Kathy Looper Christian Counseling

Kathy Looper Christian Counseling

Monday, April 3, 2017

Is Your Faith Working For You?

Is Your Faith Working For You?

Before you begin reading this article, I would like to say that my thoughts are in no way meant to be offensive, but rather a cry for help to the every day observers of life who see without really seeing the hurting hearts of those around them, myself included.

This topic has been on my mind for the past several weeks as a result of a recent suicide I attended.  I serve on the Tulare-Kings Counties Suicide Prevention Task Force.  I am one of several volunteers routinely on-call to attend the scene of a completed suicide to assist the family and loved ones left behind.

It was not the first time that I have attended the death of someone who was a believer.  I suppose those are the hardest to deal with.  This particular day, I listened as I heard the family say that they attended church every week.  As the words fell upon my ears, my heart simultaneously broke.  I thought to myself, “what went wrong?” I am sure that is a question everyone asks themself in circumstances such as this.  However, as a believer and on this day, I took it personal because I felt the weight of loss from this person and the responsibility to my fellow believer.  As a Christian, our first commandment after “Love the lord thy God with all they heart, soul, mind and strength” is to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:30-31).  We are to love all people not just believers but, as such, when one of our own looses their life to suicide it somehow feels even more tragic.

As a therapist, I did my graduate work in a female felony residential facility.  In every single counseling session I conducted, the issue of God came up 100% of the time.  I recently spoke with a colleague who reported the same statistic in her therapy practice.  This reinforced something I long suspected.  People have unanswered questions about God and unresolved disappointments and conflicts where he is concerned.  This was certainly the case in my graduate work.  Since that time, I have opened a private practice and I specialize in Christian Counseling.  I wish there was a way to convey how often I hear the helplessness and disappointment many Christians feel in their faith.  I wonder, if I took an anonymous poll of the people who attend church regularly or profess to be a believer, how many would admit to suicide ideation or suicide attempts?  I know you would be shocked. 

Lets take suicide in the “church” off the table and talk about addiction in the church.  Pornography is probably the most dominate addiction named among believers, followed by sex addiction, drug, and alcohol and food addictions.   How about infidelity in the church? I could go on and on but that is not really the point.  The church is NOT for the perfect person but for the person who recognizes they live in a fallen state and needs grace and forgiveness.  So please don’t misunderstand me.  My point is how many people attend church and remain unchanged?  My original question was “Is Your Faith Working for YOU?”

Why would anyone want to be a believer if it didn’t work?  Why would anyone follow God if God didn’t make a difference in his or her life?  I have lived a full life and by full I mean rebellious, sinful and wild.  I should be dead or at least addicted to alcohol and men.  I wasn’t always the person I am today.  I am 100% different because of my faith.  I am different because my faith has worked for me. 
I use to teach the girls in Juvenile hall bible study.  I would talk to them about real life situations and I would always come back to one point; that I am living my life for God because God is the difference maker.  He is real and His way works !!  If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it !! 

So when I see people who attend church every week and contemplate suicide or worse complete suicide, or struggle with their addiction, I wonder, what is the missing link?  What is it they need to know to change their outcome?  I am sure no one sets out to have an addiction or to die by suicide, but it happens.  It (suicide) is happening about once a week in Tulare County.   I wonder what can we do different to help our fellow brothers and sisters before they can no longer help themselves?  What picture did they have of God?  What did they believe to be true about God?  Was there buried disappointment that never got addressed?  Did they see God as a punisher instead of a loving father?  Did they ever believe that God could and would set them free from the pain and torment?

I spent 12 long years running away from God.  I had a HUGE misconception of him and growing up, I did not read my Bible, although I grew up going to church four times a week.  I did not want to live for God because I thought that meant a list of things I could no longer do.  I “wanted” to follow him, but I was afraid of the price tag.  I didn’t really know him.  I could feel him in my heart, but I didn’t understand who he was or how loving and kind he actually is.  I didn’t trust him to do what was best for me.  I didn’t trust him to make my life better.  I didn’t trust him to give me the desires of my heart.  I didn’t trust him because I didn’t know him.

I wonder as you read this, what your own perspective of God is?  I wonder if you believe that when you ask for forgiveness that he forgives you and places your sin in the sea of forgetfulness?  I wonder if you really understand that the work that he did on the cross covered past, present and future mistakes?  I wonder if you know that every tear you have ever cried is in a bottle that he holds?  I wonder if you believe that he knows every hair on your head?  I wonder if you know that he is just a whisper away and if you call on him, he will be there with you?  I wonder if you know that when you hurt he hurts?  I wonder if you trust him? I wonder, is your faith working for you?

If you are struggling with your concept of God, or you find yourself attending church but not really getting what you need from God, please talk to someone about it or better yet, talk to God about it.  You can be honest with him.  You can get down and dirty with him because he already knows your heart and your thoughts anyway.  If you are not sure how to sort out what you are thinking and feeling, call me for find another Christian therapist who can assist you in the process.

If your faith is NOT working for you, for whatever reason, I urge you to begin the conversation.  If you think someone you know is struggling in their faith or in their life in general, please speak up and let them know you care.  Life and death hangs in the balance.

Kathy Looper

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Do you Pray?

Why do you pray?

Is it because we have been taught that prayer is what we do when life gives we lemons?  Or is it because we know we are “suppose” to pray about things and so we do out of a place of “should” instead of a place of expectation?  Or, are you someone who doesn’t pray about everything because you believe God already knows what you need and so you don’t ask him.  Do you believe that IF God wanted to fix things for you that he would without your request?  When is the last time you have prayed and expected God to answer you? How many times have we prayed for someone with cancer to be healed and actually expected God to heal them?  Why do we pray for the sick to be healed if we don’t expect healing is possible? 

The stock exchange is the system that governs the value of a product or company.  Commodities, such as milk, corn, eggs and coffee are traded every day on the stock exchange.  Several months ago, the price for 5 dozen eggs was $42.99 at Costco.  Just last week, the same 5 dozen eggs sold for $18.99 at Costco.  The reason for the change in price has everything to do with supply and demand.  Commodities are essential life sustaining products.   Time is also a commodity as is water as is prayer.  However, prayer is a commodity traded daily without value.  This article is not written to tell you to pray.  We already know to pray.  This article is written to explain the reasons prayer is critical to our life, our circumstances and our success.  So what is prayer?

I can’t talk about prayer without first talking about free will.   When God created Adam, the first human, who was created in God’s image, he created him to have free will.  This is why he placed the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the garden.  God had already created the host of angels to worship him.  The Bible teaches us that the angels of God are innumerable and they surround his throne saying holy, holy, holy continuously.  So God wasn’t looking for robots, so to speak, to serve him, he already had that in the angels.  God created Adam in HIS image and desired that Adam freely choose to serve God from a place of desire, love and friendship.  The only way for that to happen was to give Adam a choice.  We all know that Adam made the wrong choice and ate from the forbidden tree.  He disobeyed God and God did NOT intervene in his decision to disobey him.  God allowed Adam to make his own choice and God watched as Adam ate from the tree, as his wife Eve gave him the forbidden fruit.  It is important to note that God did not stop Adam from partaking.  God allowed him to choose and Adam chose to follow his wife instead of God.

Free will is something I am still learning about.    On one hand, the Bible teaches us that God is sovereign, which means that nothing can prevent God’s will no matter what.  We can see this in the story of Moses when he pleads with Pharaoh to “let my people go” out of Egypt. It also teaches us that God is all-powerful and can do anything he desires.  He made the donkey speak in Numbers 22. We know that  God is the God above all other gods and that there is no power under heaven or under earth that can separate us from his love.  So if God is God and we trust him to work on our behalf, why do we need to pray?  If his will is going to be done anyway, why do we need to pray?  The answer is free will.
Prayer is a deep and complicated yet simple spiritual principle.  It is complicated because there are many aspects of how and why it works, which I will attempt to explain.  It is simple because it is so easy to do.  We just open our mouth and speak.

Prayer is a solemn request for help addressed to God with earnest hope.  Remember that “God is Spirit, they that worship him MUST worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). In order for us to come to God we must do it through the avenue of the spirit which is what prayer does.  Prayer breaks through the veil of the natural world into the supernatural world, which is the spirit world where God resides.  Then, prayer grants God permission to intervene on our behalf.  You see, God is not going to force his will upon us, just like he didn’t force his will upon Adam.  He gave direction to Adam and then left it up to Adam to choose.  We MUST ask him for help because in doing so we are giving up our free will and giving it to God.   So prayer is giving God permission to work in the situation.

Prayer is also the spoken word, which is a seed that will create a harvest.  Everything that God did or has ever done first started with a spoken word.  “God said let there be light and it was so” (Gen 1:3).  All of creation was made by the spoken word.   Jesus, when he walked on the earth, “rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea and said Peace be still” (Mark 4:39).  Likewise, when he came upon the fig tree that did not have any fruit on it, he said to the fig tree “no man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever. (Mark 11:14)  All throughout scripture, it is the spoken word that delivers, that heals the sick, that multiplies, that raises the dead, and that casts out spirits.  The spoken word has the power to create what is spoken.   Since we where created in HIS image our words also have the power to create.   “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue and they that love it will eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21). So prayer is a spoken word that has the power to create and bring a harvest of fruit.

The last thing I want to say about prayer is that prayer is God’s way of revealing his desire for us.  The Bible teaches us that when we pray, “the spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for: but the spirit itself makes intercession for us with groaning’s that cannot be uttered and he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the spirit because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).  So prayer is the avenue that God uses to reveal his will for us. 

I don’t know if you have ever experienced the place in prayer when you have groaning’s that cannot be uttered.  I have.  This is sometimes a place of deep heartache when all you can do is pour your heart out to God through sorrow and tears.  It can also me a place of worship and thanksgiving, when you feel the overwhelming love and grace of God.  Or it can be something altogether different when you don’t know what to pray but begin to pray anyway.  When we are at that place in prayer, our minds and hearts understand what we are feeling.  We get a picture of what God is telling us and that picture brings peace, comfort and many times direction, promise and purpose.  ALL of our answers can be found in prayer and ALL of our next steps in life and circumstances can be found in prayer.  God lives in the realm of the spirit and we enter that spirit realm when we bow to God in prayer and we open our mouth and speak the words that invite him into our circumstances and life.

I can always tell what is coming by what happens in my prayer life.  God does not live in the realm of time.  He lives outside of time.  God sees all and knows all and the Holy Ghost in us leads us into all truth and guides our steps.  So if we walk in the spirit, which is the spirit of God living in us, then we can know what is the will of God in our life.  The Bible says “The steps of a good man are ordered by God and he delights in his way” (Psalms 37:23) The Bible also says “For it is God which works in you, both to will and to do his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  So when you are committed to God and you give your free will over to him you can trust that whatever comes out of your mouth and your heart in prayer is God revealing to you what he desires to do in you and through you.  Let me give you an example…

Recently I began to pray for financial increase.  I have never prayed for financial increase before in all my years of serving the lord.  He has always provided for me financially.  Several years ago I had a retail store, and I struggled to make it successful for five years before finally closing it.  However, God always provided the money I needed throughout all five years and even after I closed it. 

When it comes to money, I have always trusted that God would provide and I have never asked for more then what I had.  When this request began to come up in prayer, I realized that God was creating this need in me for increase so that I would ask him for increase, so that he could fulfill his will.  Financial blessing is not for my own gain.  When God does answer this prayer and provides financial increase, it is not for me to have more material possessions or a bigger house or awesome shoes.  The increase is so that I have the ability and provision to help others.  It is to businesses that create jobs for people in the church.  It is to assist the church with what is needed to reach others.  It is to build apartments for those who have no place to call home.  It is to help the fatherless who are struggling to find their place in the world.  It is not for me, it is for the service of the Lord; to make a difference in our church and our community.  If God had never dropped this into my spirit, I would have never asked him for financial increase.  All my needs are met and I usually have enough to provide for my desires as well.  Requesting more would have never crossed my mind, until the Lord showed me why.    This all took place in prayer.  It began pouring out of my lips and then I realized God was showing me through my prayer what his desire for me was.  Don’t be afraid to speak your dreams.  Don’t be afraid to dream BIG.  That may be God showing you his will in your life.  If you do not ask, he cannot answer.  We have to ask him and trust that he will place his desires in our heart as the Bible teaches us.

I hope that excites you and encourages you.  God is alive and he is active in the life of those who pray.  Prayer-is-our-connection-to- God!  If you haven’t spent very much time in prayer, maybe this will help encourage and motivate you to take time out of your day everyday, and pray.  He hears, He knows, He will answer!!

“Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open to you” “For everyone that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks it shall be open” (Matthew 7:7-8).   Pray without ceasing !!

PS…The Journey (my church in Visalia) is starting four weeks of prayer beginning this Wednesday March 15th at 7:00 pm.  If you are not sure how to pray or what to pray, this is a good opportunity to learn. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Space Between

It is December 26, 2016, the day after Christmas.  Most businesses are closed and I suspect many people are doing what I am doing, getting their house in order after the holiday.  As I was rummaging through the many papers on my desk, I came across some notes I wrote for a Bible Study I had taught at church.  The subject matter was “Believing God Can & Trusting God Will.”  As I picked up my notes and began reviewing their content, I thought to myself, YES!!  I believe this 100%, STILL…

I have been accused of over-sharing in my blogs.  My parents especially worry that I give too much personal information through my writing.  Perhaps I do, but I wonder, what good are lessons if I cannot share them to offer hope and encouragement to others?  So alas, I will share my innermost thoughts with you, my readers, whomever you may be.

I titled this blog “The Space Between” because I am living in the space between believing God can and trusting that God will.  This space is heartbreaking, scary and empty.  With that said, I have no doubt that regardless of the current circumstances or the outcome, I know I am going to be ok.  However, knowing that I am going to be ok and hoping for an outcome that I had dreamed of are completely different things.  The entire topic of “Believing God can and trusting that God will” references a specific thing and begs the questions,  “Believing God can what?”  “Trusting God will do what?”  The answer is, grant you your request.  That is what it means.  We pray for something specific and we either believe or doubt whether or not God will grant us our request.

For the past two years, I have been praying for a specific outcome to a prayer request.  Over the two-year period, I had many reasons and signs along the way to indicate God was working the situation out the way I had hoped and believed he would.  I had many moments over the two years where I thought things where changing for the good, only to learn that the change was temporary at best.  I thought many times during the two years whether or not God was waiting on me or I was waiting on him.  I didn’t know.  The reason I didn’t know is because I serve a God who can do the impossible and so I just believed he would do the impossible in my situation and waited for the change to come.  I thought that by giving up on the situation was giving up on my faith in God to work it all out; but over and over I felt the lord whisper to me, “can you trust me to let it go?” I thought I could trust him to let go of my hope for this situation but I found that in doing that, it devastated me.

Letting go is very tricky.  In my case, the situation I was praying about and hoping for was my marriage of eight years.  For the past two years we have lived apart.  Living separate in a marriage was hard enough for me to deal with but after two years of working on things and seeing some changes here and there, I was hopeful.  I wanted to honor my vows and of course I loved my husband.  I whole-heartedly believe marriage is God’s will and this belief also kept me hopeful for the two years of separation.  But as 2016 began coming to a close, I wondered more and more if perhaps God was waiting on me to fully let go of all my hopes and dreams about my marriage and trust him blindly with a new future.  The thought of this was extremely hard and full of emotions I didn’t want to feel and certainly didn’t want to accept.  But, it was even harder for me to remain in a marriage while being separated for two years without any sign of reconciling our separate households.  That thought was harder to swallow than blindly trusting God with my future. 

So, here I am.  In between what I am leaving behind and not knowing what I am moving toward.  The decision to end my marriage has been an incredibly sad one.  How do you leave the person you love?  There is no easy way to do that.  No matter how I think about it, leaving was not a choice I ever wanted to make.  I am empty beyond a point I can explain.  I am sad beyond an ability to articulate. I am starting over at 50 and although I have started over many times in my life, this time is scary for me.  I don’t feel like I have the strength, but I know God is with me and his strength is made perfect in my weakness and trust me when I say, I feel very weak.  I cannot see what is in front of me and I cannot imagine how my life will change in the months ahead.  But I do know who holds my future and if there is one thing that I know in my heart is that God DOES work everything out for my good.  My past reminds me that through every hardship I have ever faced, God always made something beautiful from it.  That is what I hold onto in these moments of uncertainty and sadness.

I am writing this blog today because this space I am in, this “space in between” is the space where people give up on God.  This is the space where people loose their faith.  This is the space where people relapse.  This is the space where people die, either a physical death or a spiritual death and both are permanent.  They die because they really don’t believe God can and God will. 

The space in between is really a matter of Love.  It is a discerner of motive and belief.  What do you do when faced with a let down?  What do you do when God doesn’t answer the way you hoped he would?  What do you do when you have no direction?  What do you do when you pray and God is silent?  LOVE is the only thing that will keep you from taking matters into your own hands during this space in life.  It is not just our love for God that will keep us, but it is KNOWING that God loves us that keeps us.  For me, the one thing that keeps me going in spite of all the uncertainty is knowing, not believing, but knowing that God loves me and IF this situation is happening, contrary to my desire and hopes, then there is a reason and that reason will work for my good because GOD LOVES ME!  He is always on my side.  He always has my best interest at heart.  He is always faithful.  He loves me.  He loves me and I will be ok because he loves me.  My husband will be ok because he loves him.

I have no idea what a day will bring but I know who holds my future.  Today I am grateful to find the words to pen this blog. I haven’t been able to write for several months but today I was able.  I hope that in some small way what I have had to say has helped you.  May you find your strength and hope in HIM.  He loves you ! He is love.   Don’t give up on God and don’t give up on yourself.  You are made in his image.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He knows who you are and what you need.  He is just a whisper away.  Call his name.  He will meet you where you are…

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What We Have In Common With Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Sunday morning as the pastor took the stage; he greeted the congregation and asked if everyone would join him in singing, “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”  Of course everyone laughed then promptly joined him in singing the well-known Christmas song.  After the song was over, my pastor began to go through the words of the song and remind all of us about a misfit reindeer who was an outcast because he had been born with a ruby red nose that lit up very bright.  We all know the story ends with Santa asking Rudolph to lead the reindeer as he guided Santa’s sleigh.   How many times have I heard that song and forgotten it’s very simple message.  As I listened to the sermon, I was reminded of my own life and how God has turned one of my weaknesses into a strength.

I have always had a love affair with the law.  I began working for attorneys when I was 18 years old and had moonlighted in firms off and on for many years since.  In 2001, I interviewed for a legal secretary position at a prestigious law firm in the Fresno Fig Garden Financial District.  At the time, I had been working at Costco for 10 years and was looking for a second job.  I desperately wanted this job and it took two weeks to hear back from the firm.  When I did hear back the managing partner told me that he only had a full-time position available and they wanted to hire me for the job.  I was honored to have been chosen but it would mean giving up the one job I had always kept.  After much thought and consideration, I decided to resign my position at Costco after over 10 years of employment.  It was very scary to let go of such a secure job but I was moving into the future I wanted for myself or so I thought.  After less than six months, I was fired from that job because I had made spelling errors in letters I had sent out to clients.   I used the wrong words for words that sounded the same but had different meanings.  For example, I would use there instead of their or principle instead of principal.   I was devastated, ashamed and very embarrassed that I had made such mistakes.  I had never graduated from high school so the simple English that I should have known was lost on me.

I have never forgot that incident and mostly because I am no longer the girl who doesn’t know how to spell.   I not only know the correct words to use in sentences, I have become a writer and my columns have been published in magazines, newspapers including a nationally published Sports & Fitness Magazine.  I do not say that to be brag, I say that to show how something that was once a weakness can later be made into a strength. 

I have met so many adults who have such low self-esteem because of some perceived flaw.  I have met even more kids who say “I just don’t fit in.”  The feeling of insignificance and inadequacy is so prevalent in kids today it really breaks my heart.   I know how that feels and I also know that over time,  if they keep seeking,  they will find the place they fit, I did.  Life can be hard and cruel and especially for children and teenagers.

If you are reading this, I would like you to do me a simple little favor.  Please take a moment and comment in the section below with a personal strength that use to be something you considered a weakness.  I think the comments might help someone else realize that there are no flaws, there are only strengths waiting to surface.

Kathy Looper, MA MFTi

Kathy Looper, MA MFTi
Marriage & Family Therapist