Coming in April on Reaching Hurting Women…



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Working the Steps: Step 4 
We’ll learn how to take our personal inventories, both moral and spiritual; uncovering weaknesses and balancing them with our strengths.



This month’s book review:
Feeding Your Appetites by Stephen Arterburn
Money, sex, food, work, ego… what’s controlling you?




Virtues~n~Vices: COURAGE Having stepped through our moral and spiritual inventory and tackled what’s controlling our lives; it’s time to climb into the virtue of courage and learn what to do when we lose it.




Healing Hurts: ANXIETY 

Anxiety is an inevitable part of life. Whether stimulated by fear or worry, when life comes at us with both barrels we may go into a panic attack and shut down completely.








See these articles accented by some wonderful praise and worship music on Reaching Hurting Women in April. 


Blessings!

Healing Hurts :: LONELINESS

In hopes of targeting topics to fit my reader’s needs, I recently took a poll of the hurts women struggle with. My poll listed: depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual addiction, loneliness, self-hatred, and inferiority. The survey results were interesting, but not surprising.
Loneliness overshadowed all the other struggles listed. 
Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, AARP surveyed 3012 people over the age of 45 and found 35 percent are chronically lonely compared to 20 percent in a similar survey ten years earlier. 
According to the 2010 Census, 25 percent of American households are maintained by a single person, a dramatic increase from 7 percent in 1940. 
Over half of all Americans report having no close confidant or friends outside their immediate family; 25 percent of American have no meaningful social support at all, not a single person they can confide in!
All this means serious trouble for our health. Lonely people tend to have higher stress levels, exercise less, have more substance abuse, weaker immune systems, and the list goes on.
What is Loneliness? 
Loneliness is a state of sadness resulting from feeling separated from others.
Chronic loneliness is continually feeling disconnected from others; often leads to personal isolation, bitterness and destructive behavior.

Loneliness today seems to come with the job. Not only are more children growing up with single parents, but where there are two parents, often both parents are working with an average commute of 46 minutes. By the time everyone gets home, there’s no time to visit with the neighbor while the kids play outside. We wear busy as a badge while the value of community connection all but disappears.
Alone vs. Lonely  
Being alone refers to the physical state of being separated from others.
Being lonely refers to the emotional feeling of isolation or rejection.
Being alone can be a positive time of creativity or meditation with God.
Being lonely is always negative with feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. 
What about all my social-media friends and followers? Studies show rather than building community, social-networking sites give a false sense of connection that increases loneliness in people who already feel alone. A lonely woman may get on Facebook and see all the cool things her friends are doing with their exciting vacations, romantic dinners and happy families, she then begins to feel discontent with her own life.
Causes for Loneliness
Situational Loneliness: divorce, death of a loved one, empty nest, loss of job or home, physical disability, major move, illness, aging, abuse, new job, estrangement of family, etc…
Spiritual Loneliness: bad things happen and you feel God has abandoned you.

Social stigmas surround Loneliness. It’s seems acceptable to be on medication for depression, but being lonely often means unwanted, unlovable, unattractive, unintelligent. Loneliness is compounded not only with feeling alone but being alone in that feeling. It seems no one understands.
Some helpful solutions…
  • Ask God for guidance and He will help you!
  • Evaluate your loneliness. Take the UCLA Loneliness Test.
  • Take charge of your feelings; remove negative thoughts and self-talk.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Join and get plugged into a local Bible believing church.
  • Reduce work commute to free up time for friends, family and activities.
  • Don’t substitute electronic communication for face time.
  • Take an adult education class, start scrap-booking, knitting or quilting.
  •  Be determined not to isolate. Nurture personal relationships. 
  •  Meet your neighbors. Start a ladies lunch or dinner once a month.
  •  Get the resources listed below. 
  •  Read and memorize Scripture.
  •  Listen to praise and worship music. 


Personally, loneliness is high on my list of struggles. It’s gotten better as I’ve grown in the Lord but it still shows up when I least expect it. I’m not a doctor or a counselor and don’t pretend to have all the answers. The more I researched loneliness the more I discovered what a huge problem it is in our world today. I spent several weeks studying and found volumes of material on the subject. There was no way I could possibly cover all the areas needed so I’ve added a few resources below. 

If you suffer with chronic loneliness and have no one to talk to, please feel free to contact me here. 
The three best resources I found to help with loneliness: 
Worship music helps me most when I’m lonely. Here are some of my favorites. Rest in the Father’s Hands and receive His love for you…


Jesus Culture – All I Need is You http://youtu.be/MvL6evyRFgY


Misty Edwards – My Soul Longs for You http://youtu.be/mWC3J4Wz0wo


Michael W. Smith – More Love, More Power http://youtu.be/MhnmLNfyqY4

Photo Courtesy 123RF Stock Photo

Virtues~n~Vices: FAITH

Step Out In Faith!



Virtue: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit

Vice: a practice of wrongdoing, essentially corruption of the virtue; an unholy habit.


Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Heb.11:1)
Fear: false evidence appearing real.


Whether we believe in God or not, we use faith everyday. You put your faith in electricity when you flipped the switch on the lamp. You put your faith in the chair before you sat down. You put your faith in your car when you started the ignition.

Faith activates God’s power. Fear activates the Satan’s power. 

Faith isn’t a superstitious thing. But to live any kind of godly life, we will need faith and lots of it. The Hebrews definition of faith above is one I’m sure you are familiar with. But I like another definition by my friend Patty:

Faith is God’s mystical gift of love that fills our hearts and minds with the unshakable promise that we have a purpose to our existence. It dispels the darkness and overcomes doubt and fear.

Did you catch that last part? Faith can help us overcome fear. Now that’s good news!


For many people fear can be paralyzing. This distressing sensation brought on by a perceived threat is even used as an escape to avoid life and responsibilities.  Whatever the reason or outcome, fear is a demonic force controlling many lives today.


Fear is more than an emotional feeling. It is a spirit that causes thoughts, that cause feelings which can take us into an area where God doesn’t want us. When we allow fear to control us, we are putting more faith in what the devil says that what God says.


Whose power do we want working in our lives? We have a choice. Let’s choose Faith!


You may ask, “How can I get more faith?” The Bible says faith comes by hearing God’s Word. (Romans 10:17) In today’s world, we have no excuse for not hearing God’s Word. There are more resources available to us that ever before. 


Whether you use the Internet, a Podcast, GoogleTV, a SmartPhone, an iPad or a traditional Bible… Find time to hear God’s Word everyday. I promise, you won’t be sorry!


If you’ve never committed your life to God, please take a moment and give Him every area of your life. The Bible says, if we believe with our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9)


Don’t put it off another day. Today is the day of salvation!2 Corinthians 6:2




Enjoy the music video… Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship

Lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/hillsong_united/#share

Excerpts from Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee

BOOK REVIEW: Who Switched Off My Brain? by Dr Caroline Leaf

WHO SWITCHED OFF MY BRAIN? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions
by @DrCarolineLeaf
Published by Inprov, Ltd.
2009
175 pp

I’ve read countless books and have never gotten more excited. Not just about the book, but the topic, the science, and the implications this information can have on emotional and physical healing.

With creative schematics and easy to understand layman’s language, Dr. Caroline Leaf explains the fascinating brain science behind why and how our thoughts effect every area of our physical bodies down to the cellular level. She has an amazing talent for teaching both the scientific and spiritual aspects of the brain with incredible clarity.


Proving with science what Scripture has been saying for thousands of years. 

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ~ Proverbs 23:7 AMP

Who among us doesn’t struggle with our thought life? 

Leading us out of distress, Dr. Leaf reveals The Dirty Dozen ~ 12 specific areas of toxic thinking in our lives:

  • Toxic Thoughts
  • Toxic Emotions
  • Toxic Words
  • Toxic Choices
  • Toxic Dreams
  • Toxic Seeds
  • Toxic Faith
  • Toxic Love
  • Toxic Touch
  • Toxic Seriousness
  • Toxic Health
  • Toxic Schedules

Having recognized our toxic thought patterns we learn how to sweep our brains, step by step detoxing each area of our thoughts. By gathering, reflecting, journaling, revisiting, and reaching, we reprogram our minds to build a secure foundation for the change, health and wholeness we desire.


“Who Switched Off My Brain?” is interesting, educational, enlightening, entertaining, spiritually relevant… a step by step process that leads to physical and emotional healing!

An honest to goodness page turner. I literally couldn’t put it down once I started!

I highly recommend Who Switched Off My Brain?” by Dr Caroline Leaf.

Here is a video of Joyce Meyer interviewing Dr. Caroline Leaf. 
Click here for another part of their interview.

Working the Steps: Step 3

“Step by step, I’m walking on water to a land no man can see.” Bryan Duncan



Step Three: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.


Because Step 3 is so critical, we must check our progress on the previous steps. If we haven’t done the work of Step One and Step Two we can’t go forward. If we still think we have everything under control and our sanity isn’t a problem, we probably aren’t ready to turn our lives over to God.
To prepare ourselves for Step Three we fully accept our inability to manage our lives and receive the seeds of faith God planted in our hearts. Having done those things we are ready to turn our life and our will over to God’s loving care.

Just as a building needs a firm foundation, Step Three is central to all of the steps.  We need this important cornerstone for an effective, peaceful life in recovery.

Without God in control our lives will be just as they’ve always been… a mess!

With a clear mind we commit ourselves to the decision, surrendering to God and His outcome. The more we learn to trust in the Lord, the more we will trust ourselves and that trust then extends to others. Now free from the bondage of self-will, our negative behaviors fall away; daily routines improve and life begins anew.

With God’s presence in our lives our sense of self improves, we begin to believe we are worthy human beings. We are able to give and receive love again.


I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual worship. ~ Romans 12:1

You may want to pray this prayer:
God I humbly offer myself to You, build me and do with me what You want. Remove this bondage of self, so I can do Your will. Give me victory over my difficulties so others will see Your power and Love in my life.

Our theme song for Working the Steps: Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan

**Excerpts from The Twelve Steps for Christians

3 Tips on Dealing with Discouragement

I’m honored to have my newest friend in ministry, Julie Sibert guest blogging today.  I know you will be blessed with her encouraging words as we continue this month’s focus on hope.

I spoke recently at a conference where we addressed the “seasons of marriage.”  Fortunately, I was involved in the planning of the conference, so I could snag “spring” as the season I would cover.
Who doesn’t love the spring times in marriage?
Listening to the other speakers, though, I was most impacted by a married couple that shared about the “winter” seasons of marriage – those times that are plagued by miscommunication, difficulty, devastation and discouragement.
As anyone who has been married knows, it really isn’t a matter of ifwinter comes; it’s usually only a matter of when.  All marriages oscillate through ups and downs, with some “seasons” lasting longer than others.
And even if you are not married, you are wise enough to recognize that winter is not reserved for married folk. All of us experience desolate times, when finding a nugget of hope feels about as easy as finding a lost earring that you didn’t even know was lost until weeks after it disappeared.
What’s a woman to do when discouraged?    Here are three suggestions:
1. Don’t isolate from God.
Sounds easy enough, right, when all you really want to do is pull the covers over your head?   But isolation and discouragement do not make for good bedfellows.
Get real with God about your sheer frustration and discouragement.  Don’t try to guard your heart from Him (as if that would be possible anyway), but rather share with Him everything you are feeling, even the really ugly stuff.
As we’ve likely heard, God is indeed a big God.  He longs for us to cast our cares upon Him. He is a steady place to lean when we feel hopeless, even if “leaning” just looks like a lot of tears, runny noses and brokenness.
2. Cling to safe confidantes.
The key word here is “safe.”  I believe we each need 2-3 other people in our life who will receive us right where we are, pray with us and speak from a place that is rooted in godly counsel.
And this next point is crucial – women need women confidantes and men need men confidantes.   It is dangerous ground when a distraught discouraged woman seeks refuge in a male friend who is not her husband.
The boundary lines can – and likely will – become hazy.  When we are discouraged, we are blind to some of our weaknesses and can easily find ourselves entertaining ideas or misconstruing circumstances.  It’s just a dangerous road, so you might as well avoid it all together.
Gals, stick with your safe women friends.
3.  Clear your schedule.
When some people are discouraged, they do the exact opposite of isolate – they instead consume themselves with busyness.  Sadly, we have even heard this as advice – “you just need to keep yourself busy.” (I heard it from well-meaning people when I was going through the loss of my first marriage).
I think there is a tipping point, though, where busyness becomes a misguided attempt to mask authentic pain.
When I am most discouraged, I need the Lord, my close confidantes and space.  An overflowing calendar tends to just compound exhaustion and discouragement. 
A more sensible approach is to cut back where you can cut back and extend yourself grace in this, so that you have room to reflect and get your bearings.
Though the winter times come in all of our lives, the truth is that spring is on the horizon. We have to believe that, though, and walk or crawl in that direction.  The Lord and your friends will help – if you let them.
Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage. You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com and on Twitter @Intimacy4Life. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer puppy who refuses to stay in the fence.

Copyright © 2012 Julie Sibert

HEALING HURTS :: Depression

According to the Mayo Clinic about twice as many women as men experience depression. Let’s examine a few factors that increase a woman’s risk of depression.

Puberty: emerging sexuality and identity issues; parental conflicts; school pressures
Premenstrual problems: cyclical hormones changes disrupts brain chemicals that control moods.
Pregnancy: hormonal changes affect moods; mixed feelings about pregnancy; relationship issues
Postpartum depression: anxiety, inability to care for baby, thoughts of suicide
Perimenopause and menopause: erratically fluctuating hormone levels


Aside from hormone and chemical imbalances, all too often we allow life situations and culture to send us into anxiety and depression. When life isn’t going our way we may throw an emotional temper tantrum because God isn’t doing things our way. In time the anger takes root and grows into depression.

As Christian women, how can we overcome anxiety and depression?

Give up the illusion of control.
We must realize only God has the power to control how our lives play out.

Let your emotions lead you to ask questions.
Rather than ignore the depression, face your feelings and ask, “What’s going on? Why do I feel this way?”
Turn worries into prayers.
When anxiety hits, pray! Unlike worry, prayer accomplishes something positive. 
Discipline your mind.
Think about what you’re thinking about! Instead of problems focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. (Phil.4:8) You can’t be depressed and do this! 
Don’t blame illness when the problem is poor choices.
Half our problems we bring on ourselves by bad decisions we’ve made. Taking responsibility for our attitudes and actions leads to maturity and healing.
Exercise discernment considering medication.
Pray for wisdom to discern emotional stress from a true medical condition.

Check to see if physical symptoms are tied to feelings.
Are you sleeping, have stomach problems, headaches, etc… See a doctor if physical symptoms continue.

Let go of what you cant change, change what you can.
Stop trying to change things that are out of your control. Let go and let God!

Look for meaning in your suffering.
Ask God to help you learn what He wants you to learn in your time of trouble, so that you can help others in the future.

Pray for the right perspective.
Ask God to show you His perspective on the situations that are troubling you. This will help you make better choices.

Forget about suicide!
More than anything else, if you are considering suicide, PLEASE TALK TO SOMEONE! Know that there is always hope. Turn to God and trust Him with your life. Things will get better.

Make time for rest and relaxation.
Overwork, lack of sleep can cause a great deal of anxiety and depression. Take time to enjoy life, play games, soak in a hot bath, walk the dogs… Whatever can help you relax… Do it! 

Change the way you talk to yourself.
We must recognize the negative recordings that play in our head. To change them, find scriptures that you can write into declarations and speak them over your life. If you don’t know any, email me and I’ll send you some!

Tap into the power of forgiveness.
Often we can forgive others, but can’t forgive ourselves. Ask God to show you any area where you need help with forgiveness. 

Draw strength from Scripture.
Most importantly, let the Truth of God’s Word refresh your mind and soul. Read, study and meditate on Scripture daily. It will make you glad!

Take a few moments and relax with this video of Darlene Zschech singing “Made Me Glad”

**Excerpts from Crosswalk.com “Overcome Anxiety and Depression” by Whitney Hopler;
MayoClinic.com “Depression in Women: Understanding the gender gap”

Copyright © Reaching Hurting Women Blog

VIRTUES~N~VICES :: Hope

Virtue: a valued foundation principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit
Vice: a practice of wrongdoing, essentially corruption of the virtue; an unholy habit.
Hope is most needed in our world where trials and troubles abound. Though not a virtue in the traditional sense of honesty and perseverance; Hope is an emotional and theological virtue. Its antithesis is Despair.
Hope: feeling that what is wanted can be had; that events will turn out for the best.
Despair: loss of hope; hopelessness.
How can Hope and Despair be habits? Don’t they just happen to us in our emotions?
Habits, good or bad, often have root in our emotions. Hope and Despair are certainly emotionally driven. I’ve learned I can choose to follow certain emotions and not others. The key is recognizing the emotion when it shows up by reflecting on recent thoughts… 

Where are these thoughts sending me? Is that where I want to go? Is that where I need to go?

I know if I think despairing thoughts long enough I’ll get stuck in a negative habit, which will eventually affect my behavior.
As a theological virtue, Hope is the bridge between faith and love. Like faith, Hope is a gift of God. God doesn’t want us to be in a state of Despair. He wants us to live with hopeful hearts, expecting the best from Him each and every day.
We must depend on God to keep our heart and mind in a hopeful place. And the only way to do that, is to stay in God’s Word! One of my favorite devotional Bibles is Joel and Victoria Osteen’s: Hope for Today Bible. It’s exactly what it says, Hope for everyday! Get one and read it. You won’t struggle with despair any longer.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Roman 15:13


You can find some Hope in this music video…

Copyright © 2012 Reaching Hurting Women Blog 

BOOK REVIEW: Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer



POWER THOUGHTS ~ 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind 
by @JoyceMeyer
FaithWords 2011
270pp

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a huge Joyce Meyer fan. Not because she’s a marvelous teacher, although she is. But through Joyce’s transparency, sharing her hurts and struggles, God has brought me healing and personal transformation. I’ve read most of her books, watched her television broadcast and listened to her CD’s, consistently for seven years. Without a doubt, Joyce Meyer’s ministry has had more impact on my life than any other. You can’t go wrong reading any of her books, but today let’s talk about Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind.

Power Thoughts isn’t a book just to be read. It’s a textbook that needs to be studied and used over and over again. Joyce frequently admits her own struggle in the area of her mind. And like a good teacher, she’s passing on tools she knows work, because they’ve helped her. In her traditional “Mama J” style, with review questions and Power Pack Scriptures placed throughout, Joyce gives us 12 Power Thoughts to help corral our mind. Here’s a sample…

Power Thought 1: I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ.

This one’s a biggie for me. It’s easy to get into a pity party about doing housework, thinking I’m not making a difference in the world. Then God reminds me that whatever I need to do today, is what He wants me to do and I can do it through Christ’s strength if I will keep my mind on Him!

Joyce encourages us to focus on one Power Thought for a week, posting it on a 3×5 card in visible places around our home or office. Then throughout the day it’s available to review, thus keeping it top of mind. I’ve used this technique over the years with Scripture and affirmations with great success.

Often we don’t realize our problems start with a thought. If we’re depressed, we need to stop and have a “think session.” By reviewing what’s been running through our mind, we’ll find negative thoughts are the culprits. Once we get control of our thoughts, we’ll change our attitude and eventually our actions. Then we can enjoy the life Jesus died for us to have!

No matter what your struggle, thoughts are critical to overcoming any situation. I encourage you to get Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. Don’t just read it. Really do the work. It can and will change your life…

I offer you twelve “power thoughts” that can revolutionize your life if you will believe them, allow them to take root in your mind, and act on them in your everyday life. ~ Joyce Meyer

Working the Steps: Step Two

“Step by step… I’m walkin’ on water to a land no man can see” ~ Bryan Duncan

Having recognized our brokenness in Step One we may feel empty and lost…

“O.K., I’ve admitted I’m powerless. Now what!?” 

Our next step will birth hope in us.

Step 2: Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.

At this stage we are still hurting and fearful of trusting God about anything. But before we can see evidence of real change in our lives, we have to take a step of faith.

We have to step out to find out. Take the leap. Walk out on that branch.

We’ll never know what’s there until we do.

In my experience God honors that courage and meets us at the level of our expectations. Did you catch the little condition here? If our expectations are low, our results will be low. In the same way, if our expectations are high, the results will be high.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. ~ Philippians 2:13

This Scripture is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I like to break it down like this:

First of all, God’s going to give me the desire to do what He wants me to do. It doesn’t stop there. He’s going to give me the power to do it, too.

You may say, “That’s awesome! But it  looks like God’s doing all the work. What do I have to do?”

Believe.

Step Two gives us new hope as we begin to see help is available. We must simply reach out and accept what God has to offer. Here a spiritual foundation forms that will help us grow into the person we want to be. All we need to do is be willing to take the step.

Remember, God never asks us to do anything without first giving us the ability to do it.

You may want to pray this prayer:
In humility I pray to believe in the only Power greater than myself–God. Give me increased faith so I won’t be crazy any more.

I hope you enjoy the theme song for our Working the Twelve Steps Series:
Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan

Copyright © 2012 Reaching Hurting Women Ministry