Month: August 2011

Are you a wife of someone serving in a ministry position? Are you a woman serving in a ministry position?

By:  Lianne Johnson, LPC
Avenues Counseling is committed to supporting our local churches in the St. Louis area, and one of the best ways we know how to do this is to offer support to those specifically on the front lines of ministry.  Life Care Groups are being developed specifically for pastor’s wives, women in full time ministry, and wives whose husbands are in full time ministry. 
Why is there a need for groups like this?
All too often people in ministry positions will say that living a life of ministry feels like living in a glass house.  This can quickly and easily become a burden to a person in ministry, as well as to their family.  Oftentimes the spouse of a pastor, or the wife of someone in full time ministry, can feel alone and uncared for.  Who cares for the pastor’s wife?  Who cares for the women whose husband is in full time ministry?  Who cares for the woman leading the women’s ministry at her church?  Who can she trust with her inner heart?  Many times these women feel alone. 
We desire to offer a safe place for women to learn about God, be nurtured by the scriptures as well as by others in similar life seasons and roles. 
This is why Avenues Counseling is in the process of developing Life Care Groups.  If you are the wife of a pastor, the wife of someone in full time ministry, or are a woman in a ministry position yourself, please help us develop these groups by taking a short survey.  This will take you about 5 minutes, but will help us tremendously. 
Please pass this along to anyone who is a pastor’s wife, the wife of someone in full time ministry, or a woman in ministry herself if they live in the St. Louis area.  

What Kind of Relationship Do You Have?

By: Katy Martin, LPC
With food, that is.
“On this journey it’s important for you to have a true understanding of what healthy eating really is. We’re not talking about eating only a sugar-free, fat-free, purely organic, or low-carb diet. In fact, healthy eating has less to do with the type of food you eat and more to do with the relationship you have with food and God. Healthy eating in the HEAL sense is having an emotionally healthy approach to food. It means bringing God into the center of your relationship with food and learning to trust and obey the way he made you.” Taken from HEAL: Healthy Eating Abundant Living, pg.35.
Have you ever thought about the relationship you have with food? Are you happy with it? Are you healthy? Is it an abusive relationship? How do you feel?
Let’s talk about it at our HEAL group, beginning soon at Avenues Counseling. This 8 week small group experience will provide insight into your personal body image story and relationship with food. The cost of the group is $125 for the 8 sessions and including materials. For more information, or to sign up, contact Katy Martin, LPC at [email protected] or at 314-910-1394.  There are just a few spots remaining.

Are You Happy? Yes or No.

By:  Courtney Hollingsworth, PLPC

There is obviously humorous simplicity in this flow chart. Strict adherence would fail to take into account a multitude of factors that life presents. There is, however, truth in this simplistic presentation as it relates to choice, change, and power.

Socrates claimed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Failing to examine our lives, decisions, relationships, actions, past mistakes, and the states of our hearts can rob us of living fully. It can also lead to pitfalls and follies. Which misteps in your life could have been avoided by external observation and internal searching?

What do you see when you stop and look at your life? What do you wish were different? There is only one person you have the power to change. And, by the grace and power of God, there is only one person who has the power to change you. (Hint: both of these have the same answer)

Facing Plenty

By Jonathan Hart, LPC


Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV)
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.


The concept of “facing plenty” has bugged me for a long time.  We don’t often use the language of “facing…” when we are talking about a good thing.  “I was facing a time of wealth and comfort, but I made it through by the grace of God.”  But this is the language Paul uses: plenty and abundance are something to be faced, in a parallel way to facing lack and poverty.  There are unique challenges in having plenty and abundance, and they can be as difficult as having want and need.


Part of the challenge, I think, comes from our habit of thinking that plenty and abundance are “the norm” and that anything less is a burden to be borne and overcome as soon as possible.  I can’t imagine relating to abundance in this way.  “I have too much money.  I have to get rid of it somehow and get back to scraping by from check to check!”  How many people are dropping into horrific debt in order to “maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed”?  


When we are in pain, grief, loss, hurt, or distress, we do one thing uncommonly well: we complain.  We articulate our pain, we feel every inch of it and talk about it in the hopes of finding someone who can identify with it and tell us it’s OK to feel that way about it.  What if we “complained” about our abundance the same way?  What if we treated our abundance and surplus the same way we treated our challenges and loss?  We don’t often do this because of our misconception that plenty and abundance are the norm: we are entitled to them and therefore they are not noteworthy.

I encourage many people to “wallow” in their good times, to store them up in memory and savor them richly.  I encourage people to concentrate on being fully present in the joy of the moment and holding on to it so that when it passes (as it inevitably will), we can more fully recall it and taste it again in our mind.  Articulate and “complain” about how good things are, much as we articulate and complain about our pain, because joy and pain alike are part of living in a broken world.

I am not talking about disassociating from joy and pain, as much of Christianity is taught to do: “Times are bad, but the joy of the Lord is my strength!!  I don’t feel the pain because Jesus is so good!”  I am actually encouraging us to feel the joy – and the pain – more fully.

This practice can give us much more resilience and strength to last through the difficult times.  We can soothe our hearts and minds on the fact that pain and shortfall are not all that has ever been, that resources come and go, that pain, like joy, is temporary in this life.  The seasons continue to turn, and life is more than this present moment;  the joy of last year still exists, even though this moment is hard, and the joy that I knew then will come again in time.

This practice helps us hold on more tenaciously to times of plenty as well.  We can practice the recognition that this joy is temporary and that it is a gift, rather than an entitlement. Nothing draws our attention to life more than a death in the family.  Nothing raises our awareness of the value of our spouse or children than to hear that a friend has lost those most precious to them.  If we can practice this mental discipline of savoring our joy and plenty because it is temporary, we will live and enjoy it much more fully.