Worry: Is It Making You Sick?

Worry is EVERYWHERE today, and it’s making you sick. Scrolling through Facebook is enough to churn anyone’s stomach nowadays. So much hate, so little grace!

Yet God says, “Do not worry” about anything. But how?!

In this short article, you’ll discover:

  1. Jesus’ wise words on worry.
  2. Worry makes you sick.
  3. How to stop worry.

Wise Words on Worry

Read this peace-filled passage, these Jesus words:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 

Luke 12:22-24 (NIV)

Birds and wild flowers — valuable, yes. But God values you so much more than them. Don’t his words calm your soul?

Worry Makes You Sick

Here’s what happens to you when you worry. And almost anything contributes to worry-stress: grumpy kids, a messy house, an overbearing or passive husband, gossipy coworkers. . .but especially your attitude about your circumstances.

So what’s your main stressor? How do you respond?

You feel stress in your body. Stress may tighten your neck, tense your back, or bring on a migraine. It can mess with your digestion and raise your blood pressure.

You eat poorly. You are more likely to turn to more snacks and less fruit, plus LOTS of chocolate and skipped meals. Here’s a better choice right here

You skip exercise. When stressed, you may lack the energy to work out or take a walk when getting moving will actually energize you. And it wil give you more time to ruminate on my worries.

Wouldn’t you like to know how to stop worry?

How to Stop Worrying

Simply, FOCUS. Focus on Jesus and his love. Focus on God and his greatness and protection and care. This thought journal right here helps you do transform your thoughts.

Stop focusing on yourself. Be other-centered. Be God-centered.

With a new focus, right now decide one thing you can do — yes, action! — that helps someone. I’ll start with a few ideas and I’d love to hear yours.

Write a thank you note and mail it.

Help your child with a school project.

Phone a family member or friend and ask about her life.

Think About It

How does the action of helping someone help squash worry? What are other choices you can make to stay safe from worry sickness?

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,

3 Common Marital Complaints and Cures

complaintsComplaints in marriage are as plentiful as summer dandelions. Left alone, they multiply and their roots grow deeper. Guest writer and Heart2Heart Counselor Julie Ganschow gives effective, biblical cures to marital complaints. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used by permssion.

It’s no secret that most of the couples who come for biblical counseling have marriages that are in trouble. The reasons won’t surprise you much, the solutions might!

Here are some common complaints and some rapid-fire thoughts I have on how to fix your marriage. The complaints are nothing new and fall into the typical categories: time, money, and sex. The mother of all complaints: “I’m not happy.” Usually at least one person will tell us they are not happy with their marriage.

Spending Time Together

It really surprises me how little time couples spend together and how much of marriage is conducted via text message. If you are a wife whose primary means of “talking” to your husband is a text message or a social media post I have some advice for you–STOP IT. It is impossible to have a true relationship in 140 characters or through your cell phone text box.

Spending time together is the only way a couple will remain a couple. Every couple needs a date night. EVERY couple, EVERY week needs to go on a date.

For those of you who don’t remember what a “date” actually is I will refresh your memory. A date is when a man asks a woman to accompany him somewhere outside the house for several hours. A date can include dinner, coffee, dessert, water over ice, seeing a show or movie (not my personal favorite because there is no communication), a walk, a boat ride, a ride in the car or on horseback. In short, anything that the two of you do together for the purpose of enjoying each others company can be a date.

The couple can take turns determining what date night will consist of, or one person can always decide. It does not have to cost a fortune or any money at all. The purpose of a date is to enjoy being alone together.

TALK while you are together. LEARN what is going on in each others lives during the day. LISTEN to your spouse talk about their hopes, dreams, job, latest project, favorite cooking show, the thing that bothers them the most, their favorite color, or hand tool. Talking leads to relationship building, relationship building leads to understanding.

Click to watch a funny marriage video.

Figure Out Finances

Talk about money and finances. Create and live by a budget! Discuss what your financial goals are for your family in 1-5-10 years and beyond. All of these things lead to what is known as happiness. Relationship building will also lead to that emotional connectedness that will increase sexual desire with your spouse.

Sex and Marriage

While I am at it, let’s talk a bit about sex. I am really astonished that so many Christian marriages are sex-less! It is heartbreaking to listen to couples say there is no physical desire between them, or that one partner could live without sexual intimacy for the rest of their lives.

People…can I tell you how wrong that is?! Husbands and wives are to meet each other’s physical needs on a regular basis. If you have no desire for one another, get to the doctor and be sure you have no medical condition that needs addressing.  Once that is taken care of, if there is still no desire for sexual intimacy with your husband it is clear you have relationship issues that must be addressed.

3 Common Desire Killers

ONE: being overweight. Yes, I dare to say it. As a person who struggles with her own weight, there have been times when I was self-conscious about my appearance because I packed on a few too many pounds.

I didn’t want to be physical because I thought I looked bad. Few women will admit it, but many know it’s true; some women hide from intimacy behind their size. The “simple” solution….you already know it. Lose the weight, every pound helps.

TWO: tiredness. Some women just do too many things in a day and are too tired to be interested in physical intimacy. If this is you, cut  things out of your daily schedule that are non-essential like crafts, book reading, television watching, and so on, and go to bed early with your spouse! If you have time, take a short nap so you are refreshed and awake enough to be interested.

THREE: kids in your bed. Get the kids out of your bed and your bedroom. Your children do not need to sleep with you, even if you are nursing them! It is dangerous to have them in bed because they can be crushed as you sleep. It is also wrong to use the kids as a shield against intimacy. Even if they cry, like their little heart is breaking in the beginning I promise, your little one will be just fine in his or her own bed or crib.

You and your husband need the private time in your room that will grow your relationship. Once the kids are out of there, determine not to have difficult discussions in your bedroom either. There are most likely several other places to have unpleasant discussions in your home.

Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, the place that is uniquely yours as a couple. Fix it up in a way that stirs up romance and desire. If the television is a distraction, get it out of there and replace it with soft, sensual music. Repaint, recover, or redecorate if you can afford it. These things are simple and will help your mindset turn toward romance.

These are only a few of the more basic complaints and cures to think about if your marriage is a mess.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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,

The Resistant Teen: Helping a Teen Who Hates Help

resistant teenLet’s be honest: Some teens do not want counseling! The resistant teen can be reached, however! In this article by Heart2Heart Counselor Ellen Castillo, which appeared first here, she delves deeps into why teens resist counseling and how counselors and parents can help the resistant teen. Used with permisison.hope icon

Fear Leads to Resistance

Fear of man is the primary reason that teens resist counseling. This is revealed in a variety of ways, but some of the most common are:

  • A resistant teen often has a perception that counseling is a form of punishment. They see the counselor as another parental figure and are therefore resistant to counsel.
  • There is a stigma that comes from the idea of “counseling.” Preconceived ideas or past negative counseling experiences often cause resistance. Sometimes they feel embarrassment.
  • Young people want to be understood, but they are often convinced that adults are incapable of it. This leads to distrust, which creates resistance to counseling.
  • A resistant teen often feels extreme insecurity, wondering if they are the “only one” who struggles, which leads to feeling hopeless. This “why bother” attitude leads to resistance.

In order to be prepared to encounter a resistant teen, it is helpful to gather data from the parents before you begin meeting with the teen. It takes some digging into their history in order to get an overall view of the teens. Teens are often unreliable historians because of their limited perspective and resistance to counseling.

Questions to Ask Parents of a Resistant Teen

Here are a few questions that are important to ask the parents:

  • Have there been any major changes in her life recently?
  • Has he had trouble like this before, or is this a new problem?
  • Has she ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder? Is she medicated? Ask for details.
  • How well does he cope with school, peers, church life, hobbies, sports, etc.?
  • Is there anything going on in your marriage or home life that could be troubling her?
  • What behaviors are you most concerned about? (Listen for defiance, isolating herself, mood swings, suicidal, substance abuse, sexually acting out, etc.)

The parent’s perspective on these types of questions gives you a good starting point when approaching the resistant teen. With this kind of background, you will know better what direction to go in your initial discussions. That will be critical to building some trust.

An Invitation to a Resistant Teen

Here is an example of a counselee that was initially resistant to counseling. Ahead of the initial session, the mother told me that this teen was failing in school, that she was angry and defiant with both parents, that she was isolating herself from the family, and that she had told a teacher that her mother hit her (which was true, resulting in a CPS investigation, which led to the counseling referral).

This fourteen-year-old girl walked in to my office, looked around as if to take note of some Christian themed decor, and before she took two steps she pronounced, “I am an atheist.” She looked surprised when I invited her to have a seat as I told her: “That’s ok, I look forward to getting to know you, and I was one until I was 30 years old.”

Behind what she meant to be intimidating and off-putting to this biblical counselor, I could hear the fear. She clearly hoped I would be offended and excuse her from the session. Instead, I invited her to tell me her story.

She Tell Her Story

She talked of troubled relationships at home, insecurities at school, conflicts with peers, and insistence that at age fourteen she felt quite ready to be emancipated. Her reasoning for rushing her independence was to “get away from the people who are causing all my problems.”

She told me that she did not need counseling and that she only needed to be rid of her parents. This unearthed a long story of family dysfunction and trouble on many levels.

I listened, interjecting heart-probing questions, and listened some more as I allowed her to tell me what is troubling her. She eventually broke down in tears, and I was able to ask her if she knew about the gospel.

She said yes, because she had been in church most of her life. The teen told me she remembered Awana verses from years past, and that she had always attended Sunday school. And then she admitted that she was not really an atheist. She confessed, “I was hoping you would be mad when I said that and then I would not have to stay in counseling.”

The Gospel Breaks through Resistance

By the end of this first session, we were able to begin the process of seeking God’s Word to address her fears. We began with a basic teaching about the fear of man—what it is and how to address it. Galatians 1:10 gave us a good starting point:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

This led to a discussion about the details of the gospel, which she understood intellectually but admitted she was not certain she really believed it. Because she had shared some of her story, we could start to discuss how her story fit in to the story of redemption found in her Bible.

She had softened to the counsel, I believe, because we were able to get right to the heart issues. Because I had the background from the parents, I was prepared to address her fears and give her hope. The fear of man is a very relatable issue, because it is common to all of us. We began to talk about the ways it manifests in people’s lives.

I briefly shared some of my own struggle with it so that she would see me as a mentor more than as an authority figure. The beginning of a potentially fruitful journey together began that day. We did not get to every discussion needed to address her struggles, but we did get to the gospel, and she was listening.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Join the Conversation

What other causes of resistance have you experienced in discipling teens, and how did you address them?

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