Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

In this life there are always going to be problems. After all, as I have been reminded of time and time again, we live in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people hurt each other – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. The bottom line is, everyone gets hurt at some point. And I’d venture to guess if someone insists they have never been hurt, they were probably either the ones inflicting the pain, or they are lying to themselves. I suppose there could be the rare case that it’s actually true, but if it is, then it truly is a rare case indeed. It would be nice to be able to say that the cause of all my problems rests squarely on the shoulders of others, but unfortunately for me, often I am the cause of my own problems.

So, if I am the problem, what can I do to fix it? And shouldn’t that make things easier to fix? I mean, the only person I can really do anything about is myself, right? Alas, it’s not that simple. It’s actually easier to see the problems in someone else’s life because I’m not part of that life, and it has no bearing on me. I’m a neutral party. But the reality is, it’s not my job to see everyone else’s problems. It’s my job to work on me. So, how what does that mean for me?

First things first. Before I can begin to fix a problem in me, I have to actually know that there is a problem. My experience has been that I don’t really see my own problems. I’m too close to the issue. That’s where friends come in and help. I am blessed to have at least 2-3 good friends who are willing to point out to me when I have a flaw in my thinking or if I am overstepping my bounds. I trust these friends with pretty much every aspect of my life – which is saying something because I don’t really trust people easily. But because I trust these friends, I know that if they are taking the time to tell me I have an issue, I listen. I don’t like it. But I listen. I might get angry at first. But I listen. I listen because I don’t want to be one of those people who refuses to see the issues in my life and stay in the same unhealthy patterns. But what do I do once I have seen or someone has pointed out to me that there is a problem?

I think there are three things I need to do in this situation. After all, God gave me a brain, and He gives me the tools necessary to learn and grow.

1) I need to review what has been pointed out to me or what I suspect, to determine the truth in the situation. Sometimes a perceived problem, isn’t truly a problem. But often it is. So, first, I need to examine the facts. Who is telling me I have an issue? Is it someone I trust or someone I just happen to know? Is it someone who tends to find problems in everyone or someone who usually thinks well of people? Am I just feeling insecure, or do I have facts that back up my suspicions? This could mean that I need to ask for honest feedback. It definitely means I need to get into God’s Word to see what He says. The main point here is that I need to be willing to take an honest look at what has either been pointed out to me, or I have a suspicion about.

2) Once I have determined that there is actually an issue, I need to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Admitting the problem means that I recognize the issue, and now I want to do something about it. I don’t want to be one of those people who says “Oh yes, I have a problem, but that’s just who I am.” That’s not a healthy outlook. If I have a true issue, then it is something that can be remedied and worked on. Yes, I have a personality, and that personality makes me who I am, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if I allow myself to be ruled by my personality, then I am not looking out for the best interests of others. And as a child of God, I am called to care about other people. Philippians 2:1-4 says:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

I don’t have the luxury of thinking only of myself. I have a responsibility to look out for the interests of others. So, if I have an issue, I need to admit to the issue. It doesn’t mean an overnight change necessarily, but it does mean I need to admit there is a problem.

3) Finally, I need to address the issue. I need to take steps to improve in that area. Sometimes that’s difficult to do because perhaps the action or thought has been so deeply ingrained that it takes a long time to make the change. Making the change quickly isn’t required. Committing to making the change and then acting on that commitment is. Some things I can do to help me with that is to ask someone to help hold me accountable. Knowing someone is going to be asking me about my progress means I am more likely to take action. Another thing I can do is get into God’s Word and see what He says about that issue, and also memorize Scriptures that can help me stick to my commitment. I can also keep a journal to track my progress.

I do need to remember, though, that making progress isn’t necessarily overnight. I am going to have times when I fail. At those times, I need to remember that this is a process, and instead of giving up, I need to get up and keep moving forward. My experience has been, when I have actually done this, I have walked away feeling better about myself and have been better able to help others in the process. And really, isn’t that what I’m here for – to help others?

What about you? Do you have other ideas for how to make changes in your life? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Church should be a place where you can feel safe from harm. It should be a place where people don’t cast stones and where love, healing, and growth takes place. The problem with that is that those who gather for church are human. And when you get more than one human together in one place, the chances are, someone is going to get hurt. So, how in the world are we to handle it when it comes? If it’s inevitable, how do we protect ourselves?

I will admit, it’s difficult, and it’s something I struggle with because I have been hurt more than once by a church or someone who was a part of the church. It is so difficult when those who should be leading you, instead of resolving issues, turn to cutting you down and tearing your dreams to shreds. I very recently went through a very hurtful situation, where I felt attacked. I wish I could say that I handled it in the best possible way, but I must admit, I probably could have done better. I wanted so badly to see issues resolved, that when it became obvious that wasn’t the intent of the other person/people involved, I lost all interest in trying to show respect. That isn’t to say that I did lose respect, but I probably didn’t speak as kindly or listen as carefully as I would have normally. I spent the rest of that day fuming and hurting and crying over the way things went down. I was so hurt. And I was so mad at God. How could He allow this to happen? How could He allow me to go through all these crazy drama things I have going on lately? How could He not do something?

But then a new day came. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over being mad at God. I haven’t. But I’m closer. I am finding comfort in His Word, and through the counsel of my friends, readings, devotionals, and yes, even Facebook statuses that have come my way. And interestingly enough, I’ve begun to look at this differently. See, I want to be a leader. I don’t necessarily want the title of leader – I want to have the actions of a leader. A leader leads whether they have a title or not. That means, even when I am hurting, even when others respond badly, even when I feel like throwing in the towel, I set an example of what love looks like. I set the example of treating others with kindness instead of casting stones. And that’s hard. So, how do I do that?

1) I need to forgive. Forgiveness starts with me. It doesn’t start with receiving an apology. It doesn’t start with someone else realizing they were wrong. It doesn’t start because I feel like forgiving. It starts because I choose to forgive.  One of the statuses I read on Facebook last night said,

“Recently, I received a text message that caused me to stare at my phone in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how hurtful they were being? How could they be so insensitive?

Hurtful situations tend to make me want to fight back and be mean too. Maybe you feel the same way.

But Colossians 3: 12-14 reminds me, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

My job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. Do you know how much of a relief that is? Again, my job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. My job isn’t even to make my side heard. My job is to forgive. I am commanded to forgive. And forgiveness is a choice – sometimes one that has to be made over and over again.

2) I need to stand strong and persevere. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).  Maybe this is a test or trial I need to go through so that I can grow. If I look at it as a punishment or a bad thing, then I do myself a disservice. However, if I look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn, then I find a purpose for the trial. I now have a reason to move forward because now I have an opportunity to learn. Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (NASB).

It’s not going to be fun to go through the painful situation, but in the end, if I allow myself to be trainable, I will grow from it, and yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” That’s something to look forward to!

3) Finally, I need to keep serving God. If I allow myself to be hurt to the point where I feel I can’t serve, then I am being disobedient to God. We are called to serve, right where we are at. OK, so my ability to serve in the capacity I was in has been taken away at least for the time being. That doesn’t change the fact that I have other ways to serve. I have talents and gifts that God has given me. I will continue to use them to serve Him. Nobody can take that ability away from me, except God Himself.

So, while I am still hurting, and I am still upset, I know God has a good plan for me. He will use me in other capacities if I allow myself to be open to it. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!

Your turn. Have you ever been in a hurtful situation where you felt like someone was casting stones at you? How did you handle it? What do you do to remind yourself that you still have a purpose? How do you handle hurtful situations? I’d love to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: celebdu via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: celebdu via Compfight cc

Sometimes God hands me the unexpected. I don’t generally like the unexpected because it’s, well, unexpected. Those who know me, know I like to plan things and when I plan, I try to control pretty much any aspect I can control. So, when the unexpected happens, there goes my plan, and there goes my equilibrium. I’ve been known to fall apart at the unexpected. But I’m getting better at learning to embrace the unexpected.

Just before my trip to New York a couple of weeks ago, I was approached by my daughter. She asked me if I could help her get in touch with her biological father. To say this was unexpected would be lying. To say it was unexpected at that moment in time, is not lying. I knew she was going to come sooner or later, but I had kind of hoped it would be later. But, it wasn’t, and she asked. As difficult as it was for me to say, and as much as I hated that it came at an unexpected time, I told her that I would help her, but that she needed to give me until I came back to do so, in order for me to have time to think about it, pray about it and basically prepare myself for the task. Without going into any detail because 16 years is too long to hold a grudge, suffice it to say, the situation with the father of my children was not a good one. There was a lot of grief and hurt and pain for me in that relationship, and to set that aside for the sake of my daughter was not an easy task.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, when I finally got up the courage to reach out. It was not easy for me. It was extremely difficult. I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to reopen old wounds. I was terrified of what the response would be. I was worried that my daughter would be hurt in the process. So, imagine my surprise when the unexpected happened yet again. The first message was hard, but the kind response I received in return has made it that much easier. There was no judgment or unkind words. There was no accusation or denial. There was, however, acceptance and joy that after all these years, my daughter wanted to know her father. I don’t really know exactly what I expected, but I do know it wasn’t that.

I would love to say that it’s all “peaches and cream,” and that things are going to go well. It’s a little too early to know that at the moment. But, what I can say is that I am encouraged by the response I received. I am hopeful that things will continue to go well. But, one thing I’m starting to learn about the unexpected – bad or good – there is always a learning opportunity. There is always a chance to take the lessons and apply them. There is always room to grow – and without the unexpected, those opportunities might not exist.

Your turn. Have you been handed the unexpected? Do you embrace it or try to avoid it? What do you do when the unexpected comes your way?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Question MarkSo, here I am in Bath, NY, sitting in my hotel room after a morning of worship at my friend’s church. I expected to like it. I mean, what’s not to like about church? Personally, I generally love church. It’s probably the reason I spend so much time at mine. But what I didn’t expect was to hear the Lord speak to me through the words of another woman sharing her story. I expected to hear God’s Word today, and I got that. I expected to get something from the sermon, and I did get a little from that. The real wisdom, however, came from the words of this woman’s story.

I knew walking into the room, that I was going to hear a testimony today. I thought I was prepared to hear it – and to some extent I was. I didn’t expect to be in tears throughout it. I didn’t expect to learn anything profound from it. I didn’t expect to relate. I mean, my life is so totally different from the lives of these women – and yet, it is so surprisingly similar. This woman, this beautiful, kind, friendly woman, shared about the love of our Lord and what He has done in her life. She shared her good, but she shared her sorrow over the death of her beautiful baby boy as well. And she said, “If I were given the choice to have him back, but my husband and I to not be where we are at with God today, I’d say no.” She shared that God had used the sorrow to bring them closer together and make them stronger in the Lord and with each other. And so, as difficult as that was (and I’m sure still is), she calls it all good because of of how God has used it to help her grow.

I’ve never really looked at how the bad in my life has been used for good. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have, but I’ve never been able to reconcile myself to the fact that I had to go through it to get to where I am at today with God. But, looking back, I have to say, God has used every “bad” event in my life to bring me closer to Him. There are things that I have railed at God for and begged Him to take away. Things I have said, “Why me? Why do I have to go through this?” Or “Why now, God? Why does this have to happen now?” And I don’t think it’s wrong to ask why. But that brings me to the part of her story that made me think. It wasn’t so much that I hadn’t heard it before because I have. It was more that it hit me differently today. She said, “We won’t always know why something happens the way it does or why we have to go through something. But God uses those things”(or something to that effect – since I didn’t write it all down, you’ll have to accept my inadequate paraphrase).

The fact of the matter is, I don’t need to know why God allows things to happen. I just need to know that He can use them for good. And by now, you’d think I’d have learned that because I have had so many opportunities to do so. But sometimes I still feel like maybe this will be the time it doesn’t work out for good.

I’m glad that I went to my friend’s church today. I’m glad I got to hear this woman’s story. It affected me far more than she will probably ever know. I hope that I don’t forget the lessons I learned from her.

What about you? Are there things you’re asking God, “Why me?” or Why now?” What do you do remind yourself that these things can be used to grow you and teach you?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

From the first time I read the description about the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst, I wanted to read it.  As a woman who has many _240_360_Book.955.cover“unglued” moments, I was interested to learn more about how I could avoid reacting to my feelings or when others got under my skin and learn more about how I could respond when my feelings started to rear their ugly head or when I felt like someone was walking on my feelings.  I was not disappointed.  I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read this book because it opened my eyes to areas where I need to improve, but more than that, it gave me practical ways I could actually make progress.

From the words I read in chapter 1, “Feeling unglued is really all I’ve ever known.  And I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s all I ever be.” (pg 14), I was hooked.  I know that feeling.  I could relate to that feeling.  What followed was a call to “imperfect progress”, to give myself hope that I could make progress, and that imperfect progress is still progress.  Throughout the book, Lysa shares her own experiences and how the principles she gives in this book have helped her to make imperfect progress.  

What I love about this book is how transparent Lysa is with us.  She doesn’t try to make herself seem like this perfect woman who has it all together.  She’s real and authentic, and she candidly writes about how badly she sometimes has responded when someone “bumped up against her happy.”  Because of this, I was more open to reading what principles she put in place to help her to respond better to those who got under her skin or in situations where her feelings were starting to control her actions.  She reminds us that even though we cannot control everything that happens in our days, we can control how we think about them and how we act in response to them.  This is so important.  

She not only gives principles for how to more appropriately respond to those who get under our skin or when our emotions get in the way, but she warns against labeling ourselves.  How often I have put a label on myself (or let others put a label on me), rather than choosing something different?  

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any woman who feels like her emotions are in control of her actions.  I feel like I walked away with sensible, practical ways that I could start to respond in a way that would help me to promote peace, while at the same time not invalidating my own thoughts and feelings.  I found that her examples were easy to relate to and that they added validity to her premises.  This is an excellent read and a good resource for learning to make “imperfect progress.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the®book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18 (NASB)

There are days when I wish I could get a “do-over”.  I’m sure you probably know what I mean – the kind of day when you start out wrong, and it all goes downhill from there.  Often when I have those kinds of days, it often as a result of my feeling of pride – though the results are never something I am proud of.  I get into this mind-set that I have done so well, I can keep doing it on my own power.  The reality is, when I do well, it’s never by my own strength.  I don’t do well because I “resolve” to do well – my resolve always waivers.  I do well when I let God work through me.

This morning was one of those mornings when I wish I could have a do-over.  I don’t know if it was a result of being over-tired, being frustrated, or a combination of both.  Regardless, I handled things badly this morning.  I’d just been telling a couple of people earlier this week how well it had been going with me and my kids – how we hadn’t really had any shouting matches, how we were handling things much better, etc.  Then this morning comes – and I fall apart.  I lost it over nothing really.  I yelled at one daughter for running behind and not being responsible, and basically acted like a spoiled brat who wasn’t getting her way.  I yelled at both of my daughters for yelling at each other.  (I know, great example I am setting, right?)  I yelled at both for being rude and irresponsible.   And I did all this in the course of about 15 minutes.

And afterward, I felt small.  I felt like a failure.  I feel like a failure.  I want so badly to get it right, but I just keep messing it up.  And in the end, what ran through my mind, what whispered in my ear was, “Pride goes before destruction.”  Yep, that’s about right.  My pride definitely brought destruction.  It brought destruction of the peace in our home.  It brought angry words and destroyed my ability to communicate effectively with my kids.  It destroyed my well-being – bringing me to a place of tears, pain and regret.

Proverbs 18:6 & 7 says, “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows.  A fool’s mouth is his ruin, And his lips are the snare of his soul.” (NASB)

Those were hard words to read this morning.  I didn’t want to admit that I had been foolish, but I had.  My words were my ruin this morning.  And sometimes I wonder if they will always be my ruin, if I’ll ever learn.  I feel like, I take 3 steps forward to take 2 steps back.  But I read something this morning that gives me hope.  Lisa Terkeurst writes in her book, Unglued, the following:

“Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace….imperfect progress.”

She goes on to share an entry from her journal that talks about how it’s OK to have setbacks and need do-overs.  What struck me was that she used the exact word I had been wishing for, “do-over.”  It’s like God spoke to me in that moment and said, “Karen, I know that you’re hurting, and your heart is in pain.  I know that you wish you had done differently.  I know that you feel like a failure.  But Karen, it’s OK to make mistakes.  You’re human.  What’s important is that you learn from those mistakes.  Keep moving forward.  Don’t give up.”

And in that moment, I had hope.  I had hope that just because I keep messing up, doesn’t mean I am not making progress.  Just because I’m not getting there in the time frame I wish I could, doesn’t mean I will stay in this same spot.  I need to keep getting back up and keep trying.  It doesn’t make it OK that this scene happened this morning.  I still need to deal with whatever comes from that and make things right with my kids.  But I don’t need to dwell there with that mistake.

Do you have times when you wish you could have a do-over?  Do you sometimes get frustrated and feel like everything is falling apart?  Do you struggle with this too?  I would love to hear what you do in these moments and how you have made progress.  Share in the comments below.

~Until Next Time!

Karen Signature

Why is it when presented with an opportunity to share, my tendency is to clam up?  Let me back up a bit to explain.  I attend a group on Monday nights where the whole point is to share, grow, and find healing.  Others share, and I can relate to what they share.  I know in my head I won’t be judged when I share, but my heart doesn’t seem to get that, so instead of sharing, I clam up.

Case in point: Last night I was prepared to share.  I had been gearing up for that all week long.  I had told myself, “You’re going to do this.  You’re going to share.  You’re not going to worry about what anyone else thinks.  This is just as much about you as it is them.” And then, the moment of truth arrives…and I don’t say a word.  I sit there, listening as others share.  I listen as others bare their hearts.  And I sit silent.

Why is it so hard for me to share what has happened in my life?  We all have hurts and things that have happened in our lives that we are not proud of.  Why is it that I feel like I can’t share?  I can talk to people when it’s just me and one or two others, but you add any more than that, and I can’t say a word.

Last night, I figure out a small portion of that.  It’s one thing to open up to one or two – and it is something entirely different to open up to a bunch of people in a room.  It’s hard to trust that they won’t judge – no matter how many times it is said.  It’s hard to trust – period.  And it takes some level of trust to share.

But I don’t trust.  I’m not a “truster”.  I’m a doer and a listener and an adviser and whatever else…but I’m not a truster.  Every time I have trusted, I’ve been hurt.  I’m not just saying that – it’s completely true.  Every time I have trusted I have been let down.  Every time – except one.

When I’ve trusted God, I’ve not come away hurt.  I say when because I haven’t always trusted God.  I don’t always trust God.  It’s almost as hard for me to trust Him as it is to trust others.  I often base my trust in God on the experiences I have had with others.  As Christians we are supposed to mirror God to others, but we all fail so very often.   I fail so very often. If I’m the picture of God for others, then how can I trust?

I’m finding that each day, I have to get up and choose to trust God.  He hasn’t let me down yet.  People let me down, but God never has.  He’s never messed up.  I have messed up.  He’s never left me.  I have done the running.  He’s never turned  His back on me.  I have turned my back on Him.  And every time I have come crawling back to Him, He has taken me into His arms, held me close, and told me that He loves me.

Isn’t it so great to know that no matter how many others we can’t trust, we can always trust God?  So, even though I haven’t been able to share much yet, I know that someday I will be able to share.  Through it all, I will rest in the arms of God, and I will share with Him my hurts, my joys, my pains and my healing.

Until Next Time,