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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 04, 2019

Hope in Unhappiness

Wednesday, September 04, 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 07, 2019

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

Wednesday, August 07, 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 01, 2019

The 10 Upsides of Family-Owned Businesses

Thursday, August 01, 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
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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?

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.

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.

Monday, May 13, 2019

LOVE NEEDS: Discovering Your Top 10 Languages of Loving

Monday, May 13, 2019 @ 1:07 PM

"Love Needs: Discover Your Top 10 Languages of Loving" will help you and your partner take the guesswork out of what "better" really looks like. This book is based on and includes the 30 item "Love Needs Assessment" developed by two skilled therapists, Dr. Mike and Rhonda Garrett. Over 2000 couples were assessed over a six year period to bring this evidence-based questionnaire and guidebook into existence. Every short chapter (30 total) helps the reader learn more about how to give and receive love practically and specifically. Every page is packed with fabulous ideas and tools to help breathe new life into hurting couples and develop a workable plan for maximizing healthy couples. “Love Needs will strengthen the best of marriages . . . Congratulations! You’ve written a winner!”Dr. Henry Oursler, Founder, Bringing Truth to Life, President, LeaderShape“. . . an excellent guide to marital enrichment . . . I would highly commend it to couples and counselors.”Sam R. Williams, PhD, Professor of Counseling,Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC“. . . a resource to share that can breathe new life into hurting couples.” Tim and Joy Downs, Family Life Speaker Team, authors of Fight Fair and One of Us Must Be Crazy“. . . a workable path to a maximum marriage.” Dick Purnell, Cru Staff, author of sixteen Christian books“. . . Well written, easy to read, full of helpful steps.” Sharon May, PhD, Founder of Safe Haven Relationship Center, author of How To Argue so Your Spouse Will Listen“The church and the professional counseling community owe you a big “Thank you”. What a great resource!” Anthony Thomas, LCSW, Executive Director Marriage Menders & Family Counseling, “. . . a spectacular set of tools, wisely applied, that will help any husband and wife.”Paula Rinehart, LCSW, therapist, teacher, author of Strong Women, Soft Hearts and Sex and the Soul of a Woman

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

3 Steps to Protect Your CoParenting Relationship

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 @ 2:11 PM

3 Steps To Protect Your CoParenting Relationship

I know, you just walked out the door and never want to see this person again. But you will. Your shared family, the kids you love, will make sure of that. So let’s protect the one aspect of your relationship that will remain: Your CoParenting Relationship.
Step 1 Choose the method of divorce that gives you the greatest control and the least conflict.

Many newly separated people don’t realize how many options they have for getting a divorce. Each situation presents its own issues, so consult a well trained lawyer to find the right one for you. In my experience, there are 3 basic ways to get a divorce:

Litigation-the one where a judge sets the timeline, and makes the final decisions and the process is very public. This one includes something called discovery, where everyone competes to be the best and to show the other person as the worst.
Mediation-the parties sit down with a third person [and most of the time their lawyers] and hammer out an agreement. This typically has a time pressure of trying to get it done quickly and can be done at any time during a litigated divorce. Discovery may be a part of this option as well.
Collaborative Divorce-the parties each have a lawyer, and some neutrals like a mental health professional and a financial professional, who work in an interest based negotiation to find the best future for the family. This process gives the parties more control over the final product, their schedule, and their privacy. Discovery is not a part of this option.

As a mental health profession who has worked with divorcing families for 15 years, discovery damages the CoParenting relationship in nearly every case. Avoiding that process can increase your chances of a good CoParenting relationship and a stable agreement.
Step 2 Communicate well.

Divorce includes a lot of change and stress. During this time, lots of emails, texts and phone calls can become extremely emotional and counterproductive. Read books on communication [I recommend Bill Eddy’s BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns.] Then apply what you learned. Be brief, informative, friendly, and firm when you communicate. Make sure you put dates on the times when you need replies. When you get a communication from your CoParent, don’t just hit reply. Take a bit to breathe and think about the best way to communicate.
Step 3 Maintain a business relationship with your CoParent.

By far, this advice has helped my client’s parents the most. Reminding yourself that you are no longer managing the other parent’s life and emotions changes how you respond to them. Remembering that most communications will be limited to business arrangements of finances, coordinating schedules, and communicating events can help you not become emotional.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Be Angry and Sin Not

Saturday, April 20, 2019 @ 12:51 PM

The Pastor's Place

I once asked God you said "Be angry and sin not." How can I be angry and not sin? Today He answered. Psalm 42 says that you can pour out your heart to Him and He hears us. Whether it's joy or suffering and pain and in particular, anger. So what's in our hearts that God would actually want to hear about it? He already knows we're angry, and why, but there comes a release of it's power when we take it to God and God can help us and teach us His way. Mercy triumphs over.

It's okay to tell God that you're angry and why. This is the pouring out of your soul as David did. If we can learn to trust God with our feelings, knowing He won't get mad at us that breaks the power of the sin of anger. We often don't think about when we're angry but blurt it out like fire. We may have been angry as a child but didn't know how to process it and a parent may not have taught a child how to handle because they didn't know either. But if we take it to God, it's a whole new world.

We can shout, scream, cry through the situation. This brings the release that quenches the bitterness, the unforgiveness. No root of bitterness can spring up if we avoid it by pouring out our heart to God.

The human heart may hold love, but the heart of man is filled with evil of every kind. God isn't surprised by our negative feelings. Expressing our anger at the wrong we endured or are enduring produces character that maybe God thought it the best way to teach us. Suffering brings an anger, or rage. God is above it all and in it all and He never gets tired of our tears. He never grows weary of us coming to Him. It's in our reaching to Him, drawing near to Him that He can extend His mercy and graciousness. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy is forgiveness. We judge when we are angry. If we learn to forgive the offender, we release them from what we feel towards them, in this case, anger. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. It goes beyond words.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sexual Violence Awareness Month Workshop

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 6:20 PM

Alpha Counseling

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month

You are invited to join Alpha Counseling for a discussion regarding taking your first steps to healing from sexual violence. If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual violence, or if you want to take a stand against sexual violence, please attend.

Speakers to include representatives from North Idaho Crisis Center, Post Falls Police Department Victim's Advocate, as well as Dr. Debbie Nunez and John Huffer, LMHC from Alpha Counseling. Participants will be able to write words of inspiration on the healing wall.

There is no charge for the event and it is open to the public.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Freedom In Forgiveness

Saturday, March 30, 2019 @ 7:18 PM

As we near Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, many of us begin to focus more on forgiveness; forgiveness for self and for others. This can oftentimes be a difficult and confusing action to take.

Many people think that when we forgive we are saying that what someone did to us is OK. We believe that forgiveness is a way of letting someone off the hook for a wrongful act. However, let us not confuse forgiveness with permission. When Christ said in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more,” He did not give permission for sin, but forgiveness. He was differentiating between forgiveness and permission.

You see, forgiveness is not for the person who wronged us, it's for ourselves. When we hold on to resentment, bitterness brews within us. Bitterness is a root that grows in our hearts and can negatively affect other areas of our lives. Bitterness takes us down and steals our joy, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Unforgiveness is like carrying around a backpack filled with rotten potatoes, which weighs us down and prevents us from moving on.

Forgiveness does NOT:
...excuse the one who hurt you or did you wrong.
...mean you re-engage in a relationship with the one who hurt you.
...equal trust. Forgiveness is given. Trust is earned.

Forgiveness IS:
...saying goodbye to bitterness and resentment.
...gaining freedom from pain.
...releasing the beauty of peace and happiness.
...letting go in order to move on.

Forgiveness Is Freedom!

Forgiveness is hard, but is it also possible. If you need help forgiving someone, including yourself, I’m here to help. Living with bitterness and shame is not God’s plan for you. Working with a professional therapist can help you process the wrong that was done to you, help you discover the strength to forgive, let go of shame and guilt, and recapture your joy.

Why should you forgive? Because YOU deserve it!

Gretchen is currently accepting new clients and may be contacted by email at gretchen@anxietytraumatherapy.com or by phone at 619-272-6858 x713

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Powerful Play Parenting Group

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 @ 12:06 PM

Powerful Play Parenting Group will start on Monday, March 18th at 7:00 PM. This group will meet every Monday from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. For more information on group, please feel free to go to my website www.CompassionateCounselingLLC.org where you will find a flyer for the group. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Broken Fences

Thursday, December 27, 2018 @ 9:06 PM

The Pastor's Place

This scene always reminds me of broken fences and the brokenness of life. We often put up fences to keep people out but in that attempt, we often keep ourselves in. We don't express ourselves in an appropriate moment but let it build up and then take it out on someone who really doesn't deserve it, although they may just trigger it.

Broken fences, broken pieces, broken lives. Jesus fed 5,000 people and it is told that they always had broken pieces left over and they picked them all up. I often wonder what they did with them. But it tells me that even though brokenness is a part of life, Jesus will pick up those broken pieces and do something with them. And you can be sure He does all things well.

The Loneliness of Sin

Thursday, December 27, 2018 @ 8:53 PM

The Pastor's Place

Genesis 4: 3-15

Cain and Abel were the first brothers. Both went to the altar to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s offering, a firstling of his flock. The Bible says God respected Abel and his offering. But Cain did what he shouldn't have done; mainly, he offered something from the ground. God didn't accept the offering or respect Cain. Have you ever wondered why? I believe it was because in just a few short chapters prior to this encounter, God had cursed the ground. Able recognized the significance of giving the first and best. Cain became very angry. Notice that even after The Fall, God still talked with man. He asked Cain why he was so upset. Now, that’s a caring God if you ask me!
God told Cain that sin was waiting at the door and desired to take over in him. Wow! God was trying to teach Cain a lesson but he wasn't listening. He wanted to be resentful, bitter and angry to the point that it led to murder.

Verse 7 shows us that sin will pursue us and run us down if we allow it. We are to conquer the sin in our lives by mastering it. That tells me that sin will keep coming at me until I either give in to it or overcome it.

I often wondered why God asked Cain where his brother, Abel was. Doesn’t God know everything? It reveals that Cain felt no remorse, no guilt for what he’d done by killing Abel. By telling God his punishment was more than he could bear, he shows he wasn’t really convicted about his sin, but only concerned about the consequences of getting caught. It would have told a different story if he had said, “I have sinned against you, God. Please forgive me of this terrible thing I’ve done. Things could have possibly gone much better for Cain.

This passage shows that God still talked with man even after they had sinned and fallen in the Garden. Cain had no sense of guilt because the Law had not yet been given. He had no fear of God. (Romans 5: 12, 13) God still desired to commune with man. It wasn’t until after the Law (the 10 Commandments) was given that sin became evident. God talked with man up until Exodus 20: 18-21 and it was not God’s choice. God NEVER left man. Man chose to leave God.

As a result, Cain was destined to be a vagrant and a wanderer. A vagrant is defined as one who wanders from place to place without a permanent home or livelihood; a person who constitutes a public nuisance. No root, no plans, no future. A fugitive looking for some destination, some quiet haven, a place of safety and satisfaction.

Gen 5: 16 As a result of his conversation with God--and notice, God was trying to help Cain with his anger and sadness, but Cain walked away. He left God’s presence. The loneliest people do not know God’s presence. Those who choose to walk away from God’s help are truly lonely. Separated from God with no hope of their own.

Here are some reasons for Cain’s actions:
1. Unbelief/Disrespect
God had taught Adam and Eve the meaning of a blood sacrifice. They taught it to their children. Cain and Abel both knew the truth. Cain chose to not believe and offer whatever he wanted to offer instead of what God required. In his indifference, he gave an offering of the ground, the ground God had cursed.
2. Hatred
Cain closed the door of communication and killed Abel out of his hatred. He chose not to master his anger and by killing his brother, he let sin master him. It can be so easy to be like Cain.
3. Jealousy
Many of us look at our siblings and feel cheated, rejected, the less favored. This has an effect of children that can last a lifetime. We grow up feeling like everyone else has it better.

The Stages of Sin:

1. Anger. Cain became angry at the rejection of his sacrifice. This led him to start thinking. His countenance fell. He probably felt sorry for himself, too, which fed his anger. Not mastering his anger, he let it lead to murderous proportions and it overcame him. Sin crouched at the door and Cain let it in. Sin will usually crouch or try to hide until you are taken by it. Satan roams the earth looking for someone to devoir.
2. He lied to God
Cain went to talk to his brother, but his true intent was different. Not only did he have unbelief and hatred, but when God asked him “Where’s your brother?” Cain was dishonest and said he didn’t know; he wasn’t his babysitter. Like satan, Cain became a liar and a murderer.
3. He despaired and was lonely. He reacted to feelings. He closed the door on the
Life God wanted for him. (Genesis 4: 13) I believe the anger and the rejection he felt caused Cain to leave the sin unconfessed. Surely he knew God’s grace. Why didn’t he trust God to forgive him? Instead, he blamed God, accusing Him of giving him a sentence greater than the sin.
4. Cain proclaimed his destiny: “I am a wanderer and a fugitive.” Cain became a
farmer. Now he built a city to be rid of loneliness. He introduced manufacturing of tools and weapons of bronze and iron. He introduced human culture and civilization based on human effort. His civilization had broken-down standards. In verses 18 and 19, Cain’s descendant Lamech had two wives. God’s standard is one.
Sin starts with a thought and turns into an action if the thought is entertained.

He settled in a place called Nod, which means wandering. The generational curse of murder began with Cain. In verse 23 Lamech killed two people. Cain built a city, a civilization and a culture without God. He had things and activities but no salvation. Cain was ultimately lonely looking for satisfaction. Sin was at the root of his loneliness. Not all loneliness is from sin. That’s why examining yourself is so important.

Cain built a civilization where people had opportunity and culture, science, even a certain amount of technology, but Cain was still a fugitive and a wanderer because he was unrepentant and without God. Life without God is no life at all here or in eternity. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

Job also faced loneliness, but this was a different kind of loneliness. (Job 19: 13-15) God will sometimes isolate you to get you to call out to Him. He will remove every distraction in order to become your best friend and it’s only through this separation that people will see change.

Loneliness is a malnourished soul that results from living on substitutes.

Monday, December 10, 2018

4 Reasons Your Child Misbehaves

Monday, December 10, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

Your child misbehaves severely at their childcare-something is terribly wrong!

Buzz, buzz. You check your phone and realize its happening again. ‘They just called yesterday! Can’t they take care of one 3 year old?’ you think to yourself. But you know, he misbehaves a lot, even for you. Mama Bear is about to take over, but you are still unsure if that is the right tact. You know something isn’t right, and you are ready for it to be fixed-you just don’t know what to do. Swallowing tears of frustration, shame, sorrow, guilt, you wonder if he will be going back tomorrow. Wondering what you are going to do, you square your shoulders, prepare yourself and walk into the building.
What do you do when your child misbehaves?

What could be happening?

1. HALT — Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

This is an acronym that helps to remind me that we all get cranky when our bodies aren’t working right. Talk to those around your child and find out if there is a pattern. Do they have difficulty right before nap? Mid-morning? Right before pick up? Look at their eating habits. It is important to not jump to the next idea until you have really looked at your child’s pattern. Knowing when and how predictably your child misbehaves will let you explore how changes to the environment could help them behave better.
2. Physical Issues

There is good evidence that some behavior issues can be related to how a child experiences the world. Vision and hearing problems, certain allergies, illness, and sensory processing issues can all cause misbehavior. To learn more about sensory processing issues, check out the checklist on sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.com. This is a great site to help you understand these issues. If you prefer a book, find the Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.
3. Conflict Or Change At Home

Your child’s emotional, physical, and psychological world is based on the foundation of your home. If there is a lot of conflict, chaos, and inconsistency, your child will react to that. Can they count on spending connecting time with a parent? Has there been a big change recently? Involved grandparents become ill, parents separate, siblings are born, dogs die. Even good things can disrupt a child’s world such as a new home, new bedroom, and even a new pet.
4. Abuse/Neglect

As parents, we jump to this often and want to switch childcare or school the minute our child begins to act up. Not all childcare/schools are equal and there is clear evidence that predators target young children. However, most of the time the difficulties with your child do not arise from abuse or neglect. Most of the time, your child simply needs different skills than the teacher already knows or the difference between home and childcare confuses your child. Hurt feelings on the part of a child are difficult to handle. Think about workplaces that were not comfortable but didn’t actually break any rules. Be sensitive to your child’s make-up and carefully evaluate how you feel your childcare or school is handling daily activities. A change in teachers or schedules may be difficult for your child.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What it Takes to Have a Good Relationship

Saturday, September 15, 2018 @ 10:01 AM

In this fast pace digital mindset, many are deluded as to relationships. The need for satisfaction and excitement now as the "I wants" and the run-away impulses seek a quick fix for loneliness and the distorted thought of, "I am worthless if I do not have a babe, partner, date, or mate" prevails. Today one can click on a chat for singles-or click to hook up site; and be in a whirlwind-intimate-experience with a stranger. If cute, or funny, or the right words were said; or the person agreed with some dramatic problem we are stressed over (showing them to me of like-minds) within that chat-then suddenly they are not alone and that rush of adrenalin that is accustomed to via the screens, internet, gaming, and apps; has reinforced the behavior. In these "RELATIONSHIPS" one or both reveal extreme inappropriate and sensitive information to the other; are exposing and allowing themselves to be photographed or touched; may engage in multiple like connections with others with additional quick fixes with all; or suddenly relate to each other as the most wonderful lover and/or mate-with the possessiveness and need to control that a sexual union often provokes as the dynamics of the relationship drastically changes when the vulnerability and intimacy is experienced. One day all is great and the next one or both is smearing the other on social media, blowing up their phones, violating boundaries that were at risk; and threatening violence or suicidal behaviors; with many who are not allowing time and tests to truly know each other, to trust each other, and to be sure the emotions and a healthy dose of discernment are in unity.

Real Relationships Require the Below Levels of friendship with each level taking at least 2-6 months minimum.


1. Acquaintance: Conversations and conduct are appropriate; and no risk to either party. Engaged in public forums (sports, shopping, pool, social media) learning name and general themes, safe information     only. No vulnerability exposed.
2. Familiarity: Conversations and conduct are appropriate; no to low risk; general themes (hobbies, likes/dislikes, music, sports); public meeting. Little vulnerability allowed. May ask for phone number.
3. Friends: People of like interests, trustworthiness of word and deed, kind and compassionate, enjoyment of company, more personal sharing of safe information (family members, pets) and more sensitive information that one would feel safe if exposed-as a test for confidentiality and trust. People are visiting with each other in more private forums and also public-yet are not intimate. They are beginning to see how each reacts to conflicts, sadness, anger, disappointments, the handling of money, if dependable, if responsible for their behaviors and decisions.
4. Best friends: People have shown that they are with higher character of integrity, honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, responsible, are of a good work ethic, are able to discern and advise seeking the wellbeing of each other with the flexibility of allowing the other to be alone to choose their paths. These are mindful of emotional and physical boundaries with empathy. These are not controlling or dependent; and stable emotionally. When with these-one feels safe, secure, and validated-looking forward to each meeting. Conversations are of higher vulnerability and risk to both who are sharing due to the tested trust that is earned. Both see the strengths and weakness of the other yet accepts these. Both seeks growth for each other and gives freely; not seeking their own needs.
5. Only now would two people know each other enough to make a decision as to if they would like to accept the responsibilities that come with an intimate relationship where each is fully vulnerable with the agreement of marriage.

Through this process, a relationship has a foundation on which to stand strongly, and could weather the storms that befall all relationships. Without-the people are two strangers who have no foundation-yet are trying to weather the storms. Time and tests saves one's heart from many hurts.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Trusting Him with Your Children

Friday, August 31, 2018 @ 6:48 PM

For those who have persevered in reading the many articles that I have submitted; it did not take long before you most likely saw how vested that I am in teaching parents how to cultivate life skills, character, and to grow self image. In addition, I pointed out several factors that strongly play against the family (our nucleus which has been eroding at alarming rates). For some, you may be tiring of ongoing exhortation, education, and admonishment as I reach out. Family is a major focus of mine. Children's best gift that any parent can provide is a healthy marriage foremost. With both working as one to nurture and to grow each other and their children; then the family thrives-and times of turmoil are better navigated through. Without that strong relationship and support system then a single parent is less supported and often feels overwhelmed as all of the parenting seems to be on their single pair of shoulders as they juggle providing a livelihood.

I wanted to take a moment to share with you my story of single parenting; and even when attempting to provide my children a step parent- who later seemed to not be on the same page as I was; which basically resulted in me returning more to a single parent role. Complicating this with conflicts between the other biological parent that I had to keep to myself while supporting my children's relationship with their dad-also added more stress. As an overachiever who was most concerned about being the best possible mom and realizing that I had only one chance to do this (since parenting is not a dress rehearsal) then this responsibility was embraced with constant prayers on my lips and the will to sacrifice whatever it took to ensure that these blessings (my children) would know their Lord and would dedicate themselves to Him. Further, these children would grow into wise, loving, mindful young women of success in every possible sense.

When they were helpless, the sleepless nights continued without complaint as I held them and rocked them-singing lullabies...although I was exhausted. That was my job and I loved it. Each developmental stage was an exciting experience...as I worked diligently to help them through it. Their success was my desire and the slightest efforts were praised and cheered. I am sure if someone had been watching me with them; they would have chuckled and the delight that it gave me just to see them smile or overcome...It was absolutely the most humbling and wonderful experience a human being could ever experience!! No job had ever been as difficult as it taxed every aspect of my being-yet at the same time-as rewarding. I did not feel as if I was missing out on anything as I remained home for years and often did without yet made sure that my girls received my attention and care. I wish that my job was done when they were approximately 9 or 10 (and that everything that I had taught them and prayed for them or hoped for was realized from there forward) ; and that I could say that they and I had a beautiful, fulfilling, relationship throughout those pre-teens and teen years. Because, I was a great mom until then-but despite my efforts or good will or intentions; I feared letting go and therefore smothered them and over protected them.

For this reason I have spent many articles regarding the need to allow children their choices and be willing to apply the consequences. I wish that I had my degrees and knowledge that I now have when I was rearing them. I wish that I had the faith that God would be with them when I could not be-and that they needed natural consequences that would grow their strength and help them with their discernment. If only I could have known and trusted that my strong willed child needed to learn the hard way and that my more compliant child may had been stuffing her true feelings. I feared if I let go-if I backed off a little, then they would fall and get hurt. The more they pushed the more I pushed back trying to save them and to keep them safe...while making them resentful and dependent.

I was so afraid of losing them that I held them too tightly and did lose them for a while, which tore my very heart from my breast. How could they leave me? Why did they choose what they chose? Look at the sacrifices I made and it appears they were totally ungrateful....I was confused, angry, yet also in much pain as I also struggled with replaying every thought, the intent, the desires, the work to find out where I messed up my girls...finally-I accepted their choices and I backed off while giving both to my Lord. I prayed that He bring my babies to Him, His way. I chose to trust them with Him and praised Him for teaching me that I had to trust Him with them.

Since, I now see how children grow into mature adults. Parents have to let them go so that they can grow. They must allow choices-following with consequences-but they cannot shield their children the same as they did when their children were helpless. As I have let go of control and trusted in God and them to make the right choices; to walk through the fire of their wrong choices, and as I observe-I am watching my children become stronger and wiser which warms my soul. They are deserving of respect and have overcome hardships. God has been able to work in their hearts and He continues His way.

When I study scripture I notice that He has done this throughout, from the beginning. He allowed choice. He applied consequences. People then learned lessons and changed....I am sure he as our parent is disappointed with our choices, and when he has to deliver the consequences due to our choices. Yet His love never failed us even when we hurled angry words and cried bitter tears. It took these lessons to grow us and to return us to where God wants us to be. He allows us to fall into desperation due to our choices and he also gives us situations that will simply grow us so that we can be strong and fruitful. When I think of how God fathers us-I see the wisdom and the need of allowing our children to also be able to make choices. With God, He has provided us warning and consequence should we not comply, and as He-parents must provide a warning and the consequence when our beloved children stray.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Three Steps to Help Develop Your Private Practice

Thursday, August 30, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

Step One

Decide what type of business you want. Writing a mission statement is a good place to start. It defines who you serve [client population], where [county or city], and how [what services you provide]. The mission statement becomes a rubric to determine the scope of your business and its boundaries. Does it fit the mission? It’s important to investigate and meet the needs of your community, but also to look into yourself and consider what you feel called to do. What drives you to have to have your own place? In the example above, you are motivated by the need to provide high quality care to children and families with appropriate facilities. You see the value in being branded as specializing in families, knowing that most families receiving support have multiple needs throughout their life.

Step Two

Implement your mission with the assistance of professionals. Seek CEUs, but mostly, seek relationships and implementable advice. There are multiple professionals who provide free or inexpensive advice on HIPAA compliance, marketing, networking, etc. But do NOT skimp on really important things like your website, your insurance, and your legal structure. Sure, you can copy other people’s contracts. They will work, but they won’t reflect your business and your needs. Hire a lawyer and get it done right. Laying a good foundation at the beginning will save you a lot of headaches in the future.

We easily suggest mentoring to our clients, but do we seek it out when we need it? When I decided to set up as a business owner and not simply a clinician with an office, I found a lawyer, a marketer, and an expert in ethics. We quickly set up some goals: incorporate the business, create a marketing plan, and write a procedure manual. These extra resources cost money, but doing things the right way always does.

Step 3

Reevaluate often. Business is exciting and creating your own can be quite a lot like a roller coaster. Be ready to re-evaluate and make changes on the fly – at least to minor things. As long as it fits with your mission, do it! Throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. But always come back to your central calling and mission statement so that you don’t water down your business or get lost in the weeds.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Change

Friday, August 24, 2018 @ 1:58 PM

The Pastor's Place

Change
I read a book once entitled “Renewal of the Mind” by John Sanford. In it he discusses the transformation of being a lost sinner to a saved sinner or a Christian. We are taught to believe that once we become a Christian, all is well and we are saved from hell. Being saved is much more than just getting out of hell. It’s about transformation. Jesus said He makes all things new. Wow! Think of it. All our negative thoughts, emotions and actions will be made new. We think that when we become Christian that all that goes away and we live happily ever after. Not! God never intended for us to be evil in nature, but He didn’t stop it from happening. And all that evil nature is just what He wants to make new or get rid of. We can’t change one iota of ourselves without God. Everything about us needs to be surrendered to His will, not ours. Our will takes us where we really don’t want to be, makes us who we don’t really want to be and God will put people into our lives or arrange circumstances that irritate or anger us—on purpose. His purpose in doing this is to gently (although it doesn’t feel gentle at the time) bring us to him in complete repentance and surrender. Psalm 37:5 says to “commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him.” You can read over that and shrug it off, but think about it: your way of doing things, right or wrong; your way of handling anger, resentment and other such negative emotions. God wants these things in order to change them in us. He knows we sin and struggle with these things, but He waits for us to acknowledge that we are lost and hopeless without Him. How we deal with our ways will determine our future.
Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life. From the day we’re born we start to form the idea of who we are. This is influenced mostly by what we see and hear every day, seven days a week, mainly from family, to start, other family members, teachers, etc. We form beliefs about ourselves based on all this information. A lot of times it’s negative stuff we tend to hold on to and feel “this is me”. We become what our childhood tells us and we carry that throughout our lives and some are never aware that most of it is a lie. We aren’t who are parents say we are when they accuse us, belittle us, humiliate us and abuse us verbally or otherwise. This identity causes us to shut up or shut out the real “me” of me. If we continue to believe who we think we are, we live a lie. This is what we have to be willing to let go of and allow God to remove those things in us that don’t belong. This is the “old self” that is really dead to sin if we are truly a Christian. This is a struggle and if we keep believing this, we will never see change at all. We get set in a behavioral pattern that we stay in because it is familiar, comforting.
Jesus came to give us life. He wants to give us His new life, but that’s what we struggle with the most. Habits are easy to form and hold on to, but letting go seems impossible some times. What you believe is what you will live. This is what He wants to change; to get rid of the old and bring the new life. The patterns of behavior we create will follow us unless we learn to think differently, get out of the rut we feel we are in or have created for ourselves. Our past has been the factor that formed our “now” and will become our future if we continue that same behavioral pattern. Change the pattern, change your life.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Blessing Champion

Thursday, August 23, 2018 @ 10:50 AM

I am passionate with an understanding of what it means to both give and receive a blessing.

People of every age long for the gift of "the blessing"--the unconditional love and approval that comes from a healthy relationship with their parent and significant relationships. This life-changing gift, essential for instilling a deep sense of self-worth and unshakable emotional well being contains five essential elements: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment.

I am to be a full description of creating a foundation of "the blessing" or give "the blessing" to those I love. The five elements of the blessing will be fully explained and illustrated in my seminars and workshops. An understanding of some of the barriers that can prevent us from blessing others as well as understanding our own style of self-protection will also be covered.

"Create your experience of your best life to better living!

Contact me for the next upcoming workshop near you.