How to Move Toward Your Dream

During the GateWay Pastor Appreciation Breakfast, we were privileged to hear a presentation from Phillip Kelley, chaplain of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Using an acrostic for DREAM, Phillip presented some inspiring ideas for how we can move toward our dreams. Although we’re adding some nuggets of text in this blog post – information we share with our GateWay women – we give credit for the original acrostic to Phillip Kelley.

D = Desire – the WHAT of your dream

Knowing what we truly desire helps us focus on the details of our dreams. Then as we focus on what the dreams entails, it can also expand into new territory.

As we focus also on God and the desires he has for us, we begin seeing him show up everywhere. When we are more aware of God and his presence all around us, it helps us confirm our dreams and move forward.

We also realize our dreams DO count for something. As the Psalmist wrote, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 TNIV).

R = Reason – the WHY of your dream

Sometimes we may wonder why we are so focused on an idea or why we feel a particular nudge in our hearts.

That inner voice is definitely worth listening to, because it might be the Holy Spirit urging us to listen and obey – to march forward and accomplish our dreams.

Michael Hyatt wrote, “When you know your why, you’ll know your way.”

Our “why” – the reason for our dreams – gives us the motivation we need to keep moving toward the goal.

E = Experience – the WHO of your dream

Each of us owns a personal experience story, the bumps and bruises along the way as well as the joys and exciting events that have happened to us.

God can use each one of those experiences to move us toward our dreams. Like stepping stones advancing us toward the next experience and the next goal.

How we own those experiences and how we react to them determines how successfully we navigate. We can become bitter or we can learn and grow better.

The Bible also confirms the importance of our experiences, “God comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 TNIV).

As God comforts us and teaches us, we learn. Then we can pass on that learning to others and use it as a springboard for our own dreams.

A = Abilities – the HOW of your dream

We have each been given talents and giftings unique to our personalities. Often, we take these abilities for granted.

For example: the stay-at-home mom who organizes birthday parties has a gift of administration and detail-orientation. She may not realize how important she is to the family unit, but that gifting becomes the ability to get everyone to doctor appointments on time, to plan for meals and to make sure everyone in the family has a fun time on their birthdays.

Think of all the things you do in one day’s time. How do those activities line up with your abilities? When you feel energized by a certain activity, that’s a good sign you are operating out of your strengths and specific abilities.

Then those abilities become the action points for moving toward your dream. Lean your life into the abilities that strengthen you.

M = Maturity – the WHEN of your dream

Throughout our lives, God is in the process of growing us up. We become mature by moving through experiences and using our abilities to make progress.

Even though a dream may be realistic and so very important to us – we may not yet be ready to see it happen. God does stuff in us before he does stuff through us.

For example: it is rare for a person who carries the dream of writing to sit down and put together a best-selling novel. Writers learn how to write by practicing the craft of writing. That dream of writing and publishing a novel may come true, but for most writers – the dream becomes reality only after many hours of trial and error, rejections and starting over.

Are we defined by our circumstances or will we allow God to refine us because of our circumstances?

We may often feel as if we’re going backward instead of forward, but we need to remember that failure does not define a person – it is only an event.

As we learn from our failures, we become more mature. Then time determines the when of our dreams.

A good exercise would be to think about your current dreams, then journal through this acrostic. Check to see how you’re moving forward and perhaps what your next steps might be.

If you need help, call us at GateWay of Hope – 913.393.4283. We help women transform their lives and find that hopeful place where dreams come true.

©2017 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

What We Don’t Like to Think About

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).saam_logo_1

Sexual assault is not a topic any of us like to think or talk about.

Some of us are uncomfortable because we don’t like unpleasant topics. Or maybe we feel embarrassed.

Some of us don’t really believe sexual assault happens that much. We try to pretend it only happens to a “certain kind of woman.” We don’t believe it would ever affect us, our daughters or our friends. And it certainly couldn’t find its way into the church!

But that is not true. Sexual violence affects ALL genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities and sexual orientations.

Still others of us know entirely too much about “sexual assault.” We’ve experienced it up close and personal. Those words bring up terrifying memories of rape, fondling, incest, sexual harassment, being trafficked or filmed for pornography.

We were threatened to never tell. As children we were told it was our fault and no one would believe us if we told. As adults we were afraid to report it because we didn’t want to be humiliated or blamed.

Statistics may be something that make you yawn. But think of this: One in three to four girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18.  One in five adult women will experience rape or attempted rape sometime in their lives. Now think of the women in your life. Those statistics apply to them…to you.

The effect of this sexual violence impacts the victims long-term and in many ways. Diane Langberg in her book, “On the Threshold of Hope” identifies many ways sexual abuse damages us.

 

  • Sexual abuse damages our bodies. It can cause personal injuries, pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. It also affects the way the victim perceives and thinks about her body.
  • Sexual abuse damages our emotions. Fear, guilt, shame, self-blame and anger become all too familiar companions and affect every area of the survivor’s life.
  • Sexual abuse damages our relationships. Trust and boundaries become skewed. Survivors may withdraw from others including spouses, family members and friends.
  • Sexual abuse damages our thinking. Lies abound: “It must have been my fault. I’m damaged goods. Now I have no value or worth. No one is safe.”
  • Sexual abuse damages our spirits. We question God’s goodness and love. We demand to know “Why?” And if the abuser is a father-figure, as is so often the case in childhood sexual abuse, it makes it especially hard to call God “Father.”

From a mental health perspective, sexual assault can cause PTSD, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Sexual violence, sad to say, is not a new phenomenon. We can even find stories in the Bible. King David’s daughter, Tamar, was raped by her half-brother, Amnon, and then thrown out of his house. Her full brother Absalom basically said, “Don’t worry,” and then her father ignored the offense. See 2 Samuel 13 for the full story.

One of the worst stories of gang rape is found in Judges 19. When the men of Gibeah wanted to have sex with the visiting (male) Levite, their host gave them the Levite’s concubine/wife instead. The men of the city raped her all night and in the morning she was dead.

So, what can we do to help stop sexual assault?

“PREVENTION IS POSSIBLE” is this year’s theme for SAAM. Here are their suggestions as to how you can make a difference.

  • Intervene to stop concerning behavior
  • Speak up when you hear rape jokes or harmful comments
  • Believe and support survivors
  • Create prevention policies at your workplace or school
  • Coordinate a community event to raise awareness
  • Talk with neighbors about ways everyone can get involved
  • Email legislators to gain support for prevention and services

Visit www.nsvrc.org/saam for more information.

And one more: Call GateWay of Hope at 913.393.GATE(4283). We understand sexual abuse. We can help educate your church or place of work. If you are a survivor of any kind of sexual violence, our counselors are here to walk beside you.

Call today. We can’t help you if you don’t reach out.

In next week’s blog post, we’ll take a look at how to support someone who has been sexually assaulted.

©2016 Deborah Simon, Director of Counseling

GateWay of Hope

Tweaking Our Desires [Inspiration]

Forty plus years ago, I became a professional freelance writer. Throughout the years, my work has been published in various magazines and my current book series is becoming a best-seller in the Christian market.

Since my byline is RJ Thesman, people don’t always associate the Program Director at GateWay as the same person who writes the Reverend G books.

As a side business, I also became a freelance editor and helped several writers polish their books to make them publisher-ready. At one point, I wondered if it might be possible for me to become an editor at an established publishing house.Psalm 37-4

So I checked out places online and discovered most staff editors were journalism graduates with a long record of working in various communications formats. Probably not the easiest place for me to break in.

Still, I knew I was a good editor and while helping my own clients, I had a desire for more. How could I best use my English skills and my almost instant recognition of spelling and grammar errors?

In my role at GateWay of Hope, I am also responsible for all our social media sites and both of our blogs (http://gwhope.org/; www.StartingOverSingle.com).

Often, as in today’s post, I am the writer. I love this part of my job!

But I also initiate blog posts from other writers, from trusted sources who I know will write well about the issues we deal with at GateWay – how we help women become all God created them to be.

One day, as I was editing one of these guest posts, I suddenly had a stunning reality buzz.

All those years of thinking I could become a staff editor and here I am – at GateWay – in the role of writer and editor for our blogs.

That desire of my heart, planted so many years ago, has been tweaked by our creative God. I’m not working at a publishing house and thank goodness! Many of the publishers have ceased hiring staff editors. That’s why we freelancers stay busy.

But that desire to help writers do their very best has been realized as I edit posts, schedule for our blogs, search for just the right images and then share on all our social media sites.

King David wrote, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

I’ve seen that verse come true as God has tweaked my desire and made it a reality.

How has God been tweaking the desires of your heart?

©2015 Rebecca Thesman, CLC
GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women

What To Do When Life Unravels

sepia-praying-womanSince life is so unpredictable, it often unravels. All our carefully constructed plans can fall apart within minutes. What do we do when life unravels? How do we react so that the very essence of our souls doesn’t become undone?

Here are some principles to follow when life unravels:

Action Point 1: Focus on God instead of the problem.

Psalm 43:1-2, “O God, defend me from the charges of these merciless, deceitful men. For you are God, my only place of refuge. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I mourn at the oppression of my enemies?”

God delivers us from oppression and from the difficult emotions we face when life unravels. As we focus on God and his strength, we can think more positively and take baby steps forward.

When we focus on God instead of the problem, our attitudes become more positive and we live in hope.

Action Point 2: Focus on the lesson instead of the pain.

Psalm 43:3, “Oh, send out your light and your truth—let them lead me. Let them lead me to your temple on your holy mountain, Zion.”

God’s light and truth lead us through the unraveling yarns of health issues, depression, loss. He can bring us to that place of utter peace, that inner holy of holies where we rest in his strength.

As we stay alert for his light and truth, he whispers the phrase of a song or directs us to a passage of scripture. When we focus on the lesson rather than the pain, God teaches us more of what we need to know within our faith journeys. His beacon of truth points us to some of the richer treasures of faith and trust.

As we focus on the lesson God wants to teach us, our pain becomes the secondary focus and a bit easier to bear.

Action Point 3: Focus on the future instead of the present.

Psalm 43:5, “O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God. I shall again praise him for his wondrous help; he will make me smile again, for he is my God.”

King David reminds us to stay in hope. We can think of this important principle as, “Living in the Yet.”

To live in the yet, focus on the future – when this present circumstance wears down, when we work through the grief, when we learn the lesson.

All the unravelings of life, these temporary afflictions, eventually end. Some last longer than others and test our perseverance. Some need extra amounts of God’s power-filled grace. Some are blessedly brief. But all trials eventually end.

As we live in the yet, we can praise God that the end will indeed occur and then hopefully, our faith muscles will be stronger, our trust in him deeper.

No matter what unravels next, we can be grateful for Psalm 43 and determine to live in the yet.

2014 GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women

How To Wake Up

We might wonder what King David was thinking when he wrote these words, “Awake my glory, my inner self” (Psalm 57:8).monarch butterfly

Was he worrying about how to escape from King Saul without losing any more men? Or maybe he wondered why it was taking so long to claim the kingdom for himself? Perhaps David just felt tired from all the battles and needed God to encourage him.

At GateWay of Hope, we often see women who are just tired of all the battles. They’ve been beaten down by life and traumatized by experiences they never imagined would knock at their doors. They’ve been shocked by how the addictions of their loved ones personally affected them and the family unit. They’ve tried to hide behind their woundings so that no one could see how much they’ve been hurt.

But when they face the truth and become aware of the damage that’s been done, they begin to step forward and pray with David, “Awake my glory, my inner self.”

As these women journal their thoughts or enter into emotional healing prayer or join one of our groups or set up appointments for counseling or coaching – they begin to discover the inner self, the women God created them to be.

All of us need an occasional wake-up call. When our souls awake, then we begin to slough off the junk that has kept us from being genuine. The walls we have built around ourselves begin to come down, and we experience our own Jericho earthquakes.

As we wake to the women God created us to be, we are empowered to reach out to our world and thus, to glorify God.

Then we can echo David’s words in Psalm 57, “Give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples.”

2014 GateWay of Hope – The Helping Place for Hurting Women

A Riveting Question

Recently, God spoke to me, and I shared it with a friend.

My friend asked, “So what might be God’s invitation to you?” question mark

The riveting question haunted me, so the next morning, I read Psalm 42. As I meditated, I asked myself the question, “What is God inviting me to?”

I discovered four invitations:

Above all, God invited me to yearn for Him – to pant and thirst for Him. I often wake up agitated, wanting to experience Jesus. Though I don’t like that restless feeling, it indicates that I’m spiritually healthy.

What if the deer in Psalm 42 never experienced thirst? He might become dehydrated and die. I see my restlessness as an invitation to seek Him…so I can live.

I accept the invitation to yearn for God.

The next invitation was for me to be real, authentic. The psalmist cried out and questioned God. Twice he admitted to being “downcast.” He mourned. He was in physical agony. He had many enemies. King David was no pretender.

God invites me to be authentic with Him, even if that means shedding tears, questioning Him or acknowledging my pain or discouragement.

I accept the invitation to be authentic.

Another invitation I felt God extend to me was to recall the past. Though He invites me to be authentic when I am feeling down, He also invites me to savor the good times: leading crowds to worship Him…recalling places where I experienced Him closely.

In the midst of his pain, the psalmist remembered that God loved him. God was his Rock. God invites, even compels, me to remember past truths about Him as well.

I accept the invitation to recall, even savor, good times from the past and to remember who God is.

The final invitation from God was to hope in Him. The psalmist knew that in the future he would once again praise God.

But the way the psalmist did this is not something we are often encouraged to do. He talked to himself. He instructed his “soul” to hope in God. He did this twice!

I accept the invitation to hope, yes…even to talk to myself as I instruct my soul to look toward the future.

Four invitations:
• To yearn for God
• To be authentic
• To recall God’s truths in the past
• To stay in hope

What is God’s invitation to you?

2013 Deborah Simon, Executive Director
GateWay of Hope Ministries – The Helping Place for Hurting Women

Gifts That Keep Giving

It happened again.praying_hands_bible

I began my morning devotion time with God as the divine whisper stirred in my soul. “Turn to Psalm 57, verse 10.”

So I started to look at the verse in my New International Version, but again was instructed, “Upstairs. The Amplified.”

In my bedroom, with my Amplified Bible before me, I read a different version of Psalm 57:10. Then I journaled what I learned from the words of King David, “For your mercy and loving-kindness are great, reaching to the heavens, and your truth and faithfulness to the clouds.”

A beautiful passage. A reminder that God showers us with mercy, loving-kindness, truth and faithfulness.

Later that day, I shared the same verse with two women from different walks of life, dealing with different struggles. Then I wrote a blog post about the verse, describing some of the things I had journaled earlier in the day and also some of the truths I had thought about ever since God gave me that early-morning assignment.

So far, that one verse has blessed two women, three – counting me, and it has contributed to a blog post where it will be read by our followers, including you.

Who knows how many people it will bless in the days to come?

The really wonderful thing about this is that our amazing and awesome God knew even before I woke up that a couple of hurting women would need to be reminded about his mercy, his loving-kindness, his truth and his faithfulness. He knew they would need that particular message today.

And he knows all the other women who will need it – women I haven’t even met and won’t know about until I run into His arms in heaven. That shows how much God loves his daughters and how much he wants to heal those incredible hurts they suffer.

So…each morning, I’m going to be listening to hear what message he has for the day. Who knows what might happen tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.

2013 GateWay of Hope Ministries – Rebecca Thesman, Progrm Director and Life Coach

Awake My Soul

We might wonder what King David was thinking when he wrote these words, “Awake my glory, my inner self” (Psalm 57:8). Was he worrying about how to escape from King Saul without losing any more men? Or maybe he wondered why it was taking so long to claim the kingdom for himself? Perhaps David just felt tired from all the battles and needed God to encourage him.

At GateWay, we often see women who are just tired of all the battles. They’ve been beaten down by life and traumatized by experiences they never imagined would knock at their doors. They’ve been shocked by how the addictions of their loved ones personally affected them and the family unit. They’ve tried to hide behind their woundings so that no one could see how much they’ve been hurt.

But when they face the truth and become aware of the damage that’s been done, they begin to step forward and pray with David, “Awake my glory, my inner self.” As these women journal their thoughts or enter into emotional healing prayer or join one of our groups or set up appointments for counseling or experience one of our retreats – they begin to discover the inner self, the women God created them to be.

All of us need an occasional wake-up call. When our souls awake, then we begin to slough off the junk that has kept us from being genuine. The walls we have built around ourselves begin to come down, and we experience our own Jericho earthquakes. As we wake to the women God created us to be, we are empowered to reach out to our world and thus, glorify God.

Then we can echo David’s words in Psalm 57:9 as we “…Give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples.”