Guestbook and Comments

♥ Scroll Down to Comment or Just to Say Hello!

We love to hear from you, whether you’re a client, a new guest (welcome!), or a longtime fan. For fun, I’ve listed some questions for some food for thought: enjoy! You’ll see ♥ heart-to-heart questions in red like this throughout this website and in the Fun Questions category at right–join in the discussion! Thank you for participating. Be Encouraged, -Coach RJ

♥ Have Something to Share Here?

Inspire others! We cherish your testimonies.

  • How Has Coaching Helped You?
  • How would you describe Coach RJ?
  • Who or What inspires you?
  • What is the most beautiful prayer, verse or quote you can think of?
  • How would you describe a life that you love?
  • Day by day, would it look like?

“I’m ‘Here To Encourage’ you in Creating a Life You Love….The adventure starts here, together. Explore, enjoy and be blessed!” -Coach RJ

Copyright 2008-2011  HereToEncourage  All Rights Reserved.

Get Going On Goals

Launching A Campaign to Achieve Your Goals!

Setting and reaching goals is an important part of living a purposeful life. But many of us find that doing this is much harder than it seems like it should be! Here is a set of steps to use to clearly define a goal and get started. For more info on how to know what you really want to focus on, check back for a future article on some unexpected ways to Discover a Passion.

The Ten Steps:

  1. State as clearly as possible in a positive manner what it is that you want to create in your life
  2. Be clear why you want this and how your life will be different once you achieve this goal
  3. Be clear about what you are going to have to change in order to accomplish this goal
  4. Understand what you have going for you in relation to achieving this goal
  5. Understand what you have that may hold you back in relation to achieving this goal
  6. Be aware of the negative self-talk that sabotages and undermines your progress toward this goal
  7. Be clear about what you need to achieve this goal in terms of skills, resources, support, etc.
  8. List the 3-5 major actions you need to take to initiate movement toward this goal
  9. Stay focused on what you want to create, not the difficulties you might be having
  10. Think of ways to care for yourself as you work to achieve this goal

A few questions to guide you:

  • Within the next ____ (time frame), I choose to…
  • I believe the benefits of doing this will be…
  • If I decided not to do this, the implications will be…
  • I need to change the following things in my life to accomplish this goal…
  • Three things that I have going for me in terms of creating the kind of future that I want are…
  • Three things that may hold my back in terms of creating the kind of future that I want are…
  • The negative and destructive self-talk that I need to watch out for is…
  • I will combat this negative talk by…
  • I need to learn the following skills to accomplish this goal…
  • I need to coordinate the following resources…
  • I need to develop the following support…
  • I need to get started by doing the following things…
  • I will keep myself focused on what I want to create and the benefits this will bring by…
  • I will take care of myself while working to reach this goal by….

Continue to re-assess and re-visit the steps and questions as you make progress. Ask for encouragement from a coach, a mentor, a good friend, a pastor, a counselor, or others who can help you succeed.

Motivation from God’s Word

Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and he will Help you. ~Psalm 37:5

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. ~Proverbs 16:3 ESV

Put your works into the hands of the Lord, and your purposes will be made certain. ~Proverbs 16:3 BBE

Stages of Recovery

Definitions and Models of Recovery

In the mental health field and programs adopted by various states, Recovery is defined as “the process of gaining control of one’s life, and the direction one wants that life to go, on the other side of an illness or trauma, and all of the losses associated with that experience.” A person moves from the Impact of the illness, crisis, or trauma, into a journey of recovery, conceptualized by Five Stages that represent how the person is currently relating to the sometimes debilitating aspects the illness, crisis or trauma.

The Stages of Recovery

  • Debilitating Aspects of Illness, Crisis or Trauma
  • Impact of the Illness, Crisis or Trauma
  • Life Seems Limited
  • A Spark of Hope
  • Change is Possible
  • Commitment to Change
  • Actions for Change

Hope is Essential

Hope is essential in moving from Impact or a belief that now one’s Life Seems Limited, to believing that indeed Change is Possible. That spark of hope can come from a variety of sources, including personal prayer, Bible study or a special scripture, encouraging words from a caring compassionate friend,  a book or article, a website, a support group, meetings with a pastor or counselor, education about the illness and treatments, other people’s testimonies, or glimpses of a new dream or mission in life.

In the context of the Stages of Recovery, Hope is defined as “the belief that one has both the ability and opportunity to engage in the recovery process.” Certainly, believers in Christ can do all things through Him who gives strength, and the same power which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in them. The Holy Spirit is living within them and counsels them, and the word of God in the Bible is living and active and powerful. There is not doubt that Christians have the ability and opportunity to embark on the road to recovery.

What Can Help?

  • Coaching
  • Peer Support
  • Belief Therapy
  • Biblical Counseling

Who You Really Are

What Does God Say?

If you have yet to place your faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross for you, think about it. We all will live eternally, either with God now and forever, or painfully without Him now and forever. If you are a believer in Christ, you were made alive, a new person, forgiven and free.

Do we really understand that as believers, we are adopted Sons and Daughters of our Father in heaven? And that He has granted to us and amazing inheritance? Learning what all this means is exciting, and foundational to living our lives with purpose and passion. It is essential to understand and live out the gospel (this incredible good news.)

Here are some sound, well-recommended courses from World Harvest Mission:

Sonship

“Live the theology you believe! Many of us understand the faith intellectually, but our hearts have not quite kept up with our heads. Sonship is designed to help you take some of the glorious theological truths of the gospel – truths that you may know in your head – and apply them to the nitty gritty reality of daily life.
You’ll find that as the gospel re-makes you, there is greater joy and desire to share the wonderful news of God’s lovingkindness with others.”

You can also sign up to have a mentor to guide you through the study:

“Mentored Sonship is a great way to learn, grow, and be impacted by the gospel; it teaches you how to retain the gospel deep in your heart and not just in your mind. Each participant or couple is assigned a personal discipler. The method is life-to-life discipling that applies the Good News to real life. Our trained disciplers are not detached “experts” but individuals who struggle to believe in many of the same areas as their disciples.

“How Does it work? Our Mentored Sonship program takes about eight months to complete. Every two weeks, you will listen to a lecture from the Sonship course and complete the assigned homework. Then simply e-mail or fax your homework assignments and call your WHM discipler at an agreed-upon time. Calls are made every two weeks; each call lasts 50 minutes.”

Gospel Transformation

“Learn continual renewal. Gospel Transformation is a 36-lesson inductive study focusing on what matters most – our ongoing need for the transforming power of the gospel. Intended for use in small groups or personal study, Gospel Transformation goes straight to the heart, exploring such issues as: justification, repentance, forgiveness, compassion, and much more.”

Course Material: On these websites, you can download the table of contents, a lesson, and buy course materials through the WHM bookstore.

Life Transformation

You Are What You Believe

Biblical Counseling and Belief Therapy

We want to provide you with information and resources that can aid you in living out your LifeStory in a way that shines brightest.

Check back with us for an updated article that includes Belief Therapy information. See also the article about Coaching, which is very different from counseling or therapy!

Biblical Counseling involves the application of the truth contained in the Bible to our lives. It is a means of spiritual growth, transformation, and renewal. Based on the following verses, we know that the Bible is the most powerful handbook for living:

  • For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12
  • His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.  2 Peter 1:3
  • Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

Organizations: Finding a Biblical Counselor

The following organization websites contain more information, resources and referrals to counselors:

National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
Association of Biblical Counselors
Association of Biblical Counselors
Christian Counseling and Education Foundation
Christian Counseling and Education Foundation

Training and Education

The study, certification, and practice of Biblical counseling is open to any person regardless of position, formal education, etc. Studying the principles can be extensive, but personally beneficial even if the goal is not to perform counseling within the church. For example, it can be a great way to learn how to pray for a person in need, by meeting them exactly where they are, with the Word of God. Study can be in the form of conferences, distance learning, online learning, web seminars, video, you name it. Here are some important links for Biblical Counseling organizations and resources:

On his ministry website DesiringGod.org, Pastor John Piper posted an excellent summary entitled, Toward a Definition of the Essence of Biblical Counseling.

Some Essentials of Good Counseling

God-centered, Christ-exalting, cross-cherishing, Spirit-dependent, Bible-saturated, emotionally-in-touch, culturally-informed use of language to help people become God-centered, Christ-exalting, joyfully self-forgetting lovers of people who spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.

1. Use of language – (1 Thessalonians 4:13185:11Hebrews 3:13Romans 15:14): Almost all counseling is talk. There is, of course, essential and heart-engaged listening and understanding; but counseling proper is speech. It is remarkable that people will pay $95 an hour for talk. But that is the power of speech, and God has designed it to be so. Therefore, the major issues surrounding counseling are about the worldviews that inform the talk.

2. God-centered – (1 Corinthians 10:31Acts 17:28): A God-centered person treats God as central to all of life’s concerns, from the most simple and mundane to the most weighty and personal. God-centered language is speech that does not marginalize God or treat him as irrelevant or unnecessary. It makes explicit that all issues that matter are related importantly to God. All counseling issues are related to God at crucial levels, and counseling that tries to lead toward healing without dealing with God explicitly is defective.

3. Christ-exalting – (John 16:1417:5): Christ-exalting counseling is explicitly Christian and not merely theistic. All counseling issues involve the exaltation or the denigration of Jesus Christ. Either our attitudes and feelings and behaviors are making much or making little of Christ. We were created to make much of Christ. There is no true success in counseling if a person becomes socially functional without conscious dependence on and delight in Jesus Christ. This is the means and goal of all health.

4. Cross-cherishing – (Galatians 6:14): It is not enough to say that our counseling honors Christ. Some non-Christian systems, even Muslims, say this. Biblical Counseling must go to the heart of our problems and the heart of God’s solution, which always means going to the cross where the depths of sin and the heights of grace are revealed. There is no true exalting of Christ or honoring of God that does not cherish the cross. The decisive severing of pride and despair is the cross of Christ. It is the ground of humility and hope. There is no true mental health without understanding the desperate condition we were in without the cross, and without feeling the joy of deliverance from that condition through the death of Christ on our behalf.

5. Spirit-dependent – (Romans 8:614Galatians 3:55:22-231 Peter 4:11): Spirit-dependent counseling knows and feels that it is helpless to speak wisely and lovingly and to bring about true wholeness apart from the decisive work of the Holy Spirit in the counselor and the counselee. This implies a significant, explicit presence of prayer in the process of counseling. Counseling serves in the strength which God supplies so that in everything God will get the glory.

6. Bible-saturated – (Matthew 4:4Romans 15:4Hebrews 4:12): Bible-saturated counseling does not treat the Word of God as an assumed foundation which never gets mentioned or discussed or quoted. “Foundations” are in the basement holding up the house, but they seldom get talked about, and they are usually not attractive. That is not an adequate metaphor for the role of Scripture in counseling. The Bible has power and is the very truth and word of God. Even saints most familiar with the Scriptures need to hear the Word of God. It has a power to rearrange the mental world and waken the conscience and create hope.

7. Emotionally-in-touch – (Deuteronomy 32:2Romans 12:15;Hebrews 4:1513:3): Biblical Counseling is done by a person who has a healthy awareness of his own emotions and those of others and what is being felt, even if not expressed, by himself and others. Counsel takes into account what people are experiencing and not merely what the Biblical truths are that come to bear on the problem. Good Biblical Counselors feel appropriate feelings and know when their emotions are out-of-sync with the situation. They sense what others are feeling and know how to adjust the way they speak the truth so that it fits the moment.

8. Culturally-informed – (Act 17:23, 28; Proverbs 6:6-8Job 38-41): Biblical Counseling is aware of the historical, social, cultural, and family factors that shape the sin and righteousness of our lives. Biblical Counseling does not estimate cultural, social, or family factors above spiritual ones relating to the power of sin and grace, but it does know that the shape of sin and righteousness is influenced by family, social, cultural, and historical things that may help people distinguish between what is sin and what is not, and what is virtue and what is not. Believing that the root of every emotional and relational problem is sin profoundly affects the conception of how to heal, but it does not lead to simplistic estimations of how easy healing is.

9. To help people become – (1 Thessalonians 3:12Philippians 1:9): Biblical Counseling is directed at changing people – the way they see and understand and feel God and Christ and sin and right and wrong and the world and other people. Biblical Counseling is about helping people change. It has goals. It is not neutral or disinterested. It has Biblically-shaped aims for people’s lives and relationships.

10. Joyfully self-forgetting lovers of people – (Philippians 1:25;2 Corinthians 1:241 Corinthians 16:141 Timothy 1:5Galatians 5:6): The aim of all health is God-centered, Christ-exalting love for people. Love is not possible where self-preoccupation holds sway in a person’s life. So self-forgetfulness is a part of true mental health. This is not possible to create directly, but only as one is absorbed in something worthy and great. The aim is to be absorbed in God and anything else for God’s sake. The truly healthy person is passionate for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.

Notes:
1For example, the Chicago Tribune reported that Muslim Fisal Hammouda said in an interview with Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, “We believe in Jesus, more than you do in fact.” (Sean Hamil, “Willow Creek Welcomes Muslim Cleric’s Perspective: Pastor, Imam Have Dialogue at Suburban Church, Chicago Tribune October 12, 2001)

Peer Support Helps

Need Someone Who Understands What You’re Going Through?

Peer Support Specialists – Who they are and what they do

Peer Support Specialists are credentialed para-professionals trained in principles to aid people in beginning or returning to a personal plan and path of recovery. Peer Specialist training, now being provided in many states through mental health initiatives, centers around concepts and tools that can be used to encourage and support another person (a peer) in their own recovery. The principles are easily adapted to recovery from mental illness, physical illness, trauma, etc.

Ways that Peer Specialists may come alongside and help another person in their recovery include:

  • Sharing their own recovery story
  • Leading support groups
  • Coaching or mentoring
  • Facilitating Recovery Dialogue groups
  • Accompanying the person to appointments or events
  • Teaching workshops or classes, giving presentations
  • Encouraging individuals and providing peer counseling

Tools that Peer Support Specialists teach or use include:

  • Environments that support recovery
  • Beliefs and values that support recovery
  • Relationships that promote recovery
  • Creating the life one wants
  • Accomplishing one’s recovery goals
  • Facing one’s fears or doubts
  • Problem solving using “PICBA”
  • Dissatisfaction as an avenue for change

For more information about Peer Support Specialists and the services that LifeStories can provide, contact us via our Contact page. See also these websites:

The National Association of Peer Specialists

Depression and BiPolar Support Alliance

HELPER Training

Health Education Leadership Programs Enhancing Recovery

…a Peer Specialists is a HELPER:

H: Has a servant’s heart

E: Encourages and empowers

L: Leads by example

P: Promotes principles of wellness

E: Educates others

R: Responds to other’s needs

Your Own Life Path

“What Should I Do With My Life?”

This can be a hard question for some of us to answer! And it’s probably one we will ask throughout our lives, not just when we’re young or going through transitions. This question can be answered by:

  • developing a personal mission statement
  • knowing and living by your values
  • having a prayer team to meet with
  • seeking where to serve in church
  • volunteering in the community
  • charting the course of a career
  • reading inspiring biographies
  • engaging in a formal ministry
  • planning a personal project
  • interviewing other people
  • creating a life map or plan
  • trying a new hobby
  • making decisions
  • taking a class
  • setting goals
  • dreaming!

Seek the Lord’s Guidance

Most importantly, pray. God know’s you best and He has a plan for your life! Ask Him to show you what your gifts are, where He is working, and how you can join Him. Ask Him to bring people and opportunities your way. And then, keep your eyes and heart open!

Get Up and Get Going

If you have a basic idea of what you would like to do, find people who are doing what you’re interested in, and who could mentor you, give you advice, answer questions, or connect you with people and organizations. Or, get started on your quest by asking friends and family to tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are, or where they see you “fitting in” and using your talents.

If you would like to become active in your church but don’t know exactly where to start, talk with your pastor or elder, or a woman in leadership who knows you well. They can probably match you and your interests to an area of need.

If you are interested in ministry or missions, many organizations offer counsel and even placement testing to determine your best fit. But you can also get ideas from a program like the Finishers Project for folks wanting to spend the latter half of their life serving the Lord.

Most importantly, pray about it. God know’s you best and He has a plan for your life! Ask Him to show you what your gifts are, where He is working, and how you can join Him. Ask Him to bring people and opportunities your way. And then, keep your eyes and heart open!

Here are some resources that can help making a decision easier:

Counseling and Coaching

Hire a career counselor or a life coach to help you explore options, get to know yourself and your values, set goals, and make progress. They may be able to provide:

Tests and Assessments

IDAK Group: No One Does Talent Assessment Like IDAK

The Highlands Company: Discover Your Natural Abilities

Spiritual Gifts Tests: Online and paper tests can list different gifts and summarize what they are. But it’s better to jump in, get busy, and use experience and other people’s input to determine your own gifts. Here is an example of a quick test, there are so many online.

Books

So many books, so little time, right? Here are just a few of our favorites. If you have one to recommend, please contact us!

LifeKeys: Discovering Who You Are, Why You’re Here, What You Do Best
By Jane Kise, David Stark, and Sandra Krebs Hirsh

What’s Your Type of Career
By Donna Dunning

Don’t Waste Your Life
By John Piper

Websites

LiveYourCalling.com: Find and Fulfill Your Mission in Life. Book, free newsletter, and other resources.

Finishers.org: The Finishers Project: Helping adult Christians discover short-term, part-time, or second-career ministry opportunities

ChristianCareerCenter.com: Christian jobs, employment, job search help and career testing/counseling, free newsletter with tips and tools

Definition of Calling: Os Guinness in his book The Call writes, “Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a respond to his summons and service.”

Theologian Frederick Buechner has written that vocation is where our greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.