Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, which can be identified by either an insufficient or an excessive food intake, are experienced by nearly 5 percent of women worldwide. Research shows that more than 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 15-25. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating are the three most common eating disorders.

Anorexia is characterized by a fear of becoming overweight. An anorexic person, who is at an average body weight for her height, feels compelled to become thinner in order to feel good about herself. She is intensely driven towards her weight goal, which is manifested in food refusal. To her it is not only about the body image but also about control. Statistics show anorexia often plagues women or girls who have had a history of circumstances being out of control. Interestingly, this condition reveals wonderful strengths when it is properly directed. To be able to set a goal and stay on task to achieve that goal shows great leadership quality. But until these leadership qualities are rewired in spiritually and emotionally healthy directions, these positive character traits will cause negative mental and physical breakdown. 

Bulimia can be characterized by an exaggerated fear of becoming overweight. It differs from Anorexia in that the sufferer lacks self control. The Anorexic takes total control, while the Bulimic loses control and then tries to regain it by vomiting–this is the binging and purging cycle. Statistics show that women or girls who struggle with bulimia have a history of stress and addictive behavioral patterns. Another issue is the double-life it takes on. The bulimic woman displays herself as healthy to the watching world–yet secretly resorts to an unhealthy habit. Bulimics need help in bringing about a life of balance.

The anorexic and the bulimic typically come from similar backgrounds. They differentiate in that one takes extreme control (which is unhealthy) and the other finds herself out of control. 

Anorexia and Bulimia, although seemingly about appearance, are cries for deeper transformation of the mind and emotions. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking invites us to travel deeper into the life changing habits of thought God has designed for us to thrive.

Anger

Anger is defined as emotional excitement induced by intense displeasure. It is an inflammation in the spirit of a person, and if not curtailed, it can become destructive.

People who struggle with anger finds themselves snapping at slight infractions. If they evaluates the infraction after their temper has settled, they will note that their response was much greater than the infraction necessitated. And although it causes regret, the anger continues to rise when an offense presents itself. 

A person who struggles with anger will notice that the people who are closest to them walk on egg shells. No one knows when they’ll blow or what might be the catalyst–so they are constantly handled with kid gloves.

Unfortunately, anger’s effects are far reaching. If children are the objects of anger, they often suffer silently. Their inward brewing eventually manifests itself in harmful ways as they become adults. If a husband is the object of anger, his manhood is whittled down, and he sometimes escapes through means of secrecy and separation in order to assert his masculinity. Yet around the angry wife, he will continue to exhibit a sense of failure and inability to be a leader. If a wife is the object of anger she will wither and often feel take on unnecessary blame.

Much of anger’s hold is a matter of pattern. A history of handling offenses in a rash or harsh manner has become a way of life. Therefore, to manage anger will mean making changes in life patterns, but this will not be enough to taper its detrimental effects. 

A change of temperament is necessary to combat this damaging emotion that seems to take on a life of its own. However, this can only be done through transformation in the mind. 

God specializes in transforming the mind. A person is not bound by old habits or even old natures. An angry person can become even-tempered and gracious. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Cloud Of Broken Thinking invites us to explore how, with God’s help, taking charge of our emotions can become a life-changing reality.

Mid-Life-Crisis

For women over the age of fifty, sometimes catching the vision for meaning in life does not come easily because we feel drained from transition. All of a sudden we have found ourselves face to face with things like empty nest, divorce, midlife, change or loss of career, aging beauty, death of friends. etc. Projecting possibilities of hope during this time can be difficult if these things catch us by surprise. To top it all off, many times we are not even sure who we are at this stage of life, and an identity crisis sets in. We become discouraged instead of delighted. In fact, we can even feel immobilized by it. So there it sits—the exceptional blooming season of our life—unopened like a large gift package in the corner, and we are perplexed at what to do with it.

We need to know that this time of life does not catch God by surprise. He has foreseen this season and already has it in mind. Psalms 139:13-16 reminds us of this.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Notice the scripture says that all of our days were written long ago—before even one of them came to be—and God already has seen them. We might have thought the prime of our lives was a time now past, like our youth. But God sees our prime as something entirely different. He is interested in the whole picture—the all of our lives. The second half of our lives yields new opportunities that were not available in the first half. In other words, we see our days in terms of what we perceive as our prime, but God sees our days as being unlimited; he sees that we are free to venture beyond our perceived limitations. Read more

“One of the best books I’ve read to date that focuses on the unique challenges of older women in the body of Christ. Her clear understanding of God’s role for us and her beautiful writing voice make this a book I’ll read many times.” -Kate F Eatom

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. Suicidal thoughts are intense feelings that affect the emotions and produce thoughts of inability to continue on in life. Suicidal contemplations are the practical considerations of method to carry out the actual act taking one’s life. 

Statistics show that suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide attempts that ends in hospitalization are three times higher. Such a large number is proof that “thoughts and contemplations” are of epic proportions. 

Most commonly, those who are thinking about suicide exhibit telling signs. It has been debated whether these signs are a cry for attention or an actual warning. Regardless of the motive it can be agreed that these cries are a cry to be rescued. 

Those who feign signs of suicidal tendencies for attention are certainly in need of help. These people do entertain thoughts of suicide, but not to a serious level. Their need to be rescued originates in a compulsive inner craving for attention. It is a different kind of struggle, and its roots can be traced back to deep feelings of inadequacy. The following description does not apply to this type of struggle. 

If you are a person who is genuinely struggling with suicidal thoughts, please know the simple fact that you are reading this is a positive sign. It shows a desire to be rescued from this desperate place in the heart that no one wants to be. 

The person in this position is overcome with overwhelming sense that nothing matters any more. They are certain their family would be better off without them. They feels like an emotional burden. Often, they are weighed down even further by feelings of guilt for not being able to pull themself out of this mire. These guilt feelings can make them even more determined to end it all. For this person, everything has lost its value, so there is no motivation or effective tool of recovery except for one thing, and that is the possibility of being rescued. 

Here is the great delivering hope! God can rescue the suicidal person out of this debilitating condition. He alone can give ability where there is no ability. In Psalm 18 we see a glimpse of this heart of inability that is rescued by God’s divine ability. 

“The sorrows of death compassed me…” says the Psalmist in verse 4. But then he tells of his rescue: ” He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” 

Look at the power in which this rescue was accomplished: “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved …”(Psalms 18:4-19).

If you are feeling suicidal, you are not alone. God Himself is ready and willing to rescue you. Turn to Him now.

*If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts right now, please call this hotline to let someone know about your pain: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). 

Stuck In Brokenheartedness

Struggling with a broken heart over a failed relationship is one of the hardest challenges a person can face. The wound may feel like physical pain (as though your heart physically aches). No wonder we describe this condition as being “heartsick.” 

One of the primary fears that plague a brokenhearted person is that they will never find this kind of love again. This pain will often motivate them to take desperate measures to find relief.

Many times this relief falls into the category of denial. In this scenario the brokenhearted person cannot bear to accept the relationship is over, even if little to no interest is shown on the other side. 

A heartsick person will keep a dead or dying relationship alive by re-living the sweet moments and repeating proclamations of “initial” mutual feelings over and over in her mind. If there was intimacy involved there is an even deeper attachment.

The thought of their ex-partner sharing similar experiences with another increases efforts to win back affections. It can cause the brokenhearted person to compromise standards, even acting obsessively. “It’s because I love them,” they exclaim, justifying that the behavior as an act of true love. They feel desperately stuck, holding out hope of reconciliation.

If you are reading this while currently in a season of heartbreak, you probably can relate to some of the anguish described. You must know that you are not alone. This is a very real heartache, and it requires strength and wisdom from the Lord to get through. 

Please remember that you are the same person your ex-partner was initially enamored with. Just because they have moved on does not make you less valuable. A break-up naturally causes havoc to the human psyche. It makes us feel a myriad of negative and discouraging feelings about ourselves. Turn yourself over to the Lord’s care during this season, and allow Him to teach you things from this break-up that will make you an even wiser, stronger, and more inwardly beautiful person.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is defined as the quality of being addicted. It is the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. Not all dependence is hard addiction; some areas are considered habituation, which also takes into account stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, and some psychological issues. However, in hard addiction the effects are physically recognizable in the body. 

Hard addiction exhibits itself by producing tolerance and physical dependence on a habit-forming substance. When the body is challenged by the substance, it will make the corresponding adjustments (biochemical, physiological, and psychological) to meet this challenge. At this point, the body responds by requiring the continued presence of the foreign substance to maintain normal function. Even though the body continues to depend on the substance, the tolerance and duration of the effects shrink, requiring the individual to take the drug either more often or in greater amounts to achieve the effect desired. Ultimately, the individual has a very high level of drug use with a correspondingly high level of tolerance. 

This is why addicts find themselves in deteriorating conditions. The addict is driven both by compulsion of the mind and desperation of the body. 

Is there hope? Absolutely! Since the mind and the body are intricately related, we must consider both in light of God’s Word when dealing with addiction. 

Scripture explains that there is a hunger and thirst in the human heart that cannot be quenched except by the Spirit of God. Scripture also says that the heart mistakenly seeks to quench this hunger and thirst by the means of this world. Since hunger and thirst affect both mind and body, we can see how the dynamics of addiction takes shape. When the spirit of a person is anxious, hurting, oppressed, or in any form of want, it is compelled to relieve or stimulate itself through the senses of the body. 

The physical senses are a powerful influence that instinctively demand attention when the mental, emotional, or psychological systems are craving it. The drive for relief or happiness is seen in every human heart to varying degrees. For the Christian, the secret to true and lasting happiness is accomplished through the filling of the Spirit. For those who are not walking in the Spirit, the pursuit of happiness is found in the filling of the spirit (the “spirit” with a lower case “s”). A spirit filling rather than a Spirit filling results in false happiness and continued craving. In every human heart, one of these (the Spirit or the spirit) will be deprived and the other attended to. The outcome of that choice will be evident, especially in the addict.

Obsession In Relationship

Obsession, according to the dictionary is a compulsive fixation with an idea causing excessive preoccupation. A person can tell if they struggle with obsession in the area of relationship by simply taking inventory of their thought life. If they observe that their mind continues to be fixed on a desired person, then obsession might be the problem. They may mistake this feeling for love, but it is not. 

Desperation is the word that best describes the feeling when preoccupied with another who either is not as interested in the relationship, or is not a healthy person to be in a relationship with. It is gripping and overwhelming to say the very least. It can pervade almost every hour of a person’s day. It can hold them prisoner and convince them that life without this person would be miserable. They feel almost certain they will never feel this way again.

Does this sound uncomfortably familiar? You might be surprised to know that millions of people struggle with this condition of the heart. If you are a Christian you might wonder how this can happen.

Interestingly, there are many reasons that this condition of the heart can develop and even flourish in the heart of a Christian. One may be the imposition of what we think faith looks like. We believe that if we pray hard enough or exercise enough faith it will happen. Our minds are often drawn to verses or signs we attribute to this desire, which fuels it even further. We want the relationship so desperately that we erroneously see our efforts as faith driven, rather than obsessive in nature.

Our prayer is that if you are a person who identifies with this struggle, you will not only discover what those reasons are, but will have complete overhaul of understanding what true and healthy love looks like. 

You belong to God, and He wants to set you apart for the right person. 

It’s easy to forget this amidst bouts of insecurity and feelings of unworthiness. Many people simply cannot believe that they are valuable, even to God, especially if they think they have let God down in the area of relationship. So, they resign themselves to pursue the wrong person regardless of rejection, giving in to the misery that accompanies this state of mind. 

Although it may feel impossible, overcoming obsession in a relationship brings wonderful freedom. And with God’s help it is absolutely possible, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Matthew 19:26). If you have a mustard seed of hope, God can remove this mountain of unhealthy attraction. You can trust that He will prepare you to receive whatever instruction He may have specific to your heart, specific to your circumstances.

God may have even brought this to your attention for this very purpose. Perhaps, it’s time to do the hard, but beneficial work of mental and emotional re-wiring in this area.

Overcoming Depression

As its name implies, depression, is the state of being depressed. When something is “de-pressed” it is literally “pressed down” to a low point. To illustrate this principle, consider an object that is pressed down in the center. A low point is created which is considered a “depression” in the object. 

When contemplating a human being, a healthy functioning human spirit is balanced and even. But when it is pressed down, a lower point in the spirit is created, producing a “depression” in the spirit–sometimes referred to as being low in spirits. 

A person who is depressed has lowered vitality or functioning activity. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness accompany this condition to varying degrees. The causes of depression are widespread, often making a specific trigger difficult to pinpoint.

Globally over 300 million people suffer from clinical depression. Typical symptoms of depression are sleep issues (either insomnia or excessive sleep), loss of appetite or overeating, and difficulties in thinking and concentration. It is not uncommon for a depressed person to struggle with suicidal* thoughts. They may feel like they just can’t go on.

Many people who are depressed isolate themselves and do not want to interact socially. Friends and family of depressed persons may plead for them to get out among people–but to little avail, resulting in feelings of exasperation and frustration.

Is there hope for the seemingly hopeless state of depression? Yes, but only by the transforming and healing hope that can be found in Christ.

In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about the “poor in spirit” being in a privileged position. When we are emptied of our spirit, or completely depleted and poor in spirit, we have the unique opportunity for the wealth of Christ’s Spirit to encompass our hearts. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” 

In the original language of the Bible, “blessed” means a person whom God makes fully satisfied, not because of favorable circumstances, but because He indwells the believer through Christ. 

However, poverty of spirit does not automatically mean Christ’s filling in this manner. In our poverty, we must beg Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. “Poverty” in the original language, means just that–to be so poor that one must beg in order to find relief or help, help that is beyond ones own ability. What great hope for a person who is experiencing depression and feels at complete loss. 

Many think they must become balanced in their spirit before they can have a healthy relationship with God; this is not accurate. The song “Come Just As You Are” rings truer than ever in the case of depression. There is more hope for the depressed than those who are so filled with their own spirits that they do not call out for the Spirit of the Lord at all. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3) 

*If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts right now, please call this hotline to let someone know about your pain: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). 

Book Reviews:

“A must read for the Christian walk in this world.  I went back many times to read it again not wanting to miss a word.” 
-Helen Bigg

“I wanted to ingest every word. I am giving this book 5 stars, and would give it six if I could.” 
-B Koehn

Hopelessness

Hopelessness is defined as having no expectation of good, hope for success, or any anticipation of solution to life’s problems. Those who find themselves in a hopeless frame of mind feel immobilized. They often do not pursue help because they have no confidence hope exists for their situation. Feeling like giving up is common for those who battle with hopelessness. They yield to what they feel is their inevitable condition, often with a sad and bitter calm. 

However, any show of desperation while in a state of hopelessness is a sign that the person is still fighting for hope. These attempts do not necessarily feel good or hopeful, but they do indicate the inward desire of the heart to be rescued. 

For instance, in the Bible, Naomi, who was Ruth’s mother-in-law, cried out a plea of desperation on Ruth’s and Orpah’s behalf while feeling hopeless. She said to her daughters-in-laws, “Return, my daughters! Why should you go with me … the Lord has gone forth against me” (Ruth 1:12,13). In fact, Naomi even went so far as to ask to be called by a new name that meant bitter, which expressed her inner hopeless state. She said, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). Yet God helped Naomi in a way that she could not help herself.

Job exhibited these desperate glimmers of hope in the midst of what seemed like a hopeless situation as well. Even though everything he loved had been taken from him, he proclaimed,”Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” God rescued Job in glorious ways that no man could accomplish on his own.

The pages of the Bible are filled with folks whom God delivered from hopeless situations of the heart. Yes, hopelessness is God’s specialty. He gives hope to the hopeless. The very message of Salvation for the lost is hope for the hopeless. The resurrection of the dead is hope for the hopeless. A new and eternal life, free from pain and disappointment, is hope for the hopeless. 

This world is passing quickly and all the pleasures with it. The wisest man on earth understood the dynamics of this reality. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes of empty and vain pursuits–and spending years doing whatever his heart desired. Money was unlimited for Solomon, and he went from one project to the next. The things he accomplished were what most people only dream of, things deemed fulfillment of life’s ultimate “hopes.” Yet, Solomon saw the hopelessness in it all. 

Solomon addresses the hopelessness in this way: “I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself. And behold it too was futility. I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?”(Ecclesiastes 2:1, 2)

He ended his observations by writing, “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God…” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Fearing God is the beginning of Hope found! 

To fear God is to place our trust in something bigger than all doubts, a greater plan beyond our state of hopelessness. He can move the clouds of hopelessness as no one else can. If you are a struggling with hopelessness, let your heart be stirred at the reading of these miraculous and glorious stories of hope! If there is any desperation in your heart, let your spirit cry out. Call upon the name of the Lord, even with the smallest grain of hope!

Discover Help For Your Emotions

Approval Seeking

I remember my mother talking about a group that was gaining popularity in her time called the Red Hat Society. Basically, she described how these older women would gather wearing red hats and purple dresses. This tacky choice of fashion colors had a purpose, and that was to proclaim freedom from the cultural confinements andredhat
expectations of their youth. I vividly recall myself as a young woman coming upon a restaurant table filled with just such ladies. They were, of course all in red hats—and the stark contrast of their purple dresses only magnified their fearless pursuit of independence. I couldn’t help marvel at how they were bubbling over with laughter and delight. Although their happiness struck me, I cringed at how silly they looked and couldn’t imagine ever doing such a thing. Now, thinking back I can’t help but admire the sense of freedom they openly expressed and the idea of what it stood for.

Life-long pursuit of approval
Seeking approval is the natural default of being human — we are born this way. Depending on circumstances, a child can feel compelled to please or seek approval to varying degrees. Anyone who has this struggle can typically remember the conditions that made him feel the need to perform to meet perceived expectations. Perhaps it was a parent who was uninterested or maybe a sibling who excelled and found favor. Sometimes there are multiple influences even outside the family that cultivate the compulsion of people pleasing. Whatever the reason, there is one common theme that connects them all — fear of disapproval.

As we venture from adolescence to the grown-up world, we feel the pressure to perform ramped up to an even higher degree. We enter a new era of disapproving eyes from people who come from their own dysfunctional backgrounds of approval seeking. It becomes hard work to avoid any negative opinions, and the more we try the more anxious and unsettled we feel. A.W. Tozer put it this way: “The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let it rest.”

Jesus on approval seeking
Jesus describes the propensity of human disapproval in Matthew 11:18: “For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners” (NLT).

His words give us great insight into the general tendency people have to see things negatively, if not completely erroneously. As Christians we are set free from all that is associated with the error of man’s judgments. Jesus gave His life in exchange for our sins so that we may be justified, but its up to us the extent that we embrace the fullness of this freedom while on earth. You may be sensing the inclination to do so to a greater degree. 

Does that mean we will finally earn the approval of people by this divine substitution? On the contrary, people will still let us down. In addition, those who are disappointed in Jesus will be disappointed in us. If they hate Jesus, they will hate us. Jesus confirms the unreasonable nature of mankind in John 15:25: “They hated me without cause” (NLT).

No end except in Christ
The good news is that as we mature in age many of us become aware that the fickleness of human approval never ends. As a result we find our people-pleasing tendencies begin to decrease. The golden carrot of validation we’ve been chasing all these years starts to lose its appeal. With the help of the Lord, we begin to cultivate a healthy disregard for the criticisms that once kept us tied up in knots. Could it possibly be time to buy a red hat?

Yet, we must be cautious of another tricky slope for those of us who have always sought approval. If pleasing others has been our way, then a subtle projection of this endeavor onto God Himself is often the natural progression. We may slip automatically into the mindset of seeking the approval of God; always doubting that we are good enough for Him; always working and trying harder to please Him in the flesh. But God never intended this kind of bondage for us either.

Our minds may need to understand in a greater way that God has provided not only rescue for our people-pleasing dilemma, but for our God-pleasing, performance-based patterns as well. Grasping the latter is what brings ultimate rescue to both. Do we fully realize that God’s love is not contingent on our efforts and deeds? He does not regard the disapproval of others or our own failed expectations. When God looks at us, He sees us wrapped in Christ’s perfect robe of righteousness. We are approved based on what He has done on our behalf—each one of us clothed in a garment of His own royal reputation. People pleasing, approval seeking and earning favor with God have no authority or influence in the spiritual realm. We are in a truer sense partakers of a heavenly group that celebrates freedom from performance-based expectations—not a red hat society, but a purple robed society—“a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) bubbling over with God’s approval and acceptance and filled with immeasurable grace. Oh, what rest for the wearied approval-seeking soul!