Lightening the Load

th-6This morning as I read my morning devotion in Jesus Calling I was struck with the stark realization that my “backpack of life” has been getting very heavy.  I have gotten very good at stuffing it full of moments that I will refer to as “Not Being My Best Self.”  Those moments consist of poor decisions I have made, memories of the times that I have hurt people both intentionally and unintentionally, times when my vocabulary has been filled with venomous words that were designed to bring people down and not to build them up, times of selfishness, times when I neglected those that I love, things that I should have done and things that I did not do.  Each of those moments adding weight to my journey of life. Each of those moments an epic failure in my thinking that “I” can do better. “I” can be better.  “I“can think better.

th-2Oh, THAT DEVIL!!!  He sure is tricky.  Look at how he has encouraged me to fill my backpack with memories and ideas that    place focus on me and what have or haven’t done and distracted me from taking those “”Not Being My Best Self” moments to my Savior and laying my weighted load at His feet and leaving it there, focusing on what He has done.When our sinful nature leads us to focus on ourself instead of our Savior and His forgiveness we are robbed the peace that His grace and forgiveness provide us. Our load is not lite and there is no peace.

How much weight do you carry? Is your “backpack of life” filled with past sins that you can not forgive yourself for?  Is it filled with thoughts, looking back and wishing you could undo decisions or actions you wished you could change?  How much energy do you spend in the past or worrying about the future?  How heavy is your load?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,  because we are sinful humans we will continue to make mistakes.  To think that we could live an error-free life is faulty thinking. (In the mental health world we would call that maladaptive thinking)   Our God is able to take even our worst mistakes and bring good out of them.  Our mistakes, regrets, and poor decisions can be a blessing reminding us of our dependence on our Lord and teaching us how to better love those around us.

Worries, hurts, and regrets are heavy when we try to bear the burden on our own and place our focus on ourself.  Trust your Savior.  Talk to your Savior.  Take your burdens to Him.  Let Him carry the load and don’t pick your load back up after giving it to Jesus. Leave your load with Him.  He tells us in Mathew 11:28-29,  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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Unpack your “backpack of life” lay your heavy worries, regrets, and hurts at Jesus’ feet.  Lay in His presence with your lightened load and rest.  Feel His peace.  Feel His love. Feel His Grace.

Blessings my friends,

Terri

 

 

Does this Look Familiar?

Although anxiety is a part of our everyday lives, one-fourth of all Americans are dealing with a more persistent issue termed Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorder is marked by not only having these feelings of worry and dread but experiencing them at a level where  they interfere with daily functioning and sometimes resulting in feelings of panic.

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 People dealing with Panic Disorder experience a sudden attack of overwhelming anxiety coupled with physical reactions including: sweating, dizziness, rapid heart rate, increased breathing, chest pains, and a tingling in their extremities. People often fear they are having a heart attack or are about to die. Often people rearrange their lives due to a fear of having a panic attack in public or not being able to leave a situation when a panic attack occurs. Panic Attacks can lead to phobias such as Agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house) because of this fear. Specific Phobias are intense fears of a specific thing or situation. Common phobia include: fear of elevators, enclosed spaces, open spaces, heights, germs, fear of flying and fear of leaving ones home. When faced with the fearful situation or item people with a specific phobis often experience a panic attack.

images-2 copySignificant research has proven cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to be the most effective treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. In numerous studies, CBT has far outperformed all other psychological treatments, including anti-anxiety medication. Scientific studies have consistently found that CBT is more effective at reducing symptoms, the treatment is briefer in duration, and the results last longer for more people, than traditional talk therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for panic attacks and panic disorder lasts about twelve sessions for most people, with most people reporting improvement after the first few sessions. Some people respond more quickly, needing fewer sessions, while others need more than twelve sessions due to other complicating factors such as depression or OCD.

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Cognitive behavior treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder usually involves some combination of the following interventions:

 

  • Relaxation Training: can be helpful in beginning stages of treatment for panic. Often people have become increasingly anxious over time, so much so that their bodies are Unknown-1overwrought with muscle tension, making them even more susceptible to additional anxiety. Usually relaxation training involves relaxation breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, ways of decreasing physiological anxious arousal. This then helps to reduce future vulnerability to anxiety.

 

  • Cognitive Restructuring: is a method of becoming more aware of anxiety-provoking thought patterns, and replacing them with more balanced, less anxious thinking. By reducing the Unknown                                        intensity of your reactions to panic symptoms and feared situations, you can further reduce your anxiety, and decrease the frequency, intensity, and duration of panic symptoms.

 

  • Mindfulness: A meditative technique borrowed from eastern traditions of meditation, mindfulness as a tool for overcoming anxiety is increasingly becoming the focus of a great deal of scientific research. In treatment for panic disorder, it is used to help teach people to experience unpleasant physical sensations without reacting negatively to them, thus short-circuiting the vicious cycle of fear and panic.

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  • Exposure treatment: Once people feel less anxious about future panic attacks due to using relaxation training, mindfulness, and cognitive restructuring, they are more able to confront anxiety-provoking situations. Systematic Exposure is an intervention that helps people face what they normally avoid. By purposely putting themselves in challenging situations, they defuse the fear associated with them, and no longer fear the situations in the future.

 

  • Stress Reduction: For some people, reducing stressors can be an important part of treatment for anxiety. A combination of 1) learning to react to different situations more calmly and 2) reducing unnecessary stress, can be helpful in reducing overall anxiety and improving quality of life.

Psychoeducation, relaxation therapy, cognitive restructuring and exposure exercises proved to be extremely effective in stopping panic attacks.  With the help of short-term CBT,  learned how to better manage the physical symptoms of anxiety and ultimately reach your  goal of being panic free.

Blessings my friends,

Terri

 

If you live in the Vancouver Washington Area and experience feelings of worry and dread but experiencing them at a level where  they interfere with daily functioning and sometimes resulting in feelings of panic call  Eternal Hope Christian Counseling and Coaching to schedule your appointment and begin your healing! 360-718-8636

Anxiety! Who me?

ANXIETY! WHO ME?

Do you worry that something bad is going to happen but you don’t know what?

Do you get uncomfortable in social situations?

Do you feel like life is happening TO you rather than feeling in control of it?

Do you find yourself lying awake at night worried or agitated? 

If you often feel fear, uneasiness and have problems sleeping, you may have an anxiety disorder.

We most often suffer more from what we FEAR than what actually HAPPENS, so it’s important for you to learn how to evaluate what you are thinking. Things always look less fearful when we face them head on vs. running or distracting ourselves into TV, alcohol, food, or work.

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Anxiety or panic attacks can include rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, inability to stay still or calm, sweaty palms, insomnia, loss of appetite, tightness in your chest. It can also cause a “fight or flight response” which is a physiological reaction when your brain wants to protect you from danger. It prompts you to run away from the situation or to defend yourself, regardless of how rational that reaction is.

 TREATING ANXIETY

With anxiety disorders, knowledge and understanding are key. The more you understand about your anxiety the more in control you feel. If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, understanding it, identifying triggers that cause anxiety and learning effective and specific interventions to cope with it as it happens will bring relief from symptoms.

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Becoming more aware of your anxiety, labeling it, and defining what purpose it serves can help you. Additionally, through implementing skills taught and beginning to experience success in managing your anxiety, you should see your symptoms start to dissipate. The goal is to reduce your anxiety to a level where you can cope with it instead of it controlling you.

Anxiety can often be an isolating experience leaving you embarrassed and causing you to avoid activities you would otherwise enjoy. Individuals with anxiety disorders tend to have a need to be in control and feel uncomfortable when they can’t predict or control a situation. These situations are difficult to avoid and it’s impossible to control every aspect of our lives. Anxiety can also cause irrational thoughts or beliefs. Intellectually, you may be aware that they are irrational but the thoughts still FEEL real. Your significant other or family may not understand your anxiety or feel helpless and lost in their attempts to comfort you. This can result in frustration which causes distance in relationships. No one likes to feel like they can’t help their loved one.

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If you live in the Vancouver Washington Area and experience anxiety call Eternal Hope Christian Counseling and Coaching to schedule your appointment and begin your healing! 360-718-8636

Learning to Walk with Jesus through the “Why”

Why is this happening to me?  WHY is this happening to me?  Why is THIS happening to me?  Why is this happening TO ME?  When painful things happen we are often left questioning “WHY?.”

Why does tragedy exist if God is a loving God? Why did this happen to me?  Why does God allow me to suffer? Why am I not able to move on from bad decisions of my past?  Why do people hurt me?  Why do I hurt people? Why am I selfish? Why are others selfish? Why do I hurt? Why?

Often this type of thinking leaves us looking for a response to questions that a human being can not completely answer.

When God created the world, He created it perfect and in His image.  When Adam and Eve sinned God was very clear as to what that would look like for mankind on earth from that point forward.

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God said to Eve:

“I will greatly increase your pains in child bearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

God said to Adam:

  • “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and dust you will return. “(Genesis 3:17-19)

Tragedy, pain and suffering are the result of evil (sin)

Evil/sin summarize the trauma, pain, death, crux, loss, and hurt of all of our earthly suffering and pain

God tells us that we will never be able to fully explain or understand the reason of our specific trails.

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God allows suffering in our lives to expose the fullness of His character.  His love and mercy, His compassion and concern, His forgiveness and redemption, HIS GRACE.

John 16:33  We hear Jesus’ words of encouragement and comfort.  He says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us that our peace for all of the suffering and pain that this world may throw our way is found in HIM.  He also tells us point blank and straight forward, ” In this world you will have trouble.”  He did not say “may have trouble”, “with any luck you will have a trouble free life”, or based on your good actions and intentions you will have less suffering and pain.”  Jesus tells us that indeed we will have trouble, but he does not stop there.  He tells us the good news of what he has done through HIS suffering and HIS painand HIS death.  “TAKE HEART!!!!!  I have overcome the world. ”  Oh what comfort and joy those words bring to a suffering heart.  Our Jesus has conquered our earthly strife and promises us the joys of ETERNAL LIFE through HIM.

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God allows suffering to bring us to the feet of Jesus our Savior

Today I spent some time reading about Hannah.  In Samuel 1:1-18, God tells us that Hannah was married to a man who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.  Peninnah was able to have children but the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb.  Not only did the inability to have children grieve Hannah but to make maters worse Peninnah would provoke and irritate Hannah.  Can you imagine,  not only having to share your husband but to have “the other woman”  give birth to the children which you so badly desired but where unable to have? Can you imagine, having your rival make fun, taunt, ridicule, provoke, brag, and be little you to the point of dispare.  The Bible tells us that this went on for years.  YEARS!!!!  Even Hannah’s husband became concerned with Hannah.  He asked, “Hannah why are you weeping?  Why don’t you eat?  Why are you downhearted?”  Hannah was in deep dispair.  Hannah suffered from depression.  Hannah was bullied.  Hannah had to share her husband.  Hannah was unable to have the childen she so desparately desired.  Hannah grieved.  It is evident that Hannah suffered loss, pain, and sorrow.

You see even people in the Bible experienced the same types trials, tribuation, pain and suffering  that we do today.  Are you struggeling with “WHY”?

Asking “why” creates an empty cycle of frustration and often leads to dead end answers.  “WHY” is the wrong question altogether and can lead you down the path into deeper into the pit you are screaming to exit.

The focus should not be on looking at the tragedy that happened, but on how to have a healthy response to tragedy. If tragedy consumes us then two tragedies result; not only will tragedy be an event, but it will also have the power to destroy us.  Not asking “why” something has happened allows us to move through suffering and come back stronger.

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Let’s look at how Hannah moved through her pain and suffering.  God tells us that Hannah went to the temple where Eli was the priest.  God says that Hannah, “In bitterness of soul wept much and prayed to the Lord.” We are told that Hannah was praying in her heart, that her lips where moving but no sound was coming out.   Eli the priest questioned Hannah and questioned her behavior.  Hannah told Eli about her pain, anguish and sorrow, and she explained to Eli that she was praying to the Lord.  Eli listened to Hannah and blessed her as she left the temple.  We are told that Hannah left the temple and was no longer deeply troubled.

Hannah acknowldeged her grief.  She took her troubled heart to the Lord.  She knew that the Lord knew her heart even if the words escaped her. She shared her grief with someone she trusted and Hannah looked forward.  Hannah chose not to focus on the diffulties of what was, but insted focused on what was to be.  Hannah did not focus on the “why”.

Moving through suffering requires that we do not get stuck on the “why”.  Why is there pain and suffering…………because we live in a fallen world.  Jesus tells us that indeed we will have trouble, but he does not stop there. He tells us that our peace for all of the suffering and pain that this world may throw our way is found in HIM.

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My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ if you are struggling, look to your Jesus.  DO NOT GET STUCK IN “WHY”.  Take your hurt to HIM in prayer.  Find someone that you can trust, seek professional counseling, and be patient and gentle with yourself.  “TAKE HEART!!!!!  I have overcome the world. ”  Oh what comfort and joy those words bring to a suffering heart.  Our Jesus has conquered our earthly strife and promises us the joys of ETERNAL LIFE through HIM.

Blessings,

Terri

Adapted from: Becoming Resilient How to Move Through Suffering and Come Back Stronger by Donna Gibbs

 

My Insecurities Make Me Feel Not Good Enough

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

I want you to take a moment for self-reflection.  Take a moment and dig deep into your most inner self and consider how many times that you are really unkind to yourself, relentlessly comparing yourself to others.  Consider that in spite of how many times that you have heard you are loved you are convinced that that is not possible.  That somehow you just don’t meet the criteria to be loved by anyone.  We find our inner thoughts searching for evidence that we don’t stack up, that we are not living to our full potential, that we are just “not good enough.”

  • I am not good enough
  • I am not kind enough
  • I am not loving enough
  • I am the worst mom ever
  • I am the worst friend ever
  • I am the worst sibling ever
  • I am the worst child ever
  • Nobody could possibly like me because I am always sad
  • I am always angry
  • I am a terrible Christian.
  • People would be so disgusted if they saw my heart.

We find that our thoughts are filled with negative self-chatter.  These thoughts are often all consuming affecting our ability to function in our normal lives.  We find that we are stuck in a relentless circle of negative self-talk and cannot get off of the self-loathing merry-go-round of insecurities and feelings of not being “good enough.’  Is this you?

Take heart there is HOPE!

The struggle is real.  The struggle is a spiritual battle not an earthly character flaw.

IT IS A SPIRITUAL BATTLE

Make no mistake about it my friends, insecurities are a spiritual battle.  Insecurities are Satan sitting on our shoulder and whispering “sweet nothings” into our thoughts creating self-doubt and spiritual weakness. It is when we are feeling most vulnerable mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually that we must remember God’s clear command for us.  He tells us, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  We are not alone in our battles against the evil one and his venomous infiltration into our lives.

Each day we must mindfully battle against Satan and his attacks on our spiritual health.   Each day we must put on the whole armor of God. The Armor of God, described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians is our spiritual defense against attacks by Satan.

 

THE ARMOR OF GOD

Armor of God

(Zavada, Jack. “The Armor of God.” ThoughtCo, Jul. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-armor-of-god-701508)

                Belt of Truth

The belt of truth holds up your spiritual pants so that you are protected against the attacks of Satan and his lies.  We expose the lies of Satan by comparing them to the truth of what God tells us in the Bible.  Deception is one of Satan’s oldest tactics.  Satan whispers into our thoughts doubts, creating self-doubt and            spiritual weakness.  The belt of truth places God’s word at the center of discernment protecting us from the lies of Satan.

          Breastplate of Righteousness

Our heart is susceptible to the wickedness of this world but our protection is our righteousness that comes from Jesus.  We cannot become righteous through our own good works. Let your Christ given      righteousness cover you and protect and strengthen your heart.

             Shield of Faith

Our shield of faith guards us against one of Satan’s deadliest weapons, doubt.  Satan shoots arrows of doubt when God does not act immediately or visibly.  Our shield holds because of the One our faith is in, Jesus Christ.

            Gospel of Peace

Satan scatters traps for us; the gospel of Peace is our protection, reminding us that it is by Grace that souls are saved.  The gospel of our salvation through Christ brings us peace.

            Helmet of Salvation

We are free from vain searching, free from meaningless temptations of this world, and free from the condemnation of sin.  The Helmet of Salvation to protect our thoughts and minds is crucial piece of armor

            Sword of the Spirit

The Sword of the Spirit is our offense.  This is God’s Word.  We can use it to strike against Satan.  When we are tempted by Satan’s lies we are able to counter his lies with the truth of Scripture.  The Bible is our best defense.

             The Power of Prayer

Keep that line of communication open with your Commander.  Satan hates it when we pray.  

It is by donning God’s armor that we find our strength each day.  We fight each battle as it arises and take each challenging moment one moment at a time.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Remember that the “not good enough feeling” is not a feeling at all, it is a view point.  That’s right it is not a feeling.  It is a point of view, a way of considering a matter.  Christ has deemed us worthy through His death on the Cross.  His Grace supplies us with a Holy view point, one filled with love and forgiveness.  Christ has changed our view point from condemnation; both eternal condemnation and condemnation of self to one of victory.  It is by placing Christ at the center we are able to rejoice in knowing our view point is one of victory over both eternal condemnation and over self-condemnation.

Be strong and courageous in your battle against insecurities and self-doubt.   The struggle is real.  Die to self, give up sinful ways, habits, thoughts, actions and put on the whole Armor of God.  Put on God’s armor and ready yourself for the fight against Satan’s negative chatter.    When Satan whispers “you are not good enough” You scream at the top of your lungs “You are wrong Satan.  You are wrong!  Be gone with you.  My Jesus has changed my point of view from condemnation to victory.”

I pray that God provide you with through His word the strength to face each day, each moment, each challenge with the view point of victory and strength.

Blessings my friends,

Terri