Prepartion: Step 1 for the Best Mom Ever ~ part 2

preparationPreparation is a first step in becoming the best mom ever. God shows you the way. He guides your steps.

Becoming the best mom ever is within your reach. This doesn’t demand perfection. Not at all. If it did, we’d all fail! But it may require a shift in your approach as you. . .

focus on your child’s heart!

Read the first post in my “Becoming the Best Mom Ever” series. There are four more to come. 🙂

First P.R.A.Y.

To become the best mom ever who shepherds her child’s heart, you need to:

1. Prepare!

2. Recognize you’re in a war.

3. Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.

4. Yield to God.

P Is Preparation!

My preparation for motherhood lasted nine months, but my labor was a different sort: paperwork! Nine months is EXACTLY how long it took from from finishing adoption paperwork until precious, newborn Laura snuggled in our arms.So far, so good. Right?

But when Laura turned 3 weeks old, she screamed out of no where. I checked her diaper. Nothing. I offered her her bottle. Not interested. I gently bounced her. She screamed louder. When she finally fell asleep, I read every book I could get my hands on.

The diagnosis: Colick!

Four months later she outgrew this stage, and I learned the value of preparation, big time. I began reading AHEAD to the next stage of child development so I could handle it better.

Preparation doesn’t solve every parenting dilemma but it helps immensely. Your two most important preparation tools: knowledge and wisdom.

Getting Knowledge and Wisdom

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

You’ll find knowledge and wisdom in the pages of Scripture. So read the Bible, soak in the truth, pay attention to the moms and dads in the Bible, what they did right, and what they did wrong. This prepares you for shepherding your child’s heart.

You can get wisdom from other sources too, such as parenting books from Ted Tripp and Lou Priolo. I highly recommend these five books:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Instructing a Child’s Heart

The Heart of Anger

Getting a Grip (for teens)

I use these books often in counseling hope to moms (in person and by Skype). Plus, another helpful tool I incorporate in counseling is this Thought Journal..

Around the time I inhaled Tripp’s and Piolo’s books, I was facing backtalk from my eldest and craziness other kinds from my two youngest. The middle child argued. And the youngest whined! (And I’m a biblical counselor, for crying out loud. . .I was crying!)

It’s little wonder I prayed  and prepared, and prepared and prayed, and read parenting books more times than I care to admit. Now my children are adults. We survived! If I can, you can. We moms must stick together, right?

My next post in this series at my website centers on recognizing that you’re in a war.

Join the Conversation

How have you prepared to shepherd your child’s heart? What help do you need?

Counseling Heart to Hope (and Healing!)

. . .

 

No Sexual Desire for Your Husband?

sexual desire
Sexual desire: Did you know there are reasons why a wife
sometimes — or often — has next-to-no sexual desire for her husband? And there are gospel-centered solutions too. In this insightful post by Heart2Heart Counselor Julie Ganschow appeared first here on here website and is used with permisison.

In this article, we’ll consider physical reasons and spiritual reasons for lack of sexual desire.

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Ware is the real reason a woman has no desire for her husband?

In biblical counseling we believe that often the surface problem is only a symptom of a deeper heart level problem. My goal would be to determine what in the heart (thought, belief, desire, will, attitude, emotion) needs to be changed for the symptom (lack of sexual desire for her husband) to be relieved.

Physical Reasons for Lack of Sexual Desire

However, there are numerous things that can contribute to the lack of desire in a woman.

First a medical check up is always in order. Women’s bodies are complex by design. Throughout our lives our hormonal levels adjust. Our monthly cycles bring times of more or less intense sexual desire. Fear of pregnancy makes women want to run away from sex, pregnancy, and post-partum hormonal changes bring physical and emotional changes with increasing hormones. Perimenopause and menopause also bring their share of symptoms as hormones begin to decrease.

I also believe the use of many chemicals in our food and the relatively poor nutritional value our foods also may influence our hormonal balances. Getting a good overall physical exam including blood work may rule out endocrine problems such as diabetes and thyroid problems. Also a measure of estrogen and progesterone may help determine if there is a true physiological cause to a lack of interest or desire in sex.

The rule of good biblical counseling is to look at a physiological cause first when it can be objectively and scientifically proven one exists. When a physical cause is not the problem, the only remaining option is that it is a spiritual problem.

Spiritual Reason for a Lack of Sexual Desire

In this day of blatant immorality, it is unfortunately unusual that the couple enters into marriage sexually pure. When my eldest son married, a part of the marriage ceremony was to celebrate their purity through the exchange of the purity rings they each wore since entering their teen years. They exchanged the rings with each other to signify that they had saved themselves for each other in marriage.

By maintaining purity they have saved themselves from one aspect of sexual difficulty in marriage. While I have not been able to find a term for this in any book on sex I have read I believe there is for the woman something I call “sexual guilt.” Sexual guilt seems to be a result of engaging in sexual contact prior to marriage, even if the only prior partner is now her husband.

In my years of counseling women I have seen this numerous times. A woman who has been sexually active prior to marriage may struggle greatly with sexual desire after marriage.

Stories of Women and Low Sexual Desire

Case studies of women with a struggle similar to yours may give you hope and a sense that you are not alone. Below, these ‘counselee’ representations are fictitious and do not represent any one person living or dead or their actual case histories or personal stories. But they may resonate with you.

Great Sex Before Marriage

sexual desireFran says, “While I really enjoyed sex before we were married I knew deep down it was wrong. I thought it was ok, because we really loved each other and planned to marry anyway.

“I thought about how great it would be not to have to sneak around anymore, not to fear getting caught. I couldn’t wait to be free of the guilt I felt at all the sneaking around. When we married I carried these thoughts into our marriage, but what was once fun and exciting was now very unappealing to me. I was just not interested anymore. I felt dirty and like my husband was always pawing at me wanting to get me into bed.”

“Sex became a chore and I wanted to avoid it at all costs.

Betty says, “It never bothered me that we had sex before marriage. I was in love with him and we were going to be married. Once the marriage vows were said I lost all interest in him. I would rather go to bed with a good book. I don’t want to be touched. Once and a while I give in but I really would be fine if we never had sex again.”

The Wedding Night Was a Disaster

Jenny says, “I always knew it was wrong, but I let him talk me into it.

“I was raised a Christian and so was he. We had sex for months before our wedding, and I begged him to stop as a wedding present to me for the two weeks prior to our wedding. He reluctantly consented.

“Our wedding night was a disaster for me. I had no joy or anticipation for the event of our becoming husband and wife in the physical sense. It felt like there was nothing special about it at all. After he was asleep I went and cried in the bathroom for hours. I thought, ‘is this all there is now?’

“I dread sex now. I change in the bathroom or sneak to bed ahead of him because I don’t want to give him any opportunity to become aroused or to have to tell him ‘no’ again.

“He gets so mad at me when I tell him I am not in the mood, and it has begun to affect our marriage. I am so angry at him for making me have sex when I don’t want to! He is selfish and is only thinking about himself. He says he needs it, and I don’t believe him. I am fine without it, why can’t he be?”

In summary, when a woman is involved in sexual immorality, it affects her thinking. God tells us in His Word that all our sin has consequences. While nothing will change the believer’s position in Christ before God, all sin carries the inescapable weight of consequences.

Resources for You

EXCELLENT BOOK: Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters is insightful and encouraging as well as challenging–in a good way.

THOUGHT JOURNAL: This quick and easy download provides a step-by-step method to identifying destructive thoughts and redeeeming them with God-honoring thoughts that change the tragectory of your life. Get the Thought Journal now.

COUNSELING: Isn’t God calling you to enjoy the gift of sex in your marriage? Check out biblical counseling for married women. Learn more here.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Self-Care: Changing Bad Habits into Good (part 3)

self careSELF-CARE: As you follow in step with Christ and make godly habits that come from a changed heart, you’ll also experience joy.

In case you missed them, here are part one and part two in this series. So far, we’ve looked at the role of the heart in true self-care (part 1) and the first three steps in whole health wellness: recognizing emotions, choosing godly thoughts, and acting on renewed beliefs (part 2).

In the final part of this self-care series, let’s consider:

  1. Making new godly habits and sticking with them.
  2. Experiencing the joy-filled life.

Making New Habits

Acting on my renewed beliefs a time or two isn’t enough to make a genuine difference in my thoughts, emotions, and actions. We need a fourth step: making new habits that stick.

I used to eat super healthy foods and was a vegetarian for 14 or so years, and exercised regularly too. In recent years, however, I believed the lie I was too busy for regular meals, exercise, and rest.

God helps you and me break ungodly habits, including things like critical speech, self-pity, worry, smoking, chewing fingernails, people-pleasing, pornography, and more. In my case, the bad habit of neglecting self-care came from a heart of pride.

Sinful habits are not disorders or defects. Jesus Christ gives us victory over sin. You and I no longer have to live in slavery to sinful thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and motivation. God himself provides the way out.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Putting off pride, renewing my attitude, and putting on humility: This is my new thought habit.

New Habit Plan, Detailed

To successfully change a habit, we need a plan. The more detailed, the better. First you’ll see an overview below. Then I’ll share a detailed plan a counselee and I wrote together.

  1. Put off: Identify the ungodly habit that needs change. For me, I was irresponsible with diet, exercise, and sleep. For a counselee I meet by Skype, she is quick to argue with her mother.
  2. Renew my attitude: Me — I agreed with God that I was sinning by erroneously thinking that I was too busy for self-care, as if God didn’t stuff enough hours in a day. My counselee agreed with God to honor her mother and to choose Christ righteousness over self-righteousness..
  3. Put on: Me — humility. I am not Super Woman! I need good food, exercise, and rest…just like Jesus when he walked this earth. My counselee also needed humility as well as determination to speak the truth in love.

Together my counselee and I wrote a plan for her that looked like this:

  • When mother says something mean, quietly thank God for an opportunity to practice the new habit.
  • Remind myself of James 1:19, which says, “… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” and that I need to change my attitude, desiring most of all to honor God.
  • Then speak the truth in love. Depending on what mother says, I may say, “I feel hurt when you suggest I’ve put on ten pounds and am lazy. You know I am an honor student and my clothes fit as they always do. I want you to know that I’m making a new habit to speak the truth in love. This is what the Bible tells me to do.”
  • Proactively and regulary choose words that build up, saying something like, “Mom, I love you” or “Great to see you!” or “Just want you to know I appreciate that you want the best for me” or a simple “Thank you,” always with a loving tone of voice and friendly body language.

body languageWhen making a new habit pattern, we need to repeat it many times for it to take hold. In counseling others, I’ve discovered that this step of forming new godly pattern is challenging and part of the reason why we need our brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside us and encourage us.

What bad habit does God want you to replace with a godly habit? What obstacles are in the way? How might other Christians helped you?

Receiving Joy in the Journey

What I learned in this self-care journey may sound kind of crazy. It’s counterintuitive. My avoidance of true self-care fed my sinful appetite to live self-sufficiently and was, in fact, self-indulgent. Does this make sense?

For me, counseling my heart has meant stopping to rest and eat well and exercise.

I thank God that my poor self care didn’t create a health crisis. Rather, fear crept in and settled in my heart and mind. This is equally bad, this unsettling. Yet it has resulted in my obeying God’s call for heart change, which is always good. He knows what you and I truly need.

A quick review of the biblical counseling journey:

1. Recognizing your difficult emotions.
2. Identifying your faulty thinking.
3. Acting on renewed beliefs.
4. Making new habits.

As I continue my journey, how may I pray for you? All of us need God’s help, and he’s faithful. How we handle our everyday problems reveals our hearts: our desires, our motivations, our beliefs, and our thinking.

When God shows us that our hearts are self-centered, he gives us everything we need to live life according to his plan, which is what any true Christian really wants, right?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 1 Peter 1:2-4, ESV

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Self-Counsel: Counsel Yourself and Improve Emotions

self-counselSelf-counsel: When you counsel yourself with biblical truth, your emotions become more stable and you respond in better ways. Why? Because you’re speaking truth to your heart! This article by Heart2Heart Counselor Ellen Castillo appeared first here at BC4Women blog and is used with permission. Check out Ellen’s page in the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

A couple of months ago, I was in a car accident. My van was totaled, but my daughter and I were not seriously injured. Whiplash, bruises, and soreness have become our daily battles, but those things will get better.

Emotional Effects Post-Trauma

The emotional effects are the most difficult to overcome. I have counseled many post-accident and post-trauma victims. As biblical counselors, we know how to come alongside someone gently in the immediate days following trauma. We know how to eventually begin to target the heart when we see unhealthy and unbiblical responses to the trauma.

When the trauma is our own, do we know how to “self-counsel” our own hearts? There is no trauma too big or too small when it comes to the need for counsel.

When we find ourselves repetitively dwelling on and reliving the accident details, condemning ourselves for the guilt we might bear for the cause of the trauma or accident, having panic attacks at the thought of re-entering normal life again, getting behind the wheel, or seeing the place where the trauma occurred, we must cling to the good counsel we offer to others by offering it to our own hearts.

Goals of Biblical Counseling

One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel. Self-counsel means that when someone is struggling with sin or suffering, she can turn to God’s Word for answers. She can read, study, memorize, and pray as she seeks to bring the gospel to bear on her struggle.

One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel.

In that process, God can reveal her heart issues, and she can focus on mind renewal as she repents of her sin. This is how we are all to live, every day, as self-counselors.

Good Self-Counsel Helps for Trauma

As I continue to recover from whiplash as I write this, I have found these things to be most helpful. This is good self-counsel for someone who has recently suffered any kind of trauma:

  • Take every thought captive. Remember that every struggle we have begins with a thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy the things in our thoughts that are not consistent with the gospel.
  • Focus on what is true. Philippians 4:4-9 is a passage to go to often and consider it as sort of a checklist. Run your thoughts through that Philippians 4:8 grid, and redirect your thought life.
  • Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving. Thinking on the gospel recalibrates our minds and reminds us that we are no longer under condemnation, that we have been given a new identity, and so much more.

Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving.

  • Fight the fear with the knowledge of God’s sovereignty. God is either in control or He isn’t, and I believe He IS. Yes, even over my car accident. I do not need to know the why’s or how’s in order to trust His promises. Romans 8:28 keeps me from dipping too deep into the “why me’s”.
  • Know when your natural initial responses are becoming debilitating, and ask for help. Low-grade temporary depression, for example, is common to most trauma victims. But debilitating depression requires intensive biblical counseling. If you are unable to function at home or on the job, spend most of your day isolating or sleeping, have turned to substance use to self-medicate, are unable to make decisions, or get along with those you love, then it is time to ask for help. God’s Word has answers you need, but we sometimes need someone to come alongside us and show us the way.
  • Some people say that “time heals” even trauma. I suggest that although that may seem to be true sometimes, it is only God who can truly heal a traumatized heart. Because of my self-counsel, I am struggling far less with the effects that the accident had on me.

How to Self-Counsel

To self-counsel, you must seek Him more intentionally, dig deep into His Word – read it, study it, memorize it. Keep a meaty prayer life, stay in the church, and in fellowship with Christian friends who encourage you (and also admonish you as needed.)

Serve in ministry at your church, putting others before yourself. And do not hesitate to call on a biblical counselor if you are stuck, and she will be glad to come alongside and offer help and hope. These are the things that helped me and I believe they will help you, too, regardless of your struggle.

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) “Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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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