Laughter Heals Your Heart!

laughterLaughter heals! In this uplifting post, which appeared first here, Dr Donna Hart, PhD, shares how having fun and laughing are not only good for you but also pleases God. Donna is listed on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

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At a family gathering over the holidays, I enjoyed good food, good friends, and. . .laughter. In a conversation with the family matriarch, affectionately called “Memaw” by her grandchildren, she commented about the embroidered decorations on her sweatshirt and the effects of their strategic placement.

We started to laugh about the private joke between us. And we couldn’t stop laughing. The tears streamed down my face as others around us to start to laugh with us. I cannot remember the last time I laughed that hard. Something about that laughter gave my heart such joy and companionableness.

Are You Too Serious?

Christians have a long-standing reputation for being serious-minded people who are not prone to humor, laughter, or play. In early church history in America, the Puritans did much to cement this reputation of serious piety. They spent long hours in church and rigorous hours in daily Bible study and prayer. They are also known for their restrictions against music, dancing, and bright colors. Holiness seemed to be likened to judgment, suffering, and severity.

But John Wesley recognized the danger of taking this serious attitude to the extreme when he said: “Sour Godliness is the devil’s religion.” And Martin Luther is quoted in Is There Fun After Paul?: A Theology of Clowning:

If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, then I don’t want to go there.

Even though we eagerly bring joy, laughter, and good humor into our family lives, often we hesitate to bring the same qualities into our relationship with God. Are we worried that God does not have a sense of humor? If we want to bring laughter and play into our relationship with God, will we need to expand our view of His attributes to include laughter and fun?

Seeing Comedy in Life

To move in this direction, let’s define what a “sense of humor” means. It is a perspective on life that has the ability to see thlaughtere comic in creation, humanity, and the ability to laugh at ourselves. Human relationships do not survive well without the ability to have a sense of humor.

We are all too familiar with how struggles and communication barriers block our ability to know and be known to each other. When we can step back and see the humor in our predicaments, it softens our hearts to move forward toward each other.

The same principle applies to our relationship with God. If all of our prayers are solemn, serious, and focused only on weighty matters of importance, we will miss opportunities for light and playful prayers.

Tears and laughter are often linked in the Bible. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh (3:4). Luke 6:21 offers the promise of laughter when he writes “…Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” It is difficult not to love someone when you are laughing with them. Have you experienced the love that comes from shared laughter?

Laugh Well, Live Better

When we laugh together, we build relationships; we build sympathy for each other, and we become kindred spirits. Good humor and laughter depend on solid trusting relationships. We cannot command laughter nor can we dictate trust.

But we can be willing to seize the funny moments to laugh out loud when least expected, find humor in our own situations. We can share laughter with others and discover love. And we can delight in God and experience God’s unconditional love for us.

If we believe that God will laugh at us if we share our joys and excitements, then we will remain silent for fear of being ridiculed. However, if we can learn the joy of laughter that comes from the love of laughing with someone finding humor in human experiences, we will then learn to laugh with God.

Help for Your Laughter

If you have been hurt by laughter in the past, and this prevents you from laughing now, write a prayer to God about your specific need. As you write your prayer, detail the hurt you have experienced and how the memories still hurt. Be willing to ask God for what you need to heal these hurts. (You might want to try this journal.–Ed.)

Also think about the places in life where you would love to receive the gift of laughter. Pour out your heart and longings to God, for He will not scorn, mock, or belittle you. You can rest in confidence God will not laugh at you.

Counseling Hearts to Hope,

 

Reaching a Child’s Heart for Christ

heartReaching a child’s heart for Christ is something every Christian mom and grandma desires, right? This honest post by guest writer Barbara Reaoch appeared first here and is used by permission.

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When I was asked to lead the Children’s Division at Bible Study Fellowship, I knew it was a great privilege. But how naïve and prideful I was to think my experience qualified me for the job. Teaching the Bible to women was good preparation, for sure, but I was unaware of the pitfalls in teaching the Bible to children.

Sadly, I was not clear about the difference between moralistic behaviorism and gospel-centered application. It seemed easy to say, “Stop sinning and start obeying.” Discipline issues were equally simplistic: “Stop acting like that and start behaving.” Kids need to learn obedience, right? And we need kids to obey for our own sanity. I was inclined to twist the beauty of the gospel of grace into a subtle deception called moralism. I needed to learn three things:

1. Moralism cannot reach a child’s heart.

It’s not hard to use Bible characters to teach a moral lesson. With the Bible character as the subject of the lesson, we can teach kids that they need to be righteous like Noah, faithful like Moses, and obedient like Abraham. Kids figure that if they live like these heroes of the faith they will earn God’s love.

But when we try to make kids into good rule-keepers, they decide one of two things. Either with pride in their hearts, they believe they have earned God’s favor. Or they see they will never be able to keep the rules and conclude there’s no use trying.

Truth: Moralism can only produce pride and fear in the heart of a child.

Moralism ends up making children think their relationship with God depends on them. If they are good enough, they win. If they blow it, they lose. Moralistic teaching breaks down when we read that Noah gets drunk, Moses gets angry, and Abraham lies. We may try to hide the fact that each of these guys struggled with sin, but the Bible doesn’t. God never says that good behavior is a prerequisite for His love.

2. Manipulation cannot reach a child’s heart.

If we simply want kids to obey, manipulation usually works. Kids respond to, “I can’t believe you would do that after what we just learned about Jesus.”

Or “You should be ashamed of the way you are acting.”

Or “Look at those people—you know the ones who ________ (insert the sin of your choice).” As if to say, “You better never be like them.”

Even worse, we use God to manipulate. “God is not pleased with you when you do that.” “It makes Jesus sad when you act like that.” “If you want God to be pleased with you, you will read the Bible, go to church, and obey your parents.”

We can easily manipulate kids because God has wired them to want to please us. Their behavior may change temporarily, but we are damaging their hearts. The only lasting and effective life changes happen from the inside.

Truth: Manipulation can only produce guilt, shame, or anger in a child’s heart.

No matter how hard kids work to keep clean on the surface, as they see their sin, they will think God can’t possibly love them. We twist the gospel when we imply that God’s favor depends on their behavior. Life changes are real when they come from the heart.

3. We reach a child’s heart for Christ through the gospel.

The gospel is the most important truth for us to teach a child. Paul emphasizes this in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Gospel-centered teaching says our behavior can never be good enough to make us right with God. Before we deserve it, God reaches out to us in grace and mercy. He forgives those who turn from sin and trust in Jesus. We receive His mercy instead of punishment for sin because God’s justice was met through the death of His dearly loved Son on the cross.

Jesus lived FOR us. Jesus died FOR us. And Jesus was raised FOR us.

Jesus’ resurrection power gives us a new heart, a new mind, and new desires to live for God.

Gospel-centered teaching says God uses people who are weak and broken. Bible characters are imperfect. God did not choose Noah, Moses, and Abraham because of their character but because of His grace. God knows who we are. His love for us doesn’t change when we fail. His plan and His promises prevail in spite of our imperfections.

Truth: God reaches a child’s heart with the truth of the gospel.

Moralism and manipulation harden a child’s heart. But the gospel is God’s message of love and grace that transforms the heart of a child. Gospel-centered teaching wasn’t just for the Bible Study Fellowship children’s program. Something happened in my own heart as I became more amazed with the truth of God’s love and grace.

Joy and freedom are found in the discovery that God uses our weakness for His glory. He uses our brokenness to reveal His grace. This is a message of hope, not only for our children but for us all. As messed up as your life may be, there is hope. The gospel tells us this is true. To teach the truth of the gospel is to reach a child’s heart for Christ.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

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,

 

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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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