Fighting Words

Wherever you go, in restaurants, stores, even gas stations, there are background tracks playing. Like elevator music that fades into the periphery of conversation and the din of customers, the songs go mostly unnoticed. Then, a favorite song comes on, and suddenly you are aware that there has been music all along. Our thoughts play in much the same way. All day, every day, we are forming an inner script, creating the narrative of our lives inside the confines of our minds.

Our thoughts are the hidden tracks of our lives.
Photo by Skylar Sahakian on Unsplash

Most of the time, we remain blissfully unaware of our thought content. Still, if we considered our thoughts to be like an album playing in the background of our lives, upon turning up the volume, what track would you hear playing in your mind? Some common refrains I hear in my counseling office sound like:

  • I am never enough.
  • What if I fail?
  • What do others think of me?
  • I hate my body.

The list can go on and on. Each of our minds have specific, go-to, negative tracks that our brains like to play when we feel tired, weak, hurt, discouraged, or lonely. The amazing fact about our mind is that all day, as we think and act, we are wiring and rewiring our brains. The neuronal pathways that “fire” together in our brains also “wire” together. This means that, as we continue to think the same negative thoughts, we are making super pathways for those thoughts in our brains. On the other hand, as we change our thinking patterns, our brains are capable of making new pathways. It’s a completely phenomenal design by our Creator who is in the business of redemption. That is the good news.

The bad news is this: it takes a lot of work. A LOT of work. First, we must become aware of our thought lives. Paying attention to our thinking, or “metathinking,” does not come naturally. It feels strange at first. The process of beginning to change those negative thoughts once we are aware of them is even more difficult. After all, if we truly believe the negative scripts playing in our minds, then with what ammunition are we going to fight them?

Ellie Holcomb has a song, Fighting Words, that I absolutely love. In one short, fun-loving song, she sums up the work of fighting negative thoughts by speaking truth to them. As we begin to challenge the thoughts, rather than believe them every time they present themselves, change begins to occur.

A few years ago, I heard a pastor on the radio teaching about taking our thoughts captive to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). He advocated that the imagery of taking a captive is the language of war. It doesn’t mean gently reprimanding a wayward thought. It means forcefully taking it to the dungeon and chaining it up. We are taking thoughts prisoner. We are reminding ourselves of the truth of Scripture, even when we are not yet able to believe it. Even when we don’t yet feel it.

The “fighting words” we use to speak back to the negative and untrue thoughts playing in the stereo of our minds help us incrementally build new pathways in our brains. Each small success has an impact on our spirit and brain. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Even attempts to challenge old thinking patterns begin to disrupt old neuronal pathways. That, friends, is the beauty of neuroplasticity and a God who loves to redeem and make all things new.

Photo by Skylar Sahakian on Unsplash

Pause: Take a moment to still your body and calm your brain. Slowly breathe in and slowly exhale. Read Romans 12:2 and meditate on the idea of being renewed by the transforming of your mind. What does this mean to you? What could this mean about your thought life?

Renew: As you have time, list some of the negative thoughts that plague you consistently. Begin to write down true statements that you can use to combat those thoughts when they come. Find Scripture passages that directly relate to those thoughts and use them as your “fighting words.”

Next: This is hard work. Give yourself grace for even trying. Healing is never linear, and neither is change. It takes time and practice. Thankfully, you have a whole lifetime to keep practicing. Choose one thought that you want to start fighting this week and begin the warfare!

May we know and accept Grace and Truth as we change the music of our thought-lives.

Pause, Renew, Next!

In Want + Plenty: An Interview with Meredith McDaniel

It was my privilege to sit with Meredith McDaniel and talk about the faith journey that led her to write her first book, titled In Want + Plenty. Meredith is a licensed professional counselor and owns her own private practice, Milk + Honey Counseling. We met each other over a decade ago, and it has been a joy to see what the Lord is doing in her life.

Meredith McDaniel, licensed professional counselor and author of In Want + Plenty

In this podcast episode, Meredith shares how, through experiencing a season of unease and transition, the Lord began teaching her through the story of Exodus about the joy of finding “manna” in her every day moments. She began to look for His provision in seasons of discontent as well as in seasons where there was abundance. Meredith explains that she feels called through her writing and counseling to help others “taste of the land of milk and honey here on earth.”

In Want + Plenty will be available January 20, 2020 anywhere books are sold

During this episode, Meredith shared that through Emily P. Freeman, she became one of the first members of HopeWriters. She believes that hope*writers has been integral to being able to write in a way that she could not only be supported, but keep her “soul intact” in the process.

Meredith’s book, In Want + Plenty: Waking Up to God’s Provision in a Land of Longing, is available for preorder now. To learn more about Meredith’s book and ministry, visit her website: https://www.meredithmcdaniel.com/.

During our chat, Meredith talked about ways she is trying to focus on prioritizing her marriage and family relationships. One of the ways she is currently fostering intentional time with her children each week is by using a new resource she loves, called Imaginative Prayer.

I found this conversation to be so encouraging. If you know someone who would also be encouraged by it, please share! If something about this conversation resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it. Comment below, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Heart Cries of Every Teen (Replay): An Interview with Jackie Perry, LPCS

Last spring, I was privileged to interview my friend and colleague, Jackie Perry, LPCS, about her journey of writing her first book, Heart Cries of Every Teen: Eight Core Desires That Demand Attention. Well, now we have something to celebrate, because her book has now been published. In honor of the occasion, I am reposting this podcast interview.

Jackie E. Perry is a Licensed Professional Counselor and author of Heart Cries of Every Teen.

Originally a two-part interview, for this throwback episode, I have combined the two parts into one full episode. In this interview, Jackie shares about her faith journey of becoming an author, as well as her heart for counseling teens. Jackie’s book, Heart Cries of Every Teen, is now available on Amazon, and is receiving excellent reviews. If you have an adolescent in your life, this book will be tremendously helpful and encouraging to you.

Heart Cries of Every Teen helps to encourage and equip parents of teens.

If something about this episode resonated with you, please comment below or on PRN’s Facebook page. Additionally, if you know someone who would be encouraged by listening to this podcast, please feel free to share it.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul Care Practices: with Deni Huttula, LPCA, & Kate Wimberly, LPC

How does one practice healthy soul care? In the midst of our busy lives, caring for ourselves can often take a backseat. It was my joy to interview two of my colleagues, Deni Huttula, LPCA, and Kate Wimberly, LPC, to have a conversation all about soul care. As therapists, both Deni and Kate share their experiences of teaching soul care practices to their clients as well as ways that they incorporate it in their own lives.

Therapists Deni Huttula, LPCA, and Kate Wimberly, LPC, talk about self-care practices that they find helpful.

You will hear the terms self-care and soul-care interchangeably throughout the podcast. However, I love the term soul-care, because I think the phrase is more life-giving and all-encompassing. I define soul-care as integrating the care of our relationships, our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. I love the way Kate defines soul-care during the podcast interview: “it’s any healthy behavior that sets my soul on fire, that makes me feel alive, and I know my soul is nourished through it.”

During our conversation, Deni shared that body awareness is an important part of her own self-care. She specifically mentioned two resources that she often uses with her clients to help with regulation and mindfulness:

Both Kate and Deni discussed their favorite Scriptures during the podcast and explained why those particular passages minister to them personally. Kate shared that Joshua 10 is one of her favorite passages because, through the story of Joshua’s bold faith, she is being challenged in her own walk with the Lord. Deni’s favorite verse is reflective of her personality and our conversation about soul care:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

I loved this conversation, and I hope you came away from it with new encouragement and inspiration to better incorporate soul-care in your life. If anything from today’s episode resonated with you, please comment below, or join the community on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Heart Cries of Every Teen: An Interview with Jackie Perry, LPCS

In this podcast episode, Jackie Perry, LPCS, confides that her mission in her counseling practice, and also in her new book, Heart Cries of Every Teen: Eight Core Desires That Demand Attention, is to equip parents to better connect with the hearts of their teens.

This episode is the continuation of a two-part interview. In the first podcast episode, Jackie shared elements of her faith journey about authoring her first book. In this second podcast episode, Jackie dives into the content of her book, discussing elements of parenting, adolescent development, and soul care.

Heart Cries of Every Teen: Eight Core Desires That Demand Attention will be published in the fall of 2019 and will be available on Amazon. Jackie’s hope and prayer is that her book will help “put fresh wind in parent’s sails.”

If something you heard on this podcast episode resonated with you, please comment below, or join in the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page. If you know someone who would be encouraged by hearing the content of this episode, please pass it on!

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Open Invitation: An Interview with Jackie Perry, LPCS

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.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!