Organizational Values

By Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

Many organizations have mission statements, vision statements, or something on a wall somewhere that says something about where they are going and/ or who they want to be.  

Many employees may feel that they discuss such things in large group meetings, only to feel that they don’t live these things out in their organizations.  If we don’t live out our values with one another, it will have a detrimental impact on living those out with our clients/ customers, eventually getting off course, and losing our way.

So, if you feel this way.  

Here are some tips on a process:

  1. Have your company values on a screen or dry erase board in front of the team.  
  2. Talk about what those values mean to your team members.  Make sure you get to the “why” behind the values.  This is the fuel/motivation for them.   This will likely lead to a conversation about living those out with clients/ customers.
  3. Turn the conversation inward.  Here’s where it may get a little dicey. On a scale of 1-10, ask something like, “Please don’t name any names, but how are we doing living in light of these values with one another?”  You could ask people to say/ write why they chose the number they did.  If you think people won’t be open in a group setting, you may try an anonymous Google Form or just handwritten notes folded on note cards.
  4. Now, “what could we do to increase those numbers up 1-2 points over the next three months?  Try to get specific.  I.e. if a value is Service to Others, it might mean that when a need is presented via email/ staff meeting, that people volunteering to help one another goes up from 20% of the time to 40% of the time. 
  5. Ask people to make a commitment to themselves and/ or to another person that they will work on this between now and the next team meeting. Try to invite people to get specific about what they will be doing consistently that impact this change. Just like any goal, consider the framework of measureable, attainable, and time-bound.
  6. Have regular team meetings in which at least a part of the meeting is checking in on how the above is going.  Celebrate wins when it is going well.  When it is not, discuss obstacles and what to do about them.  Don’t judge or shame people when they’re not doing well. Celebrate progress, not hold to perfection. Be gracious. Agree on a way to correct course between now and the next meeting.
  7. Schedule the next meeting.  Repeat.  Keep working on it.  Celebrate wins.
  8. Evaluate in three months and see where you are.  You’ll likely be much more in sync with living in light of the value(s) of the organization than you and the team would have had you not taken this focused approach towards your organizational values. 

Overall,  organizational values are like family values, if they’re not clearly focused on, a lack of clarity, purpose, and synchronization will occur.  There will be a sense of randomness and disorder that abounds.  However, with an intentional focus on values, and living those out with one another first, the values will have no choice but get imparted to your clients and customers.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Good, Better, Best

by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12, New American Standard Bible

It can be difficult to navigate how to spend our time.  And I do mean spend.  Time is a finite resource.  So many other things in life are renewable or we can get more: money, energy, commodities, but time is not.  Each year, month, day, hour, minute, once it’s gone, it’s gone.  As such, I think it’s important to be intentional about how we spend it.  It really is an investment, more than any other.

When presented with an opportunity, evaluate, is this the best use of my time?  You can’t do it all.  If you say “yes” to everyone and everything, more will continue to be asked of you.  However, if you always say “no,” you may be invited to less opportunities over time.  I know, it’s tough to navigate.

Here are some tips:

  1. Pause and Pray… Take a few moments, maybe even a day or two, and ask God to give you direction pertaining to the decision. 
  2. Gifting and Energy: When presented with an opportunity, ask yourself, “Has God gifted me in this arena? Does thinking about this excite my passion or does it deplete me?” 
  3. Saying “yes” and “no.”  If I say yes to this, what do I need to say no to?  Is saying yes to this the Best thing and are the other things just good or better?
  4. How to know the Best.  Ultimately, it takes prayer, wisdom and understanding to know this (thankfully, Proverbs says that if we ask for wisdom and understanding, we will get it!:)  Also, consider your long term goals.  Is this in sync with achieving them, or will it detract from them?  Remember, time is a finite resource.  How about your values?  Is pursuing this in sync with your deepest values?
  5. Whose agenda is this? I understand one’s choice with this can vary pertaining to one’s position in the company or ministry.  Ask yourself if this is God’s agenda for you, for this season in your life, for what is going on for your own well-being, the well-being of your family, what the organization, department, or ministry area needs.  Or, is someone trying to unload something they don’t want to do, or want to put it on your plate because they know you won’t say no?
  6. The power of peers.  Ask a close friend or two, what they think.  I would encourage asking someone who loves God and cares about you, your goals and values.  Ask someone who will tell you “no,” if that is what they think.  Don’t just ask someone who will automatically affirm what you think.  If you are a leader, this may be a challenge.  Leaders often consciously or subconsciously surround themselves with people who tell them “yes.”  This can feel good, but is not very helpful.

Many opportunities for decisions will come in your life.  Good things are fine, but can get in the way of better.  Better is obviously better than good, but there is still one more.  Best surpasses them all because it helps us to move in a way that honors God, is in sync with our long-term goals, and our values for how we want to live.  It takes wisdom, understanding, and often good mentors, friends, spouses, etc… to give us feedback to help us move along the path.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Empower Others in Your Organization

by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

I’ve had so many conversations with people over the years about their experiences in the workplace.  They often discuss that they are trying to get things done, and their manager or leader keeps delaying, adding, telling them how to do all of the details to get something done.  I get it.  The manager or leader likely cares so much about the outcome that he or she wants to make sure it gets done well.  Also, it is usually out of a good intent of trying to be helpful.  Unfortunately, it is often not very helpful.  

If we tell everyone what to do at every step of the way, a number of things happen.  The person never develops the ability to make his or her own decisions.  They always need to come to the leader for the answer.  Unfortunately, an unhelpful side of this dynamic is that the leader/ manager may have an insecurity that drives them to consciously or subconsciously have a need to feel important and therefore wants to have others come to them for answers.  If you are a manager or leader, do some self-examination and see if this is the case for you.  If you empower others, and remove obstacles for them, you will continue to be important, they will develop more fully, and will have a deep sense of gratitude because you are helping them become their best selves.  

If you don’t know how to empower others, here are some tips:

  1. Hire good people.  This may sound random in this conversation.  However, this is so key to the consideration of empowering others.  If you hire people who share your company values, have solid character, are competent, and internally motivated to do a great job because that is who they are, then you don’t need to micromanage.  They will largely lead and manage themselves.  Awesome people are crucial in organizational life.
  2. Do a gut check every once in a while and ask yourself if you have a need to feel important by being the center of decision making.  If so, talk with a mentor, trusted friend, coach, etc… about that to try to help.
  3. Hold people accountable to outcomes, not process.  If you try to stay involved in minutiae, it will bog down the flow of getting things done, will covertly communicate to the other person that you don’t trust his/ her decision making, and actually create more work for you.  Don’t manage their process.  Hold them accountable to the agreed-upon outcome at the agreed upon time.
  4. Ask people what they think about how to handle a situation, before immediately giving them an answer.  If you always give the answer, they don’t learn to think for themselves, and again, may send the message that you don’t trust their decision making abilities.  
  5. Remove obstacles.  If you manage or lead in a large, more bureaucratic organization, try to use your influence to help move through the morass that can so often bog things down in these types of structures.  Just make sure you’re not being one of those obstacles by micromanaging. 
  6. Provide tools.  Regularly check in with the person to see what resources they need.  Do they need you to help create a more collaborative relationship with another department?  Do they need more financial resources?  How about training in a certain body of knowledge?  Provide them the tools they need to make things happen.
  7. Create a process of development.  Sometimes what we are asking people to do is a new skill they have not really developed yet.  It may be learning to give a powerful presentation.  It may be learning how to manage a project.  It may be healthy conflict resolution in the workplace.  Here is a helpful process to consider:  
    1. I lead, you watch, we process later.
    2. You lead, I watch, we process later.
    3. You lead alone, we process later.
    4. You continue to lead, we process as needed.

Empowering others can be a difficult feat because it requires us to be honest with ourselves about why we may need to stay in the middle of things.  It requires us to be intentional to hire good people, ask good questions, be clear about outcomes, remove obstacles, provide tools, and create a process.  It can be a difficult journey, but the rewards for the person, the organization, and yourself will be worth it.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Building Healthy Habits

by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

Note: This is going to be the first part in a series of writings pertaining to my coaching work.  As such, you may notice a different focus from some of my previous writings from more of a counseling perspective.

Trying to build health habits in one’s life is something I find myself consistently discussing with people.  As such, I have written some thoughts on things that have been tried and true for me as I’ve sought to build healthy habits in my own life.

  1. Accept that this is simple, but it’s hard.  In our culture, it seems that we think if something is not new or cognitively complex, it is not good and valuable.  I ask people to consider not whether they have heard something before, but are they Doing, what they are hearing.  It’s not rocket science, but it is hard.
  2. Again, accept that it is hard.  If doing a bunch of healthy things were easy, everyone would do it, and there would not be countless books, influencers, etc… trying to tell us all what to do.  It’s hard.  I’m writing this one twice, because it is helpful for us to fully accept and embrace this.
  3. Ask, what is my “why?”  Is your “why” to i.e. exercise regularly because you want to feel better about yourself?  Is it that you want to enjoy doing more with friends and family without feeling winded?  Is it to help manage feeling nervous in the upcoming meeting?  If you don’t know your “why,” whatever is more attractive in that moment (comfort, ease, pleasure, peer pressure, whatever) will likely eclipse you doing what you need to do.
  4. Be humble & learn.  Ask people who know what they’re doing, how you can do that too.  If someone in the gym has big arms, and I want big arms, that’s who I’m asking.  They already are living what you’re trying to accomplish.
  5. Have accountability.  Having a goal in one’s mind is okay.  Written down is better.  Spoken out loud to people whom you give you permission to ask you about it, even better.  Not people who will bring you down.  People who will honestly ask you about it, and if it’s not happening, will you help you figure out how to make it happen.  Not just have a pity party, nor shame you.  
  6. Set measurable, attainable, and time-bound goals.  Where are things now, where do you want them to be, and by when?  Make it so clear someone else could read your goal and check it off when it’s done.  Getting more done at work is not a great goal.  Getting a, b, and c fully completed for a certain project and given to the person who needs them by September 22nd is a good goal.  
  7. Start small.  Here’s what I mean pertaining to it being attainable.  If you’re not doing anything at all pertaining to a habit, don’t set the goal to be Superman next week.  Start small.  Get some wins.  Slow and steady is way more sustainable than trying to do it all out of the gate.  The former is usually not as glamorous and doesn’t lead to great posts on social media about how awesome you are.  However, it is what will increase the probability of it lasting, which is really what makes the difference over the long run.  The latter usually sounds awesome, is built on emotion, some new fad idea, etc… and runs out in about two weeks.   Start small and increase incrementally.  
  8. When you fall, get back up quickly.  Don’t beat yourself up.  It doesn’t help, and usually leads to wallowing and doing the thing that you’re trying not to do (because that thing you are trying to stop often feels good and comforting in the moment.)  You’ll likely mess up and stumble on your way to either breaking an old habit or trying to create a new, healthy one.  Get up, brush off, keep moving forward.
  9. Celebrate wins.  My natural mindset is of the “just keep grinding” mentality, but that can wear you down over time.  So, I’ve had to learn this as it doesn’t come naturally for me.  When you reach a goal, even a small one, take a moment to thank God, to think positively to yourself and recognize that you did that.  It might sound weird, but it can give you fuel to keep going.  It’s kind of like being a coach to yourself.
  10. Use your will to lead your emotions. You often won’t feel like doing the new, healthy thing.  You’ll want to keep doing the old, unhealthy thing.  That’s why you’ve kept doing it.  It’s easy.  It’s comfortable.  It brings pleasure.  Comfort is very powerful to keep us doing the same thing over and over, even if it is very bad for us.  Don’t let not feeling like doing something be any kind of rationale for not doing it.  Even if it’s a tiny bit of the new and healthy thing.  Jump in.  And jump in tomorrow.  And the next day.  A little more each time.  Eventually you’ll feel weird not doing the new good thing, then you know something has shifted.  

If you want more guidance concerning creating and sustaining healthy Habits in your life, please contact us at 828.692.6383, email to ask about our coaching services, or visit: for more information.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Grief in the College Launch

by Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

If you’ve just moved a student to college for the first time this week, you’re feeling a bit out of sorts. A little more emotional than you expected. And, maybe you’re confused by your response.

I get it.

I just launched my third child to college this past week. He is the third to launch within 12 months! (Yes, I have two sophomores and a freshman). Before I left to travel home after getting my sons settled, I decided to go ahead and put on my “Hot Mess” t-shirt and proactively own the onslaught of emotions that I could feel coming. 

It was an appropriate shirt!

Those that know me well would be shocked to know that I even have a shirt featuring the phrase, “Hot Mess”. I have a very narrow range of emotion. It generally takes a tremendous amount for me to have a strong emotional response. But I knew I was feeling it with this launch, so I purchased the shirt for the special occasion. Yikes!

But, seriously, why the strong response? 

Why is something so awesome also so very difficult? 

Why did so many parents shed tears this past weekend?

Because transitions are hard.

And innately we know that some transitions are permanent.

Things won’t ever be quite the same.

So, we reminisce. We remember their birth, childhood memories, hard times, funny times. And, in ways that are somewhat similar to a death, we grieve. 

Grief is what you felt on the long travel home. 

Grief is what you felt when you said goodbye.

Because you were saying goodbye to the child that would not return the same. 

You were saying goodbye to your perceived influence in their life. 

You were saying goodbye to any illusion of control over their physical or emotional safety. 

Suddenly, you felt helpless as a parent, with an un-welcomed duty to release what was never yours.

I get it! (Really, I do!)

But having already launched two of my children last year, I know that we are also saying “hello”!

Hello to a young adult who is figuring out how to live independently.

A young adult who is making their mistakes, and learning from them.

A young adult who is learning to budget, developing their work ethic, discovering new relationships, and finding their way.

A young adult who is establishing their faith, apart from ours. 

A young adult who is displaying bravery and courage. 

A young adult who is becoming a more grateful individual, with perspective on the challenges of life.

I am grateful that God draws near when we mourn. He knows what it is like to say goodbye to a child, knowing there is a greater good. He knows the heartache, and purpose, of releasing His own.

That perspective is a soothing balm to the soul.

So, let’s embrace our temporary, hot messes. Let’s allow ourselves to grieve what our children have outgrown. Let’s also allow ourselves to say “hello” to wonderful new adventures with our young adult children (because there are some necessary endings in this life). And, let’s praise the God who understands our emotions, and felt them Himself in ways we cannot fathom!

Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

Donna Gibbs, co-owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, is author of the recent releases Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient. Donna has authored numerous other books, her blogs and articles have frequently been shared in various media outlets, and she has been featured on radio broadcasts across America, and internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for over two decades as a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor (LCMHCS) and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor (BCPCC). A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Follow Donna’s author page at for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

How To Feel Heard

by Chad Barron, LMFT

Have you ever felt like no one was listening to you? Yes, people are hearing the sound of your voice, but it seems like no one is really listening?  

Sometimes it’s because people are distracted, or just couldn’t hear you, or there’s a language barrier, or they simply misinterpreted you. 

Other times it seems like it’s really just because they don’t want to hear what you have to say. 

Before we go on, a brief digression on misinterpretation. Have you ever thought about how much brain power goes into interpreting the intended message of another person? I’ve boiled it down to 5 not-so-easy steps: 

Step 1: First you have to listen, and correctly discern every word—correctly—and match that word with its intended meaning, of which there are usually many. 

Step 2: Follow the strict, fickle, ever changing rules of grammar and syntax to string those meanings together.

Step 3: Account for tone, pitch, speed, volume, facial expression, gestures, and other non-verbals (remember 80-95% of all communication is non-verbal!). 

Step 4: Adjust for social, environmental, and historical context. 

Step 5: Finally—somehow!—piece together your best theory as to what in the world this person is trying to say.. 

Our brains are tasked with deciphering all of this information in fractions of a second. This is beyond astounding to me. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Considering this, it’s not surprising that sometimes—and some would suggest all of the times—we do not form in our minds a perfect copy of the message that was intended by the message-sender. 

People, there is a reason your significant other’s most frequent response is, “Huh?”

So many times, we feel unheard because of a simple lapse in communication. We all need to cut each other a little slack. 

Other times, the problem is less pragmatic, and more relational.

When we don’t feel heard, our natural inclination is to get louder. Picture the typical obnoxious American tourist in Germany shouting “WHERE IS THE BATHROOM?” for the eighth time, not knowing that the poor German soul he is yelling at is so very confused because even though he has never seen a “bath,” in any “room,” in any McDonalds he’s ever been in. 

This tendency to get loud may not always look like an increase in volume—there are other ways to increase the intensity of a message. A slamming of the fist on the table. A finger in the face. Slowly. Annunciating. Every. Word.

Sometimes these efforts get the result we are looking for. This usually comes at the cost of damaging the relationship. This is called coercion. More often than not, these tactics not only don’t get us what we want, they do the exact opposite. This has been studied by science. When you push someone on their views or beliefs, they are most likely going to push back. The harder you try to convince or persuade the further entrenched each side gets. You might think, “If I stay calm and rational and present a solid argument this won’t happen.” But you’d be wrong. 

[See! You’re arguing with me! You just proved my point!]

See, you’re focused on winning. On “being right.” Which seems rational because it’s what most people do. But it doesn’t work! But take heart! There is a better way!

In the first chapter of John’s gospel, he describes Jesus as the light. He says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (v. 5, New International Version) Some translations will indicate through a footnote that the Greek word for “overcome” has multiple meanings, and one of those alternative meanings would translate “understood.” John is well known for his use of double entendre, so it’s fair to say that this was intentional, and that he intended for his readers to also consider that the darkness has neither “overcome” nor “understood” the light.

Later in the same chapter John says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (v. 11)

Jesus is quoted repeatedly in Matthew and Luke as saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matt. 11:15) 

If there was ever someone who deservedly felt like no one was listening, it was Jesus. You can even hear the frustration in his voice in phrases like, “You unbelieving and perverse generation…” “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matt. 17:17)

And while there were times when perhaps He did get a little “loud,” (anyone here ever flipped tables to make a point?) He displayed His divine patience in showing restraint. 

He did not pack out theaters. 

He spoke on hillsides and from fishing boats on the seashore. 

He did not lobby at the feet of the elite and powerful. 

He dined with “tax collectors” and “sinners.” 

He did not raise an army to exact his will through force. 

He gathered a rag-tag bunch of uneducated, un-impressive nobody’s and sent them out to heal, and pray, and share the good news.

When people rejected him, he did not criticize. When people walked away because his teaching cut too deep, he did not call into question their character nor their intelligence. Nor did he chase them down to convince them to stay so his “numbers” wouldn’t suffer. He just let them walk away.

When people accused him he did not defend himself. 

Yet he overcame. Not through force, but through humble submission. In gentle meekness He spoke the truth in love. His light pierced the darkness and showed us a better way. He heard our cry and delivered us from the slavery of sin and death. Not by brute force. Not by giving the best, airtight arguments (he spoke in riddles for goodness sakes!). He won the game by not playing the game.

Oh, and also, He listened.

He could have just showed up, did the whole death-on-a-cross thing, and got it all over with. Instead, he lived among us for 30+ years. All that time with the commoners, the downtrodden, the lame, the sinners, the outcasts. Listening to us. Sweating. Bleeding. Crying. Hurting. Feeling with us. This is what we call “empathy.” 

The secret to being heard is not in how you say it. How loud, how often, how eloquently. The secret to being heard is to listen first.

Friends, if we empathically listen to understand and not simply gather ammo for our counter-argument something amazing happens. Our opponents are no longer adversaries. They are human beings, made in the image of the Almighty, born with a purpose, bought at a price, and they have a story. And now we can truly see that our stories are intertwined with one another. And if all goes well, even if we don’t agree, we all feel heard. Because we listened first.

We might even discover that we were wrong about something. Which is just an amazing opportunity to be more right!

Chad Barron, LMFT

Temptation (3 of 3)

by Chad Barron, LMFT

This may seem like a weird way to start a blog about mental health and spirituality, but do you remember that scene in Home Alone? The one where Kevin finally talks to the scary neighbor guy? While the movie is more well known for its cartoon violence and punchy one-liners, it’s the very human theme of finding love and belonging on the other side of conflict and disconnection that makes the film an enduring holiday classic (and the John Williams soundtrack doesn’t hurt).

Anyway, in case you missed it, or don’t remember, all that matters for our discussion today is that our protagonist, 8 year-old Kevin McCallister, is sitting in a church missing the family he believes he made magically disappear through a particularly spiteful Christmas wish. As he listens to the church choir rehearse, his “scary” neighbor “Old Man Marley” comes over and sits next to him. Kevin discovers this man is not scary at all, but is actually quite kind. Further, Marley connects Kevin’s plight to his own story, sharing that he has not spoken to his son since they had a fight years ago. Then the following dialogue ensues:

Kevin: “If you miss him, then why don’t you call him?”

Marley: “I’m afraid if I call him he won’t talk to me.”

Kevin: “How do you know?”

Marley: “I don’t know. I’m just afraid that he won’t.”*

How do you know? A wise question from an 8 year-old. But Marley is wise enough–and brave enough–to admit he doesn’t actually know. He is simply uncertain of the outcome and this makes him afraid. 

So afraid, in fact, that he does nothing. For years.

Hold that thought. Let’s get back to the story that started this 3 part series:

“The devil led him [Jesus] to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you

to guard you carefully;

they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:9-13 New International Version)

To review, Jesus is fresh out of the waters of baptism, after which the sky opened up and a voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22 NIV) Satan just tempted Jesus to put his comfort above his mission by turning stone to bread, and then offered him control in the form of power over all the earthly kingdoms in exchange for worshiping him. In both cases, Jesus shuts him down with scripture. Here Satan brings back the tactic of casting doubt on Jesus’ identity– “If you really are the Son of God.” How do you know, Jesus? Can you really believe every voice you hear speaking through a hole ripped in the sky? Can you be sure? Are you certain?

The devil offers something to Jesus that perhaps the voice couldn’t: the comfort of certainty. All Jesus has to do is jump off a very tall building and when angels save him from imminent doom (as is promised in scripture) he can finally be SURE he is the Son of God. It would seem the Devil is challenging Jesus to take a leap of faith. But herein lies the trap. This leap would not be in faith at all.

Hebrews 11:1 provides a definition of the word faith: The NASB version translates it quite nicely: “Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.” (emphasis added)

The Devil offered Jesus a way to obtain PROOF that He is in fact, the Son of God.

But Jesus had his proof. His faith was proof enough. A leap would not have been an act of faith. A leap would have been a desperate grab for certainty. Which, by definition, is no faith at all.

You see, unless you happen to be all-knowing, certainty is impossible. When we say we are certain, what we are usually saying is “I feel certain enough to act as if the outcome I’m predicting is certain.”

Jesus, being God and all, had access to this omniscience, but chose to submit himself to the limitations of a fleshly existence to be able to empathize with our weaknesses (see the book of Hebrews and/or part 1 of this series). To pursue absolute certainty would jeopardize His mission. Sure, jumping off a building hoping angels will catch you takes a great deal of faith, but going through life as a human being, subjecting yourself to earthly authorities, and submitting to death on a cross is an act of faith on a whole other level. In order to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, His faith would have to sustain Him. Knowing with certainty is not part of the plan. So Jesus declines, and chooses to rely on faith alone.

Faith that needs certainty is not faith at all. Refusing to act without the assurance of certainty is called “fear.” 

At the same time, faith is not the absence of fear or doubt. Rather, they are two sides of the same coin. Faith courageously moves forward despite fear. 

We are all Old Man Marely. We all–at times–allow our uncertainty to freeze us into inaction because we fear failure, or rejection, or loss. 

And there’s no short-cuts. No guarantees. This is the true leap of faith. To live out our lives resting in God’s promises–not our own certainty. To move forward despite the risks. To set aside our own comfort and sit with someone in their grief. To surrender our need for control and allow the Spirit to lead. To love when doing so might come at great cost. 

So reach out. Forgive. Seek forgiveness. Reconnect.

Will it work?

I don’t know! But consider Paul’s words to Timothy:

“God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 New Century Version)

Or, as another wise teacher once told me,

Go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is!

*Home Alone, Directed by Chris Columbus, written and produced by John Hughes, starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Catherine O’ Hara. Hughes Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, 1990.

Chad Barron, LMFT

Grief’s Journey

by Lori Heagney, MS, LCMHC

The river flows without being forced to do so. It goes where it pleases. It carries with it new life. The grief journey is like this. It moves forward at it’s own pace. It’s sometimes heavy and overflowing with tears, at times it rages with strong emotions and memories, but it keeps flowing unless it is dammed up – unless you cut off or suppress the emotions that feed it. 

I have learned in my own grief journey that I need to not fight the river. When I allow the current to lead me by not avoiding memories that are painful or sweet, but rather allowing the strong emotions (even anger) to run their course, the Lord takes me where He wants me to go; where His living waters heal my soul, where new life begins.

Trusting God’s sovereignty, that He will use the best and worst of things and situations that happen to us for His perfect purpose for our life, is the only way through the watercourse of life. Turning upstream and fighting the inevitable current of events and emotions, or damming them up through numbness or denial will only hurt yourself. God has a better plan.

So, dear one, I challenge you to embrace where you are right now. Recognize that no matter how painful your loss may be, it is better not to fight against the strong emotions, but allow God to take your hand while you traverse these deep waters. If you have become stuck or feel like you are downing, reach out to a friend, or give us a call. We are here to help. Sometimes the trip down the river is better with a companion to keep you company and help you along the way.

God’s word says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” (Isaiah 43:2, New Living Translation). He is faithful and true and will bring you through this season of grief. Let yourself float – He’s got you. 

*Therapist note: My husband died 4 years ago this month, after a 4-year long battle with aplastic anemia. This journey of healing has strengthened and prepared me to help others forge through the deep waters of grief like no other trial in my life. Although the loss of my husband broke my heart, God continues to mend it back together as I trust Him. I have learned to stop trying to control the process and go along with His healing flow. I now see and embrace how He is using this tragedy for my good and His purpose for my life; to help those He privileges me to come alongside and help in their grief journey. 

Lori Heagney, MS, LCMHC

The Way to Thrive

by Patty Williams, Certified Life Coach

Do you ever have thoughts such as “how am I going to get through this”, “my world is spiraling and I don’t know what to do” or “are things ever going to become normal again?”. If so, you are not alone.  The good news is that you can thrive during even the most difficult of times.  Yes THRIVE… not just survive.  Webster Dictionary states the definition of thrive as (1) To grow vigorously: flourish.  (2) to prosper (3) to progress toward a goal despite or because of circumstances.  I want to thrive, to flourish, to prosper, how about you?  Where do we start?

Let’s start with our thought life.  Is there a pattern of negative or fearful thoughts in your daily life?  Do you sometimes feel as though you are on a roller coaster, gliding up with joy only to plummet down with anxiety?  I have been there!   Years ago, I struggled with the roller coaster thought life.  I loved the Lord, knew Him as my Savior but still grew weary with my inconsistent way of thinking.  I remember the encounter with the Lord as clear as if it were yesterday.  February 13, 2001, I went to bed very discouraged because of the “roller coaster ride” in my mind.  Not only for that day but it had become a pattern of thinking for me.   I cried out in desperation to God that night.  He answered my prayer!  That very night I physically and spiritually felt His touch and can tell you I have never been the same.  

Psalm 34 has become one of my most treasured scriptures.  Please take time to read and study this beautiful portion of God’s word.  It will be gourmet dining to your soul.  

Here are a few things I would like to share that has helped me grow throughout the years. Those thoughts you may struggle with, snatch them.  Quickly.  Don’t allow them to take root.  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “..for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” (New American Standard Bible)  The weapons we are to battle with are not the weapons valued by the world, such as pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency.  Our battle weapons take aim at the things that attack our mind and thought pattern.  Grab that thought, put it up against the light of the Word of God and let the truth reign in your mind and heart.  Choose to believe God and settle there.

Have sweet confidence and fierce faith.  There will always be issues of people questioning, doubting or even greatly disagreeing with our faith in Christ.  There will also be times of testing our faith by our own circumstances.  In James 1:3, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he tells us that the testing of our faith produces “endurance” (NASB), “steadfastness” (English Standard Version), “patience” (King James Version), and “perseverance” (New International Version).  Remember the definition of thrive/flourish from the first paragraph?  Glance back up and reread that definition. According to 1 Corinthians chapter 13, if we have all knowledge, can quote the Bible, give the answers, provide for the needy and even have great faith, if we don’t have love it is useless and has done nothing good for the kingdom.  Sweet confidence and faith that is fierce is the unwavering, rock solid, life changing conviction of believing and being a disciple of Christ, the One and Only Way, with an attitude of love.  It can stand face to face with opposition without the name calling, finger pointing or ugly Facebook posts.

We can thrive!  We can flourish!  We can take every thought captive and grow in Christ no matter what the circumstances are around us.  We are called, equipped and blessed with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen!

Patty Williams, Certified Life Coach

Temptation (2 of 3)

by Chad Barron, LMFT

Previously we discussed how we’re all after something, and sometimes in the pursuit of that something we can be sidetracked by temptations. We began looking at Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness and discussed how the devil tempted him with comfort in the form of bread. 

The second temptation of Jesus is a little less subtle. 

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7 New International Version)

Power. Power represents a lot of things, but chief most among them is the ability to be in control. Jesus was gearing up for a ministry that would eventually end in his death at the hands of his own people. Specifically, the people who held all the socio-political power in his culture. The people in control. Well wouldn’t it make it so much easier to do all that healing and feeding if he called the shots? All the shots?

In the therapy room, and maybe even more so in recovery, control is a constant theme. As human beings, we constantly seek control. Control over our emotions, our thoughts, our FAMILY, our lives in general. And a big step toward healing is often identifying those things we can and–more importantly–cannot control. The Serenity Prayer is ubiquitous in recovery circles and for good reason. It goes like this: 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

We often chase after peace and serenity. We think we’ll find it on a beach or a mountain top. Or when we finish that project, or get that promotion. Maybe if we could just get our minds off that set back, that disappointment, that loss, that heartache, that traumatic experience. Maybe if we could just control this outcome, that election, that person, things would finally settle down and we could have some peace. But Jesus shows us here that peace is not on the other side of a pursuit or striving. Peace does not come when we chase it, peace comes when we let go. Peace that transcends all understanding is not on the other side of victory through overpowering and controlling our environment. Peace is on the other side of surrender.

Jesus answered, “It is written in the Scriptures: ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Luke 4:8 NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV)

That something you’re after. You already have it. It’s already been given. Be still. Let go.

Chad Barron, LMFT