Identity Confusion & The Church

“As a mom–and a Christian–I never imagined facing the heart-wrenching trial of identity confusion in one of my own children. It was simply not on my radar, certainly not to the degree that it manifested itself in my daughter, Lily. I soon came to realize that alternative identity exploration is a growing societal phenomenon. But what exactly is it, and why is this happening in Christian families?” -Vera English

Author Vera English takes us along on her personal exploration, unearthing treasures of hope and a profound invitation to reconsider our identity in the light of Jesus Christ. Learn more

Book Review:

I am grateful for this book. The author speaks honestly from a hard place and this book will benefit any Christian who is struggling with identity confusion or has a loved one who is. Thank you for sharing your story, Vera. -JJ Stevens

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, which can manifest in both insufficient and excessive food intake, are experienced by nearly 5 percent of people 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 common eating disorders.

Anorexia is characterized by an exaggerated fear of becoming overweight. An anorexic person, who is at an average body weight for their height, feels compelled to become thinner in order feel normal. They are intensely driven by weight goals, which is manifested in food refusal. It is not only about the body image but also about control. Statistics show anorexia often plagues people who have 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 determination and leadership potential. But until these 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 people who struggle with bulimia have a history of stress and addictive behavioral patterns. Another heartache is the issue of the duplicity it takes on. The bulimic displays themself as healthy to the watching world–yet secretly resorts to an unhealthy habit. Bulimics need help in cultivating life balance.

The anorexic and the bulimic generally come from similar backgrounds. They differentiate in that one takes extreme control and the other finds themself out of control. Anorexia and Bulimia, although seemingly about appearance, are really about the need for deeper transformation of the mind and emotions.


Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking help us to overcome emotions that fuel broken thinking, such as eating disorders.

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

Anger

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

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

A person who struggles with anger will notice that people closest to them walk on egg shells. Since no one knows when anger will blow or what might be the catalyst–they always handle the angry person with kid gloves.

Unfortunately, anger’s effects are far reaching. If children are the objects of anger, they often suffer silently. Their inward brewing many times manifests itself in harmful ways when they become adults. If a husband is the object of anger, his manhood may feel whittled down, causing him to escape 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 lead. If a wife is the object of anger she will often wither, and take on unnecessary blame in attempts to cover up her husbands volatility.

Much of anger’s hold is a matter of pattern. A history of handling offenses in a rash or harsh manner has become an ongoing habit. Therefore, to manage anger will mean making changes in pattern, but this alone cannot fully taper its fury. 

A change of thinking is necessary to temper the emotion of anger that seems to take on a life of its own. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking helps us to understand and overcome the volatile emotion of anger.

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

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 the minds contemplations on the inability to continue on in life. Suicidal thoughts 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 end in hospitalization are three times higher. Such large numbers are proof that “thoughts and contemplations” are of epic proportions. 

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 any cry to be rescued is important.

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 reveal, among other emotions, 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, even if it’s slight, to be rescued from this desperate place in the heart. 

The person in this position is overwhelmed with a 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 by feelings of shame for not being able to pull themself out of this state of mind. These guilt feelings can make them even more determined to end it all. For this person, everything has lost its value, so there is little to no motivation, or effective tool of recovery except for one thing, and that is the possibility of being rescued. 

Psalm 18 shows us through the psalmist what God can do when we feel unable to help ourselves. 

“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.

*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). 

Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Cloud Of Broken Thinking helps those who are overcome by emotions beyond their ability to manage. There is great power from above!

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

Stuck In Brokenheartedness

Struggling with a broken heart over a failed relationship is one of the most difficult challenges a person can face. The wound may feel like physical pain, as though your heart actually aches–no wonder it’s described as being “heartsick.” 

One of the biggest fears that plague a brokenhearted person is that they will never feel this kind of love again. This pain often propels them to desperately hold on.

In a denial 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 their mind. If there was intimacy involved there is 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 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 feelings described. You must know that you are not alone. This is a very real heartache, and it requires strength and wisdom 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. These feelings and emotions may be very strong, but are temporary and do not define who we are. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking helps us to overcome the overwhelming emotions that can accompany a broken heart.

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

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. 

Since the mind and the body are intricately related, we can get insight by considering both in light of God’s Word when dealing with addiction. 

Scripture tells us that there is a hunger and thirst in the human heart that cannot be quenched except by the Spirit of God. It also says that the heart mistakenly seeks to quench this hunger and thirst by the means of this world (the person’s own spirit). 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 presence of God’s Spirit. For those who are not pressing into God’s Spirit, the pursuit of happiness can only be found in the filling of their own spirit (“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.

Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking helps us to overcome emotions that lead to addictive behaviors through the power of God’s Spirit.

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

Obsession In Relationship

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

Desperation is a word that may best describe this feeling of being preoccupied with someone who either is not as interested, or is not a healthy person to be in a relationship with. It is gripping and overwhelming to say the least, and can pervade almost every hour of a person’s day, holding them prisoner, convincing their own minds that life without this person would be miserable.

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 Christian Culture. One may be the imposition of “faith” to be in relationship with the person we so strongly desire. 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 the obsessive nature it really is.

Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking brings hope and rescue to the emotion of obsession. It helps us to discover what real love looks like.

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

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 triggers difficult to pinpoint.

Globally over 300 million people suffer from clinical depression. Typical symptoms of depression are sleep problems (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.

In Matthew 5:3, Jesus talks about the “poor in spirit” being a blessed position even though it doesn’t feel like it. When we are depleted or depressed in spirit we have the unique opportunity for the wealth of Christ’s Spirit to encompass our hearts. Like air breathed into our lungs, God’s Spirit longs to be the breath of new hope and perspective. One step at a time Jesus wants His life giving Words to inflate these depressed areas of out thinking.

Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking helps us discover the wealth God has for the poverty stricken heart of depression.

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.

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 lack confidence hope exists for their situation. Feeling like giving up is common for those who battle hopelessness. They yield, instead, to what they feel is their inevitable fate.

Any show of desperation, however, is a sign that the person is still fighting for hope. These attempts do not necessarily feel good or look hopeful, but they do indicate the inward desire of the heart to be rescued. 

For instance, in the Biblical story of Ruth. Naomi, who was Ruth’s mother-in-law, exhibited 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, labeling 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). These, laments were sparks of hope even though they did not sound like it. Naomi was voicing God’s ability, noting His control. Naomi knew God could help her 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 human could accomplish on their own.

The pages of the Bible are filled with folks whom God delivered from hopeless situations of the heart. 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 fulfillments 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 be in awe of His majesty. His ways are bigger, He has plans and abilities beyond our state of hopelessness. He can move the clouds of hopelessness as no one else can.

Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking inspires overcoming hopelessness’s hold on our minds.

Discover Help For Your Emotions

Joy and peace come from learning to walk in the design God has for our thinking. Every day we battle with old thought patterns and emotions that hold us captive. Blue Skies: Beyond The Dark Clouds Of Broken Thinking leads us step by step; taking us deep into truths that set us free to live into a new narrative, one of confidence and purpose—the story we were meant to live.