TALK? When to Speak, When to Stay Quiet

talkDo you know when NOT to talk?

This special post is timed for the holidays when you’re with people who drive you nuts. Are you tempted to scream or sulk in their presense? Or do you desire meaningful talk time?

cropped-heart_small-e1440804652192.jpgWhile most communication is nonverbal, sometimes you must use words. Right? Unless you plan to play charades and take turns acting out in pantomime, you must talk.

Therein lies the rub: Words can slice and dice like a chef on steroids.

Do you remember way back when you were little, and a kid hurled a nasty name at you on the school playground? It hurt didn’t it?

A new student in eighth grade and shy, I got the moniker “spacey” from a few “mean girls.” You remember them. They increased their power by putting down others. They trashed-talked me on the “predictions page” of the school yearbook too, though I doubt the adult adviser picked up on it. The occupation they chose for me? Astronaut. Not funny.

The best way to learn when not to talk is learning what God says about speech.

Here are two guidelines.

1. Desire to Guard Your Lips

To make a meaningful change in your talk, you first want to want to change. It makes sense, doesn’t it? But it’s simple to say and hard to do!

A greedy person must now prefers becoming a giver. A liar becomes a truth-teller. A gossip now desires to build up with her words, not tear down.

King David prayed,

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

He desired a change and prayed a prayer he knew God would honor. Would you like to change your speech too? May I encourage you to pray a similar prayer to Jesus?

2. Expect Fewer Problems!

Did you that guarding your lips means you’ll have fewer problems? Listen to King Solomon.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23

Transforming words make a positive influence on the people around you and in yourself. Well-chosen words bring forgiveness, encouragement, praise, truth, grace, thankfulness, discretion, and happiness.

Since God has given you the gift of speech, isn’t is wise to “talk like Jesus”?

Talk About It

What is one change in your talk you can choose to make today?

Sharing hope for your heart,

lucy-signature-blue

 

BELIEVE God You Have God’s Favor Now

favorDo you want God’s favor?

Here’s a big encouragement I hope you embrace with all your being.

Lots of Christian women think to get God’s favor they must be good. You know, follow the Ten Commandments, read the Bible and pray daily, attend church weekly, and do nice things like feed the homeless.

The truth: Every genuine Christian has God’s favor now. You need not “get” it because you’ve “got” it. The word favor nearly synonymous with blessing?

Ephesians 1:3 says this:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

Did you catch the phrase “every spiritual blessing”? If you have every spiritual blessing now, can you get more? 

Choose to Believe God

The way, then, to receive God’s favor — his blessing! — is simple and profound: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). What do you need to believe? If you are not a Christian you need to believe you need help. Self-effort isn’t enough. Relying on a self-improvement book keeps you chained to a hamster wheel, running and running and going nowhere.

Instead, trust that Christ has done for you what you are cannot do: live a perfectly holy life.

If you are a Christian who has lost her way, then I invite you to read, even memorize, a biblical truth we at Biblical Counseling Center have framed in our offices and typed on our counseling materials:

Faith is believing the Word of God

and acting upon it,

no matter how I feel,

knowing God promises a good result.

Often the women, couples and families I counsel are Christians but are thinking and acting like unbelievers.

Many have let the world’s belief systems infiltrate their thinking, beliefs and motivations. They’re hurting and want relief. God gives them something better: peace and contentment in Christ in all circumstances. Here are two pictures of women who believed.

Rahab the Harlot and Favor

A prostitute in Jericho hid spies under flax on rooftop. Brave, this woman, this harlot. Brave, this believer in the one true God. A scarlet cord danging from her window attested to her belief and saved her life and the lives of her family when the Jericho walls fell in.

Do you think God can love sex-tainted women? Or women with a past, whatever the past? Perhaps abortion, adultery, promiscuity or pornography?

Isn’t it wonderful that God is bigger than the mistakes you’ve made?

The Rejected Samaritan Woman and Favor

Many times married and living with a guy, this woman was an outcast among outcasts. Fetching water midday, scorching sun high, she met Jesus at Jacob’s well and became an evangelist. This Jesus, he spoke truth, he showed compassion, and she was changed. A new creation, embraced by God Most High. She told the townsfolk who had shunned her.

Do you know the sting of disappointment and rejection? Remember middle school? The insecurity?

When you believe Jesus, you experience peace and contentment now. Sure, you still make bad choices and bad things happen will upend you. Yet you and I can rest in knowing God loves you . . .

more than wildflowers

and sparrows

even angels

because He Is Love. 

COUNSELING HOPE: I encourage you to contact me and we can chat briefly by phone or email and see how biblical counseling might help you and give you hope. Stop by my counseling page for answers to questions you may have.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

Winning the War! The Best Mom Ever ~ part 3

warTo win the war for your child’s heart, you’ll fight three forces. But first, you must recognize you’re in a war!

Winning the war requires you to focus on your child’s heart!

Read the part 1 here and part two here in the Best Mom Ever series, teaching you to–

1.    Prepare!

2.    Recognize you’re in a war.

3.   Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.

4.   Yield to God.

This post calls you to fight once you recognize you are in a war, a war you must win, God willing. . .and he is willing.

3 Battle Forces!

In this battle, you face three strong forces:

First, your child’s natural, selfish nature.

Second, a spiritual undertow.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

And third, our increasingly wacked-out, confusing, chaotic culture.

Our culture says the best kids are happy and successful kids. This is a lie. The best kids are not the ones who seem happy and successful, who look good on the outside. Rather, the best kids are GOD-honoring KIDS.

Ground Zero: The Heart

As I’ve mentioned, your Number One goal is to shepherd your child’s heart. Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

From the heart flows your behavior.  What you say and do and think expresses your heart. That goes for your child, too.

So when your child misbehaves, he is revealing his selfish nature, his battle-weary soul, or his bent toward a sin-city culture.

OR ALL THREE!

You may be thinking, “No, not my little Ethan, not my little Emma.” The truth is, every child is selfish and foolish.

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Even kids who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ miss the mark, as do their parents.

We all mess up. Our intentions may be good but, well, our own desire to please our little darlings can get the best of us. Here’s one of my many “what-were-we-thinking?” stories.

What Were We Thinking?

Laura was about 2.

And sneaky.

She knew my weak spot.

At bedtime after I laid her in her crib with five — yes, five —  pacifiers — I said a sweet good night, gave her an equally sweet kiss on her chubby cheek, and tip-toed out the door.

By the time I made it down the stairs, I heard:

CLUNK. . .CLUNK. . .CLUNK!

Three pluggies down. Two to go.

CLUNK. . .CLUNK!

Yes, my sweet, sweet Laura had a good arm. She had whipped her pluggies at the door, knowing I’d come back. She was barely 2 and she was telling us who was in charge. And what was I thinking? Doesn’t scripture say kids must obey their parents? Yes, it’s right there in black and white.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Winning Your Child’s Heart

We were in a war. And so are you, Mom. The only way to win: Look past my child’s behavior and see what was going on in her heart. To win the battle for her heart, my husband and I needed to show that, with God’s help, we were in charge.

God gave us the job of effecting godly attitudes, behavior, and character in our adorable child. In the next post, we’ll look at assuming your role as a benevolent dictator. 🙂

Let’s Talk

  1. What behavior problems do you see in your child?
  2. What have you done about them? 
  3. How does focusing on the heart help your child glorfy God?

Be sure to read the next post on assuming the rightful role as the mom. To make sure you get it in your email, subscribe to blog. The subscription box is below.

Counseling heart to hope (and heal!)

 

 

3 Steps to Stopping Ugly Thoughts

ugly thoughtsWho doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.

So today you learn how to:

1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.

2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.

3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here.

What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Step 1: Identify

First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:

UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS

Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.

UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”

EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness

ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips

Step 2: Replace

Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:

TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS

Here’s a corresponding example.

TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.

NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage

NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application

Step 3: See Change

Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought. And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.

You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.

Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

 

Is Dieting. . .Sinful?

dietingDIETING: Millions of women are on a diet now. Is dieting wrong in God’s eyes? Is it (gulp) a sin?

Diets. Gotta love them, gotta hate them.

We women love them because losing weight helps us look better and feel energetic. We hate them because we may feel deprived, grouchy, and fearful that we’ll gain back the pounds we worked hard to lose.

I have a crazy Weight Watchers story. It begins what I was age 10. You can read part of my crazy story here in the intro of my eBook, Fit for Life.

Back to the BIG question:

So Is Dieting Sinful?

The quick answer: no. In itself dieting isn’t bad. In fact, caring for yourself by eating right is good. But dieting can turn bad. It depends on your attitude. What’s your attitude regarding food and self image? Do you hate how your jeans fit?  Do you call yourself awful names if you go off your diet?

Are you more concerned with what people think than what God says?

If you fear that eating certain favorite treats like ice cream, chips or cookies will prompt you to binge or if you believe that eating your favorite treat is “wrong” (even if the Bible doesn’t teach that it is), then you must not eat it, says Elyse Fitzpatrick, a leading biblical counselor and author of several books including Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.

The bible says that if you compromise your conscience, you sin.

He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

This passage primarily speaks to food offered to idols (which was a problem when the apostle Paul wrote this epistle), yet the biblical principle holds true: anything that compromises your faith is sin, including faithless eating.

The upshot: If you believe dieting or cheating on your diet is a sin, then it is sin for you. If not, then feel free to choose a weight-loss plan.

Listen to Paul’s words on sin and grace.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

If you choose to lose weight by dieting, select one focused on lifestyle changes and teaches healthy habits to keep you Fit for Life.

What About Gluttony?

dietingDerived from the Latin gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, “gluttony” means over-indulgence of food or drink to the point of extravagance or waste, gluttony has a spot on the infamous list of the seven deadly sins. While I’ve never heard a sermon on gluttony, the Bible speaks against it. (Check out Proverbs 23:20,21.)

In a strange twist, under-indulgence of food is also gluttonous because it is an extreme use of food. For some, the problem is anorexia nervosa, which troubled a food disordered counselee, who eventually found healing as she determined to put God first and to bring glory to him in everything she did. We also kept in regular contact with her medical doctor and nutritionist.

She learned to enjoy eating food, a gift of God. Indeed. Paul declared,

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4,5)

4 Quick Self-Care Food Tips

1. Cut out or reduce sugary drinks like soda. (When my husband corked the a while back, he lost 15 pounds in three months and feels more energetic, especially in the afternoon.)

2. Drink a glass of water before a meal or when you feel hungry between meals. Drinking water makes you feel fuller, helping you to reduce portions easily. Hycration also helps you think better.

3. Eat colorfully. Have lots of veggies and fruit on hand, washed and ready to eat. You’re less likely to crunch a cookie when you’ve set out baby carrots, snap peas, bananas, and apples.

4. Decide NOT to diet. A diet is an eating plan you go on and off, typically regaining the weight you lost. Instead, listen to advice from MayoClinic.com:

Combining a healthier diet and more activity is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for the long term. Take your weight loss and weight maintenance one day at a time and surround yourself with supportive resources to help ensure your success.

This is exactly the approach of my ebook Fit for Life, with a strong biblical emphasis. God created you to shine.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Counseling hope to your precious heart,

Biblical Approach for Healing PTSD!

ptsdPTSD: Women exposed to a significant trauma such as rape, a natural catastrophe, or serious car accicent may later experience nightmares, disturbing memories, and feelings of helplessness and other problems. How can you help a friend? How can you get help for yourself?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the label that describes a long-lasting emotional struggle following a traumatic event. It has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”

PTSD affects many more people than combat veterans and people who endured 9/11 closeup.

  • 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
  • Up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD.
  • An estimated 8 percent of Americans – that’s 24.4 million people – have PTSD at any given time.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.
  • Among people who are victims of a severe traumatic experience 60 to 80 percent will develop PTSD.

The above statistics come from HealMyPTSD.com.

What about you? Do you struggle with PTSD? Do you know someone who does?  Have you wondered, “Will I ever be normal again?”

You Are Not Alone!

1. You are not alone.

2. There is hope.

Tragically, among the deepest crises leading to the PTSD label is sexual abuse. This trauma sickens the soul and messes with the mind, spirit, and body for years, even decades. Also, the effects range from paralyzing fears to physiological symptoms. And they damage relationships.

Believers who’ve experienced trauma may ask, “Where was God?”

According to the Sidran Institute, people who experienced specific traumas such as rape, child abuse, and violent assaults often feel isolated, guilty, trapped, and confused.

But there’s hope. Says biblical counselor and author David Powlison:

Your recovery will be a process of learning and remembering those two truths — you are not alone and there is hope — not just once, but over and over.

Think about how bread gets made. It must be kneaded so that the yeast goes through the whole loaf. These two truths must be kneaded into who you are until they work through every part of you. The working of these truths into the deepest part of you takes time.

The damage you suffered may have been done in one or more terrible moments; the healing and the restoration unfolds at a human pace. It unfolds at your pace. It unfolds as part of your story, and it unfolds over time.

Lindy’s PTSD Story

Lindy Abbott, Christian blogger, wife, and mother suffered severe abuse as a young child and unwittingly dissociated to survive ongoing trauma. Dissociation protects a victim from awareness of the pain in the short run, but later she may develop relationship difficulties and inability to function.

As Lindy writes at her blog Abuse and Trauma Hope,

It is at this precise moment [of abuse] that the child unconsciously begins to protect the soul from utter destruction by separating the harmful/abusive experiences into hidden places in the soul. The mind does this without needing the child to actively think about what she needs to do to survive, it as an unconscious act of self-preservation.

Lindy says this about her abuse:

My life began in trauma and abuse as a child, affecting who I am, how I see, and how I feel. The abuse was hell but God has used it for good.

Truly, God has used what was meant for evil to be good in my life and to conform me to Christ Jesus.

I see things deeply. I feel deeply too. Sometimes really good, sometimes really bad. While I love to laugh and be silly, I am burdened by the seriousness of eternity.

Transformed by Grace

Horrific memories may also haunt someone with PTSD. And condemning words like “You are dirty and ugly” may invade thoughts. What happened was horrible but the truth is, your mind can be transformed by God’s grace.  Indeed, you can apply the truth to your horrible situation.This journal helps.

ptsd“Because of her faith in Christ she can apply the truth that she is clothed in the righteousness of Christ and she is precious and loved. She can apply the truth of who she is in Christ to the truth of her past experiences,” says biblical counselor Eliza Jane Huie with Life Counseling Center.

Isn’t it true that each of us needs to remember who we are in Christ and apply this truth to our lives? “Having a painful past that still hurts is an opportunity to build a deeper confidence in the truth of God’s Word and what it says about you,” Huie says. “This is not an exercise in positive thinking. It is telling gospel truth to yourself.

As you speak gospel truth to horrible situations you’ve faced, let it make you desperate for God and for the love he has for you. Here’s a reassuring Bible truth:

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:18-19, ESV

An Invitation

Sweet friends, whether you or a loved one suffered abuse or endured another trauma, know that God heals in his timing, and his timing is always right.

Do you want to talk with someone confidentially about your pain?

As you probably know I am a biblical counselor. I counsel women abused sexually as children and who experience anxiety, depression, and abandonment (adoption, death of a parent, marital infidelity, for instance). God wants to give you hope now. Please contact me for a complimentary phone consultation. I counsel women and families in person and by Skype.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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