Self-Care: Your Emotions and Thoughts (part 2)

self careSELF-CARE: For the best self-care, recognize your emotions and choose godly thoughts so you can act on renewed beliefs. And God will heal your heart in the most important way.

In case you missed it, here’s part one in this series where you learned the role of the heart in true self-care. In part three, you’ll also discover how to change habits that hurt your heart.

This brief article shares my own journey in embracing self-care, beginning with these steps.

  1. Recognize emotions.
  2. Choose thoughts that line up with God’s word.
  3. Act on renewed beliefs.

Recognizing Your Emotions

I’m tired of my own crazy fear of self-care that it is extravagant. This is how I’m changing, a step at a time. You can too.

The first step begins with recognizing your emotions.

The emotion of fear tells me something’s wrong with my heart. In the bible the word heart refers to the inner self. Your heart is the control center of your being; it is the immaterial part of you that includes desires, motivations, beliefs, and thoughts.

As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man. Proverbs 27:19

We do what we do and feel what we feel because we think what we think. More simply, your thoughts determine your emotions and actions.

Personalizing this truth, I recognized that my thoughts led to fear and to the actions of working overtime, and failing to rest, exercise regularly, and just enjoy this wonderful world God created. I knew I had a problem when I became too busy to notice my hardy red geraniums had turned brown and crunchy. Have you let busyness crowd out your self-care?

I love my work as a biblical counselor and counseling hearts to hope. I love love love finding treasures of truth in books by Ed Welch and Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick and Bob Kellemen and other biblical counseling leaders.

But when I choose Ed, Paul, Elyse, or Bob over eating dinner, wouldn’t you agree I’ve gone too far?

Identifying Your Thoughts

Recognizing my faulty thinking and choosing new godly thinking is a second step in true self-care. When one’s thinking is out of line with God’s thinking, this means the heart’s desire is off. My focus was pleasing me not God.

My thoughts sounded like,

I need to work harder.
Self-care is a waste of time.
My worth depends of what I do.

food cravingsNote the emphasis on self. Having battled self-sufficiency since childhood, I know that God was giving me another chance to deny the sin of pride. This time it’s pride in thinking I can defy God-ordained limits in my physical needs. Jesus slept, ate, and had fun too. Am I above Jesus?

Where do you tend toward faulty thinking?

Acting on Renewed Beliefs

To choose to change faulty thinking is life transforming. At Biblical Counseling Center where I counsel hurting people in person and by Skype, we often say, “Faith is believing the Word of God, and acting upon it, no matter how you feel, knowing God promises a good result.” So the third step is acting upon biblical truth.

Namely, get enough sleep, exercise, and spend refreshing time with family and friends while trusting God.  I’m learning to view and practice consistent self-care in a new way: an act of worship.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Do you agree consistent, true self-care an act of worship? Please leave a comment. Thanks.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Trials: Take the Wild Path to Joy

trials

Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?

Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:

Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you so that he could live his live through you.

Blessing of Trials

Sucky trials get your attention.

Then you feel a need to deal.

And Jesus is the real deal.

Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you canwhat a mind-boggling thought!  because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.

‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV

With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.

As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:

Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.

 New Perspective of Trials

We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.

1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.

2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?

And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.

Invitation for YOU

Friends, we gave one hope: Christ. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.

I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.

I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)

May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3

Sharing Hope for Your Heart,

Election Stress? God’s No-Worry Solution!

election stress

Election stress disorder: Did you know you might have it? 

In today’s polarized, hate-flinging, hand-wringing, Internet-pounding U.S. presidential election, passions are running high. Haven’t you been tempted to . . .

  • worry
  • shut down
  • feel angry or hopeless or wonder if the America you know is coming to an endwhichever candidate gets your vote?

Here’s just one small example of election stress: Leila put on Facebook this — “After tomorrow, hopefully the attacks on my character will end. I’ve just been told that because I support Trump, God won’t let me into heaven.”

The term election stress disorder describes the worry-anxiety-fear that beleagers voters every four years. It was coined by a psychologist who described the phenomenon that plagues many Americans this Election Day.

How Common Is Election Stress?

Indeed, America is afraid.

American Psychological Association researchers surveyed 3,500 adults in August and found that 55% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans said the election is a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” source of stress. Those who use social media are more likely than those who don’t to say the election is a source of stress (54% versus 45%, respectively).

America is heavy with anxiety and distrustful of the other side. Friends are unfriending Facebook friends. Marriages are being tested. Many Americans won’t speak the name “Hillary” or “Trump” fearing name-calling and rejection.

So how pervasive is your election stress?

In Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur, he describes anxiety, at its core, “an appropriate response in light of the circumstances–very different from the cares and concerns in life that cause people to attend to business in a responsible way.”

In other words, if you have worry-anxiety-fear about the election, it sounds like you have election stress.

Telltale Signs of Election Stress

The signs of election stress include heart palpitations, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, insomnia, and a doomed feeling.

Physically, it is felt reaction to a perceived danger. When you fear danger, your body automatically pumps out numerous hormones including adrenaline. Once in your bloodstream, your pupils dilate, your muscles tense, and your heartbeat and breathing quicken.

election stressDid you know election stress affects your thoughts too?

Call it worry. It is the wrong way to handle election stress or any stress. Worry is dwelling negatively on a trouble. It is ruminating on the worst.

All this worry leads to headaches, digestive pain, light-headedness, tingling in your extremities, even chest pain brought on by stress. (Please note, if you suspect a heart attack or other medical emergency, call 911 immediately.)

Your No-Worry Solution

Here are three ways to get rid of election stress and learn to be content.

First, consider what the Bible says about anxiety and follow through.

Jesus spoke “Do not be anxious” and “Fear not” many times. (See Mathew 6:25, 31, 34.) The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

TAKE-AWAY: When you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that Jesus says to NOT worry and replace your worry thinking with a biblical truth that God is in control and cares for you.

Casting all of your care upon him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Then, do the next thing that God hold you responsible for doing — finishing a report, writing an email, making dinner, picking up the kids from swim class.

Second, guard your heart and your mind. 

Social media, news shows, and talk around the family table buzz over who’s up, who’s down, and the latest conspiracy theory.

Rather than worrying about today and tomorrow, why not fix your eyes on Jesus? Read the promises in Romans 8:35-39, which begin:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

TAKE-AWAY: Nothing can separate you from Christ’s love. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Think about this truth when tempted to worrry.

Third, choose the right perspective.

Earth isn’t your home. This election is important but pales in comparison with the Most Important. That is, Jesus Christ.

Rick Thomas compares your temporary home on earth to a vacation. He spells it out like this:

  1. I go on a vacation for a short period of time.
  2. I act responsibly while I’m on vacation.
  3. I’m fully aware our vacation location is not our home.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 (ESV)

You and I long for our permanent home: heaven. We are citizens of heaven!

TAKE-AWAY: Remember your true home on Election Day.

May I pray for us?

A Prayer

Heavenly Father,

By the power of the Holy Spirit, quiet our hearts as we fix our eyes on Jesus. You command us not to be anxious about food, clothing, or anything else including who will sit in the oval office after this election. Keep us aware that you are on heaven’s throne and completely in charge.

You are not stressed over this election, so why should we? May we praise you today and always and be filled with your peace. May we respect those in authority as we seek to live a life that honors you. Amen.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

lucy-signature-blue

Rebellious Child: Help and Hope for Moms

rebellious kid

A rebellious child is opposed to authority — yours! And his defiance hurts, doesn’t it? It causes you to question your effectiveness as a loving, godly mom. You may wonder if God has given you more than you can handle.

As a counselor I’ve heard from moms and dads who need help figuring out and responding to a rebellious child. My hope is to provide encouragement to you so you know. . .

This article is the last in a four-part series on teaching your children. The first one focused on younger kids, the second looked at teens, and the third considered young adult children. If you’re married, why not share these articles with your husband?

The goal: to encourage and equip you

with help and hope for your heart!

You Are Not Alone

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

“My daughter met this new kid who introduced her to weed. Now she sneaks out of the house and lies. What happened?”

“I can’t get through to my 24 year old. Over and over I tell him he has to get a job. He says he’ll look for one ‘tomorrow’ but never does.”

“Joey won’t do anything I ask him — pick up his stuff, turn off the TV, do his spelling homework. I don’t know what to do.”

Your child’s problem may be backtalk or bullying, stealing or sneaking out, lying or laziness — or all of these. Even “good” kids might rebel. They just coverup better, like my high-achieving high school friend who hid vodka in her locker.

Rebellion is worsening! In We Cannot Be Silent, R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes, “We are facing nothing less than a comprehensive redefinition of life, love, liberty, and the very meaning of right and wrong.” Do you agree?

God’s Word Has Everything You Need

As you wrestle through the issues of parenting a rebellious child, have you found hope and comfort in the all-sufficient written Word?

Romans 8:28 has an encouraging message. Please do not let its familiarity blow by you.

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things. Including the hard. Especially the hard.

The Lord promises:

I will never leave you or forsake you. So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6

May I encourage you to read the Bible daily? Like nothing else, God’s Word strengthens you and comforts you. It instructs and convicts. It is God speaking to YOU.

Jot down important truths God impresses on you. Think on these truths (Philippians 4:8).

You Have an Identifiable Enemy 

When your son blames you, when your daughter refuses to follow rules — know this: Yes, your rebellious child is reponsible for their own sin. However, Satan loves to rip apart a family any way he can. He tempts your children to hate you! 

Mom, you are in a spiritual war. This war has an eternal significance. Satan is your enemy.

What you can do:

In addition to prayer and reading your Bible for strength, comfort, and insight:

  1. Discipline your rebellious child. Biblical discipline, say Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jim Newheiser in When Good Kids Make Bad Choices, is the process of setting clear standards for behavior based on the Bible, requiring immediate and respectful obedience, and then taking measured discipinary action when the rules are not obeyed. In a future post, I’ll spell out what this looks like in real life. Meanwhile, if you need help now, please contact me. I counsel by Skype and in person.
  2. Love your rebellious child. When your child–whether age 4 or age 24–acts like your enemy, choose to show them love (Matthew 5:44-45). Resist revenge. Do good. Forgive as you have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32). Speak life-giving words.

Remind yourself that your rebellious child is NOT the real enemy.

God Gives You His Power to Persevere 

Parenting a rebellious child affects you! You may experience anger, fear, and depression. Here are a few practical ideas for you to glorify God. Remember, you have God’s power to lead a godly life.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

  1. Pray for your child with your husand if you’re married (and he’s a believer). Prayer demonstrates your reliance on God.
  2. Thank God for the trial. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) Thanking God will lessen your anxiety and complaints.
  3. Ask God how you can change? Perhaps you are too permissive or authoritarian. Maybe spending more time with your child will improve communication.
  4. Ask your child for forgiveness. (Matthew 7:1-5) When you sin against your child, tell her you sinned, confess your wrongdoing, and repent. Your demonstration of true humility will have an effect for the good.

These godly responses toward a rebellious child may sound impossible.

Apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

However,

If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7

Truly, on your own it is impossible be an effective, loving godly mom to a rebellious child, but in Christ you can persevere. You can have true joy in the journey.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

lucy-signature-blue

 

Teaching a Full-Grown Child to Love the Lord

full-grown child

Doesn’t your heart hurt when your beloved, full-gown child makes foolish choices?

If your full-grown child lives at home, you have leverage. Define expectations. Let her experience consequences to foolish decisions. In other words, don’t pay her speeding ticket!

But what about foolish young adults who get arrested, drop out of college, cannot hold on to a job, or who tell you Jesus is “a joke”? How do you teach these young adults to love the Lord?

In this article, you discover:

  • the best way to teach your full-grown child
  • handling your own emotions when he or she make a foolish choice

This article is the third in a four-part series on teaching your children. The first one focused on younger kids, the second looked at teens, and the last one on you, the parent. If you’re married, why not share these articles with your husband?

The goal: to encourage and equip you

with help and hope for your heart!

Loving a Wayward Full-Grown Child

My friend’s son flunked out of high school. She wondered, “What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t he just show up to school and pay attention?” Later he took the GED, passed, and now has a job — not a great job, but a job.

Her tears dried. She smiled again.

I recommend you take a cue from my friend: pray, speak of God’s wonderful plans, and encourage him to seek God’s will. This is how she taught him to love the Lord. 

PRAYER: She had prayed for that boy all the days of his life. Her prayers multiplied when he had school trouble and hung out with a rough group.

She had tried the usual punishments to effect godly change in her child. They didn’t work. She also tried positive incentives. Still, nothing. She reminded her full-grown child regularly that she prayed for him and loved him unconditionally.

Another way she taught him was through patience! Did you know that young people’s brains are not fully developed until 25 years old? Does this encourage you? It encouraged my friend.

WONDERFUL PLANS. God says the plans he has for his children are “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give them a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Hold on to this truth and share it with your grown-up child, especially when stuggling.

Also, Paul says in Ephesians 2:10,

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

BIBLE INSTRUCTION. Sometimes young adults and their parents struggle with knowing God’s will for their them. This may create anxiety. Isn’t it wonderful that God doesn’t keep his will top secret?

He spells out his will in many scriptures. Here are three.

  • “For this is the will of God: your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15).

Where God doesn’t clarify his will, he gives wisdom to you and your full-grown child wisdom. Pray for wisdom and follow his lead.

Handling Your Own Emotions

No mom wishes that her full-grown child does drugs, loses their job, gets divorced, or lives in their parents’ basement year after year.

Do any of these sketches of real people resonnate with you?

Andrea disagrees with her daughter’s lesbian lifestyle.

Carol feels sad that her son committed adultery.

Jana is confused that her college-educated son quit his job, moved across the country, and is living on government handouts.

So how do you handle your own fear, anger, and disappointment?

  1. Ask God to make his glory the deepest desire of your heart.
  2. Speak the truth in love to the one who hurt you.
  3. Provide counsel when your grown-up child is making foolish choices.
  4. Trust the Lord.

 

What’s a mom to do? How does she handle her pain when a full-grown child chooses a disastrous path? You must trust the Lord with your child and leave them in His hands.

This is easy to say and hard to do. Remember that God’s plan for your full-grown child is better than your plan. Find comfort in this. Desire God’s way above all.

My Offer to You

Is your adult child giving you grief? Do you want help in how to handle the situation and find contentment? Please contact me and we can talk by Skype or in person (greater Chicago). I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation. Just ask.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

lucy-signature-blue

 

 

Get this 64 page ebook FREE when you sign up for my blog!

 

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!

You have Successfully Subscribed!