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Counselor's Corner

Susie Walden,MA,LPC,NCC

The waiting room, is a land where time seems to stands still. It is a place where life is put on hold. In my doctor’s office, it feels like hours have passed, and yet when I look at my watch, it’s been only 20 minutes. When we are in the “waiting rooms” of our lives, it seems as if waiting takes forever.

One of the important challenges in the  Bible is the call to “wait on the Lord.” Why is it so hard to wait?  I think it because we tend to try  to take matters into our own hands, to follow our own ideas and plans. Yet, over and over again we are told in Scripture “wait on the Lord.”

Most all of us have a normal dislike for waiting, especially in our “I want it now!” society. We have grown accustomed to  a society that gives immediate gratification. Due to modern technology and all our conveniences , smart phones,  refrigerators, , fast foods, airplanes,internet banking—we have many things immediately at our fingertips. Just think of the speed of the latest computer technology in comparison with the computers of only a few years ago.

Even in our modern age of conveniences, waiting is still a big part of life. When we think of waiting, what comes to mind? We might conjure up visions of an airport terminal, a doctor’s waiting room, the line at the supermarket, or being stuck in rush hour traffic. The facts are, most of us are waiting for something most of the time: What are ou waiting for today?

•Maybe you are in a job situation that’s really tough to endure and you are waiting and hoping that conditions will change for the better.
•Maybe you are without a job and waiting for news on an application.
•Maybe you are ill (or have a loved one who is) and waiting for your health to improve.
•Maybe you are on a diet and waiting for your weight to drop a few pounds.
•A single person may be waiting for Mr. or Miss Right.
•Or maybe you are waiting for your spouse or child to become interested in spiritual things.  

The simple fact is, in spite of our modern age and our dislike for waiting, life is full of waiting. And one of the most challenging exhortations of Scripture is “Wait.” But waiting, despite our impatience and our dislike for it, is a vital element in life. Indeed, waiting has a number of benefits that we will discuss in this study.
When we think of waiting on the Lord, there are a number of important questions that need to be answered and understood in light of the principles and promises of Scripture. Why? Because without these answers, we become like a long-tailed cat scurrying around in a room full of rocking chairs. We become fidgety, fearful, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. However, because the Lord tells us to wait, and since it has some wonderful benefits, we need to know what it means to wait and how that is to be done.
Some key questions we might ask are:
  • What does it mean for you to wait? What’s involved? How are we to wait? Who and what are we waiting for? Why should we wait? How long do we wait?
Waiting on God may be the most difficult of all the spiritual disciplines, and perhaps that's the reason so few truly practice it. Just sitting in his presence and gazing … it can be agonizing to us who have become accustomed to being bombarded with data and stimuli. We lack the attention span to wait on God. But he knows that, so in his kindness he designs scenarios that will help us learn how to wait on him. Once we press through and cross the threshold of the wait, we open to the joys and adventures of waiting on God.
To wait on God successfully, we must come to derive more fulfillment by being with him than by working for him. When being with him fully satisfies us, we can wait for as long as necessary—just as long as he stays with us. This is why Jesus could wait to minister until he was 30. He was totally satisfied in his relationship with his Father. I think Jesus could have just as easily waited until he was 90 to begin his ministry because the presence and affection of his Father made him complete “

Here are some helps for you as you wait:
• Focus out. It was natural for me to focus inward. Sometimes I was so preoccupied with my problems that I didn’t hear what someone was saying to me. Listening became a conscious effort. I also became distracted when working. Consequently, I forced myself to become absorbed in my job.
• Breathe. Several times a day, I stopped what I was doing and breathed deeply from my diaphragm. I slowly inhaled through my nose to the count of four and exhaled through my mouth to the count of eight. The last four count of breathing out emptied my body of stress.
• Relax. In the evening, I found a comfortable spot and lay on my back. I tightened—and then released —each group of muscles one by one, starting with my facial muscles and working down through my neck, arms, back, stomach, thighs, calves, and ending with my feet. This progressive exercise released any tension from each set of muscles.
• Take it one day at a time. I tried to stay fully engaged in the “present of my life” and remind myself that I can get through this day—or this morning—or this moment. Why should I borrow trouble from either the past of the future? I focused on today.
• Increase physical exercise. I walk the dogs every morning, faithfully.  When I am involved in waiting on an answer for something, I increase the time of the walk.
• Get immersed in a good book. There’s nothing like the loves and hates and the tragedies and triumphs of a revered but flawed heroine to take one’s mind off one’s problems. Some great books I have read recently are: One Good Dog, The Dog Who Danced (Sandra Wilson), Illusion (Frank Peretti), Lone Wolf (Jodi Picoult), Mercy Triumphs (Beth Moore), She Wore Only White (Dorthe Binkert), Downfall (Terri Blackstock).
• Do happy or special things. Music and nature and food nourishes my soul. Find the things in your life that do the same. There is always reason to hope for a good outcome.
• I thank God every morning for my blessings. I have a family that loves me, animals which bring me joy, friends to sustain me, n As a woman of faith, I was fortified by the promise of the prophet Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).
• Don’t put your life on hold just because you are waiting.  Examine your responses, and see if you are doing this. This kind of thinking can make the waiting period more depressing. I decided to do what I wanted to do when I was able to do it.
• Don’t over-schedule. Once you decided not to put your life on hold, you may be tempted to frantically do all the things you want to do before….. Once you are worn to a frazzle, you will realize that extreme is not good either. Strive for balance.
• Control highs and lows.  Try to control all my reactions —highs and lows —and strive to be emotionally even. Now, when I receive good news, I am simply grateful; when I receive bad news, I look at the whole picture and realize it isn’t totally grim.
• Try not to be angry. Sometimes anger uses energy you truly do not have to waste. Throwing a fit doesn’t always help, does it? So, I try to check my emotions when I start getting mad. As with dealing with bad news, I try to look at the big picture and trust God more.
• Be aware of self-pity. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself. There are no two words that can get me down in the dumps more than “Why me?” “It’s not fair,” This kind of thinking while you are waiting is not positive and can make you feel like a victim and stimulate anger.
 â€¢ Enjoy nature. God’s creation nourishes my soul.
• Be grateful. If anyone should be grateful, it is me. There are so many people with problems much worse than mine. I am alive. I get a chance for another day.
• Read or sing a song every day. I enjoy music so very much. Reflect on more than the tune, but also the words.  
• Laugh. Man is the only animal who can have a real belly laugh. Laughing is beneficial; it’s good for the lungs, diaphragm, digestion, blood pressure, and immune system. It helps to put a humorous spin on a serious situation. 
• Watch what you are eating as you wait. Big Mac Story. That wasn’t smart behavior. When you are waiting, and feeling like not eating or not eating healthy, that is the time you must eat and eat healthy. You need strength to cope with waiting.
• Practice objectivity. Tour journaling this week will attempt to do this. Hopefully, it will allow you to look at my situation at a distance, which lessens emotional involvement and therefore reduces stress.
• Accept life as it comes. I have never accepted negative things very well. I always tended to think, “Bad things should not happen.” Not to me. Not to my husband. Not to my dog. Not to my friends. Not to anybody. They should not happen.” That was not realistic. It is a sign of maturity to accept what happens to us. Life is difficult. It’s not easy. Bad things do happen. They happen to everybody. But Romans 8:28 is true: “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” 
The more I accept what comes into my life as being there with God’s permission, the less angry, full of self-pity, and frightened I am and the more peaceful and contended I am during my waiting periods.
• Meditate. I set aside a certain time each day to quiet myself, meditate, and pray. Doing this always calms my soul. One time when I was particularly upset and wondering what was going to happen to me, I thought of one of God’s promises: “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Susie Walden is the Managing Partner of Journey to Hope Counseling in Fredericksburg, Virginia.


Waiting; the most difficult job of hope.


We Walked to Honor Our Loved Ones

Feeling so very thankful for everyone who joined our Journey to Hope Counseling, LLC  team for the Spotsylvania Out of the Darkness Walk today at Spotsylvania Courthouse Village. We walked 3.5 miles to honor the memory of 2 people who were important to Journey to Hope and lost to suicide, as well as for families and loved ones who have experienced this loss. An honor to walk with each of you. Our team raised nearly $1000.00 to help the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with their work in helping with this most difficult life issue.  Thanks also to our sponsors, Elite Realty Plus, Live Happily After and Motion Mortgage for underwriting the cost of our team T-Shirt. 

Our team took a moment to remember those we have lost to suicide and then we prayed for all of the families and for us who have been left behind. And then…we walked!

In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Walk to save lives.


Spotlight on Bombay Teen Challenge: The Changing of One American Life

As promised, we have taken the month of October, 2013 to focus on the work of Bombay Teen Challenge in Mumbai, India, and have featured the series One Life, One Story. This series has told the story of three lives from Bombay Teen Challenge and how they were forever changed by the lifesaving work of Bombay Teen Challenge  The stories are still available to read on our website, and we have copies in the office.  Hope that each of these stories allowed you to see the inside of three lives who have also made a lifechanging difference in my own life. 

The fourth chapter in the One Life, One Story series is called the Changing of one American Life through the work of Bombay Teen Challenge and it is my story.  It is also on the website, and available in our office.  We include it here as well, for you to read.  It is amazing how a life can take on a whole new direction when God is leading. We are taking a detour in our One Story One Life this week, and providing you the vantage point of one American life that has been changed forever by intersections with Bombay Teen Challenge.  There have been quite a few questions generated by reading the stories of Sanjay and Israel, and so it seems fitting to answer a few of them with this story this week.   So, this week, the One Story One Life is the story of Susie.  Journey to Hope is  passionate about the work of Bombay Teen Challenge, and you might ask why?  Why Bombay Teen Challenge?  Here is my answer to that question:

If you had asked me in 2008 whether visiting India would be on my top ten wish list or bucket list, my answer would have been no.  Not that there was anything negative about India; the idea of traveling to India or having people visit my home from India just was not on my radar.  We have had many international exchange students over the years from Japan, France, Australia and Brazil, and our family has been so much richer for every experience. All of these students came for a several month stay, and went to an American school for a semester while they lived with our family, and worked on their English and were exposed to American culture.  Because of this background, Stafford Crossing Crossing Community Church, where I also was on staff, asked me to head up a similar program for our church to receive students from India, and we named it XChange4Life.  Our goals were to place each student in individual homes, and provide an English immersion as well as an exposure to American Christian Culture. 8 women were chosen to come for this first trip from India.  These young women from India who came in 2008 were also a dance team, and it was the leader of the dance team, Lakshmi, who stayed in our home.  We prayed about who God would have to stay with us, and so felt a peace about it being her when the time came. Each of their life stories was incredibly powerful; how God has worked in their lives and given them hope for their future.

On the day the girls arrived, it was easy to see that they were afraid. It was their first trip outside of India, and to the U.S.  Coming home with us and being shown to her room was all very much a culture shock, I am sure. Lakshmi asked us to just call her Lux, to make it easier.  Another issue that surfaced was that we had two golden retrievers and a cocker spaniel, and Lux was afraid of dogs.  My husband and I showed Lux around our home, and to her room and said good night.  A short while later, we heard her praying in Hindi, and when she was still praying 30 minutes later, we decided to join her in spirit and prayed in our rooms.  She prayed like this every night for her team, for their trip, for our family, and the way she prayed and cried out to God reached a very deep place in our hearts.  We grew to love Lux.  While it was our desire to make a difference in her life, the truth is that she also made a powerful difference in ours.  The team left to return to India in late summer, 2008.

The next intersection with India came in October, 2009, when Stafford Crossing Community Church put together a missions team to go to Bombay Teen Challenge in India and lead a program called Life Hurts God Heals.  I was already offering Life Hurts God Heals as a group therapy for teens at Stafford Crossing, so I headed up the team to lead it at Bombay Teen Challenge.  We flew to Mumbai, and spent a day or two being introduced to the city, the beauty and poverty side by side. We visited the first center that many children go to after being rescued, and met so many precious souls who were being given a chance for a better life there.  I had no idea until later,  when viewing pictures from the trip, that I was just a few feet away from Israel at this center, but we did not know each other yet.  It is amazing that he and I were right there together, with no idea that in one year, he would be staying in my home.  We also visited the Red Light District, and this was truly heartbreaking for me. To see young, very young girls standing on the side of the street, all made up and dressed up and offering themselves to anyone who would pay the price.   It was hard to sleep after this first day of exposure to the horror and the hope residing in the city of Mumbai.

We headed out next to Ashagram, which means the Village of Hope, where there is a drug rehab unit, a home for boys, a separate home for girls and special housing for women who have been rescued from sex slavery.  These women who come out of the red light district are offered refuge at Ashagram, as well as being given the opportunity to learn a trade (such as jewelry making, leatherworks, or tailoring).  It is a beautiful center, located a few hours outside of Mumbai.  I am not sure I could ever find it on my own - the journey there was quite long and the roads were very challenging!

We stayed at the guest unit at Ashagram, and for three days, we led the Life Hurts God Heals program – God used all of us there to minister to the 150 or so who participated – to show that God can and will heal any hurt.  We also visited the other Jubilee Centers.  Heading back to Mumbai, we spent a day or two resting and seeing some local sights before heading back to the US.  This trip was a lifechanger for me in a few ways.  First, to see so much absolute poverty everywhere around me was devastating. Second, to see the red light district and those hundreds of sex workers filled me with such a sense of how broken our world really is and I found my heart breaking over their life stories. Third, to see the redemption in the boys, girls, men and women who had been rescued through Bombay Teen Challenge gave me hope.

The next intersection came in 2010, when the music/drama team from Bombay Teen Challenge came in the summer. This is the story of Israel, which you have already been able to read.  God has been very busy lining the walls of my heart with India!

In the fall of 2010, I traveled with a small group over to India to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bombay Teen Challenge. This trip was very, very different, in that we had one night at the Taj Hotel celebrating this wonderful ministry, and another celebration at Ashagram, where I got to see Israel and Lux before heading back to the US.

2011 did not include a team from India to Virginia or me to India. However, it did include several trips to Virginia from Devaraj and the forging of a wonderful friendship between us.  Devaraj knows that he has an open invitation to stay at our home, and we have had the blessing of him staying several times, as well as members of his family.  A very meaningful moment that happened on this journey to hope with Devaraj was when he came to our brand new office and prayed over the opening of it as a new business.  He prayed for quite some time that God would have the victory here and that hope would be found by those who came through our doors for help. That blessing was very powerful for us at Journey to Hope.

In 2012, we were blessed to have yet another team of young men and women come as a music team to tour the US, and this is when Sanjay came to our home, and you also  have that part of the story.

In 2013, Andy and I flew to India, and spent 2 weeks in India, visiting all the centers, and leading some training  for staff  at several of the centers.  It is our prayer that this great alliance forged on the anvil of our shared faith can continue for the future between Journey to Hope and Bombay Teen Challenge.  God is always greater and able to do anything He chooses in and between the hearts of those who love Him. Amen.  Blessings, Susie 

Spotlight on Staff Member: Cindy Zello

We are very happy to let you know of another addition to Journey to Hope. Cindy Zello is joining us to complete her required practicum for her undergraduate degree in counseling. We are very happy to have her here as an intern just before she graduates. Here is Cindy's introduction. Be sure to give her a warm welcome when you see her in the office.  Cindy and I have a shared faith in a God who can redeem any life, and a shared love of a Teen Challenge, and her history with Teen Challenge is long and deep. Looking forward to the days ahead and the richness of our collaboration. Welcome, Cindy!

Cindy Zello: I have an amazing husband, three incredible adult children, a wonderful son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and three perfect grand children. They are the greatest joy in my life!
I have served in the ministry of Teen Challenge for twenty-nine years, and am co-founder (along with my husband) of Teen Challenge of Fredericksburg - a faith-based, residential facility that assists men who are bound by addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. We are currently working to establish a residential Teen Challenge family facility for women and children. We are believing that the Beauty for Ashes Women and Children's Home will be open to residents in Spring 2014. This is an exciting time!
I am thrilled and thankful to have Susie and her wonderful staff at Journey to Hope guide and instruct me for the next several months of my educational journey. I can only imagine all that God has in store and what he will reveal to me and teach me in this season of my life.


by Owen

A recent interaction with Owen from my Be Still Group was too amazing not to share with you.  Owen and I were playing a game focused on emotions, and we each had to pick 5 cards, and turn them over and say when the last time we felt that emotion was.  Owen turned over the first card and it was Hopeless.  He said – Oh no, there is no way that card belongs in your office.  Hopelessness does not belong in your office. Only Hope. So he took the card home with him, and later that evening, he burned the hopeless card in his fire pit,and the amazing part of this story is that the card only burned until what remained was Hope.  Here is the before and after picture of Hopeless to Hope. Thank you so much, Owen, for carrying Hope for Journey to Hope!

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