Mercy Christian Counseling 
Ministries and Natural Health

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Counselor's Corner

Welcome! I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and I invite you to share your responses with other readers. Just so you know, comments will be reviewed to ensure that content posted will not contain abusive or vulgar language. Otherwise, you are free to agree or disagree. May God richly bless you today and always! ~ Dr. Susan

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Stressed Out, Zoned Out, Freaked Out

Posted by mercycounseling on September 23, 2017 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The number of people seeking help for anxiety is rising rapidly! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment."


Now if you think about it, isn't it amazing that there even IS such an association? This, and the fact that I see through referrals the numbers of people affected, convinces me that it's a very real problem.


Anxiety is basically a fear of the future or of the unknown. The human brain is wired to scan the environment for danger all the time, and the anxiety response is like having this brain center on overload, which hampers the ability to reason. Such people are prisoners of their own survival instincts and of the subsequent faulty thinking processes. But it need not be this way. 


Since anxiety is a fear response, it's important to consider that this may be happening:

False

Expectations

Appearing

Real


Granted, these fears are usually based on a counselee's past experiences in life. Much like in PTSD, symptoms occur in response to a stimulus that resembles a previous experience. Therefore, it is important to help the person accurately evaluate both the current and past situations.


If you suffer from anxiety, there are some steps you can take to help yourself:


  • If you are a person of faith, you simply must tap into the strength it provides. Believing in an ordered universe and a benevolent Creator will take much of the fear factor out of life.
  • Evaluate the pace at which you are living.
  • If you are zooming from one activity to the next and constantly under pressure, you need to get that under control. Some things you simply must say "no" to. Set your boundaries so that you can attend to your own needs. It doesn't do any good to wear yourself down to the point that you become dysfunctional. See a Temperament Counselor (like me!) to help you strategize. 
  • On the other hand, if you are so frozen that you are hyperreflective (that is, you are constantly inside your own head rehearsing your fears over and over), you need to take action to get outside your head by engaging in another activity to occupy your mind.
  • Try a 5-minute breathing meditation, which can be done anytime anxiety begins to rise. Sit comfortably in a chair and focus your mind on your breathing. In, out, slowly; in, out, in, out. If your mind wanders, refocus on the breathing, feeling your abdomen rise and fall. Slowly, please. Yoga is one of the best anti-anxiety activities you can do because it forces you to concentrate on your body, rather than engaging in hyperreflection.
  • Avoid stimulants, like caffeine. You may have a longstanding habit and think it doesn't affect you, but you'll be amazed how much calmer you will feel after several days without it. Drink more plain water while you are weaning off caffeine.
  • Avoid sugar, as this causes an inflammatory response in the body which leads to more stress and makes it hard to sleep.
  • Take long walks with a friend, and concentrate on the friend, rather than yourself. This will also get you outside your own head.
  • Evaluate your thinking, and you must be brutally honest with yourself. Make a list of the "what ifs" and then ask yourself how likely it is that any of your fears will actually happen. Remember, anxiety is an automatic response to perceived danger to life, status, or ego. If your life itself is not phyiscally in danger, then you must evaluate what the perceived threat would mean to your life if it came true. There is this thing called "general anxiety disorder," but I don't buy it. Fear is based on something. You must figure out what and why.
  • Consider carefully before you begin taking anti-anxiety medications. Do you really want to be hooked on them, or would you rather find a natural means for managing your own stress? It's easier to take a pill than to take responsibility for your own thinking, but you will not resolve anything if taking the pill is all you do.
  • See a counselor, who will help you through this whole process.

Anxiety will steal your life and relationships if you don't take action to conquer it. Don't let it take you prisoner.

 

What Is Your Relationship With Yourself?

Posted by mercycounseling on September 17, 2017 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

As three-part beings, we humans exist in the realms of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).


We are essentially a spirit (from the Greek word pneumameaning "air" -- as in Genesis when God breathed into Adam the breath of life -- it is what gives us life). It is our life force principle. When the spirit departs, the body is dead. 


We have a soul (from the Greek word psychemeaning the sentient, rational thinking, self-aware part of us). Even when our soul (mind) is not functioning -- as when in a coma -- our body and spirit are still alive and present together.


Our soul and spirit live in our body (from the Greek word soma, meaning, ironically, "body"). The spirit and soul cannot live in a dead body.


The spirit and soul live on after death, and the body will live again in the resurrection. (See Revelation 6:9, Acts 24:15)


Now the body is easily understood, as we have the senses with which to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. And the soul is understood, which is the mind, will and emotions; and the spirit, though less easily understood, is evident when we witness the life force ebb from someone at the moment of death. 


So while we are alive and conscious, all three areas of our being work in concert with one another. When we compartmentalize these principles, or when we do not nurture ourselves in all three areas, we cannot be truly happy or healthy. 


When God created Adam, He gave him a body first. (See Genesis 2:7). Apparently it was our Maker's intention that we should live in the physical realm of His creation. When God created, it was in perfection. Only in the fall of mankind did disease and death enter in. So to fulfill the first principle of God's creation (living in the physical realm), we need to value and respect our physical bodies. That means we must attend to the needs of the body and do our best to provide those things which the body needs to be healthy: clean air, clean water, unadulterated food, adequate clothing and shelter, and restful sleep; and provide all of these in sufficient amounts. Are you just acquainted with your body, do you neglect one or more of these needs, or do you really have a relationship with it that brings health and well-being?


When God breathed into Adam the breath of life, He brought forth both spirit and soul so that we could have fellowship with HIm and participate in His eternal plan. (See Colossians 1:16) How can we participate in His eternal plan if we do not seek Him with our soul -- our mind, will and emotions? Just as the body has needs, so does the soul: the need to feel worthwhile, the need to feel competent, and the need to feel loveable. These needs are met through various avenues of socialization, control, and affection. But we are not all alike in our needs in these areas. Our God-given, inborn temperament determines how these needs are expressed and satisfied. Without Jesus Christ we will never be able to satisfy these needs in a Godly manner. So we are advised in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Are you building a Godly relationship with your mind through daily renewal in the principles of Christian life?


Since our spirit was given by God and is the life-force principle, shouldn't we nurture this life-giving force through a relationship with the one who gave it? We may be able to ignore God, or run from God, even deny God, but these behaviors cannot nullify the truth that God is the reason we exist. And no matter where we run, God is there (Psalm 139). When we fail to develop our spiritual selves, we become disconnected from the very source of our existence -- God. And while we may try to distance ourselves from the Creator, our spirit has needs that cannot be permanently satisfied by any person, possession or substance other than God. To build a relationship with your own spirit means to build a relationship with God. This is accomplished only through salvation in Jesus Christ. For we were made through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). 


I hope I have shown you that there are valid reasons why you must not neglect any part of your triune being. To neglect the body leads to physical illness and death; to neglect the soul leads to sin and spiritual sickness; to neglect the spirit leads to spiritual illness; and if you are not saved before you die, to eternal separation from God, which is called the "second death." Revelation 20:11-15. 


Your relationship with yourself is as important as any other relationship you may have. That's why it's so important to take the time necessary to nurture and build your three principles: body, soul, and spirit. When developed in harmony, you will experience greater health and peace. Take care of yourself!

Redeeming the Time

Posted by mercycounseling on August 29, 2017 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Christian, are you awake? If the times we live in seem to be cascading into darker and darker evil, it is not your imagination. Lately I am seeing more and more people who are struggling with decidely PTSD-like symptoms from being battered on a daily basis by all the crazy things going on in our country and endless news coverage of one horror after another. If there have ever been times in human history to "redeem the time, because the days are evil," this is surely one of them.


There are only two scriptures in the New Testament that use the phrase, "redeeming the time." Those are Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5. Each passage, when viewed in its complete context, speaks not so much about the evils of the world so much as how Christians are to behave in the midst of it. For complete context, you will need to read Ephesians 4 and 5, and Colossians 4:2-6.


What does it mean to "redeem the time?" Strong's Concordance assigns number 1805 to the word redeeming as it appears in the cited passages: "to buy up, i.e. ransom; fig. to rescue from loss (improve opportunity)--redeem."  Compare this with Dictionary.com which defines redeeming this way: "offsetting or counterbalancing some fault, defect, or the like."


"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil," therefore, implies that our behavior as Christians should in some manner seek to offset or counterbalance the evil around us. Because the evil around us is so great, then our efforts to offset it must be even greater. But how can we do that, and how can an individual's behavior really make a difference? My friends, think not about your tiny effort, but about the sum of millions of tiny efforts that can create an amazing and beautiful web of goodness which will, by its own weight, help to offset the evil. But you must choose to be a thread in that web in order for the greater good to prevail. You, and you, and me, and you and you and so forth.


At home, at work, and at play, we make a difference by our choice to smile at someone; to yield with grace when buffeted and "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." (Colossians 4:5-6) 

A Holistic Approach to Christian Counseling

Posted by mercycounseling on August 27, 2017 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Good morning. It's Sunday, August 27, 2017. It's been (unbelievably) about four years since my last blog entry, and so much has changed for me, both personally and professionally! I decided to keep the old blog posts which you can view below, just as a reminder of where I've been. One of my closest friends cautiioned me about the controversial nature of some of them (then and now), but I like to keep it real; so what you see (read) is what you get, LOL.

In April 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer that had spread to lymph nodes under my left arm. After 11 rounds of intensive chemotherapy, radical mastectomy, and 41 radiation treatments, I emerged cancer free in June 2015. The "maintainance" chemo continued until the end of August 2015. I was left physically debilitated after all that, as you can imagine; but my spirit was strong in faith, and I never waivered from the belief that God would see me through. He did, and still does.

As I began to rebuild my strength, I became interested in natural healing for the body. A colleague had given me the book, Notes From a Naturopath by Thomasina (Tammy) Copenhaver. Tammy's book opened my eyes to an alternative view of health care called Naturopathy. I believe the Lord led me to her book due to how it all came about, which is another story; but this slender book vastly enlarged my understanding of the poor path of health I had been on all my life and opened my mind to the concept of truly counseling to the whole person--physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

At this writing, I have completed a 44 credit course in Natural Health Studies with New Eden School of Natural Health, which has helped me develop some of the skills necessary to help my counselees pursue a life of optimal wellness. 

Christian Counseling is still my calling and my passion, only now I can see that it is not enough to attend only to the emotional/spiritual aspects of people's suffering. If my counselees are going to reach their goals of mental health, I must also evaluate their lifestyle practices and offer solutions that will bring their body, soul, and spirit into balance. As I transition to this new model of helping ministry, I hope you will pray for me and Mercy Christian Counseling Ministries and for the people I seek to serve. 

Blessings to you!



Managing Anger God's Way

Posted by mercycounseling on December 7, 2013 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

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Halloween and Christians

Posted by mercycounseling on October 30, 2013 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

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Book Report: THE JEW NAMED JESUS

Posted by mercycounseling on October 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

It is my privilege to write this review of The Jew Named Jesus, by Rebekah Simon-Peter. Ms. Simon-Peter has produced a compelling and elegantly written autobiography about how an encounter with Jesus Christ set her on a journey of personal reflection and discovery. She has given us a sensitive and compassionate view of the struggle to integrate Jewish heritage and Christian faith. For its elegance and beauty alone I can recommend it. However, as a Bible-believing Christian, I do find portions of the book to cause me definite discomfort; and so I urge fellow Christians to approach the book with caution. My specific difficulty arises in portions of the book that cast doubt on the God-inspired truth of the New Testament accounts of Jesus' trial and also some of Paul's teachings. These questionable (to me) assertions begin at page 65 with the section, "Timing of the Trial." I also found it interesting that Ms. Simon-Peter distances herself somewhat from these passages, asserting: "First a caveat. I'm no expert on these historical matters." (page 65) The next few pages attempt to discredit the events of the trial, the biblical account of testimony against Jesus, the custom of Pilate to release a criminal to the people, Pilate's reluctance to sentence Jesus, and the culpability of Jewish leaders in Christ's crucifixion. Now I can understand why the Jewish people are so sensitive to this last phrase, namely centuries of oppression and anti-semitism. However, are Christians to discard the authority of the Holy Bible simply because what God has written has been used by fallen human beings for whatever ungodly purposes they choose? I say no, emphatically no. If any portion of the Bible is discarded as "inaccurate," then the entire faith is doomed to fall. We are reminded that the Holy Scriptures say of themselves in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NKJV) Without this as a foundation, we all are standing on shifting sand. Nevertheless, may everyone who reads A Jew Named Jesus discover some golden nugget of truth that speaks to their own faith, by the will of Him who plumbs the depths of every heart.

Humans Are Not Animals

Posted by mercycounseling on June 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

On June 21 cnn.com posted an opinion piece by Meghan Laslocky titled, "Face it: Monogamy is unnatural." Oh good grief. Ms. Laslocky based her entire opinion on the assertion that human beings are animals, just another mammal. And because scientific observation has discovered that most mammals and birds are not monogamous, that it must be "unnatural" for humans to be so. It appears that the theory of evolution has been elevated to justify what Christians know as sin. Is it any wonder we are in such a state? God's truth and His moral laws are being attacked and discarded in an ever-increasing onslaught of humanistic "wisdom." Well, Ms. Laslocky, human beings are not animals. When God created the animals, "out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air"; but when he made man, he formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life.  In short, God gave to mankind a spirit, which he did not give to the animals. Humans look like God. He created us in His image. Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Jesus said, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father."  I only agree with Ms. Laslocky on this one point: many people are sexually promiscuous. However, I believe it is not an evolutionary characteristic. I do believe it is the result of the fall of man. Inasmuch as sinful humankind is alientated from God and hostile to His divine laws, monogamy appears to be "unnatural." But God says a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. One flesh.

No Greater Love

Posted by mercycounseling on June 14, 2013 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Recently we celebrated Memorial Day, and as part of many of these celebrations in Christian churches all around our country, the following quotation has been repeated and preached on: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13) We think of soldiers giving their lives to save the lives of comrades, and we think of Jesus giving His life for the salvation of souls. Taken out of context, John 15:13 easily supports these notions. I want to share a truth the Lord showed me this morning concerning this verse. First let's return John 15:13 to the greater context in which it is found and consider the verses, John 15:12-14, which say, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." If you go even further and read the whole of John 15, you will find that it is an essay on loving Jesus and abiding in him. Jesus speaks passionately of the love relationship among He and His disciples. But returning to John 15:12-14, I believe Jesus was speaking in a parable. We know that in the parables, Jesus always moves from the carnal to the spiritual. I've heard it said that "a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." Indeed it seems to me that Jesus, in John 15:12-14, acknowledges the earthly selfless act of love that causes people to sacrifice their mortal life for another. He commands us to love in that way. Yet there is more. "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." In verse 14 Jesus is speaking of another kind of sacrifice, one that is perhaps even harder to make, because it requires us to continue to live and that in submission to Him. "do whatever I command you." Jesus has given us an example of His total obedience to God, and now He declares that we are his friends IF we do whatever He has commanded. Friends, doesn't this bring the requirements of any ministry into a sharper focus? Our Lord has given us a glorious and frightening challenge. Am I His friend. Are you?

The Power of Two or Three

Posted by mercycounseling on April 5, 2013 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I was looking through a catalog of Bible study materials and Christian self-help books yesterday and I was struck by the sheer volume of choices available to address every human challenge imagineable, materials to dissect and explain the Bible, and materials designed to expand, strengthen, and encourage our walk with Jesus. I thought, "As a minister, how can I possibly add anything of value that hasn't already been addressed?" It was then that the Spirit spoke clearly to me. He said, "Because all these (materials) lack one quality--a human touch; a heart that cares." I know the authors all cared about their subjects, and what God was saying to me is that the materials cannot by themselves accomplish their stated objective. If they could, one would need only to read a book or watch a DVD or listen to a CD on the topic of choice to be instantly healed. No, these materials are doomed to be ineffective unless they are shared between two or more people. God, in His infinite wisdom, created each of us to be a relational being; that is, we need a relationship with God and one or more human beings. The Bible tells us that relating with other believers is important for our well-being. With regard to the church, we are not to "forsake the assembling together" (Hebrews 10:25) but to "comfort and edify one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). To edify means to build up, to encourage. Anyone who is going through a trial or who is pursuing a closer walk with God will benefit from the encouragement-giving, reality-checking, and accountability-producing presence of a brother or sister in Christ. When two (or more) walk together, there is always someone available to lift you out of the pit, so to speak, when you fall in. So the lesson for me (and you) is that, whatever material we choose for spiritual growth, we need to find a partner to share it with, to discuss, debate, and incorporate. We need to find at least one, or perhaps a whole roomful of people, depending on your inborn preference. As we do this, we each provide the "human touch and human heart that cares" to the experience of another, and this helps us produce fruit from the materials selected. And let's not ever forget these precious words of Jesus: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:19)


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