Not Just Another Book About Shame & Overcoming Your Past

Is “Unashamed” just another book in a sea of self-help books? Or is it really worth a read? If you can’t seem to move forward or need something highly practical to help you deal with your past or beat your struggles with shame, this book offers excellent examples and precise strategies of what you can do differently.

This book is highly recommended if:

  • You can’t get rid of persistent thoughts that lead to feeling doubt, fear, insecurity, bitterness, offense, discouragement, negativity, anxiety and/or anger.
  • You experience painful emotions on an on-going basis.
  • You do well for a while; but then you hit a wall.
  • You overcome one hurdle, but then something new comes along to deal with and you feel like you’re right back where you started.
  • You feel a lot of guilt and/or could be holding onto unforgiveness.
  • You really do struggle to trust God no matter how hard you try.
  • Your lifestyle is pulling you away from God instead of towards Him.
  • You don’t like yourself.
  • You find yourself wondering how other people can be so positive when they go through trials and suffering.
  • You know you’ve messed up some significant relationships.
  • You don’t believe you can ever get over what you’ve been through.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

This is a book to read with a notebook and a pen.

This is a book to let someone know you’re reading so you can be held accountable to follow its many rich suggestions. Even better – read it with a friend, wise counsel, or a group.

This is a book to ask the Lord to use as a tool to bring about change.

“Lord…let me never be ashamed.” Psalm 31:1b

2 Things Anxiety Loves To Do To People

Because anxiety is rooted in fear, it casts a spell of avoidance on its victims to to keep them away from what is scary. And this goes far beyond heights or terrifying carnival rides. For example, even procrastination and indecisiveness are ways that anxiety tries to take you out of action to prove its so-called “protection” of you.

Because anxiety is the opposite of faith, it plagues its prey with pessimism. And this goes far beyond just being realistic or practical. For example, keeping a negative perspective is a way that anxiety tries to show you how to expect the worst to prove its so-called “helpful thinking” to you.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1.Be aware that avoidance and pessimism are signs that you’ve been paid a visit by anxiety. When you catch yourself avoiding what you don’t want to face, or finding yourself thinking things are going to turn out much worse than they usually do, consider that this is anxiety and not really your best you.

2.Don’t beat yourself up; it’s hard not to have an anxious spirit in this fast-paced world. But if the Holy Spirit has come and made His home in you, then you can access power, love, and a sound mind to replace a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Confessing that you have worried instead of trusting is an invitation to the Spirit of Jesus to get to work inside of you.

3.Ponder this analogy: Being a Christian is both winning the championship and being at training camp at the same time. Check out Titus 2:11-15: His glory has arrived on the scene…pouring grace over you…teaching you…living through you…asking you to wait for Him to work…giving you hope…and redeeming and purifying you all for the honor of being His very own! He says to: declare these truths with authority to your worldly passions (including anxiety) every day, every hour if you have to! And let no one (including anxiety) disregard you! Finally, depend on Him to coach and score against every one of your match-ups against anxiety, including it’s favorite game-plans of avoidance and pessimism.

Back-To-School Prayers, Puritan Style

As school gets started here in the South, naturally you’re praying about teachers, schedules, activities, friends, stressworkload etc. But as you think of these modern-day concerns, it’s good to know that there were prayers prayed a few centuries ago that could bring your prayers today to a whole new level. What if you took a few minutes to pray like a Puritan?

“Lord of the Cloud and Fire, all intellect is derived from You.”

“O Most High, may I never be satisfied with my present spiritual progress.”

“O Lord of the Oceans, the voyage is long and the waves high, but my helm is held steady, Your Word secures safe passage, and Your grace wafts me onward.”

“Lord Jesus Great High Priest, every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess.”

“All-Sufficient King, may Your goodness always lead me to repentance.”

“Compassionate Lord, here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.”

“O God the Author of All Good, teach me how to use the world, and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, and to walk in wisdom toward those without.”

“Almighty God, may my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise.”

“My Dear Lord, wrap my life in Divine Love that I may be fitted for doing and suffering.

“Lord of Immortality, expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame, and stay my mind on Your peace, knowing that nothing can befall me without Your permission, appointment and administration.”

“O God Most Glorious, Your presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong, and happy.”

“Father of Jesus, let my happy place (yes it really does say that) be among the poor in spirit. Let me always esteem others better than myself.”

“Maker and Sustainer of All Things, deliver me from worldly dispositions that I may be a glory to You and an example to others.”

“O Very Great God, send me Your help, for your appointments are not meant to make me independent of You.”

“O Christ, bring me speedily to the land of joy.”

Taken from The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Consider making one of these pure prayers a theme for your upcoming school year.

Look up more Puritan prayers to suit your needs and desires. Enjoy the creativity and freshness they will bring to your prayer life.

Journal your favorites and find the Scriptures they are based upon.

Pray like a Puritan for yourself and for others. And enjoy the peace these beautiful prayers can bring you as they help you keep your mind centered on His Word, holiness, divinity, and power.

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

BOOK REVIEW: “Spirit Rising, Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit” (Plus one more)

You have a good reason for being leery when it comes to the way some people and certain churches approach the Holy Spirit. But our triune God includes the Holy Spirit and He should be just as important to us as the Father and the Son.

While every follower is imperfect, pastor and author, Jim Cymbala has written several quality books on the Holy Spirit. You can comfortably appreciate his work because he humbly approaches God’s Word to help him understand the Holy Spirit, rather than trying to sensationalize the Spirit.

“Spirit Rising” was written several years ago, but either reading the entire book or simply studying the “JenNotes” version below will give you very timely encouragement for today.

“JenNotes” Version:

*The world is a rough place and yet many Christians do without the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.

*Christianity doesn’t end with the cross. There was a reason Jesus told His disciples He was sending a Helper and Teacher.

*Because you’re possibly controlled by something negative (such as fear, guilt, selfish desires, stress, lifestyle, etc.), it’s understandable to think being controlled by the Holy Spirit would be just as bad. But if you give up control of your life and let the Holy Spirit take over, you’ll experience powerful freedom.

*When you ask the Holy Spirit to fill you up, teach you how to live this life, and lead the way, you will not dread reading your Bible nor put off prayer. Instead the Holy Spirit will give you a holy appetite for it. You’ll become bold in fighting against the enemy’s plans for you and better discover the Lord’s will for your life.

*Your talents, gifts, work ethic, will power, and best efforts will all fail to bring you fulfillment, freedom, or success in building God’s Kingdom. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the power on which all believers are utterly dependent, whether they know it or not.

*Hard places and suffering enable you to experience His power in greater ways, and this is where the Holy Spirit gives you joy-filled strength even through your sorrows. Struggles teach you how to love the Lord and receive all that He has to give you.

*Slow down and make room for a Holy Spirit takeover. Then watch His grace turn you into a person who is: humble and sorrowful over sin…loving towards the unlovablejoyful in sufferingfulfilled by the Lord’s sufficiency…productive in building the Kingdom according to His will…self-disciplined, fearless, and no longer addicted to the pleasures of this world…and soaring to the heights as you bring Him all the glory you were created to bring Him.

*Ask the Holy Spirit today – and every single day – to help you think, pray, read and pour over your Bible, and live every moment of your life. Then move over and let Him take over. You can’t imagine what He will do and how much you’ll like who you become.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Jim Cymbala’s writings are great for drawing you in and inspiring you to connect with the Holy Spirit. If you’d also or instead like something that is detailed and expository, Reformed theologian Sinclair Ferguson has published several works that teach deeply about the Holy Spirit.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” (Jn. 6:63)

College Exploration: UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In Atlanta, it’s been the overlooked school. But now that more and more students are looking outside the state for college, many are discovering the university that others have missed. As fans would tell you, the real USC is in Columbia, South Carolina.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Let these particulars help you decide if you’d like to add South Carolina to your list of college choices:

  • It’s located in a Capital city that provides plenty to do, but with far less traffic congestion than Atlanta. It’s set on a quintessential southern college campus complete with beautiful trees, traditional and new classroom buildings, and a picturesque Greek-life neighborhood.
  • USC is a large SEC school with exciting school spirit and 25,000+ undergraduate students, with Georgia ranking 5th for most out-of-state students. Though a large school, people on campus are equally as helpful and friendly as the website is easy to navigate.
  • The Honors College is ranked #1 for Public Honors Colleges in the country. It boasts of offering students the environment of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large public university. And the Capstone Scholar Program may be suitable for those students who really want to focus on leadership during their time on campus.
  • Two distinctive degree options are the very active and well-known International Business program, and the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management – unique for its strong business foundation. Students are also flocking to the College of Arts and Sciences, Darla Moore School of Business, College of Education, and the Nursing school. Probe the website for your area of interest to see how the University of South Carolina competes with other schools you are considering.
  • The required Carolina Core courses can give time to those with undeclared majors to find the field of study that is best for them.
  • Very affordable, South Carolina is known for giving abundant financial aid and discounts, including opportunities for a wide range of out-of-state students to receive in-state tuition. South Carolina uses the Coalition application and half of the freshman class typically receives a merit scholarship! Actually, 88% of USC students receive some sort of financial help. The key is to apply early to get the most financial support.

You don’t have to wait another moment to take two important steps:

Click here to go on a Virtual Tour of the school…It’s very popular with candidates…

The Application for Fall 2018 is already open, so you can click here to get started…

As you begin to prepare for the transition to college, you may want to pray:

  • Psalm 71:5-6
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • Daniel 1:8
  • Matthew 4:19
  • Mark 4:20
  • 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • Galatians 5:25
  • Philippians 4:19
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24
  • 2 Timothy 2:1
  • 2 Timothy 2:21
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
  • James 4:10

How Many Apologies Does It Take?

So you’ve messed up and apologized. You only owe one apology per offense, right? Not necessarily. Yes, the person you wronged is commanded to be quick to forgive you, but some cases can be better resolved after multiple apologies. Likewise, several layers of apologies may be helpful to restore intimacy.

As a Christian, you are not condemned. So, if you’re feeling unsettled even after you’ve apologized, you’ll want to proceed prayerfully to know if the Lord is prompting a next-level apology…or to see if this idea is actually coming out of wrong reasons such as people-pleasing, co-dependency issues, false guilt, etc.

If someone is coming to your mind right now and you’re wondering if you need to apologize again (or maybe even apologize when you’re the one who is owed an apology), the following exercise can help guide you.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*Is the Lord speaking to your situation through these apologetic scenarios?

“So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). There’s room here for the possibility that the one at the altar could extend a previous apology, yet it lack enough depth or sincerity for the brother to release the grievance.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…” (Mt. 18:15, 16). There’s room here for the possibility that a brother might only offer a half-apology and not agree when being asked for a more complete apology.

“…you were grieved into repenting…” (2 Cor. 7:9). There’s room here for the possibility that as they grieved, the repentant ones became increasingly sorry, maybe even apologizing once more. There’s also room here for the possibility that during the grieving period the offended can be struggling to forgive; but once a fresh apology is delivered, forgiveness comes easier.

 *Does this basic truth resonate?

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). There’s room here for the possibility that an apology you previously gave – before you knew Christ – doesn’t feel sorrowful enough to you now, and you want to do it again.

*Do any of these foundational commands apply?

“You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mk. 12:30). There’s room here for the possibility that the more of you that loves God, the more you’re able to hear Him telling you to do a better job apologizing.

 “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). There’s room here for the possibility that with a renewed mind, you think differently about the situation and can apologize with a clearer perspective now.

 “…continue to work out your own salvation…” (Phil. 2:12). There’s room here for the possibility that the more you live out your salvation, the more regretful you’ll feel about your sin towards another, leading you to a more deep and sincere level of apology.

*Still not sure?

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you…Carry out this act of grace…for the glory of the Lord…” (Jas. 4:10; 2 Cor. 8:19). There’s room here for the possibility that if you’re being led to offer someone another apology – and it’s coming from a humble place in your heart – then God is being glorified by you!

What Will Happen to Being a Daddy’s Girl?

It’s everywhere. Commercials, movies, retail. The trend now is for the girl to be the lead. And she’s usually displaying physical strength, sensuality, or attitude…or all three. Certainly, positive treatment of women is biblical and beneficial, but there are consequences to giving status to females that is outside of God’s original design. One such problem with the push for redefining the female gender is the precious daddy-daughter relationship being under-minded and in danger of becoming extinct.

 Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Give and find grace. Deep in her soul, most girls can sense that there is something unique about her relationship with her father. Of course, in this broken world, all fathers fail their daughters to one degree or another. Yes, the father-daughter relationship falls short of perfectly reflecting the love of the Heavenly Father for his child. But Abba-Father imprinted the father-daughter bond on families, and no matter how hard the Enemy and the world try to destroy it, His design peaks through all the imperfection. Pray for the grace to see it. And encourage His Fatherly way to be brought out in the father-daughter duos in your life.

And because you are (daughters), God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6)

Be strong enough to submit. The world wants girls to believe they are so capable that they don’t need their daddies. Ask even the most courageous girls in the world if they’ve ever let their father defend them and how it felt. If they’re honest, they will tell you it’s amazing. And such a rescue directly points to the gospel.

Now my daughter…I will redeem you. (Ruth 3:11, 13, Amp.)

Guard your home. Don’t let the world’s messages creep into your family. Where possible, be a promoter of the sacredness of a father-daughter relationship and the father’s protector role, no matter how independent and accomplished his daughter may be. This glorifies God.

Glorious is the King’s daughter… (Ps. 45:13, Amp.)

The Missing Key To Finding Balance

Desiring balance is a worthy goal, but are Americans really all that balanced? There is so much focus in society to be extremely successful while also being perfectly balanced that you may be confused and actually find yourself unsuccessful and out-of-balance. But there is a way to find that happy medium. At the core of being balanced is having an ability to juxtapose opposites, or to be both/and. Consider the following examples:

You love your child, but can’t approve of his unbiblical choices. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you show so much grace that you teach him nothing, or you show so much disapproval that he feels only shame. Balanced: he feels safe with you even while knowing your Biblical worldview. It’s both/and.

You want to have a good lifestyle for your family while juggling multiple schedules. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you’re so structured your kids are becoming resentful, or you’re so flexible you’ve even lost your own personal self-discipline. Balanced: you’ve separated which areas of your life to keep open for change and which to guard as non-negotiable. It’s both/and.

You know it’s important to be physically healthy, while having other priorities. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you’re so preoccupied with what you eat and your workouts that you’re unpleasant to be around if there are any interferences, or you continually rationalize unhealthy choices. Balanced: you’ve talked with at least one significant person in your life to plan out the appropriate shopping list, cooking plans, and workout times so that loved ones, customers, etc. aren’t neglected while you are attending to your needs. It’s both/and.

You want to be smart about planning for the future, while knowing you might not see tomorrow. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you can’t think of the last time you asked yourself the question “Am I ready if Jesus comes today,” or you’ve given no thought at all to any long-term goals. Balanced: you contemplate this tension regularly, such as on the Sabbath. It’s both/and.

You want to believe you are sensitive without losing logic. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: much of your decision-making is emotionally-driven, or you’re so passionate about efficiency that you regularly step on people’s toes. Balanced: you sort out thoughts, emotions, facts, opinions, truth, and lies about each situation before you respond. It’s both/and.

Navigating the world around you in a both/and way is Biblical and Christ-like…because you follow a both/and God. After all, “the Lord gave…and the Lord has taken away.” (Job. 1:21)

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Think like Him – it will make you mentally healthy. His both/and thoughts are higher than the ones naturally in our brains. (Is. 55:9)

Plan like Him – it will leave you less frustrated. In His both/and ways, He allows what He hates – to accomplish what He loves. (Joni Eareckson Tada)

Do relationships like Him – it will bring you closer to people. Because of His both/and attributes, in His compassion, He restrained his anger often and did not stir up His wrath. (Ps. 78:38)

Seek the both/and paradox, and you will achieve a most balanced/successful life.

For Teen Girls: A Quiz and An Invitation

  • Do you sometimes have a hard time making decisions?
  • Do you regret some of the decisions you’ve made recently?
  • Do you sometimes upset people by what you say/post?
  • Do you worry you aren’t smart enough, or do you even sometimes feel stupid?
  • Do you wish you weren’t so moody, or didn’t feel so much?
  • Do you have a hard time explaining why you’re so upset?
  • Do you find yourself in your own “protests” (organized or not) because you’re so unhappy with the way things are?
  • Do you sometimes feel angry for no reason at all?
  • Do your parents (especially your dad perhaps) complain that you are making no sense?
  • Do you either run away from conflict, or find yourself constantly in conflict?
  • Do you have some relationship struggles, or wish you had closer friendships?
  • Do your parents accuse you of being selfish?
  • Do you sometimes act “cold” towards others, or want to avoid emotions all together?
  • Do you feel like you’re not a good-enough Christian?
  • Do you have a hard time taking the blame, or feel criticized a lot?
  • Do you get your feelings hurt all the time, or wish people would do a better job understanding you?
  • Do you wish you were more mature?
  • Do you know what it feels like to be burned-out or depressed, or wish you had a better way of handling stress?
  • Do you struggle with motivation?
  • Do you have a hard time sleeping?
  • Do you have a lot of worries or fears?
  • Do you feel like the world is really unfair?
  • Do you like the idea of becoming Emotionally Intelligent?
  • Do you find yourself taking this quiz because your parents asked you to?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are invited to know more about having a High EQ – Emotional Intelligence.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

If you decide to explore Emotional Intelligence, you can choose how you want to do it:

1) Privately – You can have as many or few EQ meetings as you desire (or as your parents have asked you to have), at the location you prefer – in order to learn how to simply become more emotionally mature. And you can do it alone, or bring along your sis or bestie if you want to. You won’t regret learning about Emotional Intelligence (even if it wasn’t your idea) because you’ll be happier.

2) Socially – You can host a gathering at your house with your favorite snacks and friends – with Jen Hughes bringing special activities focused on the concept of raising Emotional Intelligence. That way everyone in your squad will benefit, you get all the credit for bettering girls, and you have another excuse to have fun together.

3) Actively – You can make a difference in your generation: Post this article on social media to give others a chance to raise their EQ too.

To request any method of learning how to raise your EQ score, text Jen at 678-463-1978 or email Jen@KeepingRoomChristianCounseling.com

Because of Deborah’s (emotionally mature) reign over Israel…the land had rest for the next forty years. (Judges 4, 5

Are You Aware of the Modern Mindsets about Porn?

When a young man strong in his faith read a 2014 Keeping Room article about porn, (click here to review) his response was: “She’s overreacting. Porn is just a normal part of life. It’s everywhere, and in everything.”

When a young woman devoted to Christ and purity recently considered dating a young man, she asked: “When it comes to dating a guy, I’m assuming porn/lust will be something that definitely was/is a struggle, or will happen occasionally. So, what signs do I look for that he’s handling it well?”

When Christian Counseling Today decided to publish their most recent periodical (vol. 22, no. 1, 2017), the entire issue was dedicated to educating Christian counselors on the serious epidemic of porn use.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1a.Watch out for reactions like the young man’s above. Find out which ways the youth in your life are thinking about porn. Have they fallen for the lies culture has been feeding them:

  • Do they think porn is just an acceptable part of sexuality?
  • Do they consider it to be innocent and contemporary?
  • Do they believe it’s okay in moderation?
  • Do they deny its brain-damaging and addictive nature?
  • Do they comprehend the spiritual and relational ramifications?
  • Do they dismiss the need for accountability if there is temptation?
  • Do they fear that it might be considered judgmental or intolerant not to accept someone’s porn usage?

“For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions…men corrupted in mind…who will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all.” (2 Tim. 3:6, 8, 9)

2.Invite and celebrate questions like the one asked by the young woman above. Don’t make the next generation feel ashamed for wondering about porn. They didn’t ask for their world; but they do have to function well in it. An authentic walk is a healthy one. Dialogue with them, inspire them, and teach them Truth until they believe it. And pray for them to find like-minded boyfriends/girlfriends!

 “If we walk in the light…the blood of Jesus…cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn. 1:7)

3a. After having some conversations, parents may decide their kids are among the many who are at high risk. You may decide you need further protection when it comes to technology. One reputable organization is: Covenant Eyes.  You may also want to read: Help! My Kids are Viewing Pornography by Tim Chailles.

3b. Look for the existence of red flags for porn. Loved ones demonstrating a number of these signs may indicate the need for support:

  • Increased interest or participation in frequent dating around and pre-marital/extra-marital sex
  • Twisted views of sex
  • Interest and involvement in sexting & questionable video chatting
  • Being secretive
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual activity & symptoms of STD’s
  • Damaged relationships
  • Inability to have healthy relationships
  • Very low self-confidence
  • Increased anger
  • Turning away from God and His people

3c. Research counseling, groups, and programs designed to help with porn recovery and accountability, specific to gender and age group.

“In an abundance of counselors, there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14)