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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?

Communication Do's and Don'ts

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 @ 1:27 PM

Marriage Center

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

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

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Eight Ideas About Grieving Well In Leadership

Thursday, July 11, 2019 @ 10:13 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 08, 2019

You Can't Please Everyone

Monday, July 08, 2019 @ 6:59 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Turn:

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

3 beliefs that block us from hearing God

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:42 PM

Vector Ministries

God is still speaking to His people.

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

In fact, God speaks to us all the time.

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

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

The 3 Beliefs That Block Us From Hearing God:

1. The belief that God is not speaking.

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

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

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

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

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

2. The assumption that God speaks audibly from outside us

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

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

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

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

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

3. The lie that God is unkind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

So, here are 3 Great Truths:

1. God is still speaking to us.

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

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

Help to Hear His Voice:

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

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

Blessings!
Patrick

God Likes You!

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:38 PM

Vector Ministries

God likes you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 4:37 PM

Vector Ministries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Patrick

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.

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.

Friday, April 05, 2019

What Does Jesus Want From Me?

Friday, April 05, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

A woman in Atlanta called to tell me she is angry at Jesus because she assumes He wants something from her. Her mother abused her and so did boyfriends. She is also angry at herself for thinking such thoughts but also fearful because she may not provide what Jesus wants from her even though she figures it can’t be bad.  ‘Am I right?’ She asked.  I told her the simple truth:  All Jesus wants from you is to become more like Him. And, you can’t do it on your own, you need the Holy Spirit.  But she then adamantly wants to compare Jesus with her  controlling mother and boyfriends.  I told her there is a difference.  Jesus is not controlling.  ‘Why not? My mother and boyfriends were.’ I told her that Jesus created us with free will. We can freely love Him as well as reject Him (Rev. 3:20).  She liked that. Of course. The Bible is the greatest source for the truth.  

 

Rev. Dr. Craig A. Brewick, Christian Hope Counseling

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Fixing Your Blind Spots: How To Become More Self-Aware As A Leader at Home, Church Or Work

Thursday, March 28, 2019 @ 12:38 AM

"First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:5. Self-awareness can become one of your most powerful tools. Being able to step outside of yourself and see your own junk can be very helpful for leaders and their relationships. Self aware people are largely successful. You can become so self-aware that it becomes neurotic. But this happens in the case where you are judging yourself rather than evaluating what's going on. Here are some ideas to help create more self-awareness as a leader:

1. Invite feedback especially from direct reports. You can use a 360 degree feedback mechanism but it can also help just to have conversations about how you're doing.

2. Pay special attention to how others feel around you. While you don't want to give them too much power, you also want to make sure that you're being sensitive to them while also being independent of their opinion.

3. Ask yourself what you are truly feeling. Get a chart with some feeling words and ask yourself what you're feeling in regards to a situation with your relationships with your associates. 

4. Check your assumptions and your entitlement. These two issues can really get you into difficult situations in relationships in the workplace, home or church.

5. Check out your ideal self or despised self. These two parts can help us understand a lot about what we're thinking and feeling about ourselves.

6. Ask yourself how something happened not just why. Attempt to debrief with yourself and with others exactly how a problem or a success occurred.

7. Understand what you might be afraid of. Know what are real threats or just cues that might be triggering you into anxiety.

8. Shaming yourself will help your heart to hide. Real guilt, as opposed to shame, can be used to learn lessons and make amends.

Be encouraged to take at least one idea here as a first step. Get outside feedback whether that's counseling, coaching, a friend or a mentor and find a small attainable goal.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Learning to Love Yourself

Thursday, February 07, 2019 @ 12:30 PM

There is something about this picture that speaks to me. I see a person who knows who she is, and can accept herself including her imperfections. What if we could all be that way? What if we could all accept ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally, the way Christ loves us? What if we could quit beating ourselves up for all the mistakes we have made? What if we could stop obsessing over just one bad move we’ve made? What if we can stop judging ourselves and start treating ourselves like we treat our best friend? Can you imagine the positive difference that would make? Not only for us, but also for those around us.

ARE YOU AS KIND TO YOURSELF AS YOU ARE TO OTHERS?

More often than not, we can be exceptionally hard on ourselves. We say things to ourselves we would never say to someone we care about, or even a stranger. Yet, we don’t hesitate to tell ourselves:

“I’m so stupid.”
“How could I have been so dumb.”
“I’m fat.”
“I’m ugly.”
“I’m a failure.”

If this sounds familiar, then maybe you need to start to re-examine how you treat yourself. If you are telling yourself things you wouldn’t say to your best friend, then it’s time to start learning self-compassion. (If you are not familiar with self-compassion, then I recommend you read my earlier blog on self-compassion here.) One of the best ways to begin learning self-compassion is to recognize your judgmental negative self-talk, and start replacing those thoughts with positive or compassionate thoughts, such as:

“I’m not perfect, and I don’t have to be. The cross covers my sins and mistakes.”
“I recognize that I am suffering right now.”
“I love the person God created me to be.”
“I make mistakes, and my mistakes don’t define me.”

If you find that you are having trouble telling yourself compassionate thoughts like in the examples above, you may be depressed or at risk of depression. When we walk around with guilt and shame, constantly beating ourselves up, we have an increased risk for depression and/or substance abuse leading to disruption in our relationships, work or school performance, and overall sense of peace and being. That’s when it is time to get help. Through self-compassion, you can learn to let go of your mistakes, learn to forgive yourself, and begin to treat yourself with the same tender kindness you give to your best friend.

*Gretchen is currently accepting new clients. If you are in the San Diego area and are in need of services, please call her for a free 15 minute phone consultation at 619-272-6858 ext 713

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Beware social media health hazards

Tuesday, January 08, 2019 @ 12:26 PM

Warning. Social media may be hazardous to your health.

The health of your marriage that is.

Start with what Facebook does so well. Connecting you to old friends. When those old friends are ex-girlfriends or boyfriends, high school sweethearts or college heart throbs – reconnecting may be the first step toward a marital crisis. Ditto for texting, e-mails and phone calls.

It all seems so innocent. What could be the harm? [...]

--

This was first published on Courage Counseling on September 22, 2013 by Doris Motte. Visit the Learn More link to read the rest of my article.

Friday, December 28, 2018

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Friday, December 28, 2018 @ 8:56 PM

We humans, like spring flowers and summer gardens, are hardwired for growth. The early decades of life are characterized by luxuriant growth as goals are pursued, ambitions formed and challenges conquered.

Think of the phenomenal growth in a healthy baby’s first year. The transformations as toddlers acquire language and muscle control. The delight as they explore their environment encountering everything from bubbles to butterflies for the first time.

Young children can’t wait to be ‘big kids,’ start school, play soccer, learn to dance. They are voracious learners who relish competence.

Teens count the days to the coveted driver’s license. Soon college with all its challenges and assumed freedom’s beckons.

Young adults are occupied with careers, marriage, family. Daily demands keep you busy, focused, happy. Life is satisfying, rewarding.

And then, perhaps, one day you notice something has changed. [...]

--

This was first published on Courage Counseling on September 9, 2013 by Doris Motte. Visit the Learn More link to read the rest of my article.

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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Parents: Apply Grace!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 @ 10:26 PM

Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC

This does not mean that parents must look the other way, be the best friend, cater to demands, or to have no limits/rules. Laws are good. Children need laws and law keepers according to Dr. Paul David Tripp, a Christian Psychologist. He speaks of how parents will personalize children's behavior. "How can you do this to me? Look at what I have done for you-yet you do this?" This is often when the guilt trip follows and then parents regret the things stated as they see their broken child. In his book then you would find 14 Christian gospels or principals that parents can apply that will help change their child's heart. One thing is needed before a parent can provide grace. Parents must understand and must have had received God's grace before they can give mercy.

Parents sometimes believe with a delusion that they are able to control a child with laws and consequences but would have to admit that God must be guiding them with their parenting since free will is something that we all possess. We then have to ask how does a parent apply grace as they parent? Children will make foolish and even evil decisions. Rules, boundaries, and consequences that are consistent are helpful but how does one reach the heart and create in their child-a responsible ownership? We think of grace as mercy and forgiveness; love and patience...so do we let our children escape consequences? No, no we do not.

Let's us review how God gives us grace.

First, God has made sure that we have His word that governs all thought and actions, with rules. He provided His son to teach us life's lessons through parables. He shows us his love through his sacrifice and patience; and He warns us as to the dangers (both natural and also with eternity's judgment that will be rendered by Jesus. God also shows us that He is the same and that He will keep His promises; and therefore we must trust that our thoughts and actions must be guarded. When we make bad choices, there are natural consequences that follow which often convict our hearts to change. Sometimes we find ourselves tested and tried-forging strength and perseverance. These are difficult times but we learn that God allows things on earth so as to turn us from evil and foolishness-so that we can have everlasting life with Him since He does not want us to be lost eternally.

As we try to control our own lives, we fail miserably. As we try to outsmart or cheat the consequence-we fail. It is only when we are obedient and repent, when God then will restore and revive us. He is our teacher of a Father who teaches, warns, and does exact punishment if we do not do His will. Our biggest gift of mercy was through His son. Regardless of our walk-we remain His, and He continues to love us-even when He allows us to be pruned or placed into fire so as to purify our heart. These are blessings of insight (instructing and guidance) which aids us to own our choice and actions; and blessings of conviction (our turning from doing wrong.

Some parents of the Bible were horrible role models. Abraham, David, and others made grave mistakes yet who did return to God as they endured their consequence. We see some good role models with Mary and Joseph, Job, and others. Some children turned out well in spite of their parents-and others made huge mistakes even though they had wonderful parents-such as the prodigal son. There is no perfect earthly parent.

As we review God's modeling of a Father-and with the knowledge of positive parenting influence; as well as; how authoritative parenting benefits children-then we may be able to help with how to respond to our wayward children.

Questioning helps the child to discern and to own their choices and actions. What was the attraction of ______________? What were you thinking and feeling as you decided to ________________? What was your motive or goal behind this choice? What was the result of your decision? What may have been a better option? By asking questions, calmly yet firmly-then we are allowing the child to think and to process. How can I as your parent, help you have courage and/or help you discern better next time?

Applying then the consequence reinforces the love and the grace that is consistently saying-I love you enough to stand against things that will hurt you. Parents apply grace with this authority who is true to their word, trustworthy, and consistent. With the application of parenting with love and yet with grace-filled actions then children's hearts can indeed embrace responsible behaviors and learn to process their thoughts. The parent is more of a teacher, a coach, an advocate-as they encourage and grow their child with positive and consistent parenting.

Counselors can assist parents and their children to embrace grace. We can teach how our thoughts can begin a journey of pain or a journey of hope. Christian counselors can add how to parent grace.

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.