When Faith and Mental Health Collide

How are you taking care of your mental health? God wants us to take care of our mind, just as much as He wants us to takes care of our body. After all the brain is the control center of the body. This means we must purposely set healthy things in place to ensure our minds are functioning well, so the body follows.

Here are a few steps, when implemented daily, can improve the health of your mind and body.

Our thought life is where our emotions originate. In other words, your thoughts drive your emotions. Then your emotions drive your actions, both positive and negative. Taking thoughts captive, means you are purposely being a willing participant in God’s design for prayer; here’s where we have the freedom to lift up worry to Him, which is collectively a refreshing step in choosing to let the worry go. Through our conversation with the Lord, we are replacing negativity with positive thoughts of hope, found through Jesus. As you trust the Lord has your best interest in mind, and can handle every challenge, you are released to move forward in peace knowing provision is in His hands. The hardest part of this step is waiting on His provision. God answers our prayers with a “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.” Though the answer is not in our control, our thoughts, emotions, and actions are.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5

Forgiveness is an intricate part of a healthy mindset. Forgiveness is God’s mercy on us, in us, and is activated through us. The moment we accept Jesus, we receive unconditional forgiveness through Him. We are released from the punishment of our sin. We must choose to forgive ourselves and not let guilt further condem us. Subsequently, forgiving those who have wounded us is an important choice in healing. To release others from our punishment and entrust the offense to God is an important step in developing a healthy mindset.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

Gratitude blocks emotional toxins such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression, which can destroy our internal wellbeing. It’s impossible to feel chaos and peace at the same time. When we lack the implementation of gratitude, we are actually robbing ourselves of joy. Even if you do not like your current circumstance, you can find a glimpse of hope through recognizing one thing you intentionally are thankful for during a difficult season. When may face the worst day of our life, that day is still laced with the promise that God does not abandon us, as we are His valued and cherished creation.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Lastly, acknowledge that Jesus is the restorer of our souls. When the health of our mindset is in jeopardy, fear, insecurities, and doubt can overshadow stability. If ever there was a “let go and let God” moment, this is it. The character of Jesus beckons us to see what is fully assured through goodness, which is marked by love, healing, and affirmation of care. We can choose to submit our strained souls (thoughts & emotions) to The One who invites us to Him:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (become linked) upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls – Matthew‬ ‭11:28, 29‬ ‭

As you feel the release of emotional stress, your body actually responds in a positive manner. Heart rates normalize, blood pressure stabilizes and the immune system becomes stronger. The connection between body and mind is an amazing and divine connection. God tells us that out of the heart springs forth life. When Faith and Mental Health Collide, great things began to happen.

Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

God Revealed In Waves

Driving home one afternoon, I looked up at these amazing clouds and captured this pic. The sky resembled waves flowing through the sky. It reminded me that God often moves in waves and that He calms the waves around us and within us.

Some waves are exhilarating and full of adventure. Some are terrifying and full of pain. There is no way to avoid every wave in life such as trials; life can trails actually cause us to look to Jesus for strength. We can choose to trust that God will see us through them, and we can emerge from them with a new perspective as we learn to trust Him.

So the next time you look up at the sky, or into the waves of the ocean, don’t fear waves of change, surges of waves, or storms coming near, rather, look for the reminder that Jesus works through the waves.

“You rule the raging sea;
when its waves surge, You still them.” Psalms 89:9

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

In one of my favorite songs, the refrain of “Oceans” highlights this point:

“And I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves, When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace, For I am yours and You are mine.”

I’ve Had Enough

Lord, I’ve had enough!

 I’ve had enough of the enemies tactics, and schemes. 

I’ve had enough of illness showing up at the door step of households and businesses. 

I’ve had enough of the lies introduced, promoted, accepted and multiplied in the name of politics and the good of humanity. 

I’ve had enough of families allowing disunity to run their family train off the tracks and directly into harm’s way.

I’ve had enough of knowing that humans are being traded as a commodity, bought and sold for the pleasure of those ensnared by evil ways.  

I’ve had enough of young lives ending before you called them home, as the spirit of death, crept in and your voice seemed to be drowned out in their distress. 

I’ve had enough of weak minded Christ-Followers who let the negative committee, inside their mind, take complete control of their character, and allow the voice of defeat to squash their hope and faith.  

I’ve had enough of feeling discouraged and distraught.

I’ve had enough with despair, as I am surrounded by lives in distress. 

I’ve had enough of evil being called good, and good being called evil. 

I’VE HAD ENOUGH!!!

Oh Lord as I cry out to you, I feel your presence in my prayers. 

I know you hear my hearts unique prayer language. 

You feel the deepest sorrows, and aches within me, as my soul groans and longs for your return. Until then, I’ve had enough. 

I know you’ve been there for me throughout my lifetime. Your word encourages us and tells us that you will never leave or forsake us, therefore, help me to have endurance, peace, and strong faith, trusting that you’ll give us enough. 

As my spirit reaches out for you, I feel your gentle internal reminder, that all along I’ve had enough. 

Because I have you, I’ve had enough grace. 

Through you, I’ve had enough, as you are the provider of peace. 

I’ve had enough perseverance, because of you.

I’ve had enough instruction that I know you are both judge and redeemer.

Lord Through You, and only You, is found the remedy, the cure, and the protection we ALL need, you are THE enough. 

Your word reveals to me that you are MY rock, in which I claim as my strong tower, where I go when I’ve had enough.

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
 From the end of the earth, I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

 For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your  house forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.  Psalm 61 1-4

Remind me often Lord of your boundless power, as I am never without it, through you, I’ve had enough!

Peace be with us,

~Christina~

Behind My Mask

Behind my mask.

Many of you may know me as a person who smiles, encourages others and moves through life with a good outlook (most days). I’m posting pics of the newest mask; enduring yet another surgery (yesterday), in which I now have 2 bionic knees, so look out enemy, no stopping the plans God has for me!

However, in the past 2 years I’ve also endured 4 other surgeries, and 1 four day hospitalization.

But what’s underneath those masked up days, are situations which are not always easy to endure. Yet, I keep my Jesus, my family and my tight knit circle of friends involved in praying with me, as I share with them when I struggle. We must all have a support system, which is vital to our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.

I’m not a “sit around type of woman” (that actually creates in me loneliness, depression and sometimes anxiety). But, I don’t allow myself to stay there, because I’ve learned those are fleeting moments, not a life style choice.

I love helping my husband around our property, meeting up with my daughter and our new bonus son (my amazing son-n-law). I enjoy public speaking as a Christian speaker, tackling tough university work, completing new writing projects, launched my new podcast in 2020, serve on the alter team at my church, work as a pastoral & biblical counselor. I am the director at OpenDoor Counseling and Life Coaching Ministry, which is part of Opendoor.Church.

I also find immense joy in sharing my God given gifts and skills through illustrating children’s books, training and supporting my life coaching team, serving my community and recently sharing the love and hope found in Jesus around the world; through world wide distribution book sales.

Why do I not stop?

Because, God has given me favor through open doors of special assignments, that I WILL complete before I draw my last breath. You have the same favor and God has given you a gift that will positively impact the lives of others.

Know that when adversity shows up in life, it doesn’t mean you are to remain silent and hide your struggle. There’s beauty in surrounding yourself with committed prayer warriors, friends and family who will step in at a moments notice to be there for you.

So what’s the deeper lesson?

Through adversity we learn courage in trusting and leaning into Gods word; Faith.

We find compassion for others who are enduring struggle. We also find that in adversity we are shaped, stretched and grown, when we are willing participants in areas where God can use us most.

Today friends, be encouraged! You got this and the Lord hears you, sees you and wants to bless you through perseverance.
Peace be with you! ~Christina~

This Seats for You- Podcast Episode 4

In this episode of “This Seats For You,” I speak with my friend and special guest Peggy Harrington, about the Biblical aspects of Christian Life Coaching and ways we can grow in our relationship with God.

My New Book Was Released This Week

“Shelter in Faith” A Remedy for the Epidemic of Hopelessness

Get your copy today here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GDKGFHH/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_NOytFbX94R6EZ

In a world where distance forces people to monitor and adjust their social behavior, faith is withstanding as a remedy. Faith is an essential part of Christianity. Through faith, we discover that the power of Jesus is essential in the critical intervention process of hopelessness. Faith is not only contagious, but it’s also widespread among active believers. The mandate of the Lord is to live out faith as a bold witness while casting fear aside. What an honor it is to enthusiastically proclaim that Jesus is the remedy for the epidemic of hopelessness.

You’ll be encouraged and inspired by this excellent resource.

Podcast Coming in March 2020!

This Seat's For YouI am excited to announce my new podcast called

“This Seat’s For You”

which will launch in March 2020.  This podcast features topics centered around life’s challenges and victories, to encourage and inspire believers. Christina engages in thought-provoking conversations centered around real-life, transformation, increase, favor, provision, change, stability, and motivation. Through implementing Biblical counseling principles, and the life-sustaining word of God, the audience will discover insightful ways to engage in life trials with a fresh perspective. You are a welcomed listener and This Seats for You!

About the host:

Christina was proudly born and raised in Texas. She is blessed to be a wife and mom and resides with her husband of 28 years. Christina is an Author, Board Certified Pastoral and Biblical Counselor, Christian Life Coach, Ordained Pastor, Public Speaker, and Teacher. Her book, Perseverant Parenting, is centered around boldly facing unexpected life trials with faith, optimism,  and purpose. In 2019 Christina illustrated her first book called Huggs, which is a tale of God’s goodness and a walk through the fruits of the Spirit.

Christina is no stranger to adversity; however, she rejoices in overcoming life’s trials. Through her steadfast faith in Jesus and determination to achieve healthy spiritual, emotional, relational, and career goals, her focus is invariably on living a life well-lived through every season. Her spiritual gifts include encouragement, understanding, wisdom, and counsel.

Christina has served in ministry for 20+ years and has worked with hundreds of families and individuals who needed someone to pour the love of Jesus into their lives through counsel, discipleship, lend a helping hand, or simply deliver an encouraging word.  Her greatest joy in ministry is seeing people encounter Jesus in unexpected ways and see lives transformed by His love, grace, redemptive and restorative power.

 

So You’re Angry…Now What?

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Today I want to discuss the impact of anger, as well as the damage it can cause. Depending on how it is expressed, it can enhance or end people’s relationships or rob you of your  peace of mind and health.

There are different forms of anger. Anger can be righteous or justified, especially in tough situations, such as seeing or learning about tough things that happen to innocent people. In instances of child or elderly abuse, anger is justified and common. Becoming angry just because things don’t go your way or you’re simply disappointed, is an opportunity to rework the game plan, not through away the play book and stop making good choices in how you respond. Worse yet, sinning in ones anger is not justified and is never beneficial. There are differences between healthy and unhealthy anger, and understanding the various types of anger and how to the control problems are crucial to overcoming anger.

When working with angry people or even struggling with anger within your own mind, it is important to remember that anger is a normal emotion.

Understanding the underlying reasons why you feel this emotion is a great start to diffusing the feeling. You can have an overwhelming event that triggers emotional pain and anger ensues. Or perhaps you become angry because you feel an  action or event is unfair. In many instances the root cause of anger is offense, which is a perception of the event.

Having self-awareness and putting in place the necessary proper management solutions will help you work through anger.

Did you know that there are different types of “toxic” anger that actually wreak havoc on the mind and body? When individuals get angry their brain functions in a different manner; the part that releases serotonin (the feel good hormone) is shut off and is replaced by the hormones adrenaline or cortisol. These hormones are present in low impact situations that cause anger and states of feeling enraged. If exposed to excessive levels of these hormones, for even short durations of time, can cause damage to occur in the heart, kidneys, muscles and to your brain itself.

Regardless the cause, toxic anger develops when anger is not dealt with in a healthy manner. Episodes of lashing out, yelling, screaming, fits of rage or even lengthy moments of silence can be toxic.

There is another option, face the situation with a new perspective. Let’s start here with learning that

fealing with anger is generally a three step process.

  1. Identify why you are angry.
  2. Take a time out, step back and reexamine how you should respond. As  Christians we should take a page out of Gods plan for anger and follow the example of Jesus. He handled anger with grace, with patience, with prayerful consideration and with boundaries. Not to say He didn’t display righteous anger, but He never sinned in his anger. You can choose to manage your words wisely, so not to cause more harm.
  3. Dispel the anger and replace it with a conversation in which you are filtering your words. Filtering means to cause peace in the moment, instead of pouring fuel onto the fire that needs to be extinguished.

Although these steps sound simplistic, they are not easy. It takes practice in the midst of anger to stop and think about what and why you feel the way you do. Remembering to pray for a healthy response takes practice, and implementing prayer into everyday situations is the key to bring about good communication habits into situations where anger arises. When you pray you are asking God to give you wise words, acknowledge Holy Spirit is with you as a helper. You will begin to find a sense of direction in the circumstances you face. Deep breathing is also a great way to try to relax in the chaos. Taking a break from the moment and getting centered on rational thoughts is vital, even if you can leave the circumstance at the moment you’d like, you can take a break in actions and choose to say you need to take a break and pray. Take your thoughts captive. The Lord tells us to do this:

2 Corinthians 10:5 “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Often anger recognition, management, and self control are all part of taking a thought captive.

Your mind, not just your behavior, must change. God calls us to change sinful behavior that does not honor Him. Instead of focusing on your outward behavior, work on disciplining your mind, from which the behaviors stem. Allow God to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).

Think through your problems rather than just react to them. When you experience difficult challenges, you can react to them and think yourself into despair every time. Or you can look forward to the next opportunity and ask yourself what you learned from this failure. You don’t have to get trapped by disabling thoughts of anger. You are capable of getting out of your despair, and anger, by taking control of your thoughts.

Choose to focus your thoughts on the right things (good things, such as the power of God in the circumstance or the love Jesus showed to those who messed up in life) you have the same authority living inside you. We are to think about those things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable” (Phil. 4:8). When we think about those things, God promises to give us His peace.

Take heart, as God empowers you to focus your mind on the right things, it will become easier. You can develop a new frame of reference, based on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

It is possible to live a life aware of our thoughts and taking them captive! God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us. Start following these steps today to gain power over your anger, your thinking and your actions that follow.

Shedding Light On Anxiety

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Anxiety is a common occurrence that affects millions of people on a daily basis. Anxiety is irrational thinking, characterized by feelings of worry, stress, apprehensiveness or dread; such thoughts are influential enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.

Billy Graham once said: “At its best, anxiety distracts us from our relationship with God and the truth that He is “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25).

At its worst, anxiety is crippling, taking over minds and plunging thoughts into darkness. For many individuals, anxiety goes hand in hand with depression which is a very dark place. Sadly, anxiety seems to be on the rise which presents a critical predicament for the Church body, because many write off anxiety-ridden people as crazy or possessed.

As Christians how do we take charge over this powerful emotion or teach others how to take control of it?

The answer seems simple, just calm down right? The fact is, anxiety has many root causes and sometimes arises for seemingly unknown reasons. Lets first look at what anxiety is,  it’s your body’s direct response to stress. It’s a perception of fear or trepidation about what’s to come or what may have already occurred. Situations such as the first day of a new job, moving to a different or unfamiliar place, even public speaking can cause many people to feel fearful and nervous.

What about anxiety that rears its ugly head in unexpected ways? For example, you have just laid down to go to sleep, in the same bed, in the same house, at the same time, yet tonight you suddenly feel a sense of overwhelming uneasiness. Your heart starts to race, as do your thoughts, sleep alludes you because your mind just won’t shut off. You’re left thinking, how do I handle this intrusive feeling of anxiety? The first step to shifting the grasp of anxiety, to a release of anxiety, is to yield your life to Jesus. This step means that you are leaving the past behind you, and you are stepping into the goodness of God. Jesus offers redemption from sin and death, He also offers healing for the mind, body, and spirit. 

The next step is to practice fixing your thoughts on Jesus and His promises. In the arena of our thinking, we are to exercise awareness of our thoughts and take them captive (take control over your thoughts). To do this you need to consider what thoughts are coming to your mind, think about what you are thinking about.

Are the thoughts negative? The reason you’re thinking about such things is that you haven’t tried replacing the thoughts with positive ones. The Bible tells us to take authority over our thoughts,

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you..” Philippians 4:8

 Have you ever considered that it is impossible to have a positive and negative thought at the same time? It’s like trying to force night and day to occur in the same exact place, at the exact same time, light always casts out darkness. 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 

The Power of Your Words

Recognize that your speech is attached to your thinking. As sinners, many days are wasted on acting in a “destructive mode” where people bashing, complaining, nagging, discouraging, belittling, swearing, chastising, slandering or gossiping were common attributes of our speech. Here’s the pivotal moment, we have to decide to use our words constructively, such as with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. 

“Don’t mix your words with your mood, you can change your mood but you can’t take back your words.” Anonymous

Despair is a derivative of anxiety, it is laced with worry and fear. If you are still speaking in this negative manner, you are causing anxiety to be infused within your mind, poisoning your heart on purpose;  your mind and speech flow out of the condition of your heart. 

“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Anonymous

 Ephesians 5:1-7 states;

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you. Guard your speech, let there be no crude joking, which is out of place, these are senseless words that bring disgrace and are unnecessary, but instead, let there be kindness, grace, thanksgiving, and praise. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is immoral (sexually, by actions or thought) or are impure, those who think or act as an idolater,  you are apart from God, How could they expect to have an inheritance in Christ’s kingdom while doing those things?

It is our words that produce a strong affirmation of our innermost thoughts. They are a witness to the world of how we perceive others, our lives and ourselves. It is this powerful affirmation that our words provide which empowers our thoughts to manifest into the reality of our actions. So why would we choose to misuse our most important asset, words? Recognize that “The Word” first originated with God.  John 1:1 

“In the beginning, was the Word

The Word was with God,

 and the Word was God.” 

The word is Jesus, and Jesus is The Light of the World (John 8:12), The Glory of God (Isaiah 40:5), The Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), The True Light (John 1:9), Dayspring (Luke 1:78)

When you say or think something enough times it can become your truth. If you tell yourself you are unsafe, you are actually becoming unsafe, because you allowed the thought to steal your peace. If you think you are worthless, you inhibit anxiety to occur because your true worth has now been taken hostage by the lie. The negative, joy stealing influences have to be halted in Jesus name. 

Replacing lies with truth

Even when you feel anxious you can choose to be calm. You can actively engage in the process of peace by believing you are strong, not timid, not weak, but strong. 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Your strength is found in the goodness and power (death-defying, overcoming power) of Jesus. 

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

 

John 16:33, “In Me (Jesus), you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (death & sin).”

 Speak to the thoughts as if they are a nat that is bugging you. Tell the swirling emotion It Is Unwelcome! Chase the negative patterns of thinking away with the sound word found in scripture. 

In John 14:27, Jesus assures his disciples He will send the Holy Spirit when He returns to the Father, and He reassures us today through His word: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” These words still encourage us today.

Shed light on the darkness of anxiety by simply saying the name Jesus when you feel overwhelmed. His presence drives out fear, worry, and anxious thoughts. Stop and take in slow deep cleansing breaths, then  pray (meditate) on scripture, applying the verses of peace to your own situations for example:

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:7

Your personal prayer “The peace of God is transforming my mind, is guarding my heart and my mind through Jesus Christ” ~ Amen 

 

 

 

 

(note is anxiety is causing you to consider or act on self-harm, immediately tell someone, then go see your doctor, therapist, or go to your local emergency room)
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