In this podcast episode, Jackie Perry, Licensed Professional Counselor and author, delves into the story of how the Lord led her into the counseling ministry. She also shares about her journey into the writing world, describing the hardships and the encouragements along the journey.
Throughout her life, Jackie says that she has had a desire to tell stories and put things together for the benefit of others. After the birth of her third child, the Lord reawakened her dream of writing. However, in the last few years while writing her book, she has found the work to be much more challenging and life-changing than she envisioned. She describes feeling like she needed to write this book and feeling like the Lord had given her an open invitation to do so.
“I felt very invited by the Lord. It’s never been a burden. I think I’ve felt like it’s been a burden, but I feel like He’s invited me all along on this journey to write this.”
-Jackie Perry, LPCS
When asked about a Scripture passage that she clings to, Jackie replied that there is a passage that has been a life verse for her:
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:25-28 NASB
If you enjoyed this episode, check back in two weeks to hear the second part of the interview, where Jackie dives into the content of her book about needs of the heart.
If something you heard on this podcast resonated with you, please comment below, or join in the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
Have you ever noticed that when you feel overwhelmed, it’s hard to form clear thoughts and think logically? There is a good reason for that. When we are under great stress, our bodies go into the “fight or flight” response which equips the body and brain for survival. The same mechanisms that make your heart pound harder and adrenaline flow when under stress also cause your higher-level thinking abilities to become impaired.
One of the downsides of the stress response is that our higher-level thinking cortex (responsible for language, logic, imagination, and planning) gets hijacked, while our lower brain that runs instincts, reflexes, emotions, and memory is highly activated. This is all meant to work for our survival. After all, if your car is parked on a train track, and a train is barreling down the track towards your car, you don’t need to calculate the velocity involved; you just need to MOVE! Our bodies and brains in fight or flight mode are made to do just that.
When under great stress or anxiety, we are also more susceptible to believing negative thoughts. It’s a lot easier to fight negative thoughts when you’re in a positive frame of mind. When overwhelmed, you will not only have more negative thoughts, but also give in to “stinking thinking” more easily.
I am a huge proponent of talking back to negative thoughts. In other words, replacing lies with truth. In previous blog posts, I’ve shared about the importance of using Scripture to combat negative thoughts. However, when overwhelmed, the part of your brain that can think logically and combat lies with truth is impaired due to your body’s fight/flight system. What then?
Enter the mantra, a short, true statement (4-5 words) that uses little concentration and can be used to get through a time of stress.
Mantra: a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation / a statement or slogan repeated frequently.
Long before I knew about how the fight/flight response affects the brain and body, I managed to use a mantra. I was in labor with my second child in the middle of the night, and I told myself over and over, “Joy comes in the morning, Joy comes in the morning.” After my first birth experience, which was far from pleasant, I was prepared for the worst. In the heat of labor, immersed in pain, I almost forgot my mantra. Still, when it was all said and done, my joy DID come in the morning, with the birth of my sweet child.
Some examples of helpful mantras could be:
“This too shall pass.”
“I am not alone.”
“Tomorrow is a new day.”
“I can do this.”
Large chunks of Scripture may be hard to remember when in fight or flight mode. Still, the truths of Scripture can be shortened to work as a mantra.
“His mercies are new each day.” Lamentations 3:22 & 23
“He will fight for me.” Exodus 14:14
“God loves me.” John 3:16
“He is with me.” Isaiah 41:10
If I am being carried along in a rushing river, trying to keep my head above water, I will not be looking for a yacht to come and save me. I will be looking for a life saver, a piece of plywood, or a log to grab onto, until I can make it to shore. That is how I think of mantras. They’re not elaborate. They’re not even eloquent, but they are true. They can be clung to until our brains return to a calm state.
Pause: Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Think of a Scripture passage that brings you comfort when you are overwhelmed and read through it now.
Renew: Remember a time when you felt overwhelmed and had to fight negative thoughts. When in that circumstance, what kind of a mantra would have been helpful to repeat to yourself?
Next: Make a list this week of a few true, short statements that will be helpful for you the next time you find yourself under major stress. If you want, keep a couple of them in a location where you can see them easily (in your wallet, on your phone, or taped to your bathroom mirror).
May you be encouraged to hold onto truth in the midst of stress and anxiety.
In this episode, Becky shares how the Lord led her family to adopt their twin girls from Ukraine. She eloquently speaks of the hurdles and rewards of adoption and special needs parenting. Throughout the interview, she shares powerfully how, through the adoption of her daughters, the Lord is producing the fruit of the Spirit in both her life and the lives of her children.
In this episode, Becky lists a few resources that she has found particularly helpful in parenting:
I think there is a good reason that the apostle Paul never names his infamous “thorn in the flesh.” By not giving it a name or a condition, we can all place our own suffering experience into the text and relate to his pain. Although I am not an expert on the subject of suffering, I certainly can relate to a thorn in the flesh. Mine happens to be in the form of joint instability and the pain that goes with it. I too have asked for my thorn to be removed. Although I hope that one day I am healed, for now, the Lord is slowly teaching me that His grace really is sufficient.
My “thorn in the flesh” journey began about six years ago. A year or two into the journey, I remember a day that I took a walk in the woods. As I walked, I was thinking and praying, and honestly feeling pretty sorry for myself. Any time I took a walk my dog, Todd, a black lab mix, walked with me. He was so enthusiastic, running ahead, chasing all the smells and noises, but constantly making sure that he was near me. He would double back around to check in with me, before chasing the next smell.
I was contemplating how faithful my dog was to me, when I felt the Lord impress on my spirit that He was the same way. I might be going through suffering, but I would not do it alone. The Lord was with me, and He had given me a family (and dog) who loved me and would walk with me on this journey.
As time passes, even though I feel that I grow wiser, somehow I find that I need to be reminded of truths that the Lord has taught me before. Flash forward to this week, when the Lord did a similar thing for me again. Last week I was experiencing more pain than usual, and with the pain came worry, insecurity, and fear of the future. One afternoon I took a walk and was praying about it. By praying about it, I mean ugly crying and once again having a pity party. As I walked and cried, a phrase from Psalm 91 came into my head: “I will be with him in trouble.” I stopped walking, and pulled out my Bible app to read the whole verse:
“When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”
Once again, the Lord reassured me that although I was experiencing pain, I was not in it alone.
The promises of Scripture are so rich. When we suffer, we can hold on to God’s promises more tightly, exploring the depths of them more fully. We serve a dependable God. He is the same today, tomorrow, and forever. My feelings and circumstances change, but His grace and faithfulness don’t waver. I’m so thankful that when our perspective is skewed by pain and fear, He reminds us of His faithfulness.
Pause: Find space in your day that you have time to read, pray, and journal. Look for promises in Scripture about suffering and God’s faithfulness (or whatever else pertains to your current life situation).
Renew: Write these verses down in a journal so that you can revisit these promises when you need a reminder. If there are one or two verses that really stand out to you, put them on a 3X5 card and carry them with you or put them in a place that you will see them often.
Next: Take opportunities throughout this week to bring your thoughts and feelings to the Lord in prayer. Take time to listen for His voice and to spend time in the Bible meditating on what you read there. The Lord has the power to re-frame our perspective about our circumstances.
May you have the reassurance that the Lord goes before you, behind you, and with you, always.
Josephine Butler worked against sex-trafficking at a time when the words were taboo to speak aloud. She was an advocate for women who were looked down on by society. Stubborn does not begin to define her character. I think “will of steel” might be closer to accurate.
While most people turn inwards through grief, Josephine used her sorrow as a catalyst to help others hurting worse than herself. She ministered to women who were marginalized in society and advocated for change in her culture.
Thompson, L. (2015, May 18). Heroes of the Faith: Josephine Butler. Evangelicals for Social Action. Retrieved from https://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/heroes-of-the-faith/heroes-of-the-faith-josephine-butler/
(The Femcyclopedia). (2018, July 18). Josephine Butler and Nellie Bly [Audio podcast].
W. T. Stead. ( nd.). In Wikipedia.
Josephine Butler’s story certainly inspired me. I hope this podcast encourages your faith and inspires you to push forward to do the hard things God calls you to do, even in the face of adversity. Share what inspires you about Josephine Butler’s story on PRN’s Facebook page.