Everything listed under: Personal Growth

  • Courage in the Face of Fear

    “The best thing to do sometimes is to open up the cage and face the five-hundred-pound gorilla.  He’s going to come after you anyway, so you might as well let him out.”    -  Charlie Renfroe

    Courage to face difficult circumstances in life does not come without fear.  Even for those you see as very courageous.  Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage assumes fear.  When I was younger a group of friends and I went boating out on a local lake.  In one of the smaller chains of lakes there was a huge oak tree right on the side of the lake that some drunk soul had built a ladder 20 to 30 feet up and platform from which to jump.  My friends willingly climbed the ladder and jumped as if it was no big deal.  I was bold as I climbed the ladder, but once I reached the platform I suddenly became terrified.  But my friends were cheering me on by calling me names like “chicken.”  Faced with this situation I knew there was no turning back, so I swallowed my fear and jumped.  Breathless all the way to the water, I thought my life would end soon.  When I came up out of the water I couldn’t believe how refreshed I felt.  There was a significant relief that came from feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

    In life, you will be faced with many situations that you’d rather not have to deal with.  Conflict with family, peers, bosses, subordinates, etc., is commonplace.  Your ability to open up the cage of the gorilla in the face of your fear will lead you to a great and satisfying sense of refreshment.  Your ability to feel the fear and do it anyway will always bring with it a heightened sense of confidence that you will be successful facing life’s gorillas. Anything less is simply leaving you with a false sense of peace.

    Application

    1. How do you typically respond when faced with the gorillas of life? True leaders are the first one’s in to uncertain and risky situations.  Are you the first one in or do you tend to wait until you’ve “mustered up the courage?”

    2. What is your greatest fear when it comes to conflict?

    3. In what ways does your fear keep you from living with certainty and boldness?

    - Jeff Faulkner

  • Thirty-five degrees and raining…

     

                 Not exactly my idea of a fun run but I had an emergency yesterday that knocked out my long run for the week, so I thought I’d try and make up for it today. Surprisingly the trail was not as empty as I would have thought. I would guess that most of those out had some form of cabin fever…In any case, there we all were, cold and crazy, enjoying a little fresh air. The funny thing is that it is on those kinds of days, that we all seem to feel some sort of camaraderie with each other. People smile, (albeit somewhat sheepishly) at each other or say something encouraging as we pass, that ordinarily we wouldn’t have. We all have something in common. We all are cold and maybe crazy, but wanted the exercise or fresh air enough to come out anyway. Additionally, we are all planning to get through to the end and back to our warm homes. So we all smile and give each other the thumbs up…

                 I started thinking. It is the same when we go through really tough times in life. Those that have gone before us, or that we know have suffered similar things are able to support and encourage us the most effectively. Ephesians says to comfort with the comfort with which we have been given. We are also to lift each other up and encourage one another. God does the initial lifting, and then through him we can connect and do the same for each other. If by chance we have also taken the same Suffering 101 course, or the more advanced 102 or 103 courses, we have so much more to offer in the way of how to not only survive but to thrive and come through it. There is a special connection and realization. “That person knows what I am feeling and I am not alone.” There is the encouragement of knowing that the days will not always feel like this and a new day is coming. Best of all we can know there is One who not only runs beside us but is lifting us up and carrying us in the deepest of valleys.

    -Beverly Elliott

  • Sailing Close to Shore

    As we kick off the year 2013, please allow me to share with you one of my favorite prayers by Sir Frances Drake: 

    “Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

      Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

     Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.”

    It is my hope, that you will be challenged by this prayer, as I am, to reach far beyond what you believe to be your potential. I can vouch for God that He’ll take you places you never dreamed possible. Don’t allow fear and disbelief keep you too close to the shore this year. Don’t allow the busy-ness and commercialism of our culture to keep you from seeking God with all your heart. Dare boldly to venture out into uncharted territory in full confidence that God is with you!

    Here’s to a fabulous and God-directed 2013!

    - Jeff Faulkner

  • What’s Going On Under the Hood?

    I have been dealing with some emotions over the past week and a half that have not plagued me in quite some time.   I have been extremely agitated, short-fused, lacking in joy, and downright ticked off.  Anger has reared its ugly head.

    I know a lot about anger. I used to teach an anger management class to violent offenders.  Here’s a little of what I learned working with that population. At its core, anger is a hard emotion. It’s easy to see, easy to recognize. Everyone around you knows when you’re mad. The problem is that anger only serves as a sort of “check engine” light that gives you some indication that something else under the hood is wrong, but it gives you little to no indication as to what that something else is.

    You see, anger is always, always, always, 100% of the time about some softer emotion that it is covering up. Let me describe with a simple example. If you were sitting in my living room and my little dog ran up to you and bit you on the leg, what would you do? More than likely you would react by kicking the dog away from your leg. That kicking response is the response of anger that is a natural self-protective mechanism to the dog biting you. The dog bite hurt.  And therein lies the essence of anger…anger is really about being hurt and attempting to protect yourself from further harm.

    So, now that we know this, it’s time to do the hard work of finding out what those softer emotions are that the anger is serving to protect you from.  Here it is – I feel:

    ·         Disregarded

    ·         Embarrassed

    ·         Shocked

    ·         Scared

    ·         Tension

    ·         Inadequate

    ·         Pressured

    ·         Unloved

    ·         Uncared for

    Now, wouldn’t it be a whole lot simpler just to blow off some steam, lash out in anger over my situation, chew some people out, stand my ground, etc., etc.? These softer emotions are more difficult to know what to do with.

    The trouble is that in expressing my anger, I end up hurting the people around me. And that’s not loving. Jesus told us that other people would know that we are his disciples, if we have love for one another. That’s important to me. And I’m a long way from doing it well.

    What I’ve learned is that to be really good at loving others, I must first learn to love myself in light of God’s amazing love for me.  When my softer emotional needs are being met through my relationship with my heavenly Father, I can begin to display compassionate responses in the midst of trying circumstances, that would otherwise cause me to lash out in anger.

    If you’re dealing with anger, please contact one of our counselors today who can help you talk through and sort out what’s really going on under the hood, embrace God’s amazing love for you, and begin to live of life of compassion toward others.

    -Jeff Faulkner, M.S., LPC

  • Living with Joy

    Imagine the TV show, “19 kids and counting” and this would give you some idea what the Elliotts experienced when our family of five brought into our home, seven more girls at Big Oak Ranch. Those days were rich with blessing, spilling over with activity, challenges beyond our imagining, much laughter, and sometimes heartbreak.

    One October we took our girls to the Fall festival at their school, to be followed by the high school’s football game, a highlight of the week. One of our youngest, newly eight- year old “Trina” became enthralled with the cakewalk. After several failed attempts, she soon turned in all of her tickets to increase her chances of winning the grand prize … a goldfish. Knowing the longevity of such fish in general and the chances of survival of this little fish, in particular,  in our busy household, I was praying Trina would give up and move on to other games. She had already experienced so much loss and pain in her short little life; I just wanted to protect Trina from anymore. Unfortunately, the Mom running the activity began to feel so sorry for this determined little girl, she finally rigged the results and Trina became the proud new owner of the treasured goldfish. I inwardly cringed as she came running to share her exciting news. “I’m going to call her Joy”, she sang out. Now I was really worried, how could I let Joy die in our home when we were already facing so many challenges?

    Right off the bat, Joy led a blessed life. Her first night consisted of sitting in a plastic bag in a very cold van for about six more hours, while we attended the game, before we could get her home and situated. But survive she did. She was the namesake of a much admired sixteen year old in our home. Now, at least two girls had quite an investment in keeping her alive. I don’t think there ever was such a beloved fish. She lasted for almost a year, due in part to Trina’s devotion and in greater measure to God’s intervention and grace.

    Looking back, I have thought of how I almost missed the Joy, and in doing so, would have denied Trina that experience. In this Christmas season, we too can become so overwhelmed with the frantic pace that we, too, might not slow down enough to invite Joy into our homes. Don’t miss it! Keep your hearts and homes wide open and expectant, hoping for and inviting in, the full measure of all that God has for you.

    Merry Christmas from our home at Tapestry to yours….

    -Beverly Elliott

  • Why People Seek Counseling – Love, Joy, & Peace

    There are many reasons people seek therapy, including feeling stuck, not feeling good, being unhappy, loss of a relationship or loved one, etc. I contend that the majority of the multitude of reasons people seek out the services of a professional counselor can be categorized into three broad areas: relationship problems, depression, and anxiety.  Isn’t it interesting that the first 3 fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are the direct opposite, or positive opposite, of these negative presenting issues?  Love, Joy, and Peace. I don’t know about you, but I find that fascinating.  Maybe there really is something to the Bible holding the answers for the problems in our lives.

     Now, I have enough education, training, and experience to also be able to say that these problems are not just spiritual, and there are many psychological or physiological explanations to the things we experience in life.  There are psychological features to anxiety and depression.  There are physiological explanations for anxiety and depression as well.  And as for the relationship problems, well, there are personality features and life experiences that shape who we are and create a prism through which we interpret the events and conversations in our lives.  Understanding our backgrounds can explain why we have relationship difficulties.  These explanations that are other than spiritual do not bother me, because they are all truth.  And all truth is God’s truth.  These other explanations also do not negate the spiritual reality that exists within them.  You see, fundamentally, all of the things that we struggle with in this life are a result of being fallen people living in a fallen world and are therefore, spiritual in essence.  The human mind with all of its psychology, the human body with all of its physiology, and our complicated life experiences are fundamentally spiritual – they were all created by God – and that’s a pretty spiritual thing, don’t you think? 

     So, please allow me to encourage you that these issues can be overcome.  It’s God’s desire that you overcome them.  These issues represent a destruction of Love, Joy, and Peace in our lives.  This is not what God desires.  He wants us all to experience love at its deepest level – John 3:16 says that God loves us so much that he gave his only Son to die for us – that’s incredible love and He wants us to experience it.  Scripture says over and over again that He wants to make our joy complete. Jesus said in John 14:27 “my peace I give you”.  The first three fruits of the Spirit are Love, Joy, and Peace.  Notice that these are the fruits of the Spirit of God – not the fruits of you working hard at developing coping mechanisms are strategies to deal with circumstances.  You see, ultimately, this is all spiritual.  If you deny this aspect of what you’re struggling with, you will never know complete healing.  The best way to overcome these issues is to fully understand them from a psychological perspective, physiological perspective, from the perspective of your background and life experiences, and from a spiritual perspective.  When you attack these issues from all angles, you will surround it (whatever it is) and it will surrender and you will find Love, Joy, and Peace.

     If you are having challenges in these areas, please schedule an appointment with one of our counselors today. We would be thrilled to walk with you through these struggles, help you understand and make sense of them, and walk more in step with God in your life and experience the Love, Joy, and Peace that God desires for you.

    -Jeff Faulkner

  • There’s No Place like Home

    Several years ago my son had a job assignment that took him to Western Siberia. It sounds like a joke but it’s really true! There was a tent city that had been built to accommodate the workers who came from across the country or around the world to build this facility. There were restaurants, gyms, even a movie theatre along with sleeping quarters. They had food and shelter and though with spotty coverage, even his phone worked occasionally, and he could communicate somewhat with the outside world.

    Sometimes this job took him to Moscow where he searched for something familiar in restaurants. He found one McDonalds and one restaurant called American Café where the wait staff dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. Though vaguely familiar, it’s just not the same. Nor should it be, for he is American through and through, and Southern to boot! Russian tastes, customs, and climate are not his own; his citizenship is in the U.S. of A.

    When he returned from such a trip, his family awaited his arrival with great anticipation. He could sleep in his own bed and enjoy his wife’s good cooking while surrounded by loved ones. This is where he belonged and it felt so good to be home.

    Do you ever feel like something’s missing in your life? The basics are covered and maybe even the extras are as well, but somehow it’s not enough. In planning for the holidays, you may do the best you can to have these days hold special memories for your family. When the actual day arrives, it falls far short of those dreams of perfection.

    That’s because you actually are designed for perfection and anything short of that leaves you feeling disappointed at times. Heaven is our home and that’s where our citizenship lies (Phil. 3:20). That’s why sometimes our lives fall so far short of our hopes, dreams and expectations.

    Sometimes we are blessed enough to feel as if we are experiencing heaven right here and now. But sometimes, we are reminded by the pain of unresolved hurts from the past, current struggles in present relationships, job loss, economic uncertainty, health issues, loss of loved ones, or unmet expectations, that this life is not all there is. Remember at such times, we are not home yet! A future awaits and loved ones await with Jesus at the head of the line, looking to welcome us home!

    In the meantime, get on with the business of living out His purpose for your life right here and now. With His enabling you’ll find “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”. For the joy set before him, Jesus endured and persevered (Heb.12:3), and He will be faithful to help you do the same….

    -Beverly Elliott