Are You the Parent of a Teen in Crisis?

Interview with Author and Parent Stacy Lee Flury

Today I have a special treat for my blog subscribers. It is my interview with author Stacy Lee Flury, author of the life-changing devotional titled Turning the Tide of Emotional Turbulence. If you are the parent of a teen in crisis or know a teen in crisis, you will especially benefit from Stacy’s insights during this interview.  

NOTE: There is no podcast to accompany this week’s post.  

MARYANN:
Stacy, welcome to my blog! I am so honored to have you here today. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write the exceptional and much-needed devotional titled Turning the Tide of Emotional Turbulence.

STACY:
Thank you for your invitation. To share a little about myself, I have been married for 37 years, have two daughters, two grandchildren, and one dog and three cats. I have been involved in children and youth ministries for over 15 years and now sing on the worship team at my local church and blog to parents who are hurting.

Ten years ago, my youngest daughter started to exhibit some troubling and concerning issues.  As she aged, they became worse, and we did not understand the root of where they were coming from.  Some of these problems were self-injury, sub-culture identities, gender issues, porn, risk-taking and destructive behaviors, such as depression and suicidal ideology, to name a few. 

It wasn’t until much later that she was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. Eventually, the problems escalated so much, we went into counseling.  That was the best step for me personally. 

Through an assignment given to me from my counselor, I was asked to write about my own depression that was brought on by parenting a child in constant crisis.  Those moments of journaling turned into a blog.  From there, God laid upon my heart that there were thousands of parents who were struggling and broken like I was in trying to help their child in crisis.  He encouraged me through confirmations to write a book.  A devotional book for parents just like me. That book is Turning the Tide of Emotional Turbulence.

MARYANN:
Parents of teens in crisis face struggles that most parents might consider foreign to their own parenting experience.  These are not the struggles involving ordinary teen challenges. They are far deeper, far more complex, and far more overwhelming. What advice would you give to a parent who has been blindsided by a teen in crisis? Where should that parent turn first?

STACY:
They first need to know that they are NOT alone.  Many parents such as myself, hid behind a facade to hide what was going on in their home and lives.  It felt shameful, embarrassing. We carried a lot of guilt and failure as parents.  It is not always the parent’s fault.  A teen and young adult are old enough to make some of their own choices and decisions.  Mind you, there are also some children who have severe illnesses and disorders.  Again, this is NOT the fault of the parent.  So release the guilt and blame on yourself. 

Secondly, you will go through various stages of emotions when your child’s issues are exposed and truth comes to the surface.  There is Shock, Unbelief, Anger, Sadness, Guilt, and a plethora of other emotions that you might not have dealt with before. These are all normal.  Connecting with a Counselor for yourself and for your child is the first place to start.  You need that support as well as your child in order to understand the condition of your child, what present things you need to address, and how to move forward with hope.  Also, it is imperative that you connect with the pastoral staff of your church.  If you don’t have any, I would advise to seek out one at a church.  Share only to those (with family and close friends) that you trust so that they can come along side of you and pray for you.  Once all of these are in place, you can start to prepare a plan that will guide your family to healing and restoration.  It will not happen overnight.  It takes time.  So bathe yourself in prayer and the Word.  God will help you along the way. 

MARYANN:
In your book, Stacy, you talk about the “punch of powerlessness”.  You brilliantly describe it as a “swarm of dizzy perpetrated by an unsettling dilemma.”  While we all have faced situations that sent us reeling, in what unique way does the “punch of powerlessness” affect the parent of a teen in crisis?

STACY:
If you have ever seen the Superman hero being hit hard with Cryptonite (the very thing that takes all of his power away), and he drops to the ground powerless, unable to move, holding his head in utter loss, that was me. Anytime something shocking happens, leaving you breathless, and dumbfounded by what you have heard or seen, that in itself is the definition of being punched with powerlessness.

For example, the moment I was just told that my daughter was facing twenty years in prison at the age of 17. You have no control, you are numb, you can’t think straight to what you just heard, and you wonder what you did to fail them.  It doesn’t have to be a situation like this.  A parent could be confronted with the realization that their teen/young adult has a serious addiction problem. Maybe the parent just found out that their son wants to change their gender and be a girl.  Or maybe, their child informed the parents that they are bi-sexual.  

MARYANN:
As an author, what I love most about your book is your willingness to be vulnerable and transparent.  We all struggle with different things in life, and when an author gives us truth rather than platitudes, we connect with that author and her message.  Many parents of teens in crisis are afraid to be open about their struggles. Have you always had this transparency regarding the crises you faced with your teen, or did you have to grow into becoming transparent? If the latter, how did you develop transparency? 

STACY:
In the beginning stages of my daughter’s issues, I kept everything a secret.  I had already felt judged through the actions my daughter was outlandishly doing (like being Goth and writing dark words and images all over her body), so sharing about what was really going on in my home was taboo. This became more personal to me as if I was the one with the problem and I wasn’t helping my daughter the way a parent should. 

With that in mind, I distanced myself from family, friends, and the Church. There came a time, however, that I could no longer do this as my daughter’s problems became so out of control. I put my pride aside and put my daughter first.  That was the beginning of my life being humbled to how God wanted to use my brokenness as well as my daughter to help others.  When I became stronger in my faith through my daughter’s crises, the veil of hiding lowered and my vulnerability was secured in Christ.  There was a freedom I had in my vulnerability that I had not experienced before.  

MARYANN:
Praise the Lord! Stacy, I have known you both as a friend, a fellow writer, and a fellow congregant for a few years now, and I have been greatly inspired by your faith, your endurance, and your adherence to God’s Word. You are a shining example of a Christ-Follower who runs your race with great courage and determination. Please share with our readers a few things you have learned about God’s grace during your journey.

STACY:
I learned that when I was at my lowest and weakest, I also had the most intimate relationship with God. I cried, screamed, threw fits of anger, pleaded, begged, and worshipped like I had never done in the past.  The best part, He bent His ear to hear me. He extended grace and mercy to my family when He didn’t have to. He never gave up on our family.  

MARYANN:
What advice would you give to parents whose marriage is being adversely affected by their teen in crisis?

STACY:
You MUST pray together. It is imperative that you do so.  Otherwise, satan will bring division into the marriage to distract parents from working as a team to help their child.  Another point to know is that each parent has a different way of coping in a crisis with their child. Maybe the husband is quiet and not vocal about the situation over the child. This does not mean he doesn’t care.  He may need time to think and evaluate himself as a parent, his relationship with his child, and future decisions for the healing of their teen/young adult.  The wife may do things very differently as her way of coping.  Neither is wrong.  But spouses need to allow the other to heal and comprehend and move forward in each situation so when that time comes in which they meet to discuss or work on a plan for their child in crisis, they will be totally focused on the child and not themselves.   

MARYANN:
How should parents of a teen in crisis handle the needs of other children in the family who are not in crisis?

STACY:
They need to let the siblings know that although their brother or sister is in crisis, they will still be there for them.  It is important that the child in crisis has a counselor.  This way the issues are being discussed and handled with the counselor, leaving the parents to focus more on the other children.  Other siblings may also need to be in counseling every once in a while so that their voice is heard during this crucial time.  They have many different feelings towards their sibling in crisis.  They could be jealous that their brother or sister is getting more attention.  They could be sad because they feel in some way responsible for their brother or sister in crisis.  They could be angry because their lives have been uprooted and plans changed all because of the issues with the sibling in crisis.  They need to vent too.  They need to feel safe to share what is bothering them too.  

MARYANN:
What kinds of problems did you encounter during the writing of your book? 

STACY:
I can honestly laugh at this.  Let’s see!  I lost my house and my husband lost his business. We went into bankruptcy. I lost many friends who coudln’t understand the challenges of raising a child who was in constant crisis. My relationship with my older daughter fell apart.  We had to leave our church that I was a part of for 40 years in order to find healing for our family at another church.  Crises escalating with our daughter, marriage hurting, and so many attacks on our family in the strangest of ways that would seem like a night flick mystery movie. But GOD IS GOOD!  He replenished, restored, and brought us out of the wilderness.

MARYANN:
Hallelujah!  Our God is always faithful!  Praise His Holy Name! Stacy, shat advice would you give to a writer just starting out? 

STACY:
Don’t give up! Don’t rush. Take your time.  Listen to God’s still small voice. Go to Writer Conferences (many offering virtual) that can give you so many ideas, encouragement, and connections.  

MARYANN:
Do you have any more books in the works? If so, would you give us a glimpse of what lies ahead for readers? 

STACY:
I am waiting to see what the Lord shows me next as to another book. ?

MARYANN:
Well, I know God has great things in store for you, Stacy. Thank you so much for being with us today and for sharing with us from your heart. And blessings on you and your precious family! 

To obtain a copy of Stacy’s book on Amazon, click here.

To obtain a copy of Stacy’s book from her publisher, click on the link below:

https://www.pageantwagonpublishing.com/store/p3/Turning_the_Tide_of_Emotional_Turbulence%3A_Devotions_for_Parents_with_Teens_in_Crisis.html 

To watch a video of an interview with Stacy by Cathy Taylor, founder of Hurting Moms, Mending Hearts, go here:
https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=581113289120153&ref=watch_permalink

Also, I encourage you to connect with Stacy’s ministry via the following venues:

Stacy’s Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/AnchorOfPromise

Stacy’s Blog: www.AnchorOfPromise.com

Not Will Power, but Word Power

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

“Winning with the Word” is a weekly blog that will help you to be a winner in life by applying God’s principles for living the abundant life as found in the Bible, God’s manual for life.

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Hello and Happy Day! This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, your Virtual Life Coach, welcoming you to another episode of Winning with the Word. Today is Monday, March 9, 2020. Today’s Podcast is Episode #10 in Series 2020 and is titled “Not Will Power, but Word Power.”

Over my lifetime, I’ve struggled to overcome the bad habit of speaking before thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put my foot in my mouth only to take it out and put the other foot in.

I am a communicator by nature and by calling, and I love to communicate. This is the reason Satan fights me in the area of my tongue. Of one thing we can be sure, the enemy will always focus his attacks on our areas of strength by targeting the weaknesses that go along with those strengths.

For example, those of us who communicate well are susceptible to talking before thinking or talking too much. But the Bible warns that if we talk before we think or if we talk too much, we will eventually sin (Proverbs 10: 19). 

Well, as always, the Bible is true. When I speak before I think or when I talk too much, I inevitably get myself into trouble. And getting out of trouble is much more difficult than getting into it, I can assure you.

As always, I went to the Lord with my problem. I told Him that no matter how hard I tried, I kept engaging my mouth before engaging my brain. The harder I tried not to talk before thinking, the more I talked before thinking. I felt just like the Apostle Paul who wrote in Romans 7: 15-24: “I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate. . . Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it.  I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do. What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me…?”

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever wanted desperately to stop doing something–like, perhaps, to stop smoking, or to stop taking drugs, or to stop viewing pornography, or to stop overeating, or to stop spending too much money, or to stop yelling at your kids–but, no matter how hard you tried, you just kept messing up? If so, you are not alone.

One of the biggest reasons that bad habits are hard to break is that we try to overcome them in our own strength. And that, my friend, is impossible. We as humans have no power in ourselves to overcome the flesh. We need Jesus Christ in our lives to live the overcoming life through us.

So, the first step to overcoming a bad habit once and for all is to be born again–to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Why? Because only Jesus Christ can set us free. Nothing else or no one else can set us permanently free. Yes, we may have some success using will power alone, but that success will eventually fizzle out. What we need to overcome permanently is not will power, but Word power. The power of God’s Word as found in the Holy Bible. Jesus is God’s Word made flesh as we read in John 1: 1. 

Jesus said in John 8: 32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth is found in God’s Word. As we learn the truth and apply it to our lives, we will become freer and freer. In fact, we will be free to the degree that we know and obey the Word of God.

Once we have Jesus living within us, we now have His power to overcome bad habits.

Sadly, however, some of us, even after we are born again, still try to overcome bad habits in our own strength. Whether out of ignorance or–excuse the pun–bad habit, we neglect to draw on the power of Christ Who is now living within us. It is only by allowing the life of Christ now within us to live through us that we can overcome bad habits.

So, what does this look like in practical life? 

Well, here’s a scenario. Let’s say that a co-worker rubs you the wrong way. You find yourself growing impatient and annoyed with her whenever she asks you for help. How should you respond? First of all, give your negative feelings to Jesus. Then ask Him to love this person through you. These two steps–giving your negative thoughts and feelings to Jesus and asking Him to live His life through you– constitute what is called “crucifying the flesh.” You are putting to death your own negative thoughts and feelings and allowing Christ’s loving thoughts and feelings to flow through you toward your co-worker.

The key to overcoming bad habits is to focus on Christ in us. When we focus on the negative–our negative thoughts and feelings–we will magnify the negative. It will become paramount in our lives. But when we focus on Jesus living inside us, we will magnify Jesus and He will become paramount in our lives. In short, we cannot overcome bad habits by sheer will power, only by Word power. When we allow Christ to take our bad habits and give us His good ones in exchange, we will be living the life of Christ in us. 

Just as we were born again and received Christ by faith, so must we also live the Christian life by faith. There is simply no other way to live it. It is His Holy Spirit living within us that gives us the power to crucify the flesh. When we yield our weakness to His strength, we begin resting in Him. And it is this resting in Him that causes us to experience victory over our tongues or over any other bad habit.

It took me a long time to grasp the concept of resting in the Lord. But it is the essential concept of living the Christian life. We live the Christian life by His power, not ours. As we yield our will to His will, we will be able to take hold of His power that is ever ready to help us not only to control our tongues but to overcome every bad habit and to live out every aspect of the Christian life according to His will.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, I urge you to do so now.

Pray this simple prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, I’m struggling with a bad habit, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t break it. I have come to realize that I cannot overcome this bad habit in my own strength. I need Your strength. And so I come to You now, asking You to come into my life. Save me and live Your life through me. I repent of my sins and ask You to forgive me. Thank You for giving me Your strength in exchange for my weakness. In Your Name I pray, believe, and receive. Amen.

If you prayed this simple prayer, please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help you get started in your relationship with Jesus Christ. I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every day, starting in the Gospel of John, which is in the second half of the Bible. Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and find fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers.

For those of you who may not know, I write fiction about some of the issues I deal with in this blog and podcast. I invite you to visit my website at https://www.maryanndiorio.com/book-table. There you will find a complete list of the novels, novellas, and short stories I have written about characters with problems like yours.

On my website, you will also find additional resources, articles, books, and podcasts to help you grow in your walk with Christ.

This podcast is found on Apple Podcasts, Blubrry, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Soundcloud, Castbox, Podbean, Podchaser, and Deezer, so I encourage you to subscribe and have it delivered right to your mailbox.

If you have been blessed by these messages, I also invite you to become a Winning with the Word patron on Patreon. As a patron you will enjoy special benefits only for my patrons. Just go to Patreon.com and search for Winning with the Word to join. This podcast is being sponsored by my wonderful husband and patron, Dominic A. Diorio. Thank you, Honey, for supporting the work of the Lord.

And to all of you wonderful people out there, thank you so much for listening. This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, your virtual life coach, reminding you that God loves you just as you are and just where you are, and that He will help you to keep on winning with the Word.

Listen to the podcast here:

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Now it’s your turn: ? If so, which of the tips do you think will best help you to get through to God? Please leave your comment in the Comment Box below. Thank you!

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How to Conquer a Stubborn Addiction

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Are you addicted? When we think of addiction, we usually think of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, pornography, or sex.  While these are certainly serious addictions, there are others we tend readily to overlook or dismiss, deeming them innocuous: like an addiction to food, coffee, a relationship, a computer screen, a career, a sport, or a workout regimen, to name a few. Spiritually speaking, these addictions can be just as serious and just as much a hindrance to a wholesome relationship with God.

Chain breakingWhat is an addiction? Simply put, an addiction is looking to someone or something other than God to meet our needs.

How can we recognize an addiction in ourselves? Simple: Ask yourself this question: When I’m under stress, where do I go first to get relief? If your answer is anyone or anything other than God, you are in bondage to an addiction.

So, what can we do to overcome an addiction? Here are three steps to consider:

  1. Admit we need help. No matter how much we think we can overcome an addiction through sheer will power, we cannot. To think we can is foolhardy and a sign that we are being deceived. The first step in overcoming an addiction is to admit the addiction to ourselves and then to someone we trust. Keeping our addiction a secret will give it continued power in our life. Exposing our addiction to the light by sharing it with someone we trust will break its power over our life.
  2. Recognize that we are totally dependent on God. We can do nothing without His help. We cannot even take our next breath without His help. So, to think we can beat an addiction without God’s help is a lie. In a culture that idolizes self-reliance, total dependence on God goes against the grain. But only total dependence on God will break us free from total dependence on our addiction.
  3. Choose to be accountable. No matter how much we think so, we will never overcome an addiction alone. We need the support of others who will hold us accountable, who will pray for us, and who will encourage us when we are being tempted. We need someone whom we can call when the temptation to cave in is severe. We need someone who will speak the truth to us in love and help us get up when we fall.

The Word of God says that we can do all things through Christ Who gives us strength (Philippians 4: 13). This includes conquering stubborn addictions. The Word of God also says that we are more than conquerors through Christ Who loves us (Romans 8: 37).

Conquering addictions is not easy, but it is absolutely possible. Purpose in your heart now to allow Jesus to set you free from all addictions. Co-operate with Him by obeying what He tells you to do. Be encouraged by His great promise to you: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8: 36).

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“An addiction is looking to someone or something other than God to meet our needs.” ~ Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)

“How to Conquer a Stubborn Addiction” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CLICK TO TWEET)

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Daystar Devotional-hardbackcoverstanding_885x1298The Daystar Devotional is a compilation of weekly devotionals I wrote for almost six years. At popular reader request, I have compiled these devotionals into a single volume for your convenience. I trust this book will encourage you in your walk with Jesus.

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The Only Surefire Way to Break the Chain of Addiction

 

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Addiction is slavery to an idol in one’s life.

Addiction occurs when one looks to a false god instead of the one true God to supply one’s need. Addiction surrenders to false pleasure despite adverse consequences.

Chain breaking

There are many types of addiction: alcohol, drugs, sex, food, computer, sports, money.  Any idol in one’s life is an addiction. 

Certain programs can help one manage addiction.  But ultimately, only Jesus Christ can set one completely free.  Why? Because getting free from addiction requires supernatural power.

Scripture says this in John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”  Let the supernatural power of the Son of God set you free.  Only then will you be truly free.

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Are You Addicted to Approval?

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. There is drug addiction, food addiction, alcohol addiction, cigarette addiction, gambling addiction, pornography addiction and, new to our era, computer addiction. Anyone who is addicted to anything knows the incredible power that addiction wields over one’s life.

An addiction is an abnormal, compulsive need for something. That need may be physiological, psychological, or spiritual. While we readily recognize physiological addictions, we are often unaware of psychological or spiritual addictions. One such common psychological/spiritual addiction is the addiction to approval.

An approval addict is a person who derives his sense of worth from the approval of others and needs that approval in order to function and survive. The approval addict finds it difficult to make decisions on his own. On the contrary, he allows others to exert a major influence over his decisions.

For example, an approval addict may follow a certain career path because his father insists that he follow it. Deep down, however, the approval addict may want to pursue an entirely different career. Because, however, he fears losing the approval of his father, he will submit to his father’s wishes and live a miserable life as a consequence.

Take also, for example, the teenage girl who is afraid to say no when her boyfriend wants sex. Out of fear of losing her boyfriend, she does something that she knows is wrong and for which she will later pay a high and bitter price.

Or take the pastor who, out of fear of offending his flock and losing his job, waters down the truth and tells his congregation only what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

While we all like others to approve of us, the approval addict defines his identity by the approval of other people. He has not learned to recognize who he is and who he is not. Nor has he learned to set healthful boundaries between himself and others. In short, the approval addict fears man more than he fears God.

In fact, addiction approval stems precisely from what the Bible calls “the fear of man” (Proverbs 29:25). This verse says that the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. To fear man is to allow someone other than God to rule one’s life. A person in the grips of approval addiction allows a spouse, a child, a friend, or a boss to rule his life out of fear of losing that spouse, that child, that friend, or that job. Such fear, the Bible says, brings a snare. A snare is a trap.

By allowing others to influence him unduly, the approval addict walks into a trap of his own making. Unless he is freed, he will become more enmeshed in that trap. Eventually, it will destroy him.

If we are to live healthful, fulfilling lives, we must seek God’s approval above all else. In the long run, His approval is the only one that counts since He alone will eventually judge each one of us. To seek God’s approval is to fear Him in the sense of reverencing Him and taking His commandments seriously. The Bible tells us that this kind of fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10).

In practical terms, fearing God means that when faced with a choice between doing something God’s way and doing it someone else’s way or our own way, we choose God’s way. We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Addictions are relentless taskmasters, imprisoning us and tormenting us even to the point of death. If you are addicted to approval—or to anything else for that matter–let the power of God set you free. Hear God’s promise to you in Isaiah 45:2: I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.

God will set you free from your prison of addiction. Just cry out to Him. I promise you He won’t turn you away (Psalm 51:17).

Questions: 1) Are you an approval addict?  2)) If so, how will you overcome this trap?

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Copyright 2012-2019 by Dr. Mary Ann Diorio.  Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

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