for a long period of time.
Several risk factors seem to make this tendency particularly strong. I have done research and found several scholarly articles that support what had, up to recently, been based only on my clinical observations. In one article, Drs. Semple, McIntosh, and Lawrie found 11 previously published studies, and in another article. Drs. Fergusson, Poulton, Smith, and Boden, looked at 6 previously published studies. In all this research, these esteemed doctors confirmed what I had already noticed. Individuals who began using pot at a young age, those who used pot for a long time, those who used large amounts, those who had symptoms of psychosis before using pot, and those who had mental illness running in their families, had up to a 3 times greater risk for developing symptoms of psychosis.
Now, they were all careful to note that cannabis use did not CAUSE psychosis, but they were clear that there is a strong relationship. Dr. Fergusson and his colleagues point out that those who develop symptoms of psychosis are a minority of those that use cannabis. However, they also point out that those who do may deserve some consideration by public health officials.
If you, or someone you love, has been using cannabis and developed symptoms of psychosis, please consider taking these steps:
1. Please stop using cannabis.
2. Seek treatment by a qualified psychiatrist to be stabilized on antipsychotic medications.
3. Consider seeking individual treatment with someone who understand stabilizing psychosis and supporting someone who is in early recovery from drug use.
The good news is that if you stop using cannabis and seek help, you can stabilize. If you stay sober and get properly medicated soon enough, there is a chance that you might not need to be maintained on antipsychotics for a lifetime, which can happen if the drug use triggers full-blown Schizophrenia. Please seek help, and please let me know if I can be of any assistance in your recovery. Dr. Jodi – Stay Safe. Stay Strong, Be Healthy.

Friday, May 1, 2020

A Message of Awareness and Insight

Friday, May 1, 2020 @ 3:41 PM

Sharing a message for today that life is surely not an easy journey. Take the time to love and appreciate your family and friends. Reach out to others and show that you care but also don't force yourself on anyone that can't value your genuine worth. Avoid taking people for granted because tomorrow is not promise.

Pray about things and make decisions that are healthy for changes because again tomorrow is not promise. Ask for forgiveness when needed from the people you hurt and God; but take accountability and responsibility for the damages done. Then, take acceptance for the learning and experiences gain. Repent and start a new path remembering that forgetting is not instantaneously when the process of forgiveness begins because time will surely heal.

Remember to breath and live and be okay at times if you make mistakes once you recognize the errors and learn from them. Most importantly love yourself and be the best version of yourself for your own personal growth and development and not anyone else's version of you. Live by ethical and moral codes and conduct. Don't lie, steal and cheat from others for your success. Build on truth, honesty, compassion and good character. Gain insight and awareness in this wonderful journey. Take leaps of faith along the way. Follow through with your ideas, dreams and goals. Believe in yourself and not what others think of you. Ask God for guidance because you can't and will not be successful if he's not by your side. Find less time saying never or I can't do it instead I will try. Take the time to cry, be angry and grieve because these are healthy emotions but remember to keep moving through it all. Remember that you can respectfully agree to disagree because this is part of growth and development. Everyday may present a new challenge or situation but keep trying still. Remain flexible and adaptable because plans and things are subject to change at times. You will fall but please do get up.

Life is a test and you will get through this journey with God being by your side so please don't give up. Remember that you have to exist and coexist with life's decisions whether good or bad. Life is a revolving door so continue to make changes again along the way to better the quality of your life. There is sunrise and sunset in life but what never fails is God's love for us all. Keep trying, stay hopeful and faithful in this journey called life. I am a work in progress and I pray you are as well.

I love you and God loves you even more.

Dr. Judy E. Vansiea
https://www.copingnpservices.com/

Saturday, April 25, 2020

WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENT...WHAT DID WE DO WRONG?

Saturday, April 25, 2020 @ 12:44 PM

WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENT...WHAT DID WE DO WRONG?
We tend to ask ourselves these and similar questions when things don’t go well, or the outcomes are considered unacceptable.
It is not the time during the actual event that presses upon me, it is my interpretation of it afterwards that strengthens vulnerability. In order to function, God empowers us with the ability to separate our emotions from the moment at hand. While en route to a confirmed fire, we heard over the radio that there were three people confirmed to be trapped in the building. This infallibly triggers a conditioned mindset response that there is no room for mistakes and that risks will be maximized. No longer are we more worried about the dangers of the fire or the integrity of the structure, we now shift into managed fear. This is what we signed up for.
This was a three-story brick apartment building with fire fully involving the front enclosed stairwell and starting to push into the cockloft. Efforts were being made to knockdown the fire from the outside. My partner and I were assigned to go to the rear and as we approached the backyard, I noticed a group of firefighters waiting for a charged-line before entering the back porches. Heavy smoke filled the enclosed back porches presenting a situation requiring a risk/benefit analysis. Having the confirmation of civilians being trapped inside, raised the benefits well above the risks and too much time had gone by already leaving no time for a charged-line. My partner and I quickly entered the back door to the first-floor apartment while four other members split-off to search the upper two units. Visibility was zero and the heat was rising as we made our way closer to the front of the apartment. In order to get to the bedrooms, making it challenging to complete a search, we had to first reach the entrance to the bedroom located near the front of the apartment and then work our way back through to the other bedrooms which were all joined together. As we made our way to the front, fire began breaking through the front door climbing across the ceiling. Knowing our time was limited, we split up while staying in voice distance. Governed by the growth of the fire and increasing heat, we searched as much of the bedrooms as we could before having to retreat. It was at that moment when we heard over the radio that the three victims were found on the upper units. We then quickly made our way to the back door to help with removing the victims. Unfortunately, all three victims perished two of them being a pregnant woman along with her young daughter found lying next to her. One the members, during his remarkable effort of removing the pregnant mother, suffered burns and later received a high honors award.
My intent for sharing this, one of many stories, is definitely not to encourage rescue efforts without a charged-line, which is quite circumstantial and difficult to delineate between when and when not to, but rather to bring to the surface incidences where we tend to blame ourselves. Self-blame can lead to unnecessary guilt and reoccurring negative thoughts. Remember, we are not mindless machines, we are not designed to carry our yesterdays, and nor do we have full control over the outcomes of our efforts.

“We may throw the dice, but The Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:33, NLT)

If you can relate to this story and want to talk about it, feel free to email me.

Brett Snow, PhD.
survivinglifem@gmail.com

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Finding What's Truly Important In Life And Leadership

Thursday, April 23, 2020 @ 12:02 AM

It was a dark and stormy night...really! Off Cape Horn winter waves had reached 50 feet. Sir Francis Chichester was there sailing the 53 ft yacht Gypsy Moth solo attempting to circumnavigate the world in record time when he was caught in a nightmare of gigantic waves and howling wind.

Reefing back his sails and trying to use only a storm jib, he crawled up to the bow and attempted to attach and raise this small jib. Unfortunately, even though it was attached to the bow, he found it was dragged overboard by the huge waves breaking over him and his seemingly tiny boat in the middle of this monster storm. (I know from personal experience how small a giant 10 foot surfboard can feel in large waves.)

Strapped to the boat for safety, he tried again, in vain, crawling to the bow of the boat to get the jib up from under the keel and attach the line to where it belonged. Another monster wave washed over him, washed the jib overboard and pushed him back frustrating his attempt to attach this storm jib.

Then a thought struck him. What was he doing? He was already two weeks ahead of the world record, the boat would be fine in it`s current configuration plus he was wet and tired. What was truly important? He broadened his perspective. The vision for this voyage was to successfully circumnavigate the world in record time: that's what mattered most. Suddenly he thought, "Why worry about a silly storm jib?"

Soon he retired back in his cabin after setting his self steering gear. Getting out of his storm gear, he poured himself a beer and went back to studying one of his favorite books about the Cutty Sark. The next morning, he woke up in calmer seas with the sun shining and a new perspective.

What matters most in your life or in your organization? Are you "majoring in the minors" or are you "majoring in the majors" as a leader? What is distracting you from what is really most important? Is your strategic vision stuck in the weeds?

The Gospel of Luke tells about Mary and Martha and how Jesus responds to Martha's anxiety (Luke 10:38–42). Even though it seems like serving and making sure that everybody has food is the most important thing Jesus speaks to her feelings and then corrects her to help her to realize that listening to him is truly the most important thing.

Defining the most important thing can be found by writing down what comes to mind and heart as well as talking to a mentor, peer, coach or counselor. Our coaching and John Maxwell MasterMind Groups on leadership can do so much to help you find that most important thing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Counseling (The Ugly Word)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 @ 6:12 PM

None of us like to believe we need counseling, as the term is normally identified with weakness, or wrongness. However, the truth is, we all need guidance in our lives. There is an ongoing battle within us between our selfish human nature and our Spiritual nature. When we choose to indulge ourselves in worldly pleasures, such as drunkenness, pornography, gambling, or let greed determine the order of our priorities, destruction is inevitable. If you are finding yourself struggling to walk in through the front door of your home because you cant make sense of what is happening on the other side, or you are experiencing debilitating anxiety, don't be afraid to send me an email, because I have been there too. There is no shame in it.

"First responders (policemen and firefighters) are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty."
(Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders, 2018)


"Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety."

(Proverbs 11:14, NKJV)


“Man is most free when he is most guided.” 

(Abraham Lincoln)

Brett Snow, PhD.
Surviving Life Ministries.
survivinglifem@gmail.com

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a Very Effective Treatment

Saturday, April 18, 2020 @ 8:34 PM

Check out the following video about EMDR and how effective it has been proven to be for negative experiences and trauma: https://youtu.be/Pkfln-ZtWeY

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Schema Therapy with Couples, A Practitioner's Guide to Healing Relationships

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 @ 1:08 PM

Dr. Chiara Simeone-DiFrancesco is an expert in training other professionals in Schema Therapy. She is the first author of this book published internationally by Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.

If you are a Christian seeking therapy, you will find that Dr. Chiara can offer you Jesus-Centered Schema Therapy. This is not a "new therapy", but a grounding of the evidenced based Schema Therapy on a Christian understanding of how God made us, and what He offers us. It utilizes the love and fruits of the Holy Spirit in the healing process as we are reborn more and more into Jesus' Model for each of us and for marriage.

Schema Therapy integrates tools from cognitive, experiential (gestalt), psychoanalytic, and behavioral therapies under a comprehensive conceptualization. This allows the Dr. Chiara to use her tools of EMDR, Gottman Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Medical Analytical hypnotherapy, as appropriate, and geared to the needs of the client and/or couple. It is a depth therapy that resolves and heals with God's grace the underlying roots to chronic disconnection from spouse, others, low-self-esteem, self-criticism, anxiety, depressive symptoms and the like. It also helps through an experiential encounter with Jesus in guided imagery, in His Biblical Word, and through the therapist, to "re-parent" and heal childhood wounds.

In couples' therapy, and even in online therapy, Dr. Chiara can take a more guiding stance to steer a couple into experiencing some positive interactions even in situations that are deeply troubling or involve a history of bad behaviors. We can push judgmental attitudes out of the therapy room, and work to align the partners on one side together, actually working with Dr. Chiara in the healing process for each other.

During this time of COVID-19, we often can still be quite effective together. I am able to securely email you handouts and worksheets that give you assignments to reflect on and a roadmap in between sessions.

I have been trained in online psychotherapy, and have been part of an international group on online schema therapy for a number of years. I encourage you to try it out and see if it can be a fit for you and your spouse!

Besides the website below, you can also find more information at:
https://www.jesus-centeredschematherapy.com

Please note:
While Dr. Simeone-DiFrancesco has taken training in the Gottman Method of couples therapy, I want you to know that I am completely independent in providing you with clinical services and I alone am fully responsible for those services. The Gottman Institute or its agents have no responsibility for the services you receive.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

C. S. Lewis (Written in 1942)

Saturday, April 11, 2020 @ 7:29 PM

Satan "I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil."

Jesus "I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources."



If you are home and struggling with finding joy and can't shake it. First, look up and surrender your life to God. Second, if you would still like to talk about it, email us at survivinglifem@gmail.com, or call me at 866-756-0413 (We have most likely been where you are)



Brett Snow, PhD, Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
Julie Snow, BA-student, Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Developing Your Own Safe Space

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 @ 5:55 PM

by Sarah Ramsay, MA, LMFT, BC-TMH

With all the changes to our schedules the past several days, we may be returning to our house exhausted or we've been working from home all day, helping the kids with their schoolwork, and finally at the end of the day, we are able to sink into the couch and breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes we run all day, flooded with emotions whether we are conscious of them or just pushing through them. Once we are able to physically step away from the stressors and are in a space of our own, we can relax and decompress from the pressures of the world.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to wait until the end of the day to feel this way? Being able to have a place to release this stress is necessary for our health and can increase resilience. Having this space more often can increase tolerance and therefore increase positivity individually and relationally.

What if we could learn to create a space in our mind where we could transport to at any moment? This may sound a little fictitious. In reality, it is not imaginary, but rather imagery. If you have a moment right now, think about the last place you were that felt calm, safe or both. Maybe this is with someone you love or perhaps a vacation in the mountains. If you can’t think of one, imagine a setting that would allow you to feel calm and or safe.

I’d like for you to take a break from this article for just a moment and bring up that image in your mind. While you do this, take a 360-degree view and notice what you see. Notice what you hear, smell, sound and feel. Live in this space for a few minutes and really take it in…

How do you feel? If you feel the same, maybe try it longer and think about it in more detail. This is just one tool that can be used for an escape and the more you use it, the easier it is. Whether you have 30 seconds or 5 minutes in your day, try this mini retreat away from life and see if it helps restore your mood and your thoughts. Everyone needs a vacation every now and then, takes yours today.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Coping with Fear and Anxiety

Friday, April 3, 2020 @ 3:32 PM

How do we find peace in the middle of chaos?

How do we keep hope alive when all around us is full of chaos? Well, this brings me to this blog as I try my best to write under so much stress as the world, the United States, and my home state of New York are battling the Coronavirus. I am living day to day in a state that is experiencing a high rise of COVID-19 cases daily and so many deaths a day. I hurt and cry when New York hurts and mourns the loss of others. Currently, I live in Nassau County, NY and I am an immigrant born of Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. I graduated from High School in Brooklyn, NY. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Nursing in 1997 and Master’s in Mental Health Psychiatric Nursing from State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2009, so New York has been good to me. I had my first child at New York University Hospital in 2002. I am a Registered Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry and I have been in the field of nursing for 23 years.

I am also a proud former Army First Lieutenant who was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was on active duty during 9/11. I know the chaos New York again experienced during 9/11. That same tension was high as well being in an army hospital in Washington, DC when the Pentagon was struck as well. I have never been to combat, but I have taken care of the most complex medical and surgical cases as a result of combat. I left my civilian job as a Registered Nurse in Manhattan at Beth Israel Hospital to serve my country. I have never seen so much chaos and uncertainty in the medical field as I see in today’s new normal with the war on COVID-19. As I listen to the news and other health professionals, I’m reminded of this new reality. I have aided NY once in the Blizzard of 1996. I am always here to assist again with providing telehealth services since I have recently volunteered to help. My expertise is now as a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry. I founded my practice as a testament in dealing with my own adversities of challenging health issues.

It is times like this when our faith is tested, and we have no one and nowhere else to lean on or turn to but God. As a woman of faith, I am here to help with a new faith-based mental health practice in Nassau County, NY. (https://www.copingnpservices.com/)

The Bible says in Hebrew 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Basically, the Bible is saying that we should not lose hope during uncertain times like this with the Coronavirus pandemic. I know it’s hard to feel hopeful about the uncertainties of life when you hear of so many morbidities and mortalities. We must not allow fear to win and drive the most valuable ingredient needed to survive such as keeping HOPE alive. God is the great physician. He created the wonderful medical and technological resources to use alongside our faith, which can be used together to improve this situation. We must adhere to the medical recommendations of staying home and social distancing. In addition, we should practice proper hygiene that some of us have been taught from our childhood. We must remember to wash our hands and keep them off of our faces due to increased risk of spreading germs/virus. We must use hand sanitizer as needed. We must self-quarantine if we begin to have symptoms or are exposed to anyone with Covid-19 to prevent the further spreading of the virus.

We must not allow fear, anxiety, depression and despair to overtake our minds. We are no good to anyone including ourselves if we allow fear and despair to incapacitate us. We must tap into our strength to combat the war of COVID-19 versus our weaknesses. Who told you that I am not afraid too? I sure am due to these uncertain times, but I have chosen to hold on to hope. This keeps me of sound mind to prevent me from distorted thoughts of impending dome as many are experiencing. I have learned as a Christian through trials and tribulations that some things, we simply don’t have control over. So the sooner we all learn this, the better off we can refocus our minds to reframing positive thoughts of hope and support for one another despite despair and doom. The Serenity Prayer states God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. This is the reality of accepting things as they are and learning to exist and coexist with them by using our strength as a coping mechanism.

We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit as human beings. Many of us have been ill with other diseases that we have fought. So let’s do the same with COVID-19. We must recognize the signs and symptoms and consult with your practitioners or follow-up with emergency care when needed. Yes, it is a contagious disease but again we must keep the hope alive and fighting spirit to battle the disease. We must not allow fear to tell our minds that this is a death sentence if we contract the illness or have the illness because this will lead to being hopeless and loss of will to live. We must stay hopeful and positive to live another day to tell the story about being a survivor of COVID-19. Fear can lead to poor decisions so don’t live by fear instead keep the faith. Many of us have gone through challenging times in our lives, so we must be our brothers and sisters’ keeper and remain hopeful for the best. As the experts have been saying on television, quarantine does NOT mean isolation. Yes, we can have social distancing but we are blessed with the technology of today with virtual churches, virtual social groups, skyping and zooming or just picking up the phone to say hello. Our society don’t realize how blessed we are with these resources that others may not have, so make good on them. Let someone know how valuable they are to you in your life.

I know some people may have underlying challenging mental illness or substance use disorders that may be worsening; but it is times like this that you may need to utilize the non-traditional route with Telemental Health or interchangeably called Telemedicine. This option will allow you to speak to someone like myself who is a Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry to provide you psychotherapy, which is also known as “talk therapy.” In addition, integrated services of therapy and medication could be offered as well to help stabilize your mood or anxiety levels. You are not alone, so please reach out to someone if you need help. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255), to speak with someone too.

Some other positive coping skills that we can utilize as well are journaling our emotions. Journaling is a way of writing an experience to give you a sense of peace once releasing it from the mind. We can also engage in virtual physical exercises or mental health walks or running while keeping in mind social distancing. Exercise helps us release neurotransmitters, such as endorphins which naturally control pain in our body and other neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Increased serotonin during exercise improves our mood, decreases stress levels, and improves sleep too. Exercise will eventually decrease stress and anxiety levels and begin to give you a spirit of calm. Meditation, prayer, listening to music, and deep breathing exercises are good as well. Remember: healing is a holistic approach with mind, body and spirit. We also are what we eat, so we need a balanced healthy diet during this time to improve our immunity to fight off infections, so please do eat your fruits and vegetables along with proteins and carbohydrates. Also, it’s important to stay hydrated so make sure that you are drinking enough water and fluids enriched in vitamin C too. In addition, consult with your primary care physicians in taking vitamins, minerals and other supplements that will aid in boosting your immunity.

So remember a healthy mind, body and spirit is what we need to declare war on the Coronavirus. We must not be so scare or ashamed of the stigma or the thought of having Coronavirus that lead to anyone not seeking out medical and mental health intervention either. Throughout this blog, I have mentioned and shared some coping skills to begin to use as an armor for war against COVID-19. So let’s stay connected, hopeful and positive to overcome this crisis. I pray for healing over our mind, body and spirit and may God grant us protection and restoration. Lastly, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Napoleon Hill that states, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Sunday, March 29, 2020

We Are Available When You Are Ready

Sunday, March 29, 2020 @ 11:53 AM

Many people may be more focused on their own physical health, or that of a loved one's, and less on the devastating emotional and psychological impact this pandemic can carry with it . I just wanted to turn on our "available light" for when you are ready. Give all your worries to God and trust in his Ways.

4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.[a]

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:4-8)

He is The Way,

Brett Snow, PhD.
Surviving Life Ministries.

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

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.

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
.

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

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?

Monday, July 1, 2019

Encountering Peace

Monday, July 1, 2019 @ 7:33 PM

Encountering Peace is a 20 sessions online, self paced program for Christian struggling with anxiety. It includes an 80 page workbook, 20 video sessions and a free consultation with a functional medicine doctor. All for only $297! To learn more see the link below.

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

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.