Focus, Not Fear

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I am always learning life lessons and God’s messages to me over the last few weeks lessons have been about fear versus focus. I am going to take these learnings about pushing past unhealthy fears, in the hopes that others won’t waste any unnecessary time on fear. This is also a sample of work I sometimes do with a coaching client, although we go into depth. Here goes!

Fear differs from healthy concern because a healthy concern allows room for growth and movement toward goals despite a difficult circumstance. For example, here are a few healthy concerns; f you didn’t study for a big test and you know you are going to do poorly, if you disobeyed your parents, broke trust with your mate, or more dramatically, there is a big dog chasing you and you need to run (in which case, please stop reading!). Anyways, God gave our bodies a way to detect, correct and move through these healthy concerns, and our response to them grows us up in Him, and thus we learn from it. Unhealthy fear, on the contrary, gets and keeps someone stuck and in a panic. Here are a few more annoying things fear does to us when we give in to it.

Accomplishments of Fear:

  • Brands us with today’s predicament forever (globalizes it to be an everyday occurrence even when your situation will change).
  • Freezes us from accomplishing our day’s tasks (we often distract ourselves from life or check out since we don’t want to feel fear, thereby not feeling anything important like love or duty).
  • Takes our eyes off God and makes us look for “other” aka “sinful” ways of doing things (“God doesn’t seem to be helping, so I think I’ll give in to something I know I shouldn’t do, but since I’m on my own, may as well”-type of thinking).
  • Makes us feel pain emotionally and sometimes physically (Imagining you are sick or sicker than you are, feeling scared and experiencing panic making everything you are really going through even harder).
  • Makes us forget our goals in view of managing the present struggle (This can be good to manage a struggle, but when the fear itself is the focus, you lose sight of the real goal for the day).
  • Makes us less emotionally attractive to those around us, who can’t help but see us giving in to negativity and purposelessness, lack of hope, etc. This is frustrating because it is in these times you need friends and family most, and you may not see how you are pushing them away.

Take a moment to pause and consider what other roles fear plays in your life. It uniquely plays upon each of us a little differently. We know some things that apply to everyone though, such as when the Bible says, in Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”

Since everyone fears, this blog isn’t to demean anyone going through it, but on the contrary, to help someone from becoming wrapped up in it after they have done all they can to help their situation.Focusing on truth, rather than the fear, is so important during these times, because it helps you move through the painful circumstance and back toward the goals you want to accomplish.

Here are some quick suggestions to get you focusing instead of fearing!

  1. Read the above Bible verse (Proverbs 29:25) and spend a moment praying for God to release you from the fear. Prayer does more than anything else can do for your case against fear.
  2. Add this verse to the former in your reading (or better yet, try to memorize it or write it down and place in your view); “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
  3. Try to take some time to calmly isolate whatever fear is strongest in your mind. Sometimes random thoughts can overwhelm, so it’s best to know what is truly the biggest stressor. (Ex: The busy day seems too difficult, but when you isolate things it is the dental appointment causing anxiety. Now you can speak to that fear directly with rational truth or speak to someone about it, pray about it, etc. On the contrary, it may be the larger narrative of the busy day that is causing problems for you, such as in the case of setting yourself up for failure with an overly chaotic day – I do this sometimes and it’s nice to pray through solutions and prioritize, leaving room for good rest or play, depending on the need).
  4. Make a decision to address or change the fearful situation you have now identified. You may decide to journal out truths, to remember to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2nd Cor 10:5), to remember Phil 4:8 (to think of things good and lovely), to remember Jeremiah 29:11 (God’s special plans for your life), or you may decide to make a to-do list for the day that will force you to unfreeze from your panic mode, to take deep breaths, to tell the person you need to talk to that you have something to say, to stop looking up health info, to eat better, to exercise, to spend time with a friend or volunteering, to go to church, etc). Be creative – there are many ways to distract yourself from fear.
  5. After you try something, be a student of yourself and especially of God. How did your #4 plans go – did you truly let go? If not, why not? Were there temptations strong that you could use accountability in praying through? Were there unforeseen obstacles? Did it go better than expected? You can study yourself to find out what went well for next time, and leave behind suggestions that simply didn’t work. Study your Bible to see what God says about your life and fears. I know despite the circumstances, God brings His children through each and every hard time with love, purpose, peace, and ultimately the joy of salvation.
  6. Now it’s time to focus. Taking into consideration your overall life goal, what is your ultimate hope for today, that will bring you one step closer to fulfilling your mission? Will you be most blessed by a day of rest? Will you get closer to the goal by calling others to pray with them? To babysit and be with simple and fun kids? To work hard at your office? To pound some pavement on the job search? To study for the classes you know you are supposed to take? To raise endorphin levels by working out? To do a time of sweet fellowship with God? Focus on what God is saying for you to do today, and what the best steps are going to be.
  7. Take some time to write down your plans for today before the day begins or early on in it so you can be sure to side-step any snares that come your way. This includes preparing for what you can do if the day does not go as planned. You can always continue to plan for other days ahead simply because today did not go well, as long as you don’t put all of your hopes on tomorrow and try to get out of today’s roles.
  8. If you are stuck, call us at Reflections Counseling Center and we can walk through your situation with you, step by step, and help you to let go of the fears and to focus on what God’s plans are for your life – plans too wonderful to comprehend! Remember Psalm 139:11 and relax with me that we follow an amazing God, “If I say, “Surely the darkness will hold me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to You.”

Christa Hardin, July 25, 2014

The Supermom Sham

By Guest Blogger, Abigail Wilson, MA Social Services, Reflections Counseling Administratorbusy-mom

Ok ladies and interested gents! It is time to do something courageous and real!! Take 2 minutes and join me in this simple but important exercise.

1. Take a deep breath and admit you are human and not super-human! We don’t have superpowers and we can’t magically have a perfect life with the twitch of our nose! Repeat after me, “I am human and that is okay!”

2. Once you get this down pat, move on to the next statement, “If I ask for help when I need it, I will not be a failure, and I will be a success.” Let’s face it, if you are trying to keep up the appearance of having it all: a meticulous house, spotless perfect children, a perfect marriage, 2.3 kids and a dog that never sheds, all while baking cookies for PTA and volunteering or working, the truth is you likely lack sleep and burn the candle at both ends.

3. It is time to take five and let yourself not be perfect and for once! So, moving on…

4. Leave the dishes in the sink so you can enjoy some down-time! If you can bring yourself to follow these tips, you will be helping yourself in the long run and avoiding burnout…..which is bad.

Note: Burnout can occur at any time and can increase anxiety and depression and increase stress, so in order to avoid this, take care of yourself first so you can take care of others. Instead of fighting the ugly mommy wars some are intent on fighting, rely on each other and help each other out. Swap baby-sitting time, arrange for a play date so you can have a tea and unwind while the kids play together, do something for yourself while the kids are at their practices, splurge on a cleaning person even if it is for one hour per month (I do this and it is amazing to come home after a long day to a lemony fresh house, even though it is destroyed again by the end of the night), and don’t forget to save the end of the night for a wind down with yourself or you and your spouse.

If you need some more tips on not getting burnt out, call us at 941-301-8420 or write to us at reflectionscounselingcenter@gmail.com

 

If You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling…Read Up!

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Ever feel like “your relationship song” is  more like The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,” than the song you danced to at your wedding? If so, don’t hit the relationship panic button yet (or ever, for that matter). Instead, remember that sometimes the way you show love and affection may not be the way your spouse prefers.

Today, take a moment to think about or better yet, to ask your spouse the ways they enjoy being loved by you and tell them how you desire to be loved. Maybe you don’t think Cinderella or other fairy tale characters had to spell it out, but you know what, we never heard the rest of that happily ever after story, and she probably worked really hard to keep that Prince on his toes after such a flourishing beginning!

Give your relationship the time and attention it deserves if you also expect it to flourish, and by doing so, you treat your relationship royally. Read below excerpts from our book for a few quick tips to relationship health, and for more, buy RELATE: A Guide to Marital & Relationship Repair here for more help! http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Hardin/e/B00HAD1FYU

“This chapter targets ways that you feel most loved most by your spouse. You may not even know your favorite ways to feel loved by your spouse, and if you don’t know, how can they know? Consider the question of when you feel most loved for a moment. Is it when he or she scratches your back, reads aloud to you, cleans the house, is considerate of your sexual desires, listens to you, plays your favorite sport or video game with you, works out with you, enjoys the same music or art as you, takes you on fun dates, plays with the kids, works hard for you, or something else?  List the top five specific ways you enjoy feeling loved by your spouse here.

What are my favorite ways of being loved?

 

  1. ______________________________________________
  2. ______________________________________________
  3. ______________________________________________
  4. ______________________________________________
  5. ______________________________________________

Now try to get your significant other to share his or her favorite ways to feel loved by you. If he or she is unwilling, write down the ways you think you can love your mate the best here.

 

What are my mate’s favorite ways to be loved?

 

  1. ______________________________________________
  2. ______________________________________________
  3. ______________________________________________
  4. ______________________________________________
  5. ______________________________________________

Now, for both practical and romantic reasons, try loving your significant other in their favorite ways! If he or she is doing this book with you, ask them to try to do the same for you. If you feel overwhelmed by their list, try to love them in just one of these ways each day. Now review the main points of this chapter, and begin the wonderful recharging of your relationship!”

Esther’s Awakening – Preparing for God’s Royal Call on Your Life

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Do you need a reminder of your true beauty in Christ? If so, spend time with an RCC therapist preparing for God’s royal call on your life. In six sessions, you can get an awful lot of good insight and training for the journey! Please call us if you’d like to participate, or if you’d like to invite an RCC therapist to lead your small group or luncheon into a deeper and fuller relationship with the King! Here are the simple steps to this transforming time.

1st Session: ¨ Realize.  In your first session, you will be reminded of the biblical journey of Queen Esther, a strong, wise and yet humble and feminine leader of the Bible.  You and your therapist will draw a parallel to Queen Esther’s experiences, as you begin to realize your own journey as God’s royal daughter (1st Peter 2:9).  In addition to a traditional evaluation by a licensed therapist, you will get a treatment plan and an assignment related to your presenting issues.

2nd Session: ¨ Reflect.  In this critical step, you and your counselor will together unravel and reflect on secret threads of isolation, fear, and grief in your life, in light of the future hope you have in Christ.  Like Esther, there may be something keeping you from your true royal calling in Christ.  Your assignment will involve journaling, interviewing, or another reflective measure for awakening any past resentments, hurts, or hindrances.

3rd Session: ¨ Reveal.  In your third meeting, your therapist will gently guide you through difficult memories, truths, and any painful history you have revealed. Your therapist will offer inspiration, wisdom, hope, and light for your future, despite the difficult issues of the past.  Together, you will uncover the things still in darkness, and speak truth to the lies of the past and present.  Your assignment will involve pairing healthy ways of coping in present difficulties, instead of hanging on familiar but unhealthy habits.

4th Session: ¨ Restore.  Having decided to turn from unhealthy ways of dealing with your life’s issues, your new goal, like Queen Esther, is to devote yourself to purifying, restoring and prayer.  Your therapist and you will join together to stop the cycle of shame and sin in your life or family system.  Your assignment will involve permanently incorporating healthy and pleasing elements of spiritual, emotional, and physical self-care, and both inner and outer beauty.

5th Session: ¨  Reclaim.  In this session, you will revisit the story of Queen Esther, and tell your own story as well, including all of the parts of the journey towards healing.  In this meeting, you will prayerfully plant good seeds for future harvests in your life, and set new standards for godly and royal living as a beautiful daughter of the King, Most of all, you will reclaim a celebration of the present and good things to come!  Your therapist will also give you a special gift or memoir to commemorate your healing journey! *

Please call today at 941-301-8420 or write to me at christa@reflectionscc.com if you need more details!

Avoiding A Holiday Hangover – The Twelve Days of Christmas Care

Avoiding a Holiday Hangover – The Twelve Days of Christmas Care

Although there is potentially more fun to be shared this Christmas season, there is also doubtlessly hard work to complete in preparation for it as well, difficult family members to love, a plentiful amount of sweets to tempt you despite your body’s desire for healthy foods, and often less sleep and exercise as well.  Unless someone is intentional, a holiday hangover of sorts is imminent.

Taking care of yourself through the holidays is not an option, it’s a call.  Remember, God commands you to love others as you love yourself (Mt 22:39), but you need to love yourself in good ways for you to be able to love others well!  Similarly, we learn in Proverbs 11:25 that, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

To help you remember to keep your head afloat and even more, to stay refreshed, here are twelve creative ways to to help you to fully enjoy the entire Christmas season!  We hope you will add your own ideas below or take these suggestions to keep yourself ready for celebrating the reason for the season.

1 –  Take time to schedule in moments to listen to your favorite Christmas carols, with a cup of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee.  Do nothing work-oriented for a half an hour, but just enjoy the rest and good music, as well as cuddles if you have a willing family member or pet!

2 – Do a Christmas Bible study today, looking for reminders of the hope and special gift of Jesus’ coming!  Peace on Earth is another important focus, and these reminders can be found in Isaiah 7:14, Luke 2:1-20, & Matthew 1 & 2.

3 – Make or purchase a cozy winter soup with healthy ingredients. For an extra memorable meal, serve it in a bread bowl with a big salad on the side.  Yum!

4 – Come up with a realistic exercise plan and commit to it. For a quick workout, try a seven-minute plan on your smartphone!  If you aren’t used to working out, walk briskly for fifteen minutes a day, even if you are talking on your phone while doing it (but only if this is the only way you can do it – otherwise, enjoy a few quiet moments)!

5 – Buy and package some one-serving portions of nuts, sunflower seeds, cranberries, or raisins (or another healthy snack, such as simple protein bars) and keep them in a handy cupboard, your desk at work, and your glovebox, so when the cravings come, you have something both handy and energizing!

6 – Schedule in time this month with a friend who really refreshes you!

7 – Schedule in a date night with your spouse or significant other and if you are single, schedule a night to pamper yourself with a friend or on your own with a festive event.

8 – Visit a church for a candlelight service or special Christmas children’s program.

9 – Take a really luxuriously long shower or bath today, soaking in some suds or using extra of a favorite product.

10 – Treat yourself to a favorite reasonably priced restaurant one day this month.

11 – Enjoy a favorite TV program, favorite online or board game, or a good book, but do it marathon style, not just for 20 minutes. Enjoy an hour or more of just watching a favorite film, but make a big cozy deal of it!

12 – Write a simple Christmas list, being thoughtful about two or three things you’d really enjoy.  if you don’t have anyone to give it to, start a simple jar and plunk change in every day, writing your goals on the outside, so it will be something to look forward to.

Most of all, every time you get annoyed, take a few moments to deeply breath and remind your body that you are fine, that you are going to make it through anything, and that you are eternally grateful for each moment you have!  God bless you this Christmas season!  As always call us or write to us if this season’s dealings are too difficult to bear alone!  941-301-8420 Sarasota & Bradenton Counseling www.reflectionscc.com
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Becoming a Biblical Trophy Wife

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This brief devotional will help any woman who is wondering just what her role in marriage is, especially if her blissful bridal days are long gone and the monotony of a matriarchal life has settled in.  Don’t grow stagnant, you are worth the effort it takes to make a great marriage, and you are a wonderful and holy reward to your husband!

“[To husbands] Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9

Word to the Wise

Do you ever feel guilty about all of the things your husband has on his plate (not to mention you and your heaping full plate)?  Sometimes I really do.  I think about all of the things my husband has to be responsible for and I see that most of the time, he is happy doing it.  However, sometimes I find myself feeling sorry for him and all of those duties.  The man I married all those years ago didn’t have to pay for a home, cars, kids, school books, medical expenses, help with chores, change diapers, and basically spend all of his time serving.   The man I am married to now (still the same man here!) does have to do all of that, and about a zillion other things also, and so do I.  Instead of feeling sorry for him or myself, lately, for that matter, I am trying to remember that through the hard and easy days both, marriage was made for us to bless and help one another (Genesis 2:18-22).

How can we bless one another when we are spent?  Since love is our call as Christians, offering the reward of putting your best foot forward for this hard working husband of yours seems like a good place to start.  King Solomon, the wisest man on earth, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, validates this sentiment by saying in our passage above, that YOU are your husband’s reward for his hard work.  This is really wonderful news.  This week, pause before you begin each new discussion or time together, taking care to check a sour attitude and or litany of your latest headaches, bills or homework difficulties.  Remember to enjoy the reward you are, and to share it with your husband in this short life you get.  You have a teammate to run this race of life with you, and after a long day of hard work, it is your reward to enjoy one another in whatever ways you both desire.

This doesn’t mean you ignore difficulties in your life, but it does mean that you know when to lay the hard matters aside for the day at the Lord’s feet through prayer, and then enter a period of quiet surrender to God’s power in your life, despite the circumstances you worked so hard during the day to handle.  I know life is hard, but I am so glad we as women may enjoy getting rest after the long workday as well as to being a godly reward to our hubbies!  Next time, you can wink up at God when someone uses the cliche “trophy wife” because you are that and so much more, a prized, beloved eternally valuable reward, versus the fake plastic cultural imagery we have become used to envisioning when we hear that term.

In your family life, exercising your wonderful role has great value also.  As much as your children may pretend your marriage does not hold meaning for them, it doesn’t take a family therapist to tell you that this isn’t true at all.  Our children love to see their parents in a healthy marriage, and if God wills, we hope one day they will enter into a healthy marriage also.  It is especially important then, that we show them the example of marriage in its proper place.  Try to show your children a healthy marriage by showing how spouses work together to educate their children and meet their basic needs, but also enjoy their marriage by taking the occasional time out to nurture their marriage through an anniversary dinner or a regular date nights, as well as time spent together after the kids go to bed at night.  Your children may grumble, but they are learning the labor and reward of marriage, as well as the inestimable value of finding a spouse who will both love and refresh them after a hard day’s work!

Marriage Mission

             After the children are in bed this week and thereafter (or if your husband works nights, be creative about your couples time) try to think of something you can do that you would both enjoy doing.  If you already do this nightly, twist it up a notch with a gourmet snack, a new piece of lingerie, a new game, or anything at all that will add more fun and flavor into your night together.  Relax and enjoy one another. The bills, the worries, the headaches, and the daily drama will all be there the next day.  By doing this, you share in the labors of love, and decrease the likelihood that your man will be hungry or tempted for attention from anyone else!  You go girl!

 

RELATE – Giving the Best Gift to Your Spouse This Season!

Are you ready to RELATE?

RELATE is a simple, refreshing, and effective relationship repair program.  Designed by a marital expert, RELATE helps couples to work together to create the relationship they’ve always wanted.  When a couple is relating well together, they can thrive in the world far better than the two of them could have done on their own.  The steps to relate better in this book can be worked on individually, with a coach or counselor, or completed as a couple. 

Is RELATE for you? 

A. The RELATE program is designed to aid a couple that is stressed, overloaded, bored, or otherwise desperate for more relationship satisfaction.  This program focuses specifically on restoring lost feelings of love or respect for one another, on reminding a couple of their greater commitment to their spouses and families, and on building them up to be a solid team once again, or even for the first time.

B. The RELATE program can help even if just one member of a relationship wants to participate while the other is doubtful or uninterested in change. A willing mate can make a great change in a relationship by trying new steps respectfully.  It is often the case that both spouses are committed to the relationship, but only one wants help.  As most counselors know, when even one person makes healthy changes in a relationship, a family system often shifts in the right direction.

C.  The RELATE program is NOT for the couple that is uncommitted or unwilling to take part in change. Examples of this are where one or both mates are in complete withdrawal from the relationship, when one mate is happily caught up in an affair, when an individual is in an abusive relationship, and in other extreme situations.  In these instances, individuals and couples should pursue therapy or outside help more intensive and specifically tailored to their issues.

If you fit models A or B, then the good news is, RELATE can help you!  Here are five tips to help you get the most out of this RELATE relationship training!

  • Read the material carefully.  This program is designed to be efficient, so simply skimming this book will leave a gap in your relationship repair.
  • Do the assignments.  They’re not complicated but they do take effort, like anything worth doing.  Simply reading a book or attending a meeting to talk about what’s going on are not magical solutions.  The key to success lies not only in your momentary participation, but also in your lasting efforts in working toward a healthier relationship.
  • Don’t give up before the end!  This is a short training program, so finish it fully.  Do your best, and expect great results.  Even if your mate isn’t dedicated, keep it up.  You can’t lose when you are trying to love others well!
  • Pay special attention to the heading “LOVE NOTES” that you find sprinkled throughout the book.  These brief tips will help you to make sure you consider your mates’ feelings and express love toward them even when you don’t agree on everything.
  • Expect success and have fun!  Keep an attitude of hopefulness and celebrate even the smallest of positive changes!  Soon, you will be celebrating a lifetime of love.