Monday, November 09, 2015

Could it be Hormones Making You Feel this Way?

Beware of Perimenopause and Menopause

Ypsilanti art by the author.

The phase just before menopause is referred to as perimenopause. Just as puberty brings an onset of changes to a woman's body over a period of three to five years, perimenopause brings on changes too. You might say it is a reversed puberty.  It can last anywhere from ten to fifteen years.

Perimenopause symptoms can affect a woman anytime between age 35 and 55. The average age for menopause is reported to be 51, but recently I saw it reported as 54. Of course, many women reach menopause sooner. 

Menopause is reached when one full year without menstruation is complete. 


The symptoms of peri-menopause may be sporadic and may include night sweats, hot flashes, crashing fatigue, irritability, moods swings, crying spells, depression, weight gain, headaches, brain fog and trouble with memory or concentration.

It's easy to see that any woman dealing with symptoms of this nature over a period of years may feel frustrated. Symptoms like these can put dent into a woman's quality of life.

I won't pretend to have a cure or remedy for perimenopause, I merely want to emphasize that if you aren't quite feeling like "yourself" lately, if you are having emotional, spiritual, mental as well as physical challenges, that the root cause might be related to your hormones not your circumstances. 

That is, what you're feeling may NOT be caused by your husband, job, kids, lack of money, or church, though they may bear the brunt of how you're feeling or make things more problematic.


So what's my point? The point is, when feeling out of sorts, be aware your hormones may be the culprit.  Don't make radical changes without taking this point into consideration.  

  • Choose, instead, to manage your perimenopause phase by being informed and armed with coping strategies.
  • Read books or articles to educate yourself. To learn about perimenopause, you may need to read a book on menopause.
  • Talk to other women and find out what has helped them. Talk to professionals.
  • Get rest and exercise. Sleep with a few ice packs under your pillow, if necessary, to gain relief from night sweats.  Talk to your doctor about hormone therapy options when/if you can no longer stand the sweating.
  • Take action and find out the right combination of supplements and activities right for you.  

Be ready for what symptoms will carry on through menopause.


Go to the All-Knowing source--God for his answers to your dilemmas.  

Have you ever wondered why no one has the perfect cure for anything from the common cold to weight loss?  That's because they cannot out-smart God.  

No one is going to give you the perfect cure for perimenopausal symptoms.  God knows what he wants for you.  He may want you to go through some things so that later you can help others.  He may allow some struggle so you will draw closer to him.  

God knows how you feel, and he knows what will help.  Ask Him for His special recipe for you!


In every challenge, it is always helpful to focus on what is working.  Ask yourself what is going well.  Look at how you've been blessed.  Be confident that you will come through this phase as best as possible.

Faith, hope, and Love will carry you.  

Friday, October 09, 2015

My Life Coaching Journey and the Concept of Christian Support

As an at-home mom looking for purpose in the mid-2000s, I'd been muttering, "Lord, show me my purpose and path."

When I saw this book in the grocery store of all places, it shouted at me. When I saw the author was connected to Saddleback Church I REALLY knew it was for me.  Here's why:

Saddleback Church

Saddleback was a church planting leader in the 80s. Rick Warren, the founder, trained pastors.  The pastors of my church in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada introduced my fiance and I to Saddleback. 

For our honeymoon June '91, we chose to drive down the coast of California from San Francisco, ending our second week at the Saddleback Church Growth Conference in Laguna Beach, CA. And that is when Saddleback took root in my heart. 

Rick Warren was the leader of the Purpose Driven paradigm of the mid-90s and author of Purpose Driven Life written in 2002. 

Katie Brazelton 

By the time I was looking for purpose beyond motherhood in the 2000s, Katie Brazelton was about to release the above book.  Brazelton was a licensed minister with Saddleback Church and director of women's Bible studies. Seeing on the front cover she was associated with Saddleback I knew it was God connecting me.

I discovered Brazelton was about to hold a chat forum on the Christianity Today website so logged in. There I learned she had a life coach training program.  I was ecstatic because I'd recently been introduced to the concept of life coaching.  I was blown away that she had a Christian-based training program.

At 4:00 that day, I received a personal phone call from Katie Brazelton to my home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada from Laguna Beach, California! God shouted purpose at me that day.

Trying to Share My Dream 

I attempted to share my epiphany with a staff leader and others at the Winnipeg church we were attending at the time, but was rebuffed.  They had no ears to hear. One leader never did return my phone call.  I think the concept of life coaching was too foreign to most of them. And so I shrunk down not knowing what to do with this message I'd received from God. 

I asked if I could be considered for a leadership scholarship the church had for women to help pay for my coaching fees.  Their policy was any woman who received the scholarship would have to use her skills to serve the women in the church for a year.  I would have loved nothing better than that.  But I was told the scholarship program had just been discontinued. 

Life Purpose Coach Training

So I signed up for coach training anyhow fully aware the church was not behind me.  I cleaned offices to pay my way.

I confess my part.  As a slightly introverted person I may not have communicated my mission well or gotten to know key leaders well enough. 

I had moved into Winnipeg only a couple years before life coach training. Ingrained churches are often very skeptical of newcomers. Their skepticism might have been at play. If they could only walk in a newcomer's shoes they'd see it. 

Their church policies were also a blockage. I could go into more details, but I won't. But it was then I realized there was no support to be found in the church. I would have to do my ministry outside the church.

Bloom Where You're Planted? 

I just read an article by a pastor accusing his congregation of not being willing to bloom where they've been planted.  He assured them they were there not at his church out of coincidence but out of God's plan. If he really believes that, I hope he will not put obstacles in front of those that do want to bloom!

If it is really true that God places us where he wants us to bloom for his reasons, then our churches should stand behind us to help us bloom, not create policies or nurture skepticism. 

When support doesn't happen in the church, sadly, we look elsewhere.  I have cohorts on Facebook in various groups and a few cohorts locally.  

Trying to Go it Alone

I tried to go it alone, but it was hard.  Above is a poster I created for a group I was to hold at a Christian bookstore. We'd buy the books from them and we'd get a corner to hold a discussion group in.

I paid for posters to be put into bags. The bookstore staff promised they'd stuff them into Christmas purchase bags and keep a list of any signups. I drove around town hanging posters in grocery stores and libraries.  I posted a notice in the newspaper.  

The group was to be in January. Two weeks after Christmas I returned to the bookstore to check enrollment. The stack of flyers was still there in the bag I'd left them. They hadn't given any away!  I was angry. 

Then, a week before the group was to start I received a phone call telling me the bookstore was closing down. There would be no spot for my group! I was out over $100 (of money I earned cleaning offices) for the advertising, and no one cared but me!

Who Applauds You?

Though I'd looked for a team who would applaud and encourage me I didn't find it. I met with obstacle upon obstacle. It was tempting to give up.

I had to remember no one else had been given the calling and vision I had.  But it was hard to understand why God would call me and not give me the support I craved. Especially as an introvert, I really needed support!

I still had a few contacts with other coaches trained with Life Purpose Coaching Centers, though.  Diane Cunningham pictured below is still a support. 

She now leads the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs. She understood going out on your own as a life coach needed support. (If you're a Christian woman entrepreneur, feel free to join NACWE.)

I Dare to be Brave 

I share this story now because I have no fear to tell it. It's my story. I actually hope some of the unsupportive people read it to hear my point of view.  If you think it's negative, go ahead and walk away. I don't care anymore about what unsupportive people think.  

I did lead a nice group of women who gave me this gift.  

Recently I came across a blog where the author asked this question:

Who claps when you win?

We need to be the type of people that clap for others, and we need people in our lives who will clap for us.  

Do you have friends like this in your life? Will it mean joining an organization and paying a membership fee to get the support you need? 

If you're in a group or club, are you careful not to talk negatively about others?  Are you careful not to be self-centered? Do you show appreciation for other's ideas?  Do you promote others?  Do you notice their Facebook posts and add positive comments?  

Where might you find friends who are quick to celebrate you, the steps you take and whatever accomplishments you embark on? 

Start a Movement 

This is a fresh idea I'm putting out prematurely, but what if we started a movement of sharing and caring.  What if we started small groups where we can meet with like-minded women who will support us?  

I'm not talking business networking.  Yes, there is great support in networking groups.  But there is always someone there who is too sales or business focused.  

I'm not talking Bible study group. 

I'm talking about a group where someone applauds us when we tell them we got our basement cleaned? I'm talking about a group where someone supports our business idea. I'm talking about a group where we get the floor to share our obstacles and hearts' desires, and to have confidence that those we share with have our back.   

Am I naive to think people need this?

What might we call this movement?  Let me know. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tips for Christian Women to Overcome Depression or Melancholy (Part 1)

I came to a conclusion in the last few years about how best to handle feelings of melancholy and hopelessness and how to prevent them from taking us into a deeper downward spiral of despair and depression. (I haven’t seen this thought written on by any other Christian writer, it’s something God pressed upon my mind.)  The conclusion is that downward emotional spirals start with temptation. 

Yes, in many cases we are more vulnerable to emotional spirals due to hormonal changes, during periods of grief, or when dealing with pain or illness.  Some people do have chemical imbalances in their brains that sometimes need boosting with supplements or even doctor prescribed medications.  Therefore, being vigilant against temptation into despair is even more crucial in those situations. 

The Battle Plan

If we are willing to embrace this idea that anxiety and despair starts with temptation from the evil one, we can more readily be on guard and fight it.  Each time he takes up his arrow and points it toward us, we can take up our shield of protection.

A Look at this Type of Temptation into Despair

We all know we are to pray, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” What temptation do you think of when you say that prayer? 

I have sometimes thought of it as being tempted to get angry, to hurt someone, to cheat or steal something, sexual sin, or to take some other wrong action.  Defining temptation this way I tend to put a lot of the onus on myself and my actions. If I do these things, it makes sense I’d blame myself.  Then a cycle of self-loathing would begin.  But I urge us to put the blame where it needs to be—on the one who put the idea in our head and convinced us to act on it.

Satan’s Modus Operandi

I might picture temptation as walking into a bakeshop, seeing a chocolate brownie with inch-high frosting, and following an unbelievable force (temptation) to buy it and devour it.  When I pray for God to not lead me into temptation, in that scenario I suppose I’d be praying that he would keep me from walking into the bakery in the first place. 

But the Bible explains Satan’s modus operandi is to use tools that are primarily mental, as outlined in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

We are warned many times to take our thoughts captive.  We are warned to test the spirits.  We are warned to obey God. We are told to weigh our thoughts to ensure they are from God. 

Satan’s modus operandi is to confuse people and get them to live in fear and believe lies. He threatens to steal our trust in God by getting us to doubt God’s involvement in our life.  He makes us believe God’s not listening.  He causes us to believe things won’t work out for us. 

Satan loves us to trust in man or our own thinking to get us out of situations instead of patiently relying on God.  Satan would love nothing better than for us to rush ahead with poor decisions or to turn our back on God. 

The Bible explains the devil comes to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). He seeks those he may devour, and in the case of my brownie eating, Satan could actually get me to devour that which is unhealthy for me due to its effect on my already temperamental blood sugar and weight issues.  I may have taken the steps toward the brownie, but the idea started in my thoughts. 

Lies of Satan

It makes sense that those who choose to end their lives have become entrapped in an endless circle of negative and depressed thinking.  It makes sense those caught in depression or a rut, are stuck in the quagmire of Satan’s well-laid mud trap. 

Satan loves for people to blame themselves.  They might say, “I brought this on myself,” or “I’m useless” or “there’s nothing for me to live for.”  Yada yada.  But they would be more accurate to say, “Satan brought this upon me by causing me to…”  Or, “Satan is making me believe I’m useless because that is what he wants me to think so that I won’t live out God’s plan.”  “Satan is making me believe there is nothing to live for.  He is short-circuiting my ability to dream and hope.”

Ladies, I urge you to put the blame where it belongs.  But I urge you even more to not just live defensively, but offensively.

Protect Yourself

Live Defensively

In order to live defensively, when you begin to feel overwhelmingly lost, sad, melancholic, depressed or in despair and doubt, pray, “Lord, I’m being tempted to into…” (fill in the blank). Then trust God to stop the enemy for you—to fight for you.

Exodus 14:14 (NIV) says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Live Offensively

In Matthew 6, Jesus instructed his disciples to ask God, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” He told them to pray, “Give us today our daily bread,” or that which they would need to get through the day in his will.  He suggested they ask him to deliver them from temptation and any evil that may threaten to arrive that day.

In order to live offensively, pray as demonstrated in the Lord’s Prayer.  Start each day asking God to keep the temptations of negativity, doubt, and so forth from you.

I plan to write a follow-up post on this topic.  In the meantime, put these tools into practice and let me know how they work for you. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Child off to College?

Many of my online friends have expressed they are sending children off to college and are a little caught up in the emotions.  I've been there and want to write heart-to-heart about it.

Some of us are fortunate enough that our children's college is driving distance within a couple of hours.  For others, it is a flight away which makes it a little harder.

Mine were on the closer end but nevertheless, maybe something I share will comfort and guide you.

Caught up in a Myriad of Emotions

For most of us, mixed emotions just happen.  No matter how brave-faced we intend to be, there's bound to be something that triggers us.  It may be sadness realizing a stage of life is over.  It may be fear of not being able to protect our child.  It may be jealousy that we aren't getting to live the experience they're about to.  It may be self-pity worrying about how alone we will feel. It may be regret that we didn't do this or that with our child before now or simple regret we didn't think to bring a cleaning bucket and tools to clean our child's dorm after seeing other parents carrying theirs around.

We are suddenly insecure, unprepared for some things, and in error of others (like the parent that has to bring large items back home because they don't fit in the dorm).

We might be caught off guard because we don't know the way, what to say, how much to control, where to park, where to eat, how the unloading process goes, etc.  (Being prepared by reading online rules is very important!)

If you're experiencing any of the above, congratulations, you're normal. Just take it as it comes and try to relax as you deal with it all.


Then there are a few emotions you can put in check.  For instance, becoming sad due to projecting a future that may not exist.  If you find yourself suddenly picturing the rest of life alone without your child(ren), stop! That's just not fair because things will likely be fine and even enjoyable.

The controlling part of you needs to also be put into check for your sake and your child's sake. Don't be tempted to text and phone every hour. Limit setup of your child's dorm to the amount that feeds your soul but doesn't overstep your child's participation in setting up and decorating their own space.

This is one of the first chances you child gets to make their home away from home personalized. If you feel yourself tensed up and worried, ask if a spirit of control is at play.  Let it go by trusting God with them.


Walking through this stage with your child as their cheerleader brings you into a brand new world you may never have predicted.

I'd never imagined at age 50 carrying baskets of goods up and down 5 flights of stairs to move my daughter in and out.  She was a resident advisor and on resident student council for 5 years which meant she was require to live in a different dorm every year, and being on staff 3 summers.  We moved her into 7 different dorm rooms.  Usually she couldn't move directly from one to the other, so it meant bringing the stuff home or putting it in storage.  So if we count moving home too we moved her about 10 times in and then out again.  (She had apartment style dorms so had full kitchen equipment, but had minimal furniture except for once when she took our loveseat, her own matress, and fish tank.)

We didn't go to many activities at the school but once were invited to see a dance routine put on by a club she was in and once my husband joined her for a football game.  You may go to more or less.

You can nurture your mom-instinct by taking your child grocery shopping, making frozen dinners for them, or sending care packages.  It's a way to feel connected.

One Step at a Time

Don't be surprised if some days you get caught up in heart-rendering grief.  It's a necessary part of letting go.  When or if that hits you, it will be a watershed moment. You won't want to return to it.  So you will develop coping skills that might include taking up a new hobby, creating new routines for yourself or for you and your spouse.  You’ll avoid triggers.  (If you can’t seem to get over the grief, reach out for help. What you focus on intensifies so if you focus on sad thoughts, they will increase.  Just don’t to it to yourself!)

You can work on your relationship with your husband, work on your health, work on finding a new job, taking new courses, or just enjoy a new sense of freedom.

The wonderful news is in most cases they will be back.  Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays come quickly.  If they are closer, they may be back every couple of weekends. Then you'll see you can survive!

Now’s the time to put all the memories in the “cherish” file and to offer yourself a graduation certificate.  Raising children is hard.  You’ve done it!  So be proud of yourself and be proud of how far your child has come!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dealing with Life's Stresses as a Christ Follower

As a freelance writer and life coach, my calling seems to be to pour out ideas on virtual paper.  I do it for the same reason I read blogs and articles online--because one word, one sentence, one conveyed idea can change a person's thoughts.

More than once I've sat in front of my computer seeking clarity, solace, answers, new direction for myself. Do you do that too?  As Christ followers, we serve a mighty God, but an invisible one. So we tend to look for him in all kinds of places, even on the Internet.

Searching for God 

Today a devotional I read pointed out how God revealed himself in a pillar of cloud to the Israelites to reassure them of his presence. I wish he'd do that for us too. The devotional said he is invisible so he can be many places at once. He does reveal himself in nature and through his word, but another way he reveals himself is through the ideas of other believers.

As a life coach, I'm as guilty as the next person of thinking all problems need a solution. We don't like problems and discomfort. We seek peace. And that's not a bad thing.  The Bible says in Psalm 34:14 to seek peace and pursue it.  But when afflictions come, we should always seek God over seeking a solution.

Wait for God's Help

There are times that we are called to walk through a trial whether it be a circumstance, emotion, or physical ailment.  At those times, we are tempted to look for a solution, but waiting for God to work things out is the better answer.

"I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, 
and in his word I put my hope" Psalm 130:5 NIV.

The Pulpit Commentary says this of Psalm 130:5, " "Waiting for the Lord" is patiently bearing our affliction, whatever it may be, and confidently looking forward to deliverance from it in God's good time. The expression, "my soul doth wait," is stronger than "I wait;" it implies heartfelt trust and confidence."

If you've arrived at this blog today in search of an answer to your dilemma, or in search of God's peace, look to God with your soul.  Trust him to lead you where you need to go.