Does Counseling=Crazy? NO! 10 Reasons To Sit On The Couch

 Many of us (African Americans) think you have to be “touched” or “crazy” to go to therapy.” While it’s true that some people with mental health issues seek therapy, it’s really a service for anyone. Therapy is a paid service that connects you with a trained professional who provides you with the support you need to live a healthier and happier life.

Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/mental-health-articles/why-dont-africanamericans-go-to-therapy-604938.html#ixzz13VzcgfXb
 

In 2002, I saw a counselor for 6 months and that 6 months transformed my life. I was finally ready to confront the pain that I had held onto for two years following the rape in 2000. I was so scared about starting counseling and talking to a complete stranger, that I cancelled my first appointment.  The next week, I was  nervous as I drove to the agency but once I got there and met my counsellor, I felt more at ease. My counselor was compassionate, patient, professional but down to earth, knowledgeable, open-minded and understanding. While she was friendly towards me, she kept professional boundaries and she never self disclosed anything about herself. She challenged me when I was afraid, she encouraged me when I didn’t think I could talk about the hurtful memories and she cheered me on when I had victories! Now that I have my Masters in Counseling and understand what attributes counselors should have, I now understand how truly awesome of a counselor she was.
 
I went into counseling prepared to work towards getting better. I read every book and did every homework assignment. I was on time and I shared honestly from the heart during every session. Outside of counseling, I was developing my relationship with God and I had an active prayer life. I combined the natural with the spiritual and I worked hard. At the end of the 6 months, I was no longer afraid of the classmate who raped me. He still went to my school and I had to be brave enough to not allow his presence to run me off campus. My confidence and self-esteem was high because I knew who I was in Christ; I knew how Christ saw me. I knew that I was not a victim, I was/am a strong, bold, completely healed and free woman of God. I learned to change my thinking, to love myself, to forgive, to trust God, to rely on my support system, to walk in love and to let go of anger and hate.
 
I would strongly recommend anyone who is or has gone through something difficult to seek the help of a counselor. Whether your suffering from past or present abuse/trauma, trying to get over a bad relationship/failed marriage, lost your job, having trouble with your kids, finances or just plan old need to talk to someone about how to reach your goals and make decisons in life, I strongly encourage you to seek the help of a counselor. Counseling is a blessing and it works!! I’m living proof!
 
Positivelypresent.com wrote a great article about why people should seek counseling. Here’s 10 reasons to sit on the couch:

1. You have time set aside just to talk about YOU. 
 

2. You create a safe haven where you can be completely honest. 
 

3. You learn new things about yourself every week (very cool!).

4. You find ways to better relate to the people around you. 

5. You figure out why you do the (sometimes stupid) things you do.

6. You explore the past, which leads to a better present.

7. You open your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking.

8. You accept and love yourself for who you are, flaws included.

9. You deal with the hard stuff you normally avoid like the plague.

10. You wake up one morning and realize, “Finally, I’m really living.”
http://www.positivelypresent.com/2009/04/ive-been-in-therapy—-really-been-in-it—-for-about-six-months-now-this-is-my-fourth-therapist-and-the-only-one-ive-actual.html

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Forgiveness is the Sweetest Revenge

Forgiveness is the sweetest revenge- Isaac Friedmann

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you- Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future~ Paul Boese

Forgive or relive~ unknown

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” Hannah Moore

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong~ Ghandi

We achieve inner health only through forgiveness-the forgiveness of not only others but of ourselves~ Joshua Liebman

Ladies take back your life! Don’t give those that have hurt you the pleasure of keeping you insecure, depressed, angry and afraid. Forgiveness is for you. When you forgive you get free, you get to take your life back, to smile again, to live a happy life  and to have joy and peace of mind. You deserve to be free, to be happy and to enjoy fulfilling relationships with others. You can’t be in a healthy place if you’re not walking in forgiveness. You’ll always have the chains around your hands and feet, the weight of the painful past will always hold you down. Its time to BREAK FREE!!!!!

Forgive those who have hurt you, give the pain over to the Lord. Ask Him to heal your broken heart, to help you see yourself how He sees you. The bible tells us to cast our burdens unto Jesus because He cares for us! The bible also tells us that God heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. He is waiting and willing to restore you to your rightful place in Him. Please make the decision today to seek guidance from a friend, family member, church member, pastor, counselor, social worker or your doctor. Talk to someone and start your healing process. Forgiveness may seem impossible today BUT trust me, as each day goes by, the decision gets easier and easier. It’s harder to live in pain and loneliness of unforgiveness, than it is to forgive and be free. You may never forget and that’s okay, but at least you will have your joy and peace back. True forgiveness says “I will not allow the things you’ve done to me to hold me captive any longer. I forgive you, I wish you well and I’m moving on.” You don’t have to be best friends with that person, talk to them on the phone and hang out. Forgiveness means you will not speak or think ill of them, you will not seek revenge on them, but instead you will pray for them and ask God to heal you both of the past. God is faithful. He will walk with you every step of the way, just trust Him and obey!!

Sistas Positively Affecting Sistas

Many women in the African American community are struggling. Struggling to know their purpose, their value/worth, to understand what real love is,  to be accepted and live productive lives. Many AA women have made celebrities and the women in the videos their role models and this much change. I went to visit a 22-year-old single mom with four kids. She had a few female friends over and all the ladies had their hair done, gold around their necks and designer clothes on. The family lives in poverty. I am not saying that people with low-income can not have nice things, but often times AA women spend more money on hair, nails, jewelry, clothes, shoes and make up than anything else. This must change. Our value should never be in how cute we look or what possessions we have. Our value isn’t in how great our bodies look or how many men are following us around. Our value is who are we in Christ; that we are healthy mind, body and soul, that we’re happy, determined and successful. We are more than just baby makers or women with big butts. We are creative,  smart, worthy of love and healthy relationships. We are strong, survivors, teachers, lawyers, doctors, social workers, stay at home mothers, business owners, ministers of the gospel etc.

To my Christian sistas, the next time you see that same prostitute that passes by your job everyday, the young girl in your neighborhood that dresses too fast, a single mother on your job that you know is struggling to raise her six children all alone, your aunt who struggles with drug addiction, your girl who fell away from church or your sister who just dropped out of school, pray and follow the Holy Spirit as to how to love on that woman. Give her a smile, some encouraging words, a hug, tell her Jesus loves her, you love her, it will be ok, ask if you can pray with her, invite her to church, treat her to lunch and just be a listening ear, whatever Holy Spirit tells you to do.

Christians are the salt of the earth. The bible says the world will know we are Christians by our love. We must love on those around us. We must let our light shine. We must live a sold out for Christ lifestyle so that the women around us can know that they too can have peace, joy, a great life in Christ. I give  God ALL the glory that my life is a positive example to others. I am blessed to be a 29-year-old black woman who loves the Lord, has a husband who loves the Lord, we serve at our church together, we have a happy marriage, we were blessed to plan our pregnancy, we own a home in the suburbs, I have two college degrees and we both have careers that we love. Ask me if ten years ago I would have thought I would be this blessed, no! God is good and when I completely surrender my life to Him, He restored me and continues to mold me into the woman who He has called me to be. I want my life to encourage others. To let them know that if God did it for me, He will do that and more for them.

Ladies today’s message is to walk in love, be led as to how the Holy Ghost wants you to mentor and reach out to those around you and to let your lifestyle be a witness of God’s goodness and faithfulness to others. The world needs us. We can’t afford to be half stepping, fake, worthless Christians. Our families need us, our coworkers, neighbors and those that we come into contact with daily on Facebook and Twitter. People all over need hope and we know the one who has all that they need, JESUS!!!

If you enjoyed this blog post, I encourage you to subscribe to receive emails regarding future post. The subscribe button is located at the top left corner of the blog. Once you enter your email and hit “sign me up,” you will have to open your email and confirm the subscription. Thank you in advance for your support. Also please email the blog link to other ladies https://joannawillis.wordpress.com

My 10 Yr Survivor Testimony: Victim to Victor

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
Anonymous
Like the butterfly, each of us has to let go of our past and be willing to step out, be transformed and made new. Letting go is the 1st step.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – Author Unknown

“Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” – Ann Landers

Today is an awesome day for me. Today marks the ten year anniversary of the sexual assault that I SURVIVED. The devil picked the wrong one to mess with! Those first three years I was a mess, BUT GOD!! I have spent the last seven years walking as a victor and NOT a victim!! The number seven means completion and over the last seven years, I”ve allowed God to prepare me for the work that He is doing in me now and is about to do through me. I’m ready Lord! Use me, send me, speak through me to set other’s free!!

I want to encourage people today to not allow your past to haunt you and cause you to be a victim and not a victor. You can’t change what has been done to you or what you did to yourself. You must give your hurt, pain, shame, confusion and disappointments over to God. I strongly encourage you to seek professional guidance to assist you in your journey towards healing, victory and success.

Victim is defined as 1. One who is harmed or killed by another. A person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of.

Victor is defined as one who defeats an adversary; the winner in a fight, battle, contest, or struggle.

I used to see myself as a victim. I used to have low self-esteem and lots of anger, hate and fear in my heart. I allowed the person who took advantage of me to rule my mind, emotions and my life. Out of fear I would not go certain places or be around certain people, because I was angry on the inside, I rarely had peace of joy. What he did to me was bad enough, but I had no right to give him the rest of my life to ruin. I made a choice to get seek God’s healing power, a minister, a counselor, my family and friends. I decided to take my life back, to get strong AND to help others who had gone through what I had. I made a choice to FIGHT to become a victor and never again a victim!

The road to recovery was one day at a time. I was very depressed when my journey first started because I had to allow myself to feel all the pain of the assault that I had blocked out and ignored as best I could for two years. Each time I met with my counselor, did a homework assignment about my experience, read my bible, pray out loud and talk to God about what had happened, I took the power out of the attackers hands and put it back in my own.

I encourage you today to face your fears of the past. To not walk around with the baggage of yesterday, last year, ten years ago etc. You deserve to be happy, healthy, healed emotionally, financially, spiritually, mentally, physically, successful, victorious and FREE. Yes they hurt you, they lied, abused you, mistreated you, lied on you, took advantage of you BUT GOD BUT GOD BUT GOD BUT GOD BUT GOD!! He’s bigger, He’s able, He’s faithful and He’s waiting with open arms!!

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Matthew 11:27-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Isaiah 61:3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Matthew 6:14-15 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

A Testimony of Overcoming The Aftermath of Abortion

To continue the theme of restoration week, I wanted to share a woman’s powerful testimony of overcoming the shame of having an abortion at a young age. I like to change the names of the testimonies that I share from others because it’s not about who I’m talking about but the awesome things God did for them. I will call today’s woman Sarah. 

If you or someone you is suffering from an abortion, please seek counsel and guidance from a local church and/or pro-life center near you. They will counsel you, pray with you and provide you with resources such as support groups for women who desire healing from abortion.

When Sarah found herself pregnant as a freshman in college, she panicked. She was afraid of what her parents would say and how a baby would affect her future plans. She and her boyfriend did not grow up in Christian homes but they knew deep down that abortion was wrong. The couple reluctantly went through with the procedure, not know ing that their lives would never be the same.

Sarah and her partner got saved shortly after the abortion. They started going to church and learning about God together. The couple ended up getting married and began their new life in Christ together, but the past still haunted them, especially Sarah. Sarah often wondered how God could truly love her because she had killed her innocent baby. Sarah found herself feeling depressed, ashamed and unworthy of love often. It pained her husband to see what she was going through and therefore he often prayed for her and supported her the best ways he knew how.

Sarah continued to go to church and learn about God’s mercy, grace, love and forgiveness. She knew that she needed to forgive herself because God had long ago forgiven her because she had repented of her sin. Sarah knew that she was not walking in God’s peace and joy and she was only punishing herself, which was not God’s will. Sarah felt as though one of the first steps to forgiving herself was confessing her sin to some of her close family members. After sharing with them what she had done and how God was healing her, Sarah felt a weight lift from her shoulders and her healing process was truly able to start.

To help release the negative feelings of shame, Sarah went on a personal mission to share her testimony with some of the young girls at her church who were considering becoming sexually active, were currently active or who found themselves pregnant and scared. Sarah also joined a Christian support group for women who wanted healing from past abortions. The group met for a few weeks and reviewed home work assignments about restoration from abortion, they reviewed what the bible says about forgiveness, comfort, God’s love and mercy. The ladies also supported each other by talking through their past experiences. Sarah found great comfort and restoration through attending the group, so much so that she became a group counselor after she completed the sessions.

Sarah story is definitely a But God story. The devil thought he had her, BUT GOD! The after effects of the abortion could have ruined her self-esteem, her relationships, robbed her of her joy, peace, self-respect to the point that she could have ruined her own life because of her inner turmoil. But God sent someone to witness to her and her husband, they got saved, married, hooked up with a church and they began receiving the life changing word of God. She began sharing her testimony with her family and church members as a way to stump on the devils head and she even located a support group to help seal the deal on her restoration. Now whenever the devil tries to get in her ear and speak negativity in doubt, she kicks him off her shoulder and stumps on his head because she knows who she is and whose she is! A RESTORED CHILD OF THE KING!!!!!!!

If you enjoyed this blog post, I encourage you to subscribe to receive emails regarding future post. The subscribe button is located at the top left corner of the blog. Once you enter your email and hit “sign me up,” you will have to open your email and confirm the subscription. Thank you in advance for your support. Also please email the blog link to other ladies https://joannawillis.wordpress.com

8 Tips For Improving Your Relationship With Your In Laws

It’s Marriage Monday! I wanted to post two articles that I found helpful regarding marriage. Marriage has its challenging moments and one challenging component can be getting to know you’re in laws and adjusting to the way they do things. Intent.com posted an article of 8 helpful tips to improve your relationship with you’re in laws, check it out. Whether the relationship with your in-laws is great or could use some improving, here are some tips that may help:

  1. Spouse comes first. The Bible even talks about this one. A person will leave their mother and father and cleave to their spouse. When you get married, it’s time to grow up and leave your parents. This doesn’t mean you emotionally kick them to the curb or cut all ties, but you do need to establish your own family. By putting your spouse first, you are choosing the adult role of being a husband or wife over the role of being a child in your parent’s family.
  2. Set boundaries. There are many things that happen in marriage that are none of your parent’s business. If you run to mom or dad any time you have a fight with your spouse, how are you going to learn to handle life with your spouse on your own? Avoid sharing the household secrets with your parents. Discuss with your spouse what topics and areas of your life are off limits to others.
  3. Establish ground rules. Much like the previous point, setting clear ground rules for handling extended family will improve your marriage.
    • When do you and your spouse have exclusive time for each other?
    • When do you spend time with your extended family?
    • When do you involve your parents/in-laws in decision-making?
    • Where should you discuss your marital conflicts: in private or in front of your in-laws?
  4. Recognize the culture. Our culture and upbringing plays a major role in how we do marriage. Recognize the cultural aspects of your spouse’s upbringing. One client I’ve worked with handled it this way: In her upbringing, the women did all the cooking and cleaning up at mealtimes. So when they shared a meal with her parents, he stayed out of the way. However, when her parents weren’t around, he stepped up and helped out or took care of it himself.
  5. Don’t criticize your spouse’s relationship with their parents. Nothing can raise a spouse’s defenses faster than criticism. Seek to understand more about their relationship rather than criticize, as this can lead to bitterness and resentment.
  6. Be polite. This doesn’t mean you have to change your personality to please your in-laws, simply respect rules and traditions that are important to the older generation. Being polite and respectful with in-laws will go a long way in improving the relationship. Not only with your in-laws, but your spouse as well.
  7. Develop code words. My wife and I have pretty good relationships with each other’s parents. Even so, there are still times when they drive us a bit crazy. We’ve developed some code words that we use to lighten the mood between us whenever in-laws are getting too annoying. Have fun with this one but remember to remain respectful. Derogatory code words could only cause more problems.
  8. Spend time with your in-laws. Develop a better relationship with your in-laws by doing things together. Find out what they enjoy and try joining them. This could be shopping, playing golf, cards, whatever. You may find you have more in common than you thought.

http://www.intent.com/blog/2009/03/03/8-tips-improving-your-relationship-laws

Grab Yo Suit Case, It’s Time For A Change

The key to change is to let go of fear- Rosanne Cash
 
There is nothing wrong with change, if it’s in the right direction- Winston Churchill
 
Life can either be accepted or change. If it’s not accepted, it must be
change. If it cannot be changed, then it must be accepted.- unkown
 
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending- Maria Robinson
 
Women are creatures of habit. We like things to be comfortable and to stay the same and consistent but sometimes this can be a bad thing. As women we have to make sure that we do not allow fear of the unknown to prevent us from stepping out and trying something new. Read the following questions and answer them honestly to yourself.
 
1. Am I happy and fulfilled in my current job?
 
2. Am I being loved and treated how I deserve to be in my current
relationship?
 
3. Is my church teaching me the word of God and helping me to grow spiritually?
 
4. Do I enjoy my job and look forward to going to work each week?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it maybe time for a change. God put all of us on this earth for a reason and each day that we have breath in our lungs, we are responsible for walking in our purpose and living our lives to the fullest. When God says it’s time to move, grab your bags and get to moving. He will never ask you to do something and sit back and watch you do it all by yourself. He will lead and God you through every step of the way. Seek God, yield to Him and watch Him do awesome things in your life. Don’t waste another day on a man that’s not loving you, respect you and building you up. Don’t keep working at a job that you hate and don’t keep attending a church that you know you have out grown. Seek God for direction but know that whatever He tells you to do, you got to be prepared to do.

Jere 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Isaiah 43:18-20 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.