What Motivates You to Give Thanks?

Scripture: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18  

Thought: Thanksgiving is “a prayer expressing gratitude.” One of the beautiful things about the Thanksgiving holiday is that it motivates us to give a specific time to reflect on the wonderful blessings we all enjoy. While we may not have as many things as other people have, we can all be thankful for friends and family who love us and the life God has given us. As I look back and gratefully recount His faithfulness in my life, my confidence in Him grows. God provided what I needed, guided me through confusing situations, and delivered me from difficulty, hopelessness and temptation. As in Job, I didn’t always understand the tribulation, but I trusted His promise, He wouldn’t abandon me and He knew what He was doing. In all things, it is good to give thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show your gratitude to your loved ones as well as thank God for the divine blessings He has showered upon you.

Action: No matter our situation we can be thankful for what God has done with us this past year and for what He promises to do for us this coming year. Glorify Him in everything. What is your thanksgiving blessing? Restoration, family, health, job, relationships, unconditional love, freedom, forgiveness, second chance, recovery? Celebrate this festive occasion by giving thanks to everyone who’s been there for you, and express your gratitude to Our Almighty God with Thanksgiving prayers.

Prayer: Lord, in everything I give you thanks. I lift my hands in praise for all that you have done for me. Thank you for the splendor of your whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of your love. Thank you for the blessing of my family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds me every day. I also thank you for those disappointments and failures that led me to acknowledge my dependence upon Your mercies alone. Thank you for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to serve and make this country strong, they are models and an inspiration of your sacrificial love. Give me strength to live another day serving you and not to turn coward when difficulties transpire. Help me not to lose faith in other people but strengthen me and keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude and meanness. Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away my joy and gladness with You. Open wide the eyes of my heart that I may see good in all things and all people. Bless me with new vision of Your truth and give me the cup of strength to those that are hurting. May I see where you are calling me to share random acts of kindness, Your love to give away. Above all Father, thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, for the truth of his Word and the example of his life, for his steadfast obedience, which he overcame temptation, for his suffering and dying on the cross, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Thank you for the free gift of your Spirit, for my salvation. In the name of Our Strong Deliverer, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray with thanksgiving. Amen.

When Anger Separates Family Members

Here’s How to Reconnect

Do you have a family member you no longer see or talk to? It could be a brother, sister, grown child, cousin, parent, in-law, aunt or uncle. Maybe it was something he/she said or something you did, but no matter the cause, there is a sense of loss.  Read more

Maturity, Go the Extra Mile?

Scripture: Read Ephesians 5: 25-30 …a sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love.

 Thought: Who’s the More Mature One in Your Marriage? Going the extra mile isn’t always easy. It might look reasonable and mature. But our flesh doesn’t always enjoy doing reasonable mature things. To get better in this area, it’s important to recognize:

  1. I am not the only one going the extra mile. Sometimes couples can take on a “victim attitude”. They recognize their individual sacrifices but completely fail to see where the other person continually steps up. For example in our marriage, I am the planner. It’s easy to get lost in my little details and all the things “I make happen”…and fail to see everything my husband does (especially because he carries his burdens and sacrifices with much more maturity and self-respect). I have realized it comes down to caring differently, not caring less.
  1. What is important to me? Strong couples dream Still the person with more clarity and passion in one area will sometimes need to step out of the boat first. I used to think that just because we share a common dream meant we have to devote the same amount of time and passion to get the dream accomplished. But that’s not always the case. Right now my husband has more free time than I do. I am able to devote more time to the things we need. In the past, I’d make a lot of noise (mostly mental) about his seeming absence and “day dreaming.” But as I’ve learned to listen to his heart, I’ve come to appreciate the proficiency of teamwork, leaning shoulder 2 shoulder and collaborating. Being a good team player means establishing what we care about and then moving on it… even if I am the first one.
  1. We are gifted differently. Sometimes it’s not that one spouse doesn’t want to do something or that they wouldn’t want to be a certain way. It’s just they are wired differently.What the other spouse likes will never be a natural fit for them. Our temperaments are different. God has a plan for your life that involves using your marriage partner to bring your life into balance and pull you towards the center to make you more like Jesus.  We must learn to be grateful for our spouses, just as they are and be willing to extend the same grace we ourselves received.

Action: Marriage is like a mirror, a reflection of the person we truly are. Not the person we wish we could be. Going the extra mile is all about the character of the person walking that mile. Someone said that “prayer changes things.” I know it changes me, because it’s not about me, it’s about the best interest of my spouse. Take the first step and do a duty for your spouse wash or fuel the car, excuse her from grocery shopping, allow him/her to sleep in, start the dream project and don’t mention it. Instead of playing a victim or raising a conflict, talk to Our Father.

Prayer: Dear God, help me to enjoy life with my spouse and submit to each other with sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love. Grant me courage each day to invest in my marriage, accept the things I cannot change, and wisdom to hear my spouse’s heart. Change me God, help me put you and others first before I put my desires ahead of anything or anyone. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Marriage Counselors

Three Dangers in Marriage Counseling

#2   The Counselor is not Confident 

Why is this important?  Because you need someone who is not only competent but also someone who is confident.

1.  Confident in Themselves

Obviously, you don’t want to seek a counselor that is filled with conceit, but confident enough to speak directly to each of the participants and call people out when necessary.  Some counselors agree with everything to pacify or not upset the couple.  You sit there for fifty-five minutes and  basically the counselor listens and ask questions,  but they don’t give advice. Really? Clients are paying counselors to help them identify and resolve conflict.

I’ve heard couples repeatedly tell me, they tried counseling but their counselor would make impractical statements, “Well, I see your point” or “Hmmmm, that’s a good idea.”  I have several couples whom have tremendous issues with  borderline personality disorder. Understanding this illness takes certified medical professionals and a trained, certified counselor who is confident and specializes in identifying the root cause that has manifested into the personality disorder.

For example, in my practice, I see men that may be extremely manipulative, and the women may react with an explosive behavior.  In other cases,  a husband could be passive and let his wife do whatever she wants, even if he doesn’t approve, he agrees to keep the peace in the family. I have a few women that are extremely frustrated with their husbands apathetic approach and lack of leadership, because of their narcissistic behavior and the need for everything to be all about them. Once, I had a client that played and wrestled with his wife when they were first married, to his surprise, she would turn into “Mr. Hyde” and became someone he didn’t recognize. After much mental abuse, years later they learned of her mental illness and the dual personalities that surfaced when she felt threatened. It took medical doctors, prescriptions and professional counseling to help the two of them identify the origin of her pain and help them heal from the past wounds. Without confidence in my specialty of counseling, I could have caused more harm and empty the bank book.

The outcome of counseling is having a professional that will name the action for what it is and spell it out. Someone who will provide advice and tell you when your behavior is right or wrong.  You are entrusting them to provide a safe place for the two of you to talk and be expose your vulnerability.  Your looking for a professional that is confident and willing to step in when one is hurting. It’s like a football game. How long would it last if the five “officials” simply nodded their heads and said, “Well that was a good play.” Couples need to be flagged from time to time and a counselor who is confident will do this.

2.  Confident in God’s Spirit

Find a counselor that is confident in God’s Spirit.  Jesus gave us another Comforter just like Himself.  This Spirit is described as a Wonderful Counselor.  In my practice, I pray with my couples as we begin so that God may send His Spirit to lead us into Truth and again as we close so His Spirit will give them Freedom.

Confidence in the Spirit means to place my trust in Him and rely on Him. As a confident counselor, I will show you keys to God’s principles and give you tools and scripture to keep you accountable as you walk daily with Him every day.  I ask for you to journal daily because every single person indwelt by God’s Spirit, will begin to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to them. This helps us both see where you’re at in your walk, what progress or back steps are taking place.  I can see what you need and when you need it. Every week, I experience the amazing miracle of Father’s Heart being poured out in someone’s life in a way that causes me to be in awe of Father’s Grace. I had one experience with a women who was struggling with several trials all at once. I had been praying for her during the week. At our next session, I asked her to open in prayer, and she cried her heart out with the exact prayers God had laid on my heart that week. What makes prayer and God’s Spirit in our lives so special is when we begin to hear on their own from the Shepherd Who loves us deeply.

3.  Confident in Your Future

When I meet couples, I see them through the eyes of Father’s Heart.  I see them as they can and will be.  It was Michael Angelo who quoted when asked, “How did you create David?” He simply replied, “I waited till I saw David in the rock and then cut away everything that wasn’t David.”

What a superb answer!  I know with great confidence where a couple can go.  I have walked many trails with many hurting couples.  I have seen the hazards and the shadows, the valley’s, the mountains and the still waters.  I KNOW where Jesus will lead us if the couple will allow God’s Spirit to take control and entrust their pain in my confidence. I have sat opposite ends with marriage couples who proclaim, “We can’t make it one more week, you’re our last shot.”

So confidently, we trust the Lord, run the race with endurance and go to work cutting away everything that doesn’t look like David. Working on the differences that separate your marriage and keep you from living in unity like God designed you to be.  Communication, conflict, temperaments, languages all become tools to chisel away. Horizontal living is not of Christ, but plugging into Christ we get charged and learn to live a future life Vertically with Him.

I am confidence in Him and in those that are willing to walk through the rough days ahead. In my practice, couples will look to me with my hand on the tiller of their boat and hear my voice, “We can do this,” “We will make it,” “We will work it out,” “Be patient, God’s not finished.”

Get a good coach.  Someone who is Competent, and Confident.

Winners use Coaches

Dr.J

 

Good & Bad Marriage Counselors #1

Three Dangers of Marriage Counseling

#1 The Counselor is not trained 

IT wasn’t long ago that a very credentialed professor from the University of Minnesota wrote an article on “Why Therapy can be Hazardous to your Marital Health”. Being a marriage therapist and mentor his title jerked my attention. He was sounding an alarm to couples about bad counselors. He states, “You’d be interested to know that, according to a national survey, 80 percent of all private practice therapists in the United States say they do marital therapy and only 12 percent of them are in a profession that requires only one course or any supervised experience. Only marriage and family therapy as a profession requires any coursework or supervised clinical experience in marital or couples therapy. So most people who say they’re doing this work picked it up on the side or not at all.”

I frequently experience this in my own practice. I’ll hear opening comments as, “Well, we’ve been to see four counselors and you’re number five.” It’s  a ‘buyer beware’ market, as is the choice of any coach. You can’t use a successful NFL coach to teach intricacies for a successful girls Olympic gymnastics. In the same way, we need to be watchful as to who we choose as a counselor.

I teach people to interview their counselor.

  • What training have you had? Get an idea of what they have done to learn, train, and improve themselves.
  • What strategy will you use? See if they even have a strategy, a plan, a format they follow because it tells you they are prepared.
  • What courses have you taught? Many of us teach seminars and it is a good way to check areas of competency.
  • What Biblical principles will you hold to?
  • What is your view on accountability?
  • What is your success rate with couples? Ask others about their experience with a certain counselor. Get recommendations
  • What do you do on a daily basis to walk with God?

Actually the first questions are great and they tell me much, but if you are a Christian and you believe in Biblical Guidance, then that last question is the deal breaker. If they don’t have a walk with God then what and how will they teach you?

I see so much of this in counselors. They think if they understand one concept they are experts in multiple areas. I have a lot of training and experience in Dysfunctional Family Origin, Attachment, Early Teen Development and Marriage Counseling, but when it comes to Drug and Alcohol or Addiction therapy, I’m in the back seat. I listen attentively to what they say and marvel at their expertise, but I wouldn’t coach in their specialty field.

For myself, I live, eat, and sleep in the areas God has called me to. If you are going to undergo heart surgery would you want someone who can’t stop thinking about your surgery or someone who can’t wait to get on the golf course?

I remember seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana Jones, famed adventurer and archaeologist acquires a diary that holds clues and a map to find the mysterious Holy Grail. Upon retrieving his father in Nazi territory, the rescue mission turns into a race to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis. It boils down to a final moment. They have passed the tests and found the cave where a 900 year old knight guards the water of eternal life. Before them is a table of cups, the guardians asks, “Which cup will you choose?” The Nazi runs forward to grab the most beautiful gold challis. Drinking the fountain water, he steps back in a grin…. Then changes from a smile, screams, his face melts, and he explodes. It’s pretty graphic. In the quiet that follows the shock of this man being reduced to a pile of dust, the guardian knight says matter of factly (which makes it ever more hilarious) “He chose poorly.”

Well duh… what do you think?

But bottom line life can be full of poor decisions, so do your homework and choose wisely; the choice is yours. Winners use Winning Coaches.