The Problem With Settling

SettlingMost of the time, we think of being settled as a good thing – a safe emotional place. When we feel anxious, we want to settle down and relax.

But the type of settling we’re talking about is different. This sad “S” word means we have chosen something we do not really want instead of waiting for the best.

Sometimes we settle in relationships. We have been taught marriage somehow holds the key to security and happiness. For some women – that does happen. For others – not so much.

Or we settle for a relationship built only on financial security, live with a guy and finally discover he’s only using us for his own type of security. We’ve settled for less than the best. Remember: a man is NOT a financial plan.

Settling can manifest itself in many ways. We buy clothes on sale just because they ARE on sale when we really don’t love them that much. The unused clothes hanging in our closets testify to this truth.

Sometimes we settle for an apartment or a house just because it’s the only thing we can afford. Years later, we suddenly wake up and realize we hate where we live. We’ve settled and a portion of our souls has become tarnished with regret.

We settle for jobs that don’t fulfill us just because they meet a need and/or they provide health insurance. Then we hate getting up every morning and live for the day we can take a vacation. We’ve settled for a life’s work that feels empty.

Settling is easier to accept because settling means we don’t have to change. We don’t have to deal with the difficult decisions.

We just live in the same old rut and keep breathing. But the stress of settling becomes a hidden cancer that changes how we think about ourselves and our world.

Settling breeds a hopeless existence.

So how do we stop this negative pattern of settling? What can we do to move forward and change our perspective – to live within the best possible scenario?

Know Your Core Values

Once you know how to guard your core values, you’ll be able to make wise decisions based on those values.

For example: if your core value is creativity, then you’ll probably be unhappy settling for a tiny house where you have no freedom or space to create. You’ll need large windows that let in light. You’ll want an area where you can walk and enjoy nature, then come home and feel refreshed to paint, write or sew.

If one of your core values is integrity, then you won’t settle for a relationship with a guy who is deceitful. You’ll be careful to whom you give your heart, and you’ll check out every date to see if he has integrity.

If a core value is to help people, then you won’t be happy sitting in a cubicle all day working on Excel charts. You’ll need a job where you can be with people and serve them.

Pay Attention to Your Gut Instincts

As women, we are particularly instinctive. We have an inner voice, a soul temple that shares protective nudges with our brains.

We need to pay attention when “something” tells us a certain relationship has red flags, a certain house isn’t right for us, a certain job is toxic.

Some women like to make lists of the red flags to watch out for. Other women just keep an inner checklist for any type of decision.

Whatever you choose to do, listen to your heart. Pay attention to what you’re feeling inside. It’s much easier to say, “No” at the beginning than to live with years of regret.

Don’t Ignore Your Dreams

One writer quotes, “Don’t downgrade your dreams just because of reality.”

Many women do this. We ignore the dream of a higher education because we’re afraid of the costs: time, energy and money.

We push down our dreams of becoming a writer, a painter or a concert pianist because someone else has made all the choices for us – choices based on economics and reality.

But the truth is … God gave us those desires for a reason. He planted those dreams in us because he wanted us to live an abundant life.

When we pay attention to our dreams, then we refuse to settle for second best. We march toward the best possible scenarios in life, and we end up feeling more fulfilled.

Take the Time to Be Patient

When we make hurried decisions, that’s when we often settle. We want to make something happen, and we think a certain answer will do – even if it’s not what we really want.

The best decisions are based on godly wisdom, logic, figuring out the pros and cons and looking at all the possible consequences.

It takes time to consider all the variables of a wise decision.

Plus … if we take the time to ask God for wisdom, he always has a perfect timing involved with his good plan for our lives.

So take the time to be patient and then choose the decision that is truly best for you – not settling.

Rely on the Wisdom of Others

It’s great to have wise people in your corner, especially when you have a tendency to settle. Every woman needs a solid confidante she can depend on or even a group of dependable friends.

When we try to make life-changing decisions all by ourselves, we often end up settling. But a corps group of smart and intuitive friends can help us sort out all the possibilities.

An accountability group that focuses on NOT settling will help point out where we might be compromising our principles or making foolish choices. Having a few wise friends is a great gift.

At GateWay of Hope, we have Counselors and Coaches who will help you work through decisions, then provide accountability as you move forward.

Be Cautious about Life-Changing Decisions

For women who have a tendency to settle, caution is the key word. You might want to keep a journal with “Remember When” sentences:

  • Remember when you believed those lies about that relationship?
  • Remember when you bought that expensive sweater you didn’t even like?
  • Remember when you settled for the wrong house because it was cheaper than the one you really wanted?
  • Remember how you ignored your dream of becoming a dancer and how miserable you felt?
  • Remember your little girl soul and how happy she was living in the country?

By reminding ourselves about other times we settled, we can be more cautious when faced with the next life-changing decision.

Trust God’s Love for You

God is not waiting around for us to make mistakes, ready to zap us if we choose the wrong path. He promises, “I will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

WHEREVER YOU GO.

No matter what decisions you make, God will be with you, still loving you and still helping you.

Sometimes, of course, we make really bad mistakes and then we have to pay the logical consequences. But if we refuse to settle for anything less than God’s best for us – then we’re definitely surrounded by his protective angels and the covering umbrella of his desires for us.

So believe in God’s never-ending love for you and stop settling. Wait for the best. Check out all the circumstances and listen to the wisdom of others.

Then move forward with joy and a renewed sense of self-confidence.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

What is the Secret Sauce at GateWay?

GateWay Logo Original with OutlinesPeople with the Secret Sauce are vital commodities in today’s workplace. These are the experts, the advice-givers, those people we seek out who can help us successfully move forward.

For example: Bill Gates has the Secret Sauce for Microsoft – this business he designed and put his life into.

Another example is Julia Child who had the Secret Sauce and determination to share the joy of French cooking, to persevere until her first cookbook was published and then walk into her celebrity with humility and grace.

Jesus has the Secret Sauce for helping us move past our strongholds, our bondage, lies of the past and any number of other struggles. He also has the cure for society and the future of our hearts.

At GateWay of Hope, we have the Secret Sauce to help women transform their lives and create new legacies.

Our Counselors are licensed, professional therapists who deal with any number of issues and crises women struggle with. They help women process through past abuses, depression, relationship struggles, grief and/or emotional angst.

Our Coaches are certified professionals with a wealth of experience. They help women design plans to move over obstacles in life and progress toward their authentic selves. Our Coaches partner with their clients to advance their personal development, effectively start over single after divorce, set healthy boundaries in relationships, move forward in spiritual formation and recover from betrayal.

Within the group relationships at GateWay, women discover more of the Secret Sauce available in such a comfortable and beautiful atmosphere. Women who have been betrayed, abandoned and emotionally abused find connections with a group that Restores Hope After Betrayal. These women learn they are not alone in their struggle and that even if their husbands choose pornographic images or other sexual deviations – these women can be strong enough to take care of their hearts. The tools these women learn in this group provide hope and healing as well as the gumption to move forward stronger and more content than ever before.

In the Grief Recovery Program at GateWay, the Secret Sauce is included in the truth that all women suffer a loss of some kind and it’s okay to grieve about it. So many women hide behind the mask of “I’m fine” or “I have to be strong” and they deny the power of grieving in healthy ways. Women’s lives have been changed by simply learning ways to grieve and being given permission to do that at GateWay.

The Secret Sauce is prayer for the PAC Moms group. These women come to GateWay twice a month to pray for their adult children. Their hearts are breaking for their babies who are now adults and have chosen to ignore God’s love or are engaged in harmful behaviors. So these mamas come to pray, and their fervent pleas to God are heard. We see miracles happening at GateWay as a direct result of these intense and genuine prayers.

The women who populate the Treasures group have become a band of “she-roes” at GateWay of Hope. These incredibly strong women find treasure within chronic pain and the illnesses they bear every day. Yet they do not come to GateWay to morbidly complain. Instead, they encourage each other in ways to live out their lives – albeit in pain – with a sense of joy and contentment. Their Secret Sauce include perseverance, gratitude for simple joys and the certainty that pain may last as a temporary affliction, but someday – healing will be complete.All women need hope

Although we often encourage women to journal and process through their thoughts, our Journaling Class occurs twice a year at GateWay. The Secret Sauce is conveyed through the teaching gift and life experiences of our facilitator who shares fascinating new ways to journal and gain benefits from this important discipline. Women come away from the Journaling Class with a renewed vision for how they can share their learnings and apply journaling tips to their own decision-making processes.

Our cornerstone group at GateWay of Hope is our Boundaries track. Three times a year, we present some sort of boundaries class, because we know how important it is for women to learn how to say, “No” and when to say, “Yes.” We have seen the consequences when women do not know the difference and allow life to take away their precious selves. So we want every woman to learn about these life-changing guidelines and begin to implement them into their worlds.

Where is the Secret Sauce at GateWay? It’s interwoven into everything we do and every woman we serve. Why is it so important to find the Secret Sauce at GateWay? Because we are the premier place that presents such restorative and transformative change in the lives of women.

Come join us on this journey. We’d love to serve you.

©2016 GateWay of Hope

Finding Women in the Queue

For some strange reason, my printer decided to freak out. Everything was working fine, then it wasn’t. Even after unplugging and rebooting, the printer would not print.printer

In my frustration, I attempted to print several documents which sent them into the queue. Several times, I sent those documents on to this invisible place in techie land where they disappeared. Then I completely forgot about them.

The next day, after I unplugged and rebooted again, the printer decided to resuscitate itself and come back to life. But then, all those documents in the queue spilled forth – in fresh black ink – several copies of the symbols of my frustration.

While I was grateful the printer had decided to join me in the tasks of the day, I now added several pieces of paper to my scrap pile.

Then I decided this experience was not wasted. I could learn something valuable and share it with you.

When women first come to GateWay of Hope, they may be stuck behind a wall of depression, past abuse or a relationship struggle. They may be in crisis and need a counselor or they may need an accountability coach to help them over an obstacle. They may need to find relationship in groups so they know they are not alone.

Many of the GateWay women struggle with their identity. Who am I, really? I am searching for healing, but where do I go from here? What does God have for me? How can I find my purpose in life?

They may feel as if they are in the queue, just waiting for some power source to help them move forward.

Then one glorious day, everything begins to make sense. They realize who they really are – the incredible daughters of God.

They are women who have been gifted to help others, to serve in their communities, to raise a family or to live a contented single life.

They are unique and can accept their authenticity while setting boundaries around their hearts.

They represent the future for our country and they influence others through volunteering, facilitating a group or mentoring a younger woman.

The transformation becomes apparent for those of us on staff who have watched them morph into who God created them to be in the first place.

The junk of the past is gone. The emotional baggage has packed up and left.

What remains is the pure, sweet presence of God in their lives, redesigning their purpose and restoring what was stolen from them.

Suddenly, the power source is obvious. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in their souls and they are no longer stuck in the chaos or struggling to find their direction.

They are transformed and released.

They begin to pour forth love and fulfillment into their communities, their workplaces, their churches and their families.

And their influence creates a ripple effect throughout society.

These are the women of GateWay, empowered to move forward with hope and wholeness, because they have experienced an inner healing that can never be taken away from them.

In the Bible, the prophet Joel wrote, “In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons AND daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men AND women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29 TNIV).

This is what happens at GateWay of Hope. Women who once were stuck in the queue are now going forward to make a difference.

Won’t you join us in this incredible ministry? Check out our website or give us a call at 913.393.GATE (4283).

©2016 GateWay of Hope

 

Finding the Value in Group Relationships

At GateWay of Hope, we offer various groups for women – groups that foster hope, healing and wholeness.Sharing Experiences - Bengston quote

The group dynamic offers several benefits that help us move forward in life:

  • In groups, we realize we are not alone.
  • Within the group dynamic, we begin to grow new relationships with each other.
  • As group members build relationship, we teach each other.

How do these different dynamics work?

WE’RE NOT ALONE

When we go through a struggle in life, we often feel as if we’re all alone. Sometimes we may even isolate ourselves so the aloneness becomes not only emotional but also physical.

But within a group, we meet other women who are going through the same struggle. They may even have the same experiences we’ve had.

Even with different experiences, we learn how to deal with the struggle – using a shared solution.

For example: every woman has had a loss of some kind whether it is within a relationship, a circumstance of life, even something as seemingly normal as moving to another state. And we need to grieve those losses in healthy ways.

All women grieve about something. But we don’t grieve in the same way or within the same timeline.

We learn, within groups, to respect that difference in each other yet to empathize because we, too, have grieved.

In some of the more unique groups at GateWay, we address issues women try to keep secret.

A woman who is married to a sex addict is not going to announce her struggle to the world. She will not share that trauma with even some of her best friends.

But within the safety of our group, “Restoring Hope After Betrayal,” women share the secret and realize they are not alone in the struggle.

They support each other, empathize with each other and help each other grow.

GROWING NEW RELATIONSHIPS

This wonderful phenomenon happens within every GateWay group.

Women from various demographics and ages begin to know each other and share together. They focus on the topic of the group, listen to the facilitator and dare to reveal their secrets.

Then one or more of them will bring a snack, share a favorite recipe or decide on a meetup at another time outside their group meeting.

They schedule a coffee together, either at GateWay or in another location. They discover a talent they share, a dream they both have or maybe the same parenting challenges.

They draw a bit closer in relationship and soon they schedule play dates together with their kids, introduce each other to their husbands and/or invite each other into their homes.

They become friends – sisters – with a shared background and now – a new relationship.

We love to see this happening at GateWay, and we welcome the value of relationships as women grow stronger together.

TEACHING EACH OTHER

We may have shared experiences, but we don’t all learn in the same ways.

Women who grow together in groups share some of their practical tips with each other. Sometimes the older women help the younger ones; sometimes it works the other way around.

Dr. Michelle Bengtson reminds us how the sharing of our experiences may teach us valuable lessons and perhaps keep us from repeating past mistakes.

We help each other deal with the present but also prepare for the future. And as we heal from the past, we become stronger and more alert so we can help others.

The cycle of health then continues and reproduces itself. Women become stronger.

What we may not have learned from our mothers or grandmothers, we can learn from other women.

Women teaching women. It’s a biblical and a historical truth.

As we teach one another, we grow the dynamic of relationship even better which results in a new normal of strong, confident women moving forward in life to make a difference in our homes, our communities and our world.

So get involved in a group. If you’re interested in groups at GateWay, check out our website. We’re putting together groups for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

©2016 GateWay of Hope

Finding a Healing Journal Method

At GateWay of Hope, we have found journaling to be a wonderful process that leads us toward hope, healing and wholeness.journal

But sometimes, we need a new way to think about journaling and process our thoughts.

In his book, “The Listening Life,” Adam S. McHugh suggests the AHEN method.

AHEN is a simple yet wonderful acrostic for helping us find clarity about situations we find ourselves stuck in. As we process through the acrostic, it might also bring up other possibilities for clarity and growth we haven’t yet considered.

So how does this work?

A = ANGER:

We may hate to admit it, but most of us have some type of anger. We may have hidden it well through the years, or we may have masked it by calling it something else such as frustration, irritability or being ticked off at someone.

The tricky thing about anger is that if it isn’t acknowledged and worked through, it can bury itself so deep that it causes depression. Because depression has so many nasty side effects, it’s best to call anger what it is and deal with it.

So make a list in your journal of everything you’re angry about – then consider who you’re angry at. That might include yourself, a parent, a child, a church member – even God.

Once you start on your anger list, you may be surprised at the emotions that surface, but keep working on it. Acknowledge that anger and then move on to the next step of the acrostic.

H = HURT

When someone hurts us, we often develop anger toward that person or that situation. None of us likes to experience hurt, whether it’s emotional, mental, physical or spiritual.

But life is often filled with hurts and again – when we discover them and acknowledge the hurt – then we begin to deal with the effects of that hurt.

For example: are you isolating yourself from a certain person? Maybe that person hurt you and you don’t want to expose yourself to more hurt. That is self-protection, a valuable tool for setting healthy boundaries.

But is that isolation caused by the hurt someone did to you? And are you angry about it?

Journal through the hurts you may be feeling and consider how they might be connected to any anger you are experiencing.

Why does it hurt so much when people say things to us or do things to us? Because of the next piece in the acrostic….

E = EXPECTATIONS

We are hurt because we have certain expectations about people, about life, even about God. When those expectations are not met, we are hurt and that results in anger.

For example: when a woman dresses in her bridal gown and marches down the aisle toward her lover, she expects him to keep the vows – to love and cherish her until death parts them.

But if he breaks that commitment, that covenant, then her expectations have been shattered. She is deeply hurt and incredibly angry. She may carry that anger for several years, into divorce court and beyond – even to the point where she loses the ability to trust.

All because her expectations were not met.

What are some of the expectations that have failed in your life? How deeply did they hurt you? Did they result in any anger? Journal through these possibilities.

Why are expectations so important? Because they are based on the next phase of the acrostic.

N – NEED

We all have deep-felt needs, sometimes so deep we are not aware of them. Our needs then feed into our expectations.

In the above example, the expectations were not met for a lifetime of love and commitment. Why did that hurt so deeply?

Because women have a deep need to be loved. They crave strong arms around them, the security of a home and the presence of the man they fell in love with – all those years ago.

They need the intimacy of someone talking and listening to them at the breakfast table, a warm body to cuddle next to at night and the wisdom of a man who knows how to fix the flat tire and the leaking kitchen sink.

They long to be cared for, to be honored and cherished, to be the only person that man loves for a life-time.

When that need is not met, when that commitment is broken, then the hurt spawns other problems.

They may look for comfort in substances, even food. They may try to find intimacy in another relationship that ends in another tragedy or a lifetime of toxic communication.

Even worse – they may cover up the need so deeply that they become bitter and refuse to ever love again.

The expectations were not fulfilled, therefore the needs surface and become a stumbling block for the abundant life.

Do you recognize some needs that have not been met because expectations were shattered?

FINDING THE HEALING PLACE

Now that we’ve journaled and worked through this acrostic, let’s find how to work toward healing by starting backwards.

Our NEEDS are great and sometimes we are needier than we want to admit. But when we base the meeting of those needs on another human being, we will inevitably be disappointed.

Our deepest needs were made to be met by the God who created us. In fact, he promises, “I will meet all your needs according to my riches of glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

So the healing place begins by taking those needs right back to God. No matter what your needs are, God is able to meet them.

Do you need some encouragement? Ask God for it and then watch for the amazing ways he chooses to meet that need.

Do you need some help with finances? Ask God to give you the name of someone who can help you.

Do you need something more concrete? Clothes, shelter, food? God knows all the resources available at all times. Tell him what you need, then be ready to receive his blessings.

When we place EXPECTATIONS on another human being, we may be disappointed. Sometimes we need to speak about what we expect so that person knows how to plan for that need.

Do you expect your children to go to college? Then begin a college fund, make sure they do their homework and talk about the value of education. Still, they may make other choices, so you may have to change some of your expectations.

Be realistic. Most of us experience some shattered dreams in life, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in despair. It just means we need to set new goals.

If you need help with expectations, consider the Coaching services at GateWay of Hope.  We can help you set realistic expectations and then work toward meeting them.

All of us are going to be HURT sometime in life, because life is hard and some people tend to be cruel. That doesn’t mean we have to wallow in the hurt or surround ourselves with self-pity.

It just means we can expect hurts. But it’s what we do with the hurt that matters.

Again, God has a solution. “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

We can bring those hurts to God and ask him to help us forgive so they don’t dig deeply into our souls and keep us from living in peace.

Some hurts ARE going to burrow deep, just because of how intense they are. If that is your experience because of abuse, then contact one of our Counselors at GateWay of Hope. They are skilled in dealing with many types of abuse.

So we’ve worked backward and now we’re at ANGER once again. But you may find that because you’ve journaled through this AHEN acrostic, some of the anger doesn’t seem so intense.

Now it’s time to let the anger go. Think of it as a visual – a box of yuck you’ve been carrying around. It’s become a burden and you don’t want it anymore.

Let it go. Bury it at the foot of the cross. Turn it over to Jesus and let him heal you in those deepest places of hurt.

Get rid of the anger so you can begin living in joy and peace. Then you’ll experience the abundant life and become the woman God has created you to be.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

How To Experience Guilt-Free Living

It’s always exciting to find a new book – that special topic I’ve been looking for – at a bargain price.God is not mad at you - book

Last week, I discovered the book by Joyce Meyer, “God is Not Mad at You.” In her usual fashion, Joyce speaks the truth about perfectionism, legalism, shame and learning how to live guilt-free.

These are topics we deal with regularly at GateWay of Hope. And the root to many of these struggles is the pain of rejection.

We can feel rejected because of various circumstances:

  • Losing our parents at an early age
  • The comments of children and/or teachers at school
  • Struggling through adolescence and the volatile teen years
  • Failing classes or failing at a job
  • Betrayal by a spouse
  • Comparisons to other women or even to our siblings
  • Abuse of any kind

When we feel rejected, we may try to be perfect – to reach that high bar others have set for us. And we may think we need to be perfect for God as well, which can trap us within the lies of legalism.

Then all sorts of damaging emotions can plague us, causing even more mental and spiritual problems which may lead to more rejection. And the cycle continues.

Some of these emotions may include:

  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • A critical and judgmental spirit
  • Constant comparisons to others
  • Feeling defensive at any type of criticism
  • Distrusting anyone in authority
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • A stronghold of fear
  • Feeling hopeless
  • A poor self-image
  • Jealousy
  • Plus many more negative emotions

So how can we get past these issues, dig out the root and prevent the bitterness that leads to false guilt? How can we find freedom to move on?

In our Boundaries classes at GateWay, we teach women this truth, “I am not responsible for how someone else thinks.”

So if another person compares us to someone else or says something ugly to us – we don’t have to believe that or receive it into our spirits.

We can fight against it with the truth. “I’m not responsible for what you think about me.”

We can also learn to love ourselves and appreciate who we really are – separate from all the things we do.

As Joyce writes, “No matter how many other people love you, if you don’t love yourself, you will still feel lonely.”

Through Counseling, the support of relationships in groups and Coaching, we teach women how to be authentic, how to be honest and not afraid to be vulnerable, how to truly love themselves.

When we feel secure in the knowledge and truth of who we really are, when we accept ourselves as we are – then we don’t have to be perfect or meet the standards of someone else.

The most important path to guilt-free living is to realize we don’t have to earn God’s love. He accepts us and loves us. Period.

He won’t love us any more if we do great things. He won’t love us any less if we do nothing.

He has a special place in his heart for his daughters, and he will never abandon us, reject us or leave us alone to struggle through life.

When we truly know how much God loves us, then we can begin to love ourselves even more and stop living in the land of rejection.

And if you struggle with these issues, give us a call at GateWay of Hope. 913.393.GATE (4283). We’d love to help.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

6 Words to Avoid

number 6The voices in our heads often determine the actions we take, and while the voices may point us in right directions – sometimes they whisper words we need to avoid.

What are some of these negative words – specifically the SIX words we need to avoid?

What If …

The “What-If” questions are usually based on fear.

  • What if I don’t get the job?
  • What if he leaves me?
  • What if it’s cancer?

Some of these “What if” questions are valid responses to a circumstance in our lives. But sometimes we allow those “What If” questions to keep us from something good.

We respond to the fear generated by the “What-Ifs.”

  • What if I want to move to a new place but I’m afraid of taking the risk?
  • What if I need to see a Counselor or a Coach but I don’t want to be vulnerable?
  • What if I want to try a different job? What if it doesn’t work out?

For many of our “What-If” questions, just taking a step forward might answer the question. Most of the time, the things we fear never happen. And even if they do, we may discover more strength and faith than we ever imagined possible.

The next time you hear yourself asking “What if,” stop and examine your situation. Maybe it’s time for a change in your life that careful planning and an accountability partner can help you figure out.

What’s another word to avoid?

But …

This is such a tiny word, but it wields incredible power in our lives. The “but” response may also be based in fear, but often it’s just another way to make an excuse.

  • But I don’t want to marry again because I’m afraid he’ll hurt me just like the last guy.
  • But I’m not sure a job change is the best direction for me right now.
  • But I can’t make enough money if I really follow my passion.

If we allow too many “buts” in our lives, we may never accomplish the things we were designed to do. Or we may live our lives doing only the necessary and urgent things rather than really living the abundant life.

The “buts” of life are easy excuses and usually not valid reasons why we should make an attempt or risk something.

We can talk ourselves out of anything just by using the “but” word.

Instead, we can make a list of all the positive possibilities that might come from a particular choice and take one step at a time.

Again, it helps to have an accountability partner to help us sort through the reasons and/or excuses we’re using that keep us stuck. Partnering with a coach at GateWay of Hope can help you get unstuck and move forward.

What are the last three words to avoid?

I Should Have …

These three words have possibly caused more damage to women than any other types of verbiage. We constantly guilt ourselves with the “I should haves.”

  • I should have married someone else.
  • I should have finished my education before I had children.
  • I should have used my inheritance for more retirement savings.
  • I should have kept Mom in my home instead of moving her to a nursing home.
  • I should have stopped after one cookie.

The reason to avoid these three words are because they are based on regret and often – false guilt. They keep us from moving forward because once we are listening to the “I should haves” then we replay them into the mindset of regret.

When we constantly guilt ourselves for a past decision, we begin hating ourselves and our lives. We no longer live with joy nor can we find that abundant life we’re looking for.

The truth is:

  • Life is filled with opportunities to make a mistake.
  • We can learn best from our mistakes.
  • Our mistakes often strengthen us and give us the wisdom we need for the next choice.
  • We cannot undo the past; we only have today and this particular moment.
  • Nobody is perfect and nobody makes perfect decisions all the time.

So…stop guilting yourself. You did the best you could at the time with the information you had then. You can’t go back and undo anything. Learn from it and move forward. Stop living in regret.

These powerful six words can make a difference in our lives. So let’s avoid thinking about or speaking about the “What Ifs,” “Buts,” and “I Should Haves.”

Instead, let’s find something to be grateful for today and enjoy being the women God made us to be.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

What Restoration Looks Like

Have you ever found an amazing piece of furniture you knew would look spectacular in your home?

But you hesitated to buy it because it needed to be restored. It was covered with years of old varnish and dust and it had so many scars, the original wood couldn’t shine through.

Yet you knew it could be restored and made beautiful again. You knew it could be useful as well as adding a wonderful story to your home.Woman celebrating

So you worked on it day by day. You used chemicals to lift off the old varnish and the gunk of many years.

Then you sanded it, and gradually – even though some of the scars remained – you began to see the beauty of the original wood. The craftsmanship showed through and you were so glad you purchased it.

The piece fit perfectly in your home and you told everyone who visited how it once looked and all the work you did to restore it. You even shared “Before and After” pictures.

And you were so proud of the finished product. Once again, it was beautiful as well as useful.

When women come to GateWay of Hope, they often carry the scars of years of abuse and sorrow. Some of them have lived with the gunk of someone else’s sin and it has weighed them down.

Some of them carry the dust of years of neglect, because they’ve been so busy taking care of others – they’ve forgotten all about self-care.

But deep down inside, they know God has a better plan. So we meet them where they are with whatever problems they carry.

Sometimes they need counseling while other times they want coaching. And almost always, they will benefit from the support of a group.

Then gradually, as the scars are smoothed over and the junk of the past is removed – they begin to shine again. The beauty of their souls reflect God’s love. They rediscover their gifts and begin to revel in new life.

They become useful and beautiful once again. Their “Before and After” stories are amazing as we watch them embrace hope, pursue healing and come full circle into wholeness.

The Psalmist wrote about restoration in Psalm 71:20-21 – “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.”

God does a mighty restoration work with the women who come to GateWay of Hope. From the depths of their pain and sorrow, he brings them up. He honors them and comforts them, providing hope and a new focus in life.

We love to see what God is doing at GateWay of Hope as he brings these incredible women back to life.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

How to Counteract Stress

We all experience it in some form or another and sometimes – we actually expect it. Within our busy lives, we expect to meet some version of stress.depressed woman

Stress usually makes itself known as we react to it. We yell at the kids, kick the dog, scream into our pillows and tear old love letters into pieces. We write long passages in our journals, comfort ourselves with a half-gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and promise ourselves that we’ll never, ever do whatever it is that has caused the stress – again.

And even if we manage to take a refreshing vacation, soak in a lavender bath or finish off that half-gallon of ice cream – stress can reappear. We can learn how to manage it and find some relief, but living with stress on a long-term basis can be downright dangerous.

At GateWay of Hope, we deal with the issues of women in a holistic atmosphere. We know that emotional stress can cause physical illness and spiritual apathy. Studies have suggested that prolonged stress may be a factor in certain cancers or the onset of early dementia and Alzheimer’s. And stress can cause a number of joint ailments, headaches, stomach and digestive issues as well as affecting our social relationships.

In our American society, we focus on productivity. We work hard, play hard, exercise hard and expect our bodies to keep up with the demands. Talk to a woman who has flamed out from stress and she will tell you – it’s not worth it. Yet most of us continue to do whatever we can to keep up with all the busyness, sometimes not even realizing what we’re doing to ourselves – until it’s too late.

As insidious as stress can be, it can also lead to burnout – which is even more dangerous. Burnout often manifests as numbing. We’ve become so stressed by a toxic relationship that we no longer have feelings. Or we’ve worked so hard and so long, we can no longer think clearly and lose a job. Or we withdraw and isolate ourselves, wrapping our souls in a false sense of comfort that may lead to depression. Check out some of the signs and symptoms of burnout.

So what can we do to counteract stress?

At GateWay of Hope, we have several ideas:

  • Boundaries – this summer we’ll offer a class called “Beyond Boundaries.” Register now by calling 913.393.GATE (4283).
  • Group relationships – it helps to share with other women who are feeling the same type of stress.
  • Counseling – check out our website  for the counselor you would like to see.
  • Coaching – move over those obstacles that are causing stress and march forward in life.
  • Pay attention to your body – it will often tell you about stress, so listen and learn.
  • Break unhealthy habits – what can you do to eliminate some of the stress?
  • Set realistic goals – perfectionism often causes an increase in stress. Be realistic and practical but at the same time, reach for your dreams.
  • Develop new and healthy relationships – any time we’re in a toxic relationship, it causes stress. Check out the book “Safe People” by Cloud and Townsend.
  • The Serenity Room – we have a special room at GateWay of Hope where women can come to de-stress, spend some time journaling, read a book and/or pray. Our sign-up calendar is in our front entry.
  • Journaling – we’re beginning another journaling class in April. You can register now by calling 913.393.GATE (4283).

All of us deal with some type of stress, but we can learn how to counteract some of its effects. Let us know if we can help you find some peace and protect yourself from too much stress.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Transforming the lives of women to create new legacies

How to Make Important Decisions

question markSeveral years ago, Dr. Charles Stanley presented a seminar on how to make important decisions. He included four points that are helpful to consider whenever we wonder about the best direction we need to take:

1. What does God say about this situation? Listen carefully to your inner Spirit and what you believe God is saying to you. Pay close attention to those inner nudges and/or the red flags that are trying to warn you about a certain direction.

2. What do other people say about this situation? Proverbs 15:22 reminds us that by listening to many advisors, we receive wisdom. Ask other people who may have been through the same situation. Talk to experts, counselors and pastors. Do some research and find the best solution for the answer you need.

3. What does the Bible say about this? Especially for Christians, the Bible is our guidebook and its wisdom transcends generations. By paying attention to what it says and by searching through similar passages, we can find the direction we need. Pay attention to the particular culture addressed and to the historical significance in the Bible books you research.

4. What do the circumstances tell you? Sometimes the answer we need is just plain old common sense. You want to move to the warmer climate in California, but you have no job, no family or friends who live in California and you have no money for the trip. That decision is easy. Wait until more of the circumstances look like a move is a good idea. 

Or perhaps you’re living in a toxic relationship. You know that to remain in the situation is dangerous for you and for your children. The circumstances have become unbearable and you can’t even think straight. So … get away for a while. Find a safe place to be and give yourself time to think about all the consequences and all the possibilities.

This type of circumstance tells us to protect our hearts and the lives of our children. For a safe place, check out this site: www.newhouseshelter.org

Dr. Stanley reminds us that all four of these points don’t always coincide. But if we consider the majority of them and what they show us – we’ll have a better idea about what decision to make.

We would like to add another point that is also important:

5. Do you have peace about the decision? Although we sometimes experience fear when we deal with life-altering decisions, the right solution points us toward a place of peace. When we know we’ve done the right thing, we will feel confident about the decision and move forward with peace and joy.

At GateWay of Hope, we teach a Boundaries Class three times each year. We teach women how to say, “No” and when to say, “Yes.” We help women set those important fences around their hearts and around the lives of their children so they can live out of their giftings and their strengths.

So if you’re facing an important decision, ask yourself these five questions and honestly answer them. Journal through each of the scenarios and then make your decision, knowing that God has your back. You can trust him to guide you.

If you need help working through a decision, call us at GateWay of Hope 913.393.GATE (4283) or email us at Info@GWHope.org. We have professional counselors and coaches who can assist you.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women