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

Healing Hurts :: DENIAL

We started the first week of the year working Step One. Next, I shared a review of my new favorite book. And in week three we started our series Virtues-n-Vices with the topic of Honesty. This week we begin a series of posts called Healing Hurts with the focus today on Denial.

Denial: is a defense mechanism in which a person, faced with an uncomfortable fact, rejects it, insisting that it isn’t true despite overwhelming evidence. It’s an unrealistic hope that a problem is not really happening.

We use one of the following…

  • Simple denial: denying the reality of the unpleasant reality altogether.
  • Minimization: admitting the reality but denying it’s seriousness (rationalization).
  • Projection: admit both the reality and the seriousness but deny any responsibility.
Denial, a type of pain reliever, represses stressful thoughts from the mind; whether subconsciously or consciously, the goal is to avoid dealing with the situation or problem. People expend exhausting amounts of energy maintaining their denial state.

Denial is serious. We can’t heal as long as we pretend our hurts don’t exist.

The Celebrate Recovery Bible lists six negative effects DENIAL has on our lives:

– isables our feelings
E – nergy drain
– egates our growth
I  – solates us from God
– lienates us from other human relationships
– engthens our pain

The bottom line…
The faster we engage (feel) our feelings, even though it hurts, the quicker the pain will end and our life will truly be happier.

God will be with us if we will just let Him into the pain with us.
Press through the pain, step out of denial into the victory of freedom! Trust God, He will take care of you!

Listen to this sweet song as you receive God’s help…

Copyright © 2012 Reaching Hurting Women Ministry

Virtues-n-Vices :: HONESTY

Last year I was privileged to take a wonderful class called Christian Virtue. What a joy it was to be with a group of ladies all wanting to be more virtuous for the Lord. While praying for the direction of my blog, God impressed me to begin sharing what I learned in that class. This year I will devote the third week of each month to a particular virtue that I believe relates to areas women struggle with.

Let’s start first with definitions…

Virtue: a positive trait deemed morally excellent; a valued foundation of good moral behavior.
Vice: a habitual practice of wrongdoing, essentially corruption of the virtue.

Sadly, our modern culture doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on virtue these days. However, if we listen to conversations around dinner tables or watch the evening news, it’s easy to see most of the problems we face relate directly to the lack of virtue in our world today.


Honesty: the quality of being honest, upright; truthful, sincere; freedom from deceit.


There are two ways we can look at this virtue: honesty with ourselves and our honesty with others. More than likely, if we’re not being honest with ourselves, we probably aren’t being honest with others either.

Often, we see a virtue and think to ourselves, I’m an honest person. I don’t really need to work on this one. I’ve found by looking at the opposing sin or vice, I see better my areas of weakness.


Vices: Dishonesty, duplicity, cheating, lying, deception, treachery


As a recovering addict, I’m all too familiar with the above list of vices. What a relief it was when I was finally able to be honest with my husband after being deceptive for many years.

An honest life is a simpler life. You don’t have to remember all the lies you’ve told!

No matter what our struggles are, we can’t deal with them unless we are first honest with God and with ourselves.

Take just a moment… Ask God to show you where you are being dishonest. He is always faithful to reveal our brokenness when we are willing to make the change.

Without beating ourselves up for past behavior, let’s go forward a new creation today!

Enjoy the music video below as you meditate on your fresh start!

Copyright © 2012 Reaching Hurting Women Ministry

BOOK REVIEW: Think Differently Live Differently by Bob Hamp

Think Differently Live Differently ~ Keys to a Life of Freedom
by @BobHamp
Thinking Differently Press 2010
252 pp

I can’t think of a better way to start this new year than to review the book I’ve placed at the top of my recommended reading list! 

In 2008, my husband, Bill, and I were blessed with the opportunity to participate in Freedom Ministry at Gateway Church in Southlake,Texas. It was there I first encountered the incredible gift Bob Hamp has for communicating spiritual principles. Not unlike the parables in the Gospels, Bob’s stories tug at your heart strings while imparting truths you can easily understand and apply to daily life.

A culmination of life-long spiritual growth and years of counseling experience, Think Differently Live Differently lives up to its title. Through beautiful analogies and humor woven among the teaching, we are drawn into a story that completely changes the way we see original sin, our Creator and ultimately ourselves. With this new perspective comes revelation and suddenly we find freedom as never presented before.

There are few books I will push this strongly. It’s a must read for everyone! 

After all isn’t true freedom what we’re all looking for? 


Working the Steps: Step One

We admitted we were powerless over our dependencies–that our life had become unmanageable.

In October 2004, in a last ditch effort to deal with my addiction, my husband, Bill, asked me to go with him to a couples seminar. Dr. Doug Weiss from Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs was to be speaking on his book Intimacy ~ A 100 Day Guide to Lasting Relationships.

Reluctantly I agreed.

With my defenses up, I was nervous, but the small group of couples was friendly and inviting. Dr.Weiss spoke from his heart about how he had grown up with a sex addict for a mom. Because of her addiction he was shuffled back and forth from her home to foster homes. Through his mother’s bad influence Dr.Weiss became addicted to sex and pornography at a very young age.

Transparent and real, Dr.Weiss seemed to understand the pain I had. As I listened, I realized for the first time he was talking about me. I was just like his mom.

I was a sex addict.

When Bill and I returned for the Saturday morning session I was anxious to tell Dr.Weiss I wanted to go to Colorado for a 3-Day Intensive Counseling Session. I left the seminar scared but hopeful because I knew help was available.

After all the sex, drugs, alcohol, running away, therapy, medication and jail time; I was finally able to see the truth of my own addiction.

It was a miracle. It was the beginning of my recovery.

The first step is always the hardest. It can be scary and humiliating to admit powerlessness, especially for someone who likes to be in control. And all addicts think they have everything under control.

We must come to a realization that not only are we powerless over our addiction, but over ourselves as sinners. We can’t do anything without the healing power of Jesus Christ.

I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t… Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 7:15; 18; 24-25 NLT

You may want to pray something like this…
 Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am and how unmanageable my life has become. Today, I ask for help to deal with my addiction / co-dependency.  

Breaking News!

Those of you who have been following this blog ministry have shared in my recovery journey, maybe learned some lessons with me and hopefully seen my writing skills improve.

In the past my format hasn’t been formal, but over the last year I’ve learned to post more consistently. By posting weekly, my readership has increased tremendously, which is quite encouraging to me. Among various topical blogs, I’ve posted monthly columns on working the 12-Steps, with Book Reviews thrown in the mix here and there.

This year God has given me a clear format and some fresh ideas that I’m very excited about. Along with the 12-Steps and Book Reviews, I’m adding a monthly column dedicated to Christian Virtues as they relate to the topics of hurting women. Also new this year, will be a weekly column dedicated to the specific hurts women struggle with.

Reaching Hurting Women will continue to post on Wednesday morning with a dedicated topic for each week. The month will look like this: Working the Steps, Book Reviews, Christian Virtues and Healing Hurts.

I hope you are as excited as I am! God is so faithful to guide me in this budding ministry as I strive to reach the hurting women in our world with the freedom found only in Jesus Christ. I look forward to the new year ahead and more lessons learned together.

Thank you for supporting me in this cause. God Bless You! <3

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