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Fawn Ellerbrook

Emotions: Indicators Not Enemies

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When we think about church sermon topics and series, emotional health may not be the first thing that springs to mind. Many feel that a topic as deep and complex as emotions would be better left to mental health professionals. Others believe that emotional health doesn’t impact their spiritual lives in a significant way and is more fit as a topic for self-help books than a sermon series. It’s my belief that conversations about emotional health in the church are necessary and long overdue.

Emotions were given to us by God, the creator of the universe who is perfect, deliberate, and intentional in everything he does. You are not a mistake, and your emotions aren’t either. Emotions are a gift and a valuable tool for us to utilize. When the church neglects to teach on this profound topic, Christians default to following the lead of the secular world to find insight and direction.

It often surprises me how very ill-equipped most of us are in this area; how little we know. Along with my own healing, I’ve had the privilege of walking with women on their emotional healing journey and it saddens me that so many of us had to fumble our way through this journey on our own, with little direction. The fallout can have a deep and lasting impact on ourselves and the people around us and can create a ripple effect for generations to come.

Emotions and emotional health are a deep, complex topic. The journey to emotional health can be very personal. But if there were just three things about emotions that I could share with you, it would be the following.

1. Emotions are an integral part of who we are.

God created us as physical, spiritual, and emotional beings. It’s common for us to try to isolate and compartmentalize, but God made it so that these three aspects of who we are work in tandem with one another. They influence and affect one another in many ways.

In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, author Peter Scazzero writes, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” When we think of emotional health in this light, we see that emotions aren’t something that can be ignored or given free reign. If we want to be everything God has called us to be, we must recognize that focusing on our emotional lives becomes more than just a nice idea; it becomes a necessity.

2. Emotions are a gift and tool from God

Confusion surrounds the topic of emotions. The words and phrases we use to discuss emotions are very telling. We speak about “handling” our emotions as though we were trying wrangle an out-of-control beast. We talk about “managing” emotions as if it were another line item to be checked off. Many people vacillate between ignoring and “stuffing” their emotions, or allowing their emotions to run unchecked. Neither option serves us well.

Our emotions are the gift of a God who desires good things for us; a God who calls and equips us. I believe our emotions are a blessing to be appreciated and a tool to be utilized in the calling he’s set out for us.

Brene Brown, a prolific writer, and speaker on the subject of emotional health likens emotions to indicator lights on a dashboard. They aren’t to be ignored, but neither are they meant to run our lives. They are tools to be used for our benefit and to the benefit of those around us.

Emotions point us in a direction. Positive emotions can draw us into deeper connection with others, encourage us to pursue our callings, care for others, and broaden our horizons. Negative emotions can signal a true danger or a misalignment in our understanding of God, Scripture, ourselves, or others.

3. Our Past Experiences Influence our Present Emotions

Our past relationships and experiences, particularly in childhood and adolescence, play a large part in the development of our current emotions. Even in healthy, stable, God-fearing families, a child’s every need cannot be met. The child learns coping mechanisms that often end up following them into adulthood.

For example, if not processed in a healthy way, a terrifying childhood experience with a dog can leave a person with a faulty “indicator light.” This person develops a lifelong fear of dogs. If the experience had been processed effectively, there would instead be a feeling of caution and respect that would benefit the individual. The lingering emotion of fear, so many years after the original event, indicates that there is an emotional wound that needs to be evaluated and addressed. Every emotion is valuable, but not every emotion can be taken at face value. Following our feelings back to their origins, and the exploration that follows is a key to emotional maturity and growth.

Using the Gift of Emotions

Understanding and using our emotions in a God-honoring way can seem like a monumental task. This process is a life-long journey unique to every individual. It starts with us recognizing the importance of emotional health and the impact emotionally healthy Christians have on those around them.

Thankfully, emotional growth and maturity is a topic that is gaining popularity in the church. With more conversations on emotions comes a broader range of resources. It’s becoming easier to gain ground in this area and receive the healing and restoration that God offers to us.

Psalm 147:3 tells us, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” As the hands and feet of Christ, we can only offer that which we ourselves have received. The Church has long been a beacon of hope and healing to the world. Let’s take back authority, lead the way, and move forward with confidence into what he has for us so that we can then offer the same healing to our loved ones and the world around us.

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Author: Jennifer Nolen

Jennifer is a wife and mom of two sons. She and her husband, Ben, lead the Mission Coffee Team at Faith Community church and serve as small group leaders as well. 

 

Summer Fun in St. Louis

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Long summer days are here and I, for one, am so happy about that! There is so much I love about summer. From late night swims with friends to vacations…it is definitely my favorite season. Our family is serious about making memories, getting rest and having fun! We make sacrifices all year in order for us to afford vacations and long weekends away. Getting away is something we NEVER regret! I encourage you to take a trip. Whether it is an hour car-ride away or an overnight flight, it is something that will stay with you for a lifetime. It may be too late to plan a trip this year, but I want you to check out this blog I found on saving money for a vacation.  I hope it helps you start saving right now so you can begin to plan your adventure for 2019!

A trip away may not be in your near future, but there are TONS of things you can do right here in your own backyard! With a little help from my seven-year-old son, Carson, we have put together a summer bucket list.

1. Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden. From free concerts to special exhibits, there is always something going on at MBG. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the beautiful gardens and special events MBG has to offer.

2. Go to a drive-in movie. This is one of my favorite ways to see a movie. Pack some comfy chairs and yummy snacks and settle in for a double feature at Skyview Drive-in in Belleville, Il. It is just $11 to see 2 movies and with each adult ticket purchased, 2 kids (under 12) are free!

3. City Museum: You may be familiar with this iconic STL museum, but who doesn’t love to climb on airplanes suspended in the air and go down 10-story slides?!

4. If climbing on repurposed architecture is not your thing there are several other museums you can check out! I can’t wait to visit “Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds” at the STL Art Museum. The hubby and I tried to visit it when it first opened and it was sold out. I suggest buying your tickets ahead of time here. On Fridays, you can get up to 6 free tickets, just make sure you arrive early!

4. Experience a new view of the city by taking a helicopter ride! Click here for more info.

5. If you are like most who are native to St. Louis you either have not been up in the Arch or, if you are like me, you have not been up in a very long time! The Arch and its grounds have been under renovation and are due to open in July. With new beautiful walkways and an updated museum, you are going to want to check out this iconic landmark. Click here to learn more.

6. Elephant Rock State Park: Carson loves to climb the rocks and explore this unique state park located approx. 1.5 hours from St. Louis. There is also a paved walkway making this a great adventure for all visitors! We always like to stop at the Old Village Mercantile in Caledonia on the way home to pick up a coffee and some old-fashioned candy. They also have 24 different flavors of Amish-made fudge! YUM!

7. Have fun at home: Bust out a good old-fashioned sprinkler or camp out in your backyard! No matter where you are or what your budget is you can make memories to last a lifetime!

The list above could have gone on forever! We are incredibly blessed to have so many things to do in our area! Whether you enjoy a staycation this year or go off on a vacation I encourage you to be intentional about making memories. You won’t regret going on new adventures with your family and friends.

I want to hear from you and see your pictures! Please share your adventures and ideas with us to let us know what is on your summer bucket list. Post to Facebook & Instagram using the Hashtag #FCCSummer.  

Author: Lauren Earls 

Mission of the Month: Teen Challenge St. Louis

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Every month, we take some time to highlight the different missionaries and organizations we support on a monthly basis. This month, we’re focusing on Teen Challenge, a local organization that helps restore broken lives of people struggling with life-controlling addictions. In this post, you’ll get to know the directors, C.R. and Paula Kersten, that have been leading the organization for over 30 years. Keep reading and learn more about how God uses each of our stories to make a difference in the world around us.

Their Story

CR and Paula Kersten met each other at Blackburn University in Carlinville, IL.  During his senior year, CR had a side job working at the nearby Christian radio station.  One icy winter night, because of road conditions, CR stayed at the motel next door where he talked with another postponed traveler, who happened to be the Executive Director of Teen Challenge of St. Louis.  At the end of the conversation, CR was invited to work at the center after graduation.  He accepted and started in a beginning position on May 22, 1978. The men’s house was then located in the city of St. Louis. CR slept in a hallway, taught Bible classes, and worked side by side with men who had life-controlling problems such as drugs and alcohol.

On a summer Sunday before heading to her college days at Blackburn University, Paula’s church hosted the same Teen Challenge of St. Louis Executive Director that years later would draw CR to the ministry.  After hearing how God changed the lives of men and women through Teen Challenge, Paula silently – but loudly – heard God tell her that one day she would work at Teen Challenge of St. Louis.  She was 16 years old.  She did not know how to get there.  She was a female and the St. Louis Center was for men.  How could they use her?  The enormity of God’s words to her were powerful, but she did not know how to get there.  She stayed on her path through college becoming a teacher.

When CR and Paula married, he had already been at Teen Challenge of St. Louis, then located in St. Louis City, for 9 months.  They lived in a run-down, three-room apartment owned by the ministry.  Bars covered the windows.  One day, Paula realized that without any help from her, God had gotten her to Teen Challenge of St. Louis.

The men’s facility was moved to its present country setting in High Ridge, MO, where approximately 90 – 100 men go through the doors every year.

CR became the Executive Director of the ministry in January 1982 as the leader, vision caster, fundraiser, and the voice of the ministry.

Paula taught school and in the evenings was the ministry bookkeeper, eventually also working in the men’s kitchen for 15 years.

In November 2009, work began on a St. Louis City house to prepare it for a women’s center.  The new facility, Diane’s House, was opened in May 2011 with Paula as Program Director.  Diane’s House also moved to their current location in High Ridge, MO in January 2017.  Annually, 25 women each spend 4 to 12 months living at the residence.

The Kersten Family

CR and Paula also have three adult children.

Rob graduated from Evangel University in 2007 and began working for Teen Challenge later that year as a teacher, student mentor, and work manager. He worked at both campuses, helping the men and women learn skills, habits and character development needed for those in the workforce.  Rob and his fiancé, Lauren, are planning a June 2018 wedding.

Alicia works for Diane’s House as a teacher, mentor, and counselor.  After graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2009, Alicia also completed a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Missouri Baptist University in 2013.  She lives at Diane’s House and loves her work.

Ryan graduated from Evangel University in 2011.  His first job after college was at a boys juvenile Teen Challenge center in Branson, MO.  After 19 months, he moved to Illinois as a youth pastor for 4.5 years.  He and his wife, Brooke, now live in the Chicago area as associate pastors of Northwest Assembly of God Palatine campus.

“All of the Kerstens love Teen Challenge.  We all agree that there is nothing like seeing lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit when people get a relationship with God and find hope and a new way of living. ” – The Kersten Family

When Christ becomes the center of a life:

Families are restored.

Marriages are healed.

Parents and children are reunited.

Peace is attained.

Teen Challenge is all about RESTORING BROKEN LIVES.

You are Making Difference

When you give to missions, you are a part of helping people find healing from addiction and other life-controlling issues. Stay tuned this month to find out more about how your generosity is making a difference through Teen Challenge St. Louis!

Click here to connect with Teen Challenge on their website.