Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction

Once you have gotten clean and built up a support system to keep you clean, you may be anxious to get back to work and rebuild your life so that you can really thrive.

Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.

Don’t neglect the habits that got you here

Sobriety is your first priority, so you can’t neglect the systems that got you clean in the first place. For instance, if Alcoholics Anonymous was a big factor in helping you recover, keep going to meetings. If you opted for methadone or buprenorphine, you have to keep up with those treatments, often on a daily basis.

If your faith is what got you to a state of recovery, don’t bypass Sunday services and Bible study. Similarly, if your family was your a large part of your process of healing, make sure to stay accountable to them and follow their rules.

Make sure you have identified the underlying cause of your addiction. New research suggests that most addiction is rooted in trauma or despair. It’s important that you have received counseling that enabled you to come to terms with that underlying issue. Therapy may need to be ongoing.

Find a job 

By finding employment, many recovering addicts find the structure they need to stay clean and sober. You get up in the morning at a specific time, and you have somewhere you need to be. That’s about half the battle for some people who might otherwise get up in the morning, wondering how to get through the day sober.

Be aware that some companies make a point of hiring recovering addicts. And other companies have a mission to those with disabilities. However, unless you were convicted of a crime while using, you are not obliged to share your experiences of addiction and recovery with an employer.

That said, there might be advantages to pulling back the curtain on your experiences. Some recovered addicts feel, rightly, that recovery and ongoing sobriety are the most heroic achievements of their lives. If you can frame your story as a story of persistence, faith, and achievement, you may move employers with your narrative.

If you choose to maintain your privacy, you will still need to explain any gap in employment of more than six months. “In treatment for a serious health issue” should be enough to satisfy most employers. You can also claim a nervous breakdown.

Benefits of Volunteering

If you are unsuccessful in your job search, consider volunteering. Volunteering gets you out doing something you are passionate about and helps you build a social network that you can then fall back on to find paid employment. Your volunteer coordinator can be a reference. Sometimes the company you volunteer for will hire you as an employee.

Other routes to full-time employment are working part-time or on a temporary basis. Another good pathway back to employment is national service. Americorps, VISTA, and the Peace Corps accept a broad range of talent and have a mission to employ people over 50 and people with disabilities.

Getting your life back may not be easy. But with some creativity and patience, you will do it. Remember you have a lot of options. If you don’t succeed going down one road, try another. And, above all, be patient with the process.

 STRUGGLING AFTER ADDICTION? You don’t have to go through this alone. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.
This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Adam Cook of Addiction Hub, an online resource for addicts and those in recovery, as well as their families.

Five Ways to Beat Your Anxiety

Anxiety, unfortunately, is a bit of an irrational disorder and struggle. The problem is, we know it’s irrational but we still can’t change the thoughts in the moment of extremely anxious thoughts or a panic attack. However, there are five ways you can begin working to beat your anxiety to help put it behind you.

1. Write down harmful thoughts

I’m not a big fan of the word “journaling”. I think it leads to thoughts of somebody sitting at a table with sad music playing in the background, tears streaming down their face writing down every sad thought that’s ever entered their mind.

However, there is a lot of benefit of keeping a daily log of the thoughts that are causing you trouble. Anxiety can come out of nowhere. It’s important to recognize those triggers as that can help you understand how to prevent them. Whenever you start feeling anxious with no apparent reason, begin thinking over your last few thoughts.

If you can catch them, you can examine and challenge the irrational thoughts that cause anxiety.

Writing them down allows you to keep a record so that you can examine their frequency, the timing, and any patterns that might exist.

2. Challenge those thoughts

After you’ve spent some time writing down those thoughts, you can begin the process of challenging them. It’s not much help for you to just write them down and do nothing with those.

See, the problem, is that our anxious brains are incredibly unreliable at judging those situations. Our brains will set off every alarm, and yet we still have trouble attaching those thoughts to the physical sensations that come with anxiety.

Some thoughts will be easier than others to challenge. No matter how difficult, though, challenge everything you have written down.

3. Find solutions in your thinking

Most of the thinking we do is what’s called “solution-oriented”. That means when we think of a problem, set-back or issue, our mind automatically searches for a solution to a problem. For instance, if you can’t find your car keys, your next logical step is to begin looking for them. This usually happens without much thought. You realize that if you want to find your keys, you must look for them. Seldom do we sit in a puddle of our own tears because we can’t find the keys — so why do we do that over other issues that cause us anxiety?

When we refuse to focus on solutions, we’re doing nothing more than overthinking. This overthinking, many times, is what leads to panic attacks and feelings of being sad or depressed.

Whenever we engaged in non-solution-oriented thinking, we’re essentially manufacturing our own unhappiness. Nothing good comes from obsessing about things we cannot control.

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” -Psalm 61:2

If you find yourself overthinking often, begin asking yourself what the solutions to your situation is. It is important to remember that obsessing over a problem isn’t always unhealthy. Sometimes big issues require a lot of thought. You certainly shouldn’t go out and buy and new house on a whim. Deciding to get a new job should take some time. As long as your goal is problem-solving and finding solutions, your thoughts are just fine.

4. Accept your anxiety

Trying to fight, avoid or struggle against anxious feelings is only going to make them worse.

Trying to oppose anxiety naturally means investing time into thinking about anxiety, or doing everything you can to avoid thinking about it. It requires time and energy that could be better spent cultivating positivity.

The healthiest course of action is to accept and observe what we’re feeling, but without reacting and becoming emotionally invested. The truth is that anxiety is not something negative, and it’s not something we have to fight or hate. It just is.

5. Get to know your anxiety

Understand and actively seek more knowledge — not only about anxiety in general — but specifically about your own anxiety. There are a wealth of topics to research, such as reading books, following blogs, joining support groups, and writing about your own experiences.

The idea is that through immersion in the subject, a resilience toward anxiety will naturally develop. You’ll begin to learn that it’s easier to handle a panic attack if you know it’s not a heart attack. You’ll realize it’s easier to accept and face anxiety without fear if you know what it is. And it’s easier to cope if you have a support network that knows what you’re going through.

Of course, it’s important to remember you don’t have to fight this battle alone. There’s no shame in reaching out for professional help when necessary.

 STRUGGLING WITH ANXIETY? You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. There is hope. It’s time to get your life back.

Eight Practical Ways to Improve Your Mood

Y’all. We’re now officially in Spring, and yet it feels like January 59th outside. This is like the winter that never ends. This time of year, especially with a winter season that refuses to give up, it’s easy to feel down and depressed. Some people struggle with clinical depression, but many, however, deal with the “wintertime” blues. Here are eight practical ways to improve your mood when you’re feeling sour, whether it’s because of Mother Nature, a fight with a friend or trouble in your family.

 

 

 

 

1. Go outside

Yes, I realize this is the winter that refuses to go away. However, walking outside – even on a dreary day – can really improve your mood. If it’s raining, grab an umbrella. If it’s chilly, put on a jacket. Take a walk around the block and clear your mind. You’ll be amazed at what a ten minute walk can do for you.

2. Listen to music

Listening to music does a couple of things. First, it takes your mind off what’s going on around you. Second, research shows people who listen to music with an upbeat tempo have more energy and are able to keep more stamina throughout the day. Before bed, listen to calming tracks.

3. Get some essential oils

You’re not going to find any endorsement of a specific brand here (and yes, the cheap ones work just as well). Get a diffuser. Get some lavender. Also, grab a bottle of a citrus oil, like orange or lemongrass. Grab your diffuser and put that bad boy to work. Those oils can help to lift your spirits and give you more of a spring-time feel. Obviously, if you are allergic to those scents or oils, or have a medical condition that would not interact well with essential oils, don’t use them.

4. Get lost on purpose

When’s the last time you just got in the car and drove somewhere? Grab your phone, but don’t use it until you need the GPS to get back home. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Go for a drive with no destination in mind. The change of location can help take your mind off of troubles.

5. Reconnect

Reach out to a friend. Invite them to lunch or for coffee. Go for a walk with them. Being around people can lift our spirits, especially when we’re struck inside for long periods of time.

6. Find entertainment

Listen, we’re all capable of binge-watching something on Netflix. That’s not what I mean here. Go out for dinner. Go to the movies. Visit a craft store. Research shows that a majority of people with depression feel better when they participate in a leisure activity they enjoy.

7. Do Small Projects

Be productive! According to research, 79% of people feel better after completing a task. Clean, organize a junk drawer, write out a to-do list, or tackle some small project around the house to get a sense of accomplishment. However, don’t overdo it and become overwhelmed by a to-do list that’s a mile long!

8. Pray

You didn’t think you were going to get through a post from a Christian Counselor without this being mentioned, did you?

God doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering. In fact, He explicitly instructs us to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything. Have you prayed about it today? Have you taken the time to reconnect with God?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Of course, if you’re struggling with what you feel like may be more than some frustration, small stress or seasonal blues, it’s important to reach out to a professional. Don’t try to go it alone.

 STRUGGLING WITH FEELINGS OF STRESS, DEPRESSION, OR ANXIETY? You don’t have to go through this alone. We’re here to help. Give us a call, schedule your appointment right here, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online via video-based counseling. It’s time to get your life back.

10 Ways to Manage Your Fear

Fear can be crippling and debilitating. These feelings can literally begin ruining your life, pushing you into feelings of depression, anxiety, or both. However, there are practical ways you can manage this fear and keep it from controlling you. These 10 tips can mean the difference between controlling your fear, or allowing it to control you.

1. Do Something

Seriously, do something. Anything. Fear feeds on inaction. Satan loves to kick you while you’re down, and if you’re down, he has easy access to you. Even a quick walk around the block or walking into a store can help to lift your spirits and keep you active.

2. Make a decision

Let go of the belief that you can’t make a choice until you are certain of the outcome. Fear feeds on indecision. Not allowing yourself to make a decision keeps you from feeling peace and joy.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give you is a peace the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 NLT

3. Don’t focus on the unknown

Imagine the very worst thing that could happen, and then decide on what you’d do if it actually did happen. Chances are, it won’t happen. But if you take time to consider it, then you’ll have a better handle on it. Fear feeds on indecision.

4. DO Focus on the good

Imagine the very best thing that could happen and how you’d feel it if did happen. Remember, you are worthy of joy. You have value. And you have a specific purpose. Fear feeds on feelings of unworthiness.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? – Psalm 27:1 NLT

5. Remember, anything is possible

When we say, “Anything is possible,” rather than “This is impossible,” we remember God’s promises. With Him, by faith, we have the strength to conquer anything. Fear feeds on feelings of impossibility.

6. Say, “I can.”

Yes, you can! Say, “I can,” and “why not?” instead of “I can’t.” Fear feeds on negativity.

7. Look for truth

Always seek the truth instead of hiding from facts. It’s easy to find the negatives in any situation. And the longer we circle around negativity, the harder it is to find the truth. More often that not, the truth is that the situation isn’t as bad as we think it is. Fear feeds on lies.

“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NLT

8. Breathe

Take in air instead of holding your breath. Fear feeds on suffocation.

9. Embrace Your Mistakes

We all make mistakes. We all fall short. We all mess up. Embrace those mistakes instead of pretending you won’t make any. Fear feeds on perfectionism.

10. Take a Step

Take one step today instead of waiting to run a marathon tomorrow. Fear feeds on waiting for the right time. There may never be a right time. Just go do it.

 STRUGGLING WITH FEAR? Let’s work together to help you overcome it. Call us, schedule online, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro, as well as Online via video-based eTherapy. It’s time to get your life back.

Reduce Stress by Breaking Things Up

Y’all. It’s Christmas time. And we’re all stressed out.

The family’s coming over soon. You’re trying to get all the presents wrapped, and the food planned and prepared, and trying to make sure the house doesn’t look as messy as we all know it is the rest of the year. Needless to say, it can feel like we sometimes need a vacation from Christmas.

One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to break things up. No, that doesn’t mean you should go out and smash things to pieces. Instead, take whatever issue is causing you stress and break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Yes, it’s incredibly simple. But usually the best things are.

For instance, if you’re facing a messy room that needs to be cleaned up, but you have been avoiding it because it causes you stress, then you need to think about that mess in a new way. Don’t think about it as a whole. Think about the mess in its smaller parts.

What’s one small thing you can do in the room to make the mess appear smaller? Is there some garbage that can be easily thrown away? Are there clothes or blankets that can be put away or moved to the laundry room? Are there books, movies, or music that could be returned back to their proper shelf? Simply pick one small task – the simpler the better – and get it done. Once that task is completed, pick another.

The same goes for large projects or assignments. Don’t avoid the situation just because it stresses you out. The longer you avoid it, the more stressed out it’s going to make you feel. Instead of getting stressed out, take some time to think about how you can break the task up into smaller, less stressful pieces.

Say your assignment requires you to write a detailed comparison of three different products. What are the steps you will need to take in order to complete the assignment? You will need to do some research on each of the products, decide upon their pros and cons, write up a rough draft, and then edit it to perfection. By determining the steps needed to complete the assignment, you can think about which small part you need to complete next instead of stressing over the finished product.

Don’t forget the most obvious solution, either. How’s your prayer life? Are you spending time with God? Often, when we allow our relationship with God to suffer or take the back-burner, other things in life start causing us trouble, too.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

As you can see, breaking things up into a series of smaller tasks will allow you to take a step back from the larger picture and look at things from a new perspective. And by focusing on God, your entire perspective changes. By only focusing on a smaller portion, you will feel less stressed out when faced with larger or more difficult tasks. This will make it easier for you to make real progress towards completing the task at hand.

 STRUGGLING WITH STRESS? Let’s talk about what we can do to get you on the right track. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

10 Things to Give Up in Exchange for Happiness

It’s the time of year that people start struggling with feelings of low self-esteem, self-image and self-respect. The weather starts changing. It’s getting colder, the days are getting shorter. For some people, this time of year is miserable. Finding happiness can be a challenge this time of year, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider these ten things you can give up in exchange for happiness.

1. Caring what other people think

Many of us feel like we must live or die by the approval of others. Whether it’s someone at work, a family member, or a co-worker, fear of displeasing others can rule and ruin our lives. Whenever you’re in a situation where you’re struggling worrying what other people think of you, ask yourself, “Where does my true approval come from?”

That approval comes from God. He loves you, and cares for you, even if it feels like the rest of the world doesn’t.

2. Trying to please everyone

The simple fact is you can’t make everyone happy. Again, when you’re worried what others think of you, you’re going to have a hard time giving up being a people-pleaser. And if you spend your days trying to care only for others, how effective are you being at really taking care of yourself?

It’s really okay to say no. Worrying what someone will think? See #1.

3. Participating in gossip

It’s easy when you’re at work to “stand around the water cooler” so to speak, and share the latest dirt you heard about someone. It’s important to ask yourself when engaging in these situations, “How is this conversation beneficial?” The stress of worrying what others are doing, or worse, getting upset over what others do, will only bring you down. Allow yourself to give up gossiping.

The same goes in church. Asking prayers for someone is one thing – sharing someone else’s dirty laundry is another. Is Aunt Patsy struggling? Could she use some prayers? That’s fine – share that with those who will pray for her. But they don’t need to know that Aunt Patsy has a drinking problem, is behind on her mortgage and is planning on leaving her husband.

4. Worrying

I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. However, remember that when you give up that worry and anxiety, you’re allowing God to work through your situation. If you continue holding onto those feelings, you’re telling God that you’re not ready to give up control.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:25-27

5. Insecurity

Wanting to look nice in public is okay. Trust me, everyone around you appreciates that you shower regularly. However, constant fear of whether or not you look skinny enough, pretty enough, handsome enough, or happy enough will only drive your self-esteem farther down. When you’re feeling this way, ask God to show you the way He sees you. It’s a simple, yet profound request.

6. Taking everything personally

It’s incredibly easy to get offended if you feel you’re being attacked by someone. It’s also easy to allow that offense to build and grow, and replace your joy. Yes, there are rude people in the world. Heck, there may be rude people in your church. My encouragement here is to remember that people have struggles we never see. That rude person you passed on the street, or the guy who flipped you off in traffic may be having the worst day of their life. Instead of taking offense, take the opportunity to love them as Jesus does – even if they are being a complete jerk.

7. The past

Scripture tells us we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We’ve all made mistakes. We’re going to continue making mistakes. It’s part of being human. But the key to finding happiness doesn’t like in the past, it lies in your present. If you’re allowing yourself to feel bad for the things you’ve done, you’re never going to be able to move forward. Just as it’s important to forgive others, it’s equally important to forgive yourself. And after you lay down your burden, make sure you don’t pick it back up again.

8. Buying things you don’t need

We all have a God-shaped hole we’re trying to fill. Some of us try to buy stuff to shove in there, rather than allowing God to fill us with His love, grace, mercy, and peace. “Retail therapy” isn’t therapy at all. It’s a way to distract ourselves from what we’re struggling with. And I can promise you, the stuff you buy isn’t going to make you any happier.

Sure, for some, spending money can be fun. And I get it, it’s more comfortable to cry in a Lexus than a Corolla, but as it’s been said, “Stop buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.”

9. Anger

Ouch. That one can strike a nerve, right? Holding on to anger isn’t going to make you feel better. In fact, quite the opposite happens. The longer you stay angry at someone, the more distance is created between you. In some cases, this distance is inevitable. Boundaries are important, however, anger shouldn’t rule your life, nor should it be the reason you create boundaries in the first place.

Again, ask God to help you see others the way He sees them. Release your anger to the Savior.

10. Control

How can God be in control if you refuse to give it up? Giving up control to Him isn’t a simple task, but one of the most important. In reality, when you refuse to give up control, you’re just allowing the situation to control you. Ask God for His grace and provision. And, as you begin to work on areas 1-9, you’ll find 10 comes much easier.

Remember, you were never meant to carry the burden of hurt and anger.

Struggling to find happiness? Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right hereIt’s time to get your life back.

How to be thankful, every day

Thanksgiving is upon us. And it’s the time of year where we begin seeing the “thankful” posts on Facebook. That’s all well and good, but what about after Thanksgiving? Shouldn’t we be looking for how to be thankful every day? That’s exactly what God calls us to do.

 

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.” – 1 Chronicles 16:8

By living a thankful life and with a giving attitude, we’re following God’s call to share His grace, love and mercy.  He’s not calling us “fake it”; even Christians have bad days and tough times.  He’s not expecting us to have it all together or to not share our struggles.  But He is reminding us to be thankful, even during the tough times.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5

Being thankful in all circumstances doesn’t have to be difficult.  All God is asking for is for us to live a life of grace.  When we’re willing to extend and receive grace to and from others, we’re practicing the art of thanksgiving with the gift of understanding, love and forgiveness.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas draws near, I encourage you to think about your own life, situations and circumstances.  How can you be thankful in the midst of struggles?  How can you extend grace to others who need it?

 STRUGGLING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? Schedule your appointment here, call me, or message me on Facebook. It’s time to get your life back.

That pastor only wants my money!

For many, especially new church-goers, the idea of tithing is uncomfortable. Scripture calls us to give back 10{460a05741454e6ac9b6c5260f0917ccdb6f72f2e4f6ff1b7d94317b392275d0e} of all we bring in. There are several places in scripture where the tithe is mentioned. In the book of Leviticus, we see it introduced as God’s law:

“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”  – Leviticus 27:30-34

But seeing it written still doesn’t make it sound all that great, does it? Many churches will also remind you of the line in 2 Corinthians, which tells us God loves a cheerful giver. However, more often, it’s displayed on a screen, church newsletter, or brochure with a graphic.

“Seriously?” I used to think. “Great.  So now on top of not wanting to throw more than 20 bucks in the plate/basket/bag/etc. when it passes by, God’s not going to love me if I don’t do this with a smile on my face?”  When I first started going to church, I loathed the idea of tithing. I, along with a lot of others, have come up with so many excuses as to why we can’t and/or won’t tithe. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • The pastor only wants it so he can buy a new car
  • I have too many bills and I don’t have enough to give a tenth of my salary
  • I can’t tithe now because what if something breaks/needs to be repaired or replaced?
  • I just don’t make enough money right now; I’ll tithe when I start making more
  • I don’t have enough money to pay the bills as it is, so how could I give that much away?
  • I disagree with something the pastor said in his sermon about three months ago, and I just can’t financially support the church because of that.
faith-giving

To increase your faith, increase your giving.

There are so many excuses that we make so we can justify not tithing. We make our offering sound like something bad, as if it’s going to crush us if we don’t keep the money for ourselves. But I’m going to let you in on a secret: God doesn’t care about those excuses, and you shouldn’t either. God isn’t calling you to financially support the ideas of the pastor, and He’s not asking you to make yourself poor for the sake of the church. But He is asking you to trust him – not only with your spiritual, emotional and physical health, but with your financial health as well.

In most churches, the pastor isn’t concerned about making you tithe to get a raise (there are exceptions, but by and large most church pastors have a heart to see you serve God, trust God, and develop a relationship with God). The fact is this: God will still be able to work without you. He doesn’t need your ten percent to keep the lights on, pay for nursery supplies or do an outreach event. But what He wants is your faithfulness. And here’s the thing:  Wal-Mart wants your money. Amazon Prime wants your money. The bar wants your money.  God and your pastor just want you to be faithful. He’s not concerned about how much money you make, but the heart in which you give:

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’.”  – Mark 12:41-44

Listen. I understand the thought of a full ten percent is scary. So, why not start with something smaller. Begin with 5, 3, or maybe even 1 percent. When you realize how God blesses you in that 1{460a05741454e6ac9b6c5260f0917ccdb6f72f2e4f6ff1b7d94317b392275d0e}, move to 2 or 3{460a05741454e6ac9b6c5260f0917ccdb6f72f2e4f6ff1b7d94317b392275d0e}. Then go up to 5, 6, 7, and so on. Soon, you’ll understand the heart of truly being a cheerful giver.

 STRUGGLING WITH FAITH OR TRUST? Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment here. It’s time to get your life back.

How to Pray when It’s Just So Hard

The videos and images from Houston and southeast Texas this week have been hard to watch. It’s heartbreaking to see families who have lost loved ones, watched their homes get destroyed, or are having to spend nights on end in a shelter due to Hurricane Harvey. Watching the disaster unfold can make us feel helpless. Sometimes, you may find yourself wanting to pray, but not even knowing how. When it’s hard to pray, that’s a good indication it’s probably the best time to do so. As the old saying goes, “Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray.” So, how do we actually do that?

Don’t worry about trying to sound eloquent. Some of us may have grown up in households where we feel like we have to pray in “King James”. Others of us may feel inferior to people who seem to have words flow off their tongue eloquently. Some of just have no idea what we should say to the creator of the universe when we’re feeling defeated. But Scripture tells us that God already knows what’s on our hearts. He’s just waiting for us to bring it to Him.

“There is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” -Psalm 139:4

Remember, prayer shouldn’t be our last resort. Yet, how many times have you tried to handle everything on your own before taking it to God? God reminds us to pray first, before ever making a step. Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying, “Lord, help me.” Sometimes, you may have to seek the answer more than once. Sometimes, God may answer your prayer in a different way than you expected.

Finally, remember to trust Jesus. He tells us He wants to work on our behalf:

“All that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” – Mark 11:24

He’s telling us he’ll answer our prayer because He wants to guide us in every way. He is faithful, and He’s calling us to be faithful too. That doesn’t mean he’s going to give you a million dollars just because you ask nicely, but He wants to know the prayers of your heart. And He wants you to share your heart for other people.

Watching the news of Harvey can be devastating. It can make you feel powerless. But even if you don’t know what to pray, just open your heart to God. Tell Him what’s hurting your heart. Tell Him about your burdens, and your struggles. Whether it’s for the people in southeast Texas or people in your own home, give it to God. In turn, you’ll find you may have just prayed one of your most beautiful and eloquent prayers.

 STRUGGLING? You don’t have to continue feeling this way. You are worthy of living in freedom. Call me, message me on Facebook, or schedule an appointment in Owensboro or online. It’s time to get your life back.

7 Ways Shame is Ruining Your Life

Let go and let God. Yuck. I loathe that phrase. It’s become such a cliche in the church. And it’s basically just someone’s way of telling you that you don’t have enough faith. Should we have faith? Absolutely. Should we let go and let God? Absolutely. Whether it’s from something that’s worrying you, guilt you’re feeling, or dealing with shame. But the truth is, if you’ve never been taught how to “let go and let God” (pardon me while I throw up in my mouth), it’s kind of hard to just throw your hands up and move on, right?

Ultimately, letting go of shame is giving it up to God and allowing Him to work through it. But until you learn how to give it up, it can be a challenge to move past the way you’re feeling. These 7 ways shame is ruining your life can help you to change your mindset and move toward the freedom God has for you.

1. Understand that Shame is Different from Guilt

Guilt says, “I did something bad,” and needs forgiveness. Shame says, “I am bad,” and needs a complete shift in your identity. If you feel yourself becoming wrapped up in shame, changes are it’s having an impact on your identity. Making a mistake can leave both guilt and shame, but it’s important to recognize the difference. In his book Shame Interrupted, Ed Welch describes that shame feels like it’s welded on to you, while guilt feels like something outside of you. Sound familiar?

2. Shame can happen because of something that’s been done to us

Shame is a common result of people who’ve been hurt and abused. Hurtful acts, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can leave you even more vulnerable to shame. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the victim of sexual assault to feel more shame than the perpetrator.

3. Shame can happen because of something we’ve done

Do you believe you can’t ever feel better after making a mistake? This is where “letting go” come in. And here’s how you do it: by repenting. Repentance sounds like a fancy, church-y word, but in reality, it’s simply “turning away” from whatever mistake (a.k.a. sin) you were involved with.

It’s important to remember, if you’ve asked for forgiveness, your sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus. They’re no longer held against you. Continuing to carry around shame because of a past mistake doesn’t just make you feel shame, however. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more. For the sake of your own physical and emotional well-being, allow God to work on those areas within you.

4. It doesn’t have to come from anyone’s mistake

Have you ever felt disconnected from God? Not because of something you’ve done or even that’s been done to you? Shame can be another term for unbelief in God’s love for you. It’s one thing to believe your mistake (sin) has been removed form you; it’s another to believe God’s love can never be removed from you.

Shame is a barrier – keeping love from getting through. This can be God’s love or anyone else’s.

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” – Exodus 15:13

5. We try to get rid of it by giving it to other people

Many times, shame makes us unconsciously pass it to those around us. Take, for example, the mother who feels bad about her own body. She may end up criticizing her daughter’s eating and clothing choices, making her daughter grow up with a sense of shame, too.

6. Shame hinders your creativity

If I’m constantly worried about myself, I’ll never be able to quit second-guessing my work. Creativity requires a freedom that shame hinders, because shame requires that all we do should be perfect before anybody else sees. In case you were unaware, Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. Creativity takes risks – and it can be hard to risk anything when you’re feeling ashamed.

7. Relationships often suffer because of shame

If I don’t think I can can be loved, I’ll have a hard time being in a relationship with anybody. I’ll always find ways to distance myself from other people to protect myself. My core belief is that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with me anyway.

But there is hope.

The most powerful way to get rid of shame is to learn to be open with yourself and with others. As we share our hearts, and our stories, and the way shame has tried to keep us down, we begin to find freedom. It loses its fuel and its isolation.

It just comes down to being willing to be open.

 STRUGGLING WITH SHAME? There is hope in your hurting, and you can find the freedom you’re seeking. Schedule an appointment here, call me, or message me on Facebook to get started. It’s time to get your life back.