Resolutions: “Better is the End of a thing than its Beginning”

by Donna Gibbs

It’s 2019 and many of you are pushing successfully towards your New Year Resolutions. 

But many of you are already at a quitting point. 

Did you know that a large number of New Year Resolutions are dropped by the end of the first week of January? 

Here’s why. We fail to achieve a goal because of a few correctable stumbling blocks: 

  1. We made a superficial goal to begin with and our heart is not fully engaged. We just impulsively picked a goal because it seemed like the popular thing to do, but we don’t really, really want it. 
  2. We failed to write down our goal. Without a measurable goal in mind, it’s hard to know when we have achieved our objective. 
  3. We forget the why. We lose sight of how life could be once this goal is achieved. We quit imagining the outcome and become complacent. 
  4. We give up too quickly. By definition, a task that requires a goal, or requires resolve, is a task that has brought intimidation. The quest of a goal typically brings discomfort. It requires more work than we expected. It may cost more than we were prepared to pay. Pursuing a goal may even create conflicts. In an effort to squelch the discomfort, we quit. And we quit prematurely. We even give up on a goal that is very important to us, or very much needed. 

If God has laid on your heart an objective for 2019, then follow Him in obedience. Resolve to accomplish that which God is leading. Then, write down your goal. Display words or phrases related to your goal on chalk-boards or bulletin boards in your home and/or office. (These must be displayed in convenient locations that you will see throughout the day. You will certainly need the reminders.) Then, stay the course! Don’t give up! Persevere! Tell a trusted friend about your commitment and invite their accountability. When you have a failure, evaluate what you can learn from it, dust off your boots, and continue your course. A verse I clung to last year was “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). I kept that verse in front of me all year long, cheering me on towards my commitment, and validating me when things got tough. What does that verse mean for you? Yes, the beginning is going to be hard. But it’s the end result that you can look forward to celebrating! 


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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

New You in the New Year

by Lori Heagney

Are you the type of person who makes a New Year’s Resolution only to find that three weeks later it has gone out the window? Did you know that only about 8% of us will keep working toward our goal and see it through to completion? Well, there’s a reason for that. New Year’s Resolutions focus on behaviors that we want to make in our lives. Typically we are all in and engage our willpower to accomplish these goals. That’s where we go wrong. Willpower alone rarely gets us across the finish line. So what will? The answer is that change must start in the mind. Let’s take a look at how it works. 

There is a science to change. According to the “Stages of Change Model” introduced by Prochaska & DiClementi, it begins when we start thinking about what we want to change. We need to “Contemplate” the consequences of “not changing”. What will happen if we continue with the status quo? Until the consequences of our life choices really add up and we own them, we usually stay stuck. This can be a sobering experience, but it can also be very motivating. 

Once we have agreed that change is necessary, we must “Prepare” and come up with a plan. How will we accomplish our goal? Take the time to research what works for your particular issue. Do you want to save money? Consult a book or a financial advisor. Do you want to lose weight? Talk with your doctor or dietician about a plan that will work for your body type.  Want to make some emotional changes or work on your marriage? Set an appointment with a counselor. If we don’t plan it out, we are more likely to resort to “all or nothing” thinking and rely on willpower alone. As previously mentioned, this usually leads to giving up. 

Now that you have taken the time to prepare, it’s time to put your plan into “Action”. This is the stage of change in which you acquire and apply new skills to your problem. When you work diligently on renewing your mind about your problem this will lead to new behavioral outcomes. It’s important to surround yourself with encouraging people. Write notes to yourself and post them on your mirror. Recognize that small incremental changes are still change and they add up. Keep going! You can do it! 

Congratulations, you’ve reached your goal! However, it’s not time to slack off! You need to keep up with the skills and mindset you learned in the action stage in order to “Maintain” your new behaviors. Neurobiology is on your side. According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, research shows that we can make new thought patterns in only 21-60 days. Once our mind has changed, we have a new way to perceive our problems and are less likely to resort to old behaviors. 

Change is possible, if you use the right tools. If you need help with getting on the right track, we at Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC would love to help you reach your goal and keep it. Take the next step in the process of change and give us a call today. 

*Caroline Leaf, 2015. Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health.

*Prochaska & DiCemente, 1983, Stages of Change Model.


Lori graduated from Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God (now Southeastern University) in Lakeland, Florida in 1990 with a BA in Psychology. She earned her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at Stetson University in Deland, Florida in 1997. She was licensed in Florida as a Mental Health Counselor in 2000. She became licensed in the state of North Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2009 after moving to NC in the fall of 2008. She is on the professional counselor referral network for Focus on the Family, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), and a contributor to the Blog for Summit Wellness Centers.Lori joined the team of Summit Wellness Centers after having been in practice with A Clear Word Counseling Center since 2010. Prior to this she practiced in the community mental health and substance abuse field in both inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities since 1987. She has a great passion for neurobiology and helping empower individuals to recognize their God-given ability to be “Transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2).” Her areas of expertise include working with mental health issues of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder as well as extensive experience in women’s issues, divorce recovery, tween/teen issues, grief, and couples/marital therapy. Lori is the proud mother of two wonderful girls.  She enjoys home improvement projects, gardening, and time spent in the beautiful outdoors of North Carolina with her family.

Hope Came: Encouragement in Your Desperate Circumstance

By Donna Gibbs

I love Christmas. Of course, I love the activity of Christmas, shopping for loved ones, and decorating my home. But I also love the rich and genuine meaningfulness of Christmas. Every December, I am irresistibly drawn to revisit the details of the most miraculous birth in history. I am comforted in those scriptures. And I am challenged by the roles of simple, common people just like me who were called to extraordinary roles. 

I imagine Mary, a young girl probably around the age of 14, who had an amazing encounter with an angel who revealed upcoming circumstances that would change every ounce of her current reality and her future. She was so young, but so wise, with faith so deep and genuine that she embraced the announcement with joy and celebration. 

Who does that?

Perhaps that was why she was “highly favored” and hand-picked to be the mother of our Lord. 

But Joseph too was chosen. Why? He was “righteous” – right with God, and right with man. He too handled life-altering (perhaps even life-shattering) news with grace and humility. 

No drama. No complaining. No whining. Just obedience.

Who does that? Seriously! I guess Mary and Joseph were a match made in heaven (literally!).

I find comfort in the fact that God came to earth and designed the lowliest of circumstances in which to be born. A stinky stable. A dark cave. Two young teens, with no birthing experience, far away from home and parents. Alone. No resources. No crib, just a manger of cow’s hay. No blanket. Just strips of cloth. Nothing but faith holding them together, and a donkey to transport them. 

There was an army of angels rejoicing, but Mary and Joseph didn’t see them. Those sights were reserved only for the shepherds. 

That guiding star? That was reserved for the wise men from the east.

Mary and Joseph had faith in desperate circumstances. And faith was all they had. 

Yes, God chose desperate circumstances for the most miraculous birth of history. I find such great comfort there, because I too sometimes face what I feel to be desperate circumstances. Times in which I am thoroughly intimidated by what I face. Times in which I feel all alone, and just want someone that also has flesh to guide me. 

But sometimes there is no one there. And though I hold on to faith that God’s army surrounds me… I can’t see any of them. There won’t ever be another young girl called to faithfully birth the Son of God, but we do face some desperate situations of our own in this life. 

Perhaps you are in one right now.

My friend, I want to encourage you this Christmas to reflect on the power of God in the face of your desperate circumstance. He can relate. He wasn’t born in a palace. He wasn’t born into wealth. He was born into challenges. Scary situations. Hard work. Rejection. Betrayal. Loneliness. The promise of future pain. The promise of an agonizing death. God intentionally orchestrated those circumstances so that you and I would be comforted by His genuine empathy when we face desperate times. 

So rest, my friend. Seek Him. Call out to Him. Thank Him for understanding. Thank Him for the supernatural help that surrounds you. Thank Him for His promise that this desperate situation ends in Hope! 

And then wish Him a Happy Birthday, and Thank Him for coming to this desperate place because of His radical love for you! Yes, Hope was born! Rest in His Hope today.

Merry Christmas! Aren’t you glad Hope came?


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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. 

Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

He Fills the Hungry with Good Things

by Natalie Long

Every year at Christmas time I’m drawn to Mary’s song, “The Magnificat” in Luke 1. Mary, a humble servant, favored and blessed, sings of the mercy, goodness, and favor of God.  How could Mary, who certainly knew the scrutiny she would face being pregnant and unwed, exalt the Lord and magnify God?  How could she consider herself blessed and favored knowing that the baby she would birth and raise was the spotless lamb who would be slaughtered?  Mary could sing and rejoice because she knew who God was, what He had done, and what He was going to do.  The way in which the praises of God effortlessly rolled off Mary’s tongue prove she was absorbed in the Scriptures.  And because she knew the Word of God and believed His Word, she sang.  She sang over her salvation. She sang over God’s blessings, and His greatness.  She sang of God’s might and His holiness.  She sang of God’s strength and sovereignty. She sang over the way in which the Mighty One scatters the proud and exalts the humble.  She sang over God’s goodness to fill the hungry with good things.  She sang because she knew God to be a faithful covenant keeper.  She sang because she knew God.  

How can we, like Mary, see past our struggles?  How can we be prepared for the trials that are to come?  How can we sing the praises of God during life’s hardships?  We fill our hearts, souls, and minds with the Word of the Lord.  We come before Him hungry, asking Him to fill us with good things.  It would be impossible to declare all the wonderful things of God without knowing who He is.  We cannot know who the living God is apart from His living Word. 

How do we fill our heart, soul, and minds with God’s Word? 

-We study it.  We commit ourselves to learn the sacred text.  There are great resources available to help you learn how to study the Bible.  Jen Wilkin, Kay Arthur, and Howard Hendricks all have great resources available. 

-Find a friend or small group and study together.  Mary’s life was marked by discipleship.  Her knowledge of the Scriptures came from the faithful teaching of friends and relatives.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you. 

-Choose a book of the Bible and stay there.  Read repetitively and ask questions of the text.  Mary was described twice in Scripture as a woman who pondered and treasured truth in her heart.  When you read, slow down, ponder and mediate on God’s Word.  Treasure His truths. 

Mary, a young woman who sang with unwavering certainty that nothing is impossible with God, would face what Simeon described as a sword to her soul- the brutal crucifixion of her son and Lord.  But being saturated in the promises of God’s Word, she sang because she knew that her earthly son was the eternal King who would bring salvation to those who believe.  Mary considered her trials nothing compared to the sweetness of God’s grace.  

And we, too, can sing a sweet melody of praise for God’s mercy, goodness, and favor.  Even in our darkest moments-moments where we feel our soul has been pierced by a sword-we can open the Scriptures and sing a song of gladness over kept promises, God’s sovereignty, His victory over death, and His regard for those who love Him.  May we be humble disciples who hunger for the Word and rejoice in the Lord’s faithfulness to fill us with good things. 


Natalie is a student in the SEBTS’ Biblical Women’s Institute. She is the Women’s Ministry Director for the Carolina Baptist Association in Hendersonville, NC and serves as Women’s Ministry Leader at Ebenezer Baptist Church. She and her husband Kevin, have one son, Liam.

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Perfect Timing (God’s, Not Mine)

By Lori Heagney

I heard a story once about a father and daughter who were discussing her trip home for the holidays. She was to take a train and her dad was providing the ticket.  The daughter was a worrier and she expressed that she was afraid the ticket would come too late, or maybe not at all, and she would miss her train completely. She panicked that she would not make it home for Christmas, and that would be awful!

Her father’s response was one of compassion, for he was accustomed to his daughter’s anxious ways. He said she needed to trust him; he would provide her ticket, and she would get it before she needed to get on the train. It would be supplied at just the right time she needed it, and not a moment too soon or too late.

I can certainly relate to this anxious daughter. Being a planner by nature, I prefer to have all my ducks in a row well in advance, and have become very impatient if a plan does not come together in my timing. I am sure we all can relate to wanting things done our way and on our timeline.  I can also admit that I’ve learned that life doesn’t quite work out that way.

God has taught me a few things about waiting on Him and trusting in His timing over the years. This little story is full of parallels about God’s plan for us to put our full trust in Him and take our hands off our need to control things. 

In reflecting on this story here’s what I have concluded:

1. God will provide.

I have found that God is a God of “11:59” when the deadline is “12:00”, but He always comes through. He is never late. If my prayer wasn’t answered the way I thought it should have been, then God has a better way to answer it. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

2. Do not be anxious about anything.

I love God’s use of “absolute” language in Philippians 4:6. “Anything” encompasses “everything”. There is not one thing that is outside of God’s control. He is able to handle anything that causes me worry or concern. I just have to turn it over to Him.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

3. Trust God.

Trust is the foundation of every good relationship. If I want a relationship with God, I must choose to trust who He is and what He says He will do in my life.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)

4. It takes faith.

Faith is invisible, but it is one of the greatest moving forces on earth and in heaven. It pleases God as we blindly move forward, trusting that He will work all things together for our good.  

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1)

5. God’s timing is perfect.

God works all things together in His timing and His way is always the best way.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Perhaps you are in a season of waiting and it seems endless. Maybe you feel that you “missed your train” because you trusted someone would come through for you and they didn’t. As a result you may have grasped a tighter grip on control only to find out that it is producing more stress, anxiety, or irritability in your life. It seems strange that letting go of control would be the answer, but it is. You can trust God with all your worries, problems, and concerns. He may not  give you the answer you have planned out, but He will come through for you and will use the problems of this season for your good. He won’t be a moment too soon or too late. You can trust Him.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


Lori graduated from Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God (now Southeastern University) in Lakeland, Florida in 1990 with a BA in Psychology. She earned her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at Stetson University in Deland, Florida in 1997. She was licensed in Florida as a Mental Health Counselor in 2000. She became licensed in the state of North Carolina as a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2009 after moving to NC in the fall of 2008. She is on the professional counselor referral network for Focus on the Family, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), and a contributor to the Blog for Summit Wellness Centers.Lori joined the team of Summit Wellness Centers after having been in practice with A Clear Word Counseling Center since 2010. Prior to this she practiced in the community mental health and substance abuse field in both inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities since 1987. She has a great passion for neurobiology and helping empower individuals to recognize their God-given ability to be “Transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2).” Her areas of expertise include working with mental health issues of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder as well as extensive experience in women’s issues, divorce recovery, tween/teen issues, grief, and couples/marital therapy. Lori is the proud mother of two wonderful girls.  She enjoys home improvement projects, gardening, and time spent in the beautiful outdoors of North Carolina with her family.

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A Prescription for Managing the Holiday Blues

by Donna Gibbs

Christmas is quickly approaching. For many, this is a wonderfully anticipated time of the year. These are the people who have the countdown of the number of days until Christmas on their social media posts. For them, it is a magical time of the year. A time of great joy and celebration.

But for many other people, the holidays are frankly a dreaded time of the year. The reasons are endless. A broken home. Financial strains. Loved ones serving overseas who can’t be home for the holidays. Loneliness. Fatigue and stress due to the busyness of the season. The let-down following the holidays. Fewer daylight hours during this time of the year.

But, those who may struggle most are those who have lost loved ones. If you are missing someone you love right now, you likely have memories of them associated with Christmas. Anticipating the holidays without your loved one is an excruciatingly painful thought, and their absence at the table, or in the gift-giving, is nearly breath-taking.

So, how do we cope when the holidays bring pain? Here is a toolbox of 15 suggestions that you may find helpful if you are dreading the holidays. You may not need every tool. But, you may need a few:

  1. Maintain a regular time of bible study and prayer. It is important to remain immersed in truth, particularly when struggling with feelings of sadness or loneliness. Secular research even confirms the positive impact of spirituality on physical and mental health. 
  2. Determine exactly what is causing you to have the “blues”. Name it and acknowledge it so that you can develop specific strategies for overcoming. Talk openly about your loss, and realize that it is 100% OK to not be 100% jolly. 
  3. Recognize where you are blessed. Make a list, focusing on what you do have. Your loss is obvious. Your blessings are there, but may be hidden in the shadow of your loss. 
  4. Think about what you have to look forward to following the holidays…don’t allow yourself to have tunnel vision on the past, or the holiday events that bring pain. 
  5. Review your expectations regarding the holidays. Adjust them when they are unrealistic. Unrealistic expectations always promise a case of the blues. 
  6. Begin some new traditions. Don’t try to compete with the past. 
  7. If you’ve lost a loved one, be creative and do something in honor of them.
  8. Do something for someone else. Focus on others who are also experiencing the blues during the holidays. Reaching out brings perspective and will bless you, as it also blesses them.
  9. Set reasonable limits for your spending. Avoid using credit cards and prevent the post-season regrets that will only invite additional pain.
  10. Watch your food intake. Prevent some of the post-season guilt and feelings of despair regarding weight gain. 
  11. Exercise! This is a wonderful prescription for the blues. 
  12. Journal your feelings/struggles, but always end your journal entry with praise. Look for gratitude, as it starves out discouragement. Allow yourself to be grounded in the promises of God and in His character.
  13. Remember the significance of the holidays. Focus on your relationship with Christ, above all else. 
  14. Seek professional help if your symptoms last more than a few weeks, or if they are so severe that they interfere with your daily activities. 
  15. Follow the guidelines of the serenity prayer:

“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.”


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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well.  Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor.  A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

Make Your Thanksgiving As Chronic As Your Need

By Donna Gibbs

Let’s play an old word-association game. What words come to your mind when you hear “Thanksgiving”? 

Many of you just thought of words like turkey … pilgrims… family… football… shopping. You experience warm, pleasant memories and emotions when you think of the word. Some of you, on the other hand, associate much darker words with Thanksgiving: words like conflict… loneliness… sadness. Frankly, some of you reading this text dread Thanksgiving. If you struggle with an eating disorder, you dread this day over most others – it has traditionally been a very bad day, and you associate this word with previous memories of struggle with food and body image. If you have a challenging family situation, you are nervous that something might blow up, and you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire. If you have lost a loved one, or experienced some traumatic event, you may wonder how you will cope, and how you will ever experience joy again during a previously joyous holiday. You might wonder how you will survive the emotional strain of the holidays ahead.

If you have hurtful associations with the word “Thanksgiving”, then let’s look back to the word itself for some guidance in coping. Thanksgiving simply means giving thanks. Did you know that research confirms that gratitude is a powerful resource in treating depression? No, this doesn’t mean that if you suddenly become a thankful person, that all of your grief and sadness will be gone. But, you may notice a slight shift in perspective that is refreshing and lifts your spirit. Being thankful doesn’t mean thinking through a superficial list of obvious things to be grateful for. It means really pondering and treasuring the less obvious things. Even in the darkest hours, we must meditate on the goodness of God and what He is doing in our lives (even when we don’t fully understand what appear to be bad things that are also interrupting our lives).

**The key to thankfulness is that it must be chronic. We have chronic stressors. Chronic conditions. Chronic losses. Chronic depression. Our degree of thankfulness must be as chronic as our need. So, this Thanksgiving, I want to challenge you to outweigh your challenges with your gratitude. Ponder your thankfulness. Literally, write out a list and reflect on it often. Write letters to others to express your gratitude. Just an experiment …I think you’ll be thankful you did!


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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. 

Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

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How to Transform Toxic Anxiety into Healthy Curiosity

by Donna Gibbs

“My anxiety is getting the best of me”. Anxiety is a common thorn in the flesh. But left unleashed and untamed, anxiety is much more than just a thorn. It becomes a torturous enemy that interrupts daily functioning.  Anxiety can shrink your world as you seek to avoid the people and places that create the physical symptoms. Symptoms like shallow and rapid breathing, sweaty palms, dizziness, nausea, upset stomach, and headaches.  And then there is the panic attack, which feels more like a heart-attack than anxiety.  A panic attack will scare you into thinking that it can kill you.  But it’s important to remember that it can’t. It is a powerful deceiver.

Anxiety is always future focused. When we think ahead with the filter of anxiety, we think catastrophically.  Our minds go to the worst possible scenarios, as if preparing for those conditions could help in any way.  We become immobilized by fear.  Ironically, we mostly fear the next time we’ll experience anxiety, so we work diligently to avoid any potential trigger.  And in doing so, we feed the monster, and give it more and more power to bully us into a corner.

Certainly there are some biological and chemical contributors to anxiety, and often times those contributors must be addressed for full freedom, but there are also some tools that we can use to manage those intimidating physical symptoms. Tools like the one below:

Consider your most recent anxious thought.  Is Jesus there? Probably not, because our anxious thoughts typically involve us looking ahead without seeing Him in our future. But what happens when we envision the future with Him in it? Our anxiety shifts, our bodies calm, and curiosity is born.

Curiosity allows us to embrace the future as an adventure, not a torture chamber.  Curiosity allows us to dream.  Curiosity is healthy (at least in most settings – but we can discuss more of that later!) To the contrary, anxiety is a toxic attempt at catastrophic preparation.  If you want to make the shift from anxiety to curiosity, allow your physical symptoms to simply be your warning, much like a warning light on the dash of your car.  And then invite Jesus into your thoughts about the future.  Meditate more on Him than the circumstance. Each time you ponder a disturbing circumstance, make sure you envision Him as the one in charge.  Because He is in control.  He is Sovereign God.  He is present in your future, and in your circumstances.

Today starts a new journey. It’s Day One of learning to cage your anxiety and unleash your curiosity! Let the journey begin!


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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. Follow Donna’s author page athttps://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

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How To Help Our Children Process Threats to School Safety

By Donna Gibbs

“Mom, everyday there is a threat. They say they are going to shoot at kids getting off the school bus, or they are going to come into the school with an Ak-47.”

“Dad, there have been several people arrested this week for making threats towards our school.”

“If there is a shooter at one end of the hall, and I’m at the other end, and all of the doors in the hall are locked, and the teachers aren’t allowed to open the door for me, what do I do?”

“I’ve thought through which teachers we can probably count on to protect us. They’d do anything to help us. Here’s my list…”

“I’m nervous. It’s hard for me to concentrate on school-work because I’m distracted by all of this”.

“I love going to school. I don’t want to be homeschooled. But I’m sometimes kinda scared”.

Yes, those conversations happened in my home recently.

I bet they happened in yours too.

I’m angry. Growing up I was nervous about fights or bullies. But it never crossed my mind that someone would come into the halls of our school with an assault rifle with the intent of massacre. Never did that occur to me. Never. But our children no longer have that luxury.

While I could just focus this blog on my anger, and spend the next few minutes simply venting, I recognize that God has placed within us the capacity to experience anger, that it be the fuel for an effective and productive response. So, with anger fueling my way, I’m going to share a few suggestions on how you (and I) might help our children process something so outrageous.

1. Let’s process this with grace. How? With grace, we listen to our children. Without judgement, we take the time to hear their thoughts and their emotions. We stay with them as they process emotions of fear, anger, confusion. We validate their emotions. We sit with them as they think it all through. Many children and teens are not discussing this at school – they may feel it’s too uncomfortable and intense. Our children must have a physically and emotionally safe place to process these emotions, and that is where we as parents have an important role. Let’s not miss this opportunity to minister to our children at their point of pain. Their point of fear. Their point of confusion. If they want to sit face to face and talk, fine. If it’s easier for them to do this on a walk, while doing their nails, or on the basketball court where they don’t have to look us in the eye, that’s ok too. But let’s make sure at some point that we make eye contact and they see our sincere love for them. Allow them to see our assurance. Our non-preachy presence and compassion will be a powerful help.

2. Let’s process this with truth. Due to the frequent threats on schools that must be addressed and publicly announced, the trigger of fear increases. Emotions and tensions are high. But truth is still truth, and the truth is that school shootings are still very rare. In fact, a student is much more at risk of physical danger while driving to school than they are once they reach the campus. Mortality rates of children are more impacted by drugs than school shootings. Yet, we must address the threats. We must provide our children with strategies for safety. Ultimately, we must balance grace and truth. Hear them, validate them. But also tell them the truth about the risk. Truth: school shootings are happening. Equal Truth: they are more likely to be killed in a plane crash than a school shooting.

3. After processing, invite a healthy distraction. Go do something together. A game of basketball. A movie. A manicure. A board game. Cook dinner together. While it’s never helpful to use distractions to completely escape reality, a healthy distraction at the appointed time is just… healthy.

What else can you do?

*In your effort to do something proactive with your fear and anger, I would encourage that you not send your young child to a protest or an adult school safety meeting that will only heighten their fears. Those are your emotions. Do something productive with your emotions, but be careful not to project your fears onto your child. Their emotions are already overwhelming enough for them to manage without the addition of adult emotions.

*Minimize exposure to TV or social media accounts of school violence, particularly for young children. Make sure any discussions with a young child are age appropriate. Watching news stories repetitively (for children or adults) only invites secondary trauma, and increases an unhealthy degree of fear and hypervigilance.

*Remain in control of your emotions, and allow your emotions to be used productively. If you are having a difficult time with this, take a personal time out and discuss your emotions with another trusted and calm adult.

*Be vigilant. Talk to your children about people or situations that concern them. Get on their social media accounts. Be proactive in partnering with your community to address the issues. When you as a parent see or hear of an issue of concern, don’t just talk to other parents about it, report it. Speak to administration about how you can help. Provide helpful encouragement and input to your local law-enforcement and education officials. Offer your time, expertise, or services to be a part of the solution for safety in your schools.

Unfortunately, we do live in a fallen world. There will be more school shootings. There is no utopia in which we won’t see violence in America. Have the tough conversations, but make sure they are healthy conversations. And when you’ve taken appropriate responsibility to address the concerns, put your eyes on Christ, your eternal hope. That will allow you to take a deep breath, and rest in the safety this world can never provide.

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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

Categories

ALL POSTSACCOUNTABILITYANXIETYBECOMING RESILIENTBIBLE STUDYBULIMIACHANGECHRISTMASCHRONIC CHALLENGESEATING DISORDERSGRATITUDEHEALTHHOLIDAYSHOPEINTERNETLUSTMARRIAGEMARYMINISTRYNEW YEARPARENTINGPEACEPORNOGRAPHYPURPOSERESOLUTIONSRESTSCHOOLSILENCING INSECURITYSUICIDETHANKSGIVING

Recent Posts

No One Wants the Successful Outcome of a Destructive Goal

Jan 11, 2019

Resolutions: “Better is the End of a thing than its Beginning”

Jan 3, 2019

New You in the New Year

Dec 28, 2018

Designer Baby: A Word About Eating Disorders

by Donna Gibbs

No… I’m not pregnant again! But, I vividly remember this profound counseling session from four years ago, and think it fitting to share with you again today. Eating Disorders are a false sense of resilience, and the treatment of this vicious struggle represents a significant portion of my caseload. If you’re struggling, I hope you’ll find encouragement here.

Those who have known me for any length of time, know that my greatest and most treasured learnings have come as a direct result of my interactions with precious clients over the years. Today proved to be no exception. Today I witnessed such a powerful and profound revelation with a client that I had to share it with you – I know you will be blessed. I call this blog-post Designer Baby because that is the title my client used, in reference to herself. Understand, this is a beautiful young woman, a highly intelligent young woman, who has been robbed of herself by a vicious and dangerous eating disorder. This eating disorder was born out of a terrorizing and evil victimization of her body by a group of teenage boys. Years later, she now has little understanding and appreciation of her value, and has been on a journey of self-destruction for some time. If there has ever been a tool of the enemy, this is it. An eating disorder involves lies and deceit, by definition. Sadly, pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites provide even further instructions to its victims about how to believe the lies that will better feed “success” in an eating disorder. In essence, it is a “successful” brainwashing into a pit of darkness and death. However, today, I saw a ray of light in this darkness – and these are the moments that motivate me to stay faithful to God’s call in the trenches of tough counseling.

Her revelation was born out of a discussion regarding my own pregnancy (I am pregnant and beginning to blossom, to say the least, so this obvious aspect of my new appearance is a platform for much discussion in the office these days). I had previously assigned this particular client homework that involved writing a letter to herself, as if it were written from her Creator. This has been a challenging assignment, as it is for anyone who is deceived by the lies of the enemy, and the lies of an eating disorder in particular. For years, she has almost intuitively felt and thought disgust for herself, diminishing any value within. She has also pushed God out of her life, finding that her relationship with Him, and her eating disorder, could not co-exist. A smart young woman, intrigued by discovery, made reference to the progress in technology in “designing” a baby at the request of its parents. Far beyond the developments of IVF, or other reproductive technologies, parents can make preferences for a baby boy or a baby girl. With a humbled, but intrigued, countenance on her face, my client looked at me and profoundly said, “I am God’s designer baby. He created me just the way I am, because He had a purpose for my life, and I’ve spent years trying to sabotage His design”. I celebrated within as I witnessed glimpses of hope; hope that my client could see the value that I see in her, and the amazing person that her Creator designed her to be. Following that statement came a beautiful letter, as if written from God, straight to her heart. She’s requested that I share the letter with you. As complex as eating disorders might be, their solution is not so complex that it cannot be understood. Regrouping with the Creator is a significant part of that solution, and I see a spark of that today.

“You are wonderfully and fearfully made. You are a rare creature. You do not even understand your full potential. You are an heiress of the Kingdom of God. You were designed perfectly, as I wanted you to be. Embrace who you are, and stop fighting the warrior inside of you. You are a fiery woman, and it is your choice whether that fire consumes you, or you use it for good. There is more to your life than others’ opinions of you. A lion does not fear the opinion of sheep. Do not cower under fear”.  

Her next homework assignment was to read and re-read this letter daily. Lies and deceit have been the repetitive “friend” of her previous years. It was time to defeat this enemy and take life back. She is a beautiful and strong woman – I look so forward to her full recognition and embracing of this fact.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, know that the issues are complex. Team up with a professional Christian counselor who is familiar with eating disorder treatments, and who can facilitate your recovery. Do your homework. Understand the nutritional aspects and the psychological struggles correlated with eating disorders. But, most importantly, know your Creator. He is the way out. He is the One who provides truth about your innate value, prior even to your conception. Even while addressing the necessary nutritional and psychological components, pay attention to God’s truths about you. Work diligently and intentionally, even when it doesn’t seem right, not to sabotage that truth. You are in for a challenging marathon, but it will come with incredible reward. Stay in there, as God truly shines His light on darkness, breaks chains of deception, and sets you free from your captivity!

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, and is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.