Christian Counseling Center
CHRISTIAN COUNSELING CENTER NEWSLETTER
by Laura Coppola
This month's news is brought to you by clumsiness, trying to unsuccessfully multitask. Finding a local thriftshop bargain, I anticipated adorning our Spring-inspired Easter table with three jellybean-filled pastel egg cups. In my haste to the dishwasher, one cup went crashing to the porcelain floor, shards flying in all directions. After my initial disappointment, I was quickly reminded of how fleeting and fragile life is, highlighting the importance of savoring precious moments with loved ones.
Imagine our Heavenly Father's burden for each of His children to spend time together, teaching us how to live well. Micah 6:8 "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Some of us might be fasting during the Lenten season to draw closer to God. However, Pope Francis offered a list of fasting suggestions not just for lent, but challenging us to incorporate into our daily lifestyle honoring the Lord, while shining His light to all.
● Fast from hurting words; say kind words
● Fast from sadness; be filled with gratitude
● Fast from anger; be filled with patience
● Fast from pessimism; be filled with hope
● Fast from worries; have trust in God
● Fast from complaints; contemplate simplicity
● Fast from pressures; be prayerful
● Fast from bitterness; fill your hearts with joy
● Fast from selfishness; be compassionate to others
● Fast from grudges; be reconciled
● Fast from words; be silent so you can listen
The counselors and staff at The Christian Counseling Center wish you a blessed Easter and Spring. We are available to come alongside you as you journey through life's ups and downs. Call for an appointment 203-846-4626 if we can be of assistance.
One never knows what will show up and show off on the Facebook feed. This week highlighted groundhog Punxsutawney Phil declaring six more weeks of winter. Then more encouragingly, one of America's most respected authors and consultants on human achievement, Denis Waitley writes, "Happiness is the spiritual practice of living every moment with love, grace, gratitude". Imagine the tone of our day when choosing to live intentionally - practicing an attitude of gratitude, dispensing grace, and displaying acts of love.
The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4 says that his ministry "is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase gratitude to the glory of God." When we extend grace gratitude increases, because gratitude is the happy feeling toward a person who does us some sort of favor and we say thank you.
John Piper elaborates, "Grace begins when one person is full and another is empty. One person is a have and the other a have-not. One is rich; the other is poor. Then grace comes into action as the emptiness of one is filled up by the fullness of the other. What we do not have is supplied by what He has. Our poverty is replaced by His wealth. And all that not because we deserve it, but because Jesus is gracious. His riches are free. Therefore, gratitude wells up in the hearts of those who choose to receive His free gift of righteousness. So, when the grace of Jesus penetrates the human heart, it rebounds back to God as gratitude; Christian gratitude is grace reflected back to God in the happiness we feel toward Jesus."
Even in sports news, underdog quarterback Nick Foles and the Eagles made Superbowl team history; Foles knew where to place his gratitude stating, “All the glory to God.”
Coach Doug Pederson stated, "I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity." This Superbowl win has indeed made history by amazingly showing the world where to place gratitude reflected back to the source, His unmerited love and abounding grace.
Despite the storms and cold of winter, we don't have to wait another six weeks for the hope and promise of spring. If you desire more happiness and joy in your life, call the Christian Counseling Center today for an appointment with one of our compassionate counselors 203-846-4626.
Christian author Mark DeJesus, Connecticut based Turning Hearts Ministries, is quoted as stating, "I would approximate 85% of all the problems that people face today have to do with love being compromised or lacking in their life. Relationships are broken. People don’t know how to be loved, love themselves, and love others."
That's a pretty staggering statistic that begs to be acknowledged and queried in our lives. Pondering its potential truth, we first need to have an understanding of our love and value through the eyes of God. He demonstrated His love for each of us, "God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Not only does God unconditionally love and desire relationship with us, but He is love and that love is in us. 1 John 4:16"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." What an amazing gift of love we have been given and can tap into through the Holy Spirit, thus receiving and dispensing His daily portion of love, grace, and mercy. This fact that we are genuinely loved and adored by God ultimately provides and equips us with what we need to love ourselves, restore broken relationships, and love others.
Saint Augustine states, "Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all." Where are you today on the continuum of loving and valuing our Lord? Are you testing the water or deep in trust?
Remember, we do not walk this journey alone, lsaiah 41:13 encourages us, "For I hold you by your right hand - I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, Don't be afraid, I am here to help you."
What a great promise and friend we have in Jesus, our constant companion. If you are lacking in love for God, yourself, or others, the Christian Counseling Center has staff members ready to listen, support, and encourage you in your relationships. Call for an appointment today 203-846-4626.
St. Augustine is a city on the northeast coast of Florida, laying claim to being the oldest city in the U.S. By day, visitors enjoy strolling around 17th century fortress Castillo DE San Marcos, sandy Atlantic beaches, and buildings boasting Spanish colonial architecture. Magnificent enough, however the city hosts two months of their 24th Annual Nights of Lights, a truly spectacular sight as the Old Town Trolley meanders through cobblestone streets. Visitors enjoy WOW moments with magical viewing glasses adorned, turning each of the three million lights into starbursts of glittering snowflakes or star shapes.
Imagine approaching this 2018 new year through WOW lenses of wondrous hope and excitement! We may have the tendency to view life with a myopic vision/filter, shortsightedly focusing, and not through the lenses of God and how He sees us. Kristen Dalton Wolfe writes about how beliefs of self were authored by the world's lies of rejection, hurt, and betrayal. When searching scriptures, Kristen realized how God lovingly views us; a renewing vision for life began, and subsequent journey to discover her identity through the eyes of the One True King.
Some scriptures to get started in this faith transformation:
2 Corin 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
First John 4:4 is a scripture quoted often, but do you really believe that "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world?"
Our Heavenly Father is our only constant and will continue to be if we allow. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:6-7
Our Happy New Year hope and prayer is that each will discover his/her identity through the eyes of our loving God. Christian Counseling Center staff can help you realize your God given WOW potential. Call 203-846-4626 for an appointment.
Walt Disney was once quoted, “To all that come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America... with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
Having recently visited four Disneyworld parks in four days, I can attest that it is a wonderfully happy place, brimming with spirited employees, desiring to make your experience fun and memory-filled. However, coming off any highly charged emotional mountaintop, we may confuse happiness and joy. While spending time at Disney was an awesome and happy experience, it didn't provide joy-filled staying power.
Thankfully, a child was born to us; Jesus is our true source for joy! Luke 2:10-11 "I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Christian author and Pastor, John Piper's joy definition is "Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world."
He further gives us this nugget, "The Spirit gives us eyes to see the beauties of Jesus that call joy up out of our hearts." These quotes are excerpts from Piper's series 'Jesus and the Journey to Joy'.
There are many ways to experience and share your spirit-given joy this year with family, friends, outreach such as Toys for or The Salvation Army. All of us from The Christian Counseling Center wish you a very Merry Christmas, filled with the joy that Jesus brings! If you’re in need of a listening ear, call the office 203-846-4626 to make an appointment and talk with one of our compassionate counselors.
Bending the Knee
There's been so much media controversy about taking this postural stance. However, to fully comprehend why all the hoopla, comments and division, we need to get to the heart of the matter.
Knees symbolize both strength and humility. As the most stressed part of the body, athletes require and use strong knees to run for touchdowns, block shots in basketball, and spike in volleyball. Knees also bend in adoration and recognition of the majesty of our Holy God. To bend ones knee before God is an act of worship and humble stance while bringing forth thanks, petitions, and prayers. "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker", Psalm 95:6
What we choose to do with our knees, however, gives direct evidence of what we believe in our hearts. We may kneel beside the bed of a dying person, while proposing in marriage, when receiving communion, or petitioning in prayer. Knees express what we believe and make clear what we will live and die for; knees connote surrender! You may recall a time being 'brought to your knees' in desperation or 'cut off at the knees' in humiliation. Jesus gave us the ultimate example, and took the knee posture in prayer before going to the cross, an indication of submitting to the will and authority of God the Father.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful season of opportunity when we can all agree and come together in unity, with thankful hearts for our many blessings. May we all bend our knee with an attitude of gratitude for the gifts we have been given! The staff at the Christian Counseling Center wishes you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. We also understand that when families come together, joys and hurts may arise. Counselors are available to listen and comfort; call for an appointment 203-846-4626.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Not only was this the opening line of Charles Dickens famous novel A Tale of Two Cities, but it certainly could be the headline of every newspaper detailing the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We watched in horror seeing Harvey devastate Houston with intense flooding and, on its heals, Irma destroying Caribbean islands and the southern peninsula areas of Florida with her category five winds. Living in the area, I had a unique vantage point of seeing these storms bring out the worst and best of humankind.
Some of the worst included video footage of hooded looters taking advantage of evacuated properties. Others hoarded food and water, price gouging those in desperate need. Yet, I choose to highlight, elaborate, and celebrate the best examples of the human spirit.
Firstly, hallelujah, politics was finally off the front page! Our nation has come together unified in helping one another. Many individuals and businesses opened their hearts and wallets, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to relief organizations to lighten the burden of those affected. Trucks brimming with collected personal essentials from grassroots organizations and churches were loaded, delivered, and distributed, showing neighbor to neighbor love and care. Prayer warriors emerged and homes and streets were filled with prayers of petition and praise. I've heard stories of people who had power inviting strangers in for a meal, shower, and laundry facilities. A woman desperate for a generator to keep her father alive on oxygen, was granted the last one from a sacrificing man in line at a big box store. Storms do indeed shake us up, hopefully choosing to become better over bitter.
Jesus knew how to calm the storms as recorded in the gospels. In the book of Mark 4:39, 39 "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." Jesus was then and still is today in the restoration business, the healing salve for a hurting individual and world. All kinds of storms will come and go throughout our lifetime, some of devasting proportion: terminal illness, financial crisis, and relational breaks to name a few. Hope in Christ emerges, so we don't need to live in defeat. Ryan Stevenson wrote these lyrics to his song, Eye of the Storm.
In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm.
If you find a storm brewing, hold tight onto God's promises and get connected with a Christian Counseling Center counselor, who will help guide you through; call for an appointment today 203-846-4626.
Good news is hard to find in a bad news world. Can you recall the last time a newspaper or broadcast featured a feel good news story that elicited a smile, producing a happy tear? Unfortunately, good news stories don't produce high ratings or sell subscriptions.
Huffington Post writer, Carolyn Gregoire, wrote about what negative news does to our mental health. Research is clear that more positive news is needed to outweigh the violence and destruction we’re exposed to every day. Did you know it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative event? Sean Dagan Wood said in a recent TED talk, “A more positive form of journalism will not only benefit our well-being, it will engage us in society, and it will help catalyze potential solutions to the problems that we face.”
So, the question becomes, how do we speak good news, happiness, and joy in a world infiltrated with negativity?!
We never know from where inspiration will come. Watching an episode of HGTV's Fixer Upper, a client's favorite phrase was forged from metal into wall decor proclaiming, "Be The Change". RealIzing I too possess the power, ability, and responsibility to make a significant difference in the world expressing positive or negative statements, it's my desire to no longer propogate negative news stories.
Michael Jackson's 1988 hit Man in the Mirror is inspiring and possible, if we put forth the effort to be the change.
"I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change."
Further, Bible verse Joshua 1:9 encourages us in our quest,
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The Christian Counseling Center desires to assist and come alongside you on your journey with counselors available to support; just call for an appointment 203-846-4626.
Self-Pity Is a Sin
A misstep can make or break us, the news abuzz with a comedian's vile attempt at humor. Sometimes we are victimized by the negligent acts of another, and that is truly a horrible shame. At other times, however, we feel sorry for ourselves claiming victim status, when the fallout sometimes comes from our own volitional poor decisions. This beckons the question, do I walk around as a victim or victor? Sure, there are times when we throw a short-lived pity party, feeling sorry over some injustice, hurtful words from a friend, or an accident that leaves our car damaged that was out of our control. Yet, if this attitude festers, it can bring us down the road of despair into sin. The Bible has a lot to say about this topic, and author Christy Fitzwater published an article that I found encouraging and relevant.
7 Reasons Why I Think Self-Pity Is a Sin
*Self-pity is a refusal to accept a trial as a test of faith, thus inhibiting my own growth toward maturity and completion in Christ. "My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience. But let patience perfect its work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).
*Self-pity demands that I am entitled to a certain quality of life that has not been promised to me in Scripture. Jesus says, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
*Self-pity dilutes my compassion for others, as I elevate my own suffering to a place of prominence. "Finally, be all of one mind, be loving toward one another, be gracious, and be kind" (1 Pet. 3:8).
*Self-pity is married to grumbling and complaining. "Do all things without murmuring and disputing" (Phil. 2:14).
*Self-pity ousts gratitude. "Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts. And be thankful" (Col. 3:15).
*Self-pity fills my time with useless whining and moaning instead of prayers for help and rescue from the Almighty God. "... and call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me" Ps. 50:15).
*Self-pity will only accept joy that comes from reversal of circumstances instead of joy that comes from the Lord. ("Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4)."
We are all on our journey, and each of us fall into despair from time to time. This is natural and part of our circle of life. However, if you feel like you are constantly cycling and spinning, it might be time to assess your choices and partner with one of our counselors who can help you grow stronger through your circumstances. The Christian Counseling Center staff is reachable at 203-846-4626.
It's been said that March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb. It's such a changeable month; warm temperatures and sunshine may bring anticipation of an early Spring, or cold and stormy snowstorms may take us by surprise, beckoning boots and scarves. We can hope that if March starts off blustery and cold that it will end sunny and mild, but the key word is hope!
People across the world are longing to have hope in their lives. We may hope for a brighter career, for healing of disease and famine, or for peace. It's interesting and encouraging to note that South Carolina's state motto is "While I Breathe, I Hope". It's very true that while we still have life, we can remain hopeful. Our greatest source of hope, however, is found in the Bible, true hope in Christ alone.
Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." When we seek Jesus, find salvation in Him, call on Him, pray in His name, we have the hope we seek.
Taking down and putting away Christmas decorations, another Hallmark holiday has arrived, the store displays filled with cards, candy, and sentiments of love. Valentine's Day is a wonderful opportunity for those in a loving relationship to celebrate each other and make plans to enjoy a mid-week date, all while sharing genuine appreciation and gratitude for one another.
For those who do not have a special someone, who are grieving the loss of a spouse, or suffering from "broken heart syndrome", this time may be very depressing. If this speaks to your heart, you're not alone; depression affects more than 15 million American adults. Dr. Deborah Serani, an expert and author on depression, encourages self care by feeding the senses with nourishing, comforting experiences. For example, going for a walk, taking a bath, feeling the sun on your face, or enjoying a favorite cup of tea. Another good tip is to not hold your sad feelings in; talk to someone you can trust with your confidences.
Pastor John Hagee was quoted as saying, "Love isn't what you say. Love is what you do." So, this Valentine's Day, put your love into action for your own well being and extend it towards someone else. It's a great opportunity to reach out to a shut-in or someone going through a difficult time.
A New Year is upon us; we may pause and reflect, perhaps desiring health, relationships, or work to be different. Change, some fear it, others embrace it. Yet, each day we have the opportunity to adjust our focus/perspective, alter our course, and choose wisely. There are so many areas within our control that we need not live as victims of circumstance. We can make modifications to get out of debt, lose ten pounds, kick a habit, live more joyfully and purposefully, or learn something new; the options are endless!
2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!"
While the Bible doesn't specifically address making/keeping resolutions, we can ask God to show us what His will is for our life this coming year. Knowing that our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2), we can grow closer to Him every day and, with help from the Holy Spirit, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11
We're making our lists, and checking them twice; the Christmas season, a time of wonder, peace, and joy is rapidly approaching. The holidays can provide opportunities to unplug and reconnect, sharing quality time with relatives and friends, with laughter and special memories added to the scrapbooks of our hearts.
However, sometimes, the office, social, and family gatherings become messy with hurt feelings over gifting, unresolved past grievances, too much said, or not enough listening/healthy conversation. While you're planning upcoming events, it may be prudent to prepare your spirit for the "surprises" that will most likely arise, like an unexpected guest. Ephesians 6:13 instructs us to be ready by being prayerfully equipped with spiritual help from the Lord; "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."
After weeks of all the preparation, anticipation, indulgent eating, and credit card balances, we may find ourselves under the weather, or feeling blue. Life can be full of disappointment, many times a result of unmet expectations. Let's remember that our great hope and good news comes with the reason for this season, the birth of a Savior who desires that none live apart from Him. Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Looking for change, believing our candidate/government will fix the mess, it's virtually impossible to avoid the media barrage of influence. However, the truth is we all possess a sinful human heart, and our nation's problems will not necessarily be fixed in the political arena.
In order to move forward, we must step back, removing ourselves from what's wrong, reframing our focus on what's good and right. What seems counterintuitive, will be what ultimately brings forth healing in our nation, workplaces, relationships, and personal lives. Positive change begins within each of us, and permeates our sphere of influence. Jesus stepped away, often withdrawing to lonely places and prayed. In Luke 5:16, he demonstrated the model for us to follow, seeking the power, strength, and will of God. He will bring chaos back into order, using us as open vessels.
Even in the midst of discord and anger, we can choose to live peacefully by spreading thankfulness and kindness, watching change unfold one life at a time. In the mid 1960s singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon garnered attention as she belted out, "What the world needs now is love sweet love, it's the only thing that there's just too little of."
A few years later, her brother collaborated and released, "take a good look around, and if you're looking down, put a little love in your heart, and I hope when you decide kindness will be your guide, put a little love in your heart, and the world will be a better place..."
Five decades later, this still holds true like never before. Let's look for opportunities to make a difference to show compassion and love: eye contact, a welcoming smile, helping hand, or volunteering. They won't break the bank, but will also fill your emotional tank.
We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday, filled with gratitude for our many blessings.
Fall approaches, harvest apple and pumpkin flavors awaken our senses: coffee, donuts/muffins, candles, even lip gloss. Visual sensory stimulation for Northeasterners as the trees respond in full splendor. Paces energize as routines resume and accelerate from summer's rest. Cooler evenings and mornings entice, awakening oven to prepare comfort food; a wonderful season to savor and enjoy.
Drawn out of serenity into mindful awareness, trying to get to physical therapy on time. Propelled back into the 70's, amid the beeping horns and clatter, existential and thought provoking lyrics, "Does anybody really know what time it is, does anybody really care?" melodically fills the car. Appreciating the small pleasures in life was Robert Lamm's thoughtful purpose while penning Chicago's iconic top ten hit.
God also has a message for us about our use of time. Ephesians 5:15-17 states, "So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise, but wise making the best use of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."
From where I sit the world appears apathetic. Knee surgery has temporarily placed me in a seated position, frequently public in wheelchair or mobile cart. This humbling posture affords the opportunity to people watch from a different perspective, in our fast-paced vertical world. Unopened doors, nonexistent eye contact, limited access, and virtually invisible, I apologetically meander as people bump or hurry past. Handicap parking spaces are often occupied by non handicapped individuals; frustration sets in, and then the Lord tugs at my heart, and the Bible reminds of my own hypocrisy, envy and unforgiveness.
When was the last time you positioned yourself lower?
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3
Are you bitter or better?
God even used social media to bring forth a challenging article:
*Forgive, not dwelling on injustices, and move forward
*Serve, and bless others with a smile or greeting
*Laugh, watch a funny movie or play games with friends
*Pray and "trust Him at all times, pour out your heart, for God Is our refuge." Psalm 62:8