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

When Grief Comes Unexpected

As I walked through Kohl’s, searching for the best Christmas gift for my niece, I passed a shelf full of the cutest little dolls. I stopped to pick one up, then held it to my face – the soft, cuddliness of a little girl’s toy.

Suddenly, I realized I never had the joy of buying my daughter a doll.

Fierce and unexpected grief crushed me. Overwhelmed me. Paralyzed me. Right there, in the middle of the toy section of Kohl’s, I found a corner – alone – and wailed out my grief.

No one came to help me, but that was okay. I could not have spoken to anyone or stopped my grieving.

After a while, I sat there in the corner, unable to move. The wailing was over, but I still held that little doll and wondered what it might have felt like to wrap it in a box, put a pretty bow on top and watch my baby girl open it.

I would never know.

My Rachel slipped out of my womb too early for life on this earth. At only twelve weeks, she could not survive. In fact, the doctor performed a D&C (dilation and curettage) to remove any leftover “tissue.” The remnants of my daughter’s body collected into a petri dish for further study, to find out what happened – why she was born and died so early.

No easy answers. No way to prevent its happening. In fact, two years before, I lost my little boy, Ryan – also at twelve weeks.

The most surprising thing about my grieving experience in Kohl’s was that it happened 33 years after my little girl died. You would think after 33 years, all my grieving would have been completed.

Evidently not. Something about that doll triggered the pain and the remembrance of losing my Rachel – something I could not anticipate or prepare my heart for.

Grief is a most amazing and scary thing. Immediately after the loss, as we begin to grieve, we think … well, I’ll cry and just get over this. Then I’ll move on.

Our society teaches us this is the correct way to deal with grief.

But not necessarily. Everyone grieves differently.

No one can tell you how to grieve or how long it will last. I certainly didn’t think I would be grieving 33 years after the event.

Some of us hope to avoid grief by seeing a counselor, joining a support group or praying our guts out. All these methods may help us deal with the grief.

But we can’t avoid it. We can’t just hope to get over it.

Grief is something we have to go THROUGH.

It’s sort of like puberty. We can’t jump from age eleven to age eighteen without experiencing pimples, hormonal changes and myriads of mood swings.

But as we go through puberty, we grow and learn who we really are. Then one day we realize…okay, I’ve finally grown up.

Grief may come in the stages Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

But even those stages cannot be predicted. No one can tell us how long a particular stage will last – or if it will ever completely go away.

Most of us don’t grieve in nice little bundles of time. The grief process is messy, weird and hard to figure out. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure it out.

Grief will always, always change us. Hopefully, for the better – to make us kinder and more sensitive to the griefs of others, to keep us from becoming hard and bitter, to enable us to grow up a bit more.

That’s why I knew I couldn’t just leave Kohl’s and forget about my grief. I had to give it a voice and work through it – even 33 years after my baby died.

When I finally did leave my corner in the store, I drove home and journaled for a while. Then I felt better. I knew I had moved through another piece of my grief.

Even though I never had the chance to buy my Rachel a doll, I know my daughter still lives – somewhere in heaven where I will someday meet her. I’ll wrap her in my arms and tell her how much I missed sharing earth with her.

And then…I’ll move through the final stages of grief and feel the joy of total healing.

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

What God Says about Sexual Assault

During the last few months, we’ve been subjected to numerous reminders of how women are mistreated, undervalued and sexually assaulted.

identify-truthWhether or not you support one political candidate or the other, the truth is still a reality – no matter who is guilty of the crime.

Women are being disrespected, verbally and emotionally abused and sexually assaulted – in every country every day.

The next time you’re in a group of people, look around at the women.

At least 25% of them have been sexually assaulted or will be during their lifetimes. One out of four were sexually abused and/or traumatized as children, according to Child Safe Education.

One out of four women will be sexually assaulted and/or raped as adults, but only one out of ten will ever tell anyone.

A majority of these women will struggle through depression and low self-esteem while every one of them will experience some type of grieving behaviors, whether or not they recognize them. They may struggle with insomnia, binge eating and/or anorexia, cutting, the loss of relationships, the inability to trust or even to make simple decisions.

One of the most debilitating results of sexual assault is the sense of shame that torments and haunts. These women have been told the lie that the rape was their fault. “You dressed too provocatively. You wanted it. You asked for it. You deserved it.”

Shame began in the Garden of Eden when Adam pointed to Eve and told God, “This woman you gave me…she did it.” Adam blamed and shamed Eve for the original sin, then refused to admit his own failure.

The stats are daunting and we believe the percentages are actually higher, because some women will never report rape or childhood abuse. Some women are hiding their memories so deep, they don’t even remember the trauma.

Then one day something triggers the memory and life completely falls apart.

At GateWay of Hope, we work to help women identify the truth, face the pain and work through it. But as much as we respect women and want to help them, someone else loves them even more.

In the book of Lamentations from the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah writes, “My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people. My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees us. My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city” (Lamentations 3:48-51 Good News Translation).

These verses underscore the fact that God loves women and he is grieved with what is happening to them.

He cries with each little girl who is abused, and he takes that assault seriously. Someday he will judge those who have injured his precious daughters.

He empathizes with women who struggle through depression and grief because he knows how difficult it is to feel alone, rejected and sad.

He comforts women who have been assaulted by the people they trusted most. He promises to be their eternal husband and maker as well as taking special care of their children.

God grieves over his daughters because he knows how wonderful they are. He planted within them brave giftings that have not been respected, tender hearts that have been bruised and strong minds that have been tormented.

He cares. He grieves and he promises to make it right. “Your innocence will be clear to everyone. God will vindicate you with the blazing light of justice shining down as from the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:6 The Living Bible).

Someday, justice will be complete. God will judge those who have hurt his daughters and he will bring wholeness and healing to all the women he so dearly loves.

In the meantime, he is available and eager to comfort his daughters.

At GateWay of Hope, we help women embrace that truth and show them how to trust the God who grieves for women.

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

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 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

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 Will You Celebrate Easter?

We spend so much time, energy and stress celebrating Christmas when the major Christian holiday is Easter.Easter lily

True, at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and what a momentous event that was! But we also max out our credit cards, deal with the dynamics of family get-togethers and go to office parties we don’t care about.

We worry about buying the best gifts – “Will she really like this?” and try to figure out how to graciously accept the gifts we don’t want. We spend hours in lines either buying or returning gifts, then add to our landfills when we throw away wrappings, ribbons and boxes.

We dutifully attend Christmas programs and take videos of our kids in their cute Christmas outfits, all the while hoping we can somehow manage to eat the Christmas goodies without gaining weight.

Somewhere during the pre-Thanksgiving through post-Christmas season, we remember the squalid manger, a scared teenaged mother and a bunch of smelly animals. So we sing “Silent Night” and say a quickie prayer of thanks for that baby born under the Bethlehem sky.

But Easter is another matter. Sure, we still get caught up in the dyeing of eggs, the filling of baskets and the baking of the ham.

But for the most part, Easter is less stressful and more of a contemplative holiday. Plus, we only have one week to consider what it’s all about.

One week to remember the horrific destruction of a young man’s body – how flogging and crucifixion induced painful inflammation, tetanus and infection.

One week to think about the disciples who fled in fear, then wonder if we wouldn’t have done the same thing.

One week to observe the sacrament of communion and truly remember Jesus.

One week to read each of the Gospel renditions and compare the lyrical version of John’s story to the logic of Matthew’s.

One week to marvel at the miracle of resurrection and how awesome it must have been to see the risen Lord.

One week to remember how important the women were to Jesus – they stayed with him at the cross, they were the first ones to see the risen Lord, they spread the message as Jesus gave them the task, “Go and tell my disciples.”

Only one week. How will you observe Easter this year?

Maybe this Easter week will represent a 360 in our busy schedules.

Maybe we will realize our need for the Savior and truly understand what Jesus did for us on that old rugged cross.

Maybe this Easter, we will decide to fill our Easter baskets with a gratitude that reaches beyond the spring holiday and flows all the way to next December.

Maybe this year, Easter and Christmas will erupt with personal revivals around the globe. Now that would be a reason to celebrate.

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

When Women Believe Lies

preferred liesHave you ever believed a lie and then directed your life toward that lie?

One of the reasons we deal with authenticity at GateWay of Hope is because knowing the truth helps us become who God created us to be.

But if we center our lives around the topic of the lies we believe, then we can’t be authentic and we can’t move toward being our true and incredible selves.

What are some of the lies women believe?

Lie # 1:  God Doesn’t Really Love Me Because I’m Not Good Enough.

In the hallways of GateWay, women often hear this phrase, “You ARE enough.”

God has never said, “I only love the people who are good enough, those who do lots of good things, women who exhaust themselves with good activities, people who have all the right attitudes, etc.”

God IS love, so wherever he is – which is everywhere because he is omnipresent – that is where love exists. His love for us never depends on how good we are or how many good things we do.

He just plain old loves us. Period.

You want proof? Jesus told the thief on the cross that because he believed, he would go to paradise that very day. The thief didn’t have a chance to do anything good – in fact, he was being crucified because he was a thief.

He simply believed in who Jesus is and accepted God’s love for him.

We can try to accomplish many things, be as perfect as possible, follow every commandment and spend our lives being as good as possible. God will not love us any more than he does right now.

We don’t have to be good enough for God. He loves us more deeply and more sincerely than any other being ever created. His love is eternal, pure, kind and perfect for each of us.

Lie # 2:  Physical Beauty is More Important Than Inner Beauty

Although our brains tell us this isn’t true, our actions don’t always follow the truth.

We look at magazines and see models who have no wrinkles, no gray hair, no sagging skin, et cetera, and we suddenly feel old and decrepit.

We compare ourselves to air-brushed models and photo-shopped pictures. We believe the lie.

The truth is that we are holistic beings – body, mind and spirit. Our physical selves represent only one piece of the puzzle and aging is part of life. Actually, some of the most glowing and beautiful women on the planet are elderly, and their wisdom and spirit continue to inspire us.

Having a healthy mind and spirit will allow us to be our true selves, authentic in every way.

Sure, we want to be physically healthy. That’s why we exercise, watch our nutrition and schedule annual exams. But that piece of us is merely the outer shell.

As we continue to learn new things, to concentrate on our passions and our souls, to operate from our core values – we develop the inner beauty that outlasts and outshines our skin.

Who we really are – our personalities, our core values, our hopes and dreams – that is the true woman inside. And that is the truly beautiful part of us no one can touch.

Lie # 3:  It’s All My Fault

Some of us were told this lie as children. When we didn’t take care of younger siblings, when our first attempts at cooking burned the supper, when we couldn’t finish our homework on time or any number of other scenarios. We’ve believed the lie for a long time.

As mothers, we often false-guilt ourselves when our children make poor choices. Or when our husbands choose a younger and different model because of their own lack of strength and integrity.

We blame ourselves and shame ourselves into thinking it’s all our fault.

This lie actually began in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Adam tried to shame Eve. He told God, “This woman you gave me – she gave me the fruit and I ate it.” He blamed her for his own rebellion against God.

Women have been believing that lie and shaming themselves ever since.

The truth is that other people make wrong choices, and we can’t fix the negative consequences. We are not responsible for how other people think or the choices other people make.

We can train our children, but we can’t make good choices for them. It’s not our fault when they choose a negative direction.

We can love our husbands, but we can’t ensure they will be faithful. It’s not our fault that we’re not beautiful enough, skinny enough or enticing enough to keep them faithful.

We can work hard, but we’re not responsible for the choices of other people in the workplace. It’s not our fault when something goes wrong that we could not have prevented.

We don’t have to live from the shame and blame others try to put on us, and we don’t have to believe this lie. It’s NOT our fault.

Check out the book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “The Lies Women Believe.”

Think about some of the lies you may be carrying around.

Then fight those lies with the truth and march toward being the incredible woman you are.

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

Celebrating Incredible Women

women holding handsAs we celebrate National Women’s History Month, we remember all the Christian women who made a difference. These were women of courage and foresight who marched against the traditions of their culture in order to follow their Lord. But who were some of these women?

We have, of course, the biblical histories of Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus who provided a place where he could rest. Legend tells us Martha was a wealthy widow and the homeowner who provided for her brother, Lazarus, and her sister, Mary.

Martha organized the work, supervised her servants and – as scripture implies – used her type A personality to get things done. We need the Martha’s of our world just as much as we need the Mary’s.

Other biblical women who exercised leadership and earned their way to biblical commendation include Lydia, Priscilla, Deborah, Abigail, Rahab, Jael, Mary Magdalene, Suzanna, Junia, Ruth, Joanna and of course, Mary – the mother of Jesus.

But what of the women beyond these biblical characters?

Many Christian women of history are listed as martyrs, those ladies who gave their all for the love of their Lord. Some of these noble warriors included Blandina (177 AD) from France, Perpetua and Felicitas (203AD), Faltonia (4th century AD) and Anne Askew (1546) an English Protestant martyr. Many others may not be recorded here, but they are definitely written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Tim Lambert has compiled a history of Christian women. Many historical women were noted missionaries who brought other people groups to Christ. To become a missionary in those days meant extreme hardship. These women truly left father, mother and homeland for the sake of the Gospel (Mark 10:29).

Some of these brave women include:

  • Ann Lee (1736-1784: a Quaker missionary)
  • Ann Judson (1789-1826: missionary to Burma)
  • Lottie Moon (1840-1912: missionary to China)
  • Mary Slessor (1848-1915: missionary to Africa)
  • Ida Scudder (1870-1960: missionary to India)
  • Evelyn Brand (1879-1974: missionary to India)
  • Gladys Aylward (1903-1970: missionary to China)
  • Elisabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint who helped reach the hearts of the Auca Indians in the 1950’s-60’s.

Other women have served in public service and government. Read about their accomplishments.

At GateWay of Hope, we see the courage and commitment of women every day. These are women who aren’t afraid to tackle some of the issues of their pasts and work with our counselors to find hope, healing and wholeness. They dig deep into their souls to find the places of first hurts. It takes a tremendous amount of personal courage to share how they have been shamed and to reach for the hand of hope that is offered them.

We applaud these courageous women.

Other women commit to coaching sessions and initiate plans for moving forward in life. They meet with our life coach to organize their lives, learn more about their core values and jump over the obstacles that once held them back. In spite of emotional upheavals, they stay in character – strong, living within their core values and moving forward. We admire these women of character.

Women in our groups dare to become vulnerable as they learn about authenticity and share their struggles. They find safety at GateWay whether they’re praying for their adult children, finding their place of significance within the pain of chronic illness or dealing with a spouse who is a sex addict.

These women of GateWay protect their hearts and fight against bitterness. They set healthy boundaries and learn better ways to deal with relationship conflicts. They use the giftings God has given them and refuse to be shamed just because they are women or because they have suffered the struggles of life’s circumstances.

During National Women’s History Month, we salute these brave women of the past who left a legacy of faithfulness. As their sisters, we step forward to serve God in whatever field He leads us to – for the glory of the One who created us to be His courageous women.

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