Kathy Looper Christian Counseling

Kathy Looper Christian Counseling

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Process of Change SUCKS !!

It has been a couple of weeks since I submitted a column. The reason for my short absence is because I am in the middle of change. December, the month that contains my birthday, anniversary and Christmas, is not a great time to be going through major change, but that is exactly what is happening.
I have spent my life going through adversity and coming out the other side of it better and stronger, so my heart and my mind knows that when change occurs there will always be something good that comes as a result. However, this bit of knowledge does not make the process any easier.
For many days now I have felt at peace with the knowledge that everything will workout for the good. Yet, there is still sadness, uncertainty and emotion mixed up in this process so it occurred to me that maybe I should write about how much change and the transitions it brings suck.

This is not a faith issue, nor is it a fear issue. It is simply an issue of being human and I think that aspect is what is important for this article. I think many people have such a misconception of God and what it means to trust in him. If the expectation is that life will be easy and crappy things won’t happen to you because you believe in God, then I recommend you reexamine your beliefs and figure out why how you came to believe that. (Sorry if that sounds harsh). I say that because I am keenly aware that faith can be fragile for some people. It is important that belief be based on a foundation of Biblical teaching; otherwise, the cruelty of life will cause you to loose your faith, and I would hate to see that happen. Maybe if I explain one of the situations, you will understand what I am trying to convey.

If you have read my column before, then you know that I am a woman of faith. I am very careful to follow in the direction I feel the lord is leading me and I do not make major decisions lightly. I was recently approached by a business owner about a job opportunity that they had been told about. Since I had recently applied for an internship with the Board of Behavioral Sciences, she felt like I was perfect for the job and recommended me for the position. I was honored that she felt like I would be a good fit. The next day, I received an email from the CEO of the company who had the position available and he asked if I could come in and meet him that afternoon. 
To make a long story short, I met with the CEO that day and was hired on the spot. This was very significant for me because I was going through a major change in another area of my life and I felt like this was a blessing that God knew I needed. It came to me completely out of the blue. By the time my fingerprint clearance had come back and I began work, I was immediately promoted to a position that came with a significant pay increase and additional benefits. 

This new development was not only a huge blessing, but I also felt that I was moving into a position to really effect change in the lives of others in a major way. There was no question in my mind that God was blessing me and moving me into the position he wanted me to be in. I was humbled at God’s goodness and kindness towards me. Then, six days into my employment, I was told that this company is an “at-will” employer and they had decided to terminate my employment effective immediately. They offered no explanation.
You can imagine how shocked I was, especially considering my faith about what God was doing in my life. So I had a question to answer. “Was this God’s blessing to me or wasn’t it?"

My answer is that it absolutely was God’s will for me. God doesn’t give something and then take it back. People do that. People have free will to get in God’s way and change the outcome. Yet, there are still blessings in this situation. I absolutely unequivocally know the level to which I am called to perform in business. I will not accept less than what I am worth. That may sound crazy or even arrogant to some, but if I underestimate myself, there is no way I can ever receive all the blessings and promises God really has for me. I was offered CEO of that company. That was the job I was promoted to. All that tells me is what God has in store for me. 
Another blessing is that I received a nice paycheck for 6 days of employment that I would not have received otherwise. I am grateful for that extra money. But don’t get me wrong. I was very bothered by the entire situation and felt very disappointed, sad, concerned about what is coming next and a number of other emotions that go along with an abrupt change in direction. However, I still know there is a purpose and that in time I will understand. Sometimes it takes what it takes and other people are learning lessons in the process. Perhaps, this job wasn’t even about me but about the other people involved in the situation. Perhaps they where their lesson’s to learn and God used me in the situation because he knew I could handle it without my faith wavering. 
Either way, all I am saying is that change, transition, illness, loss, etc. is a part of life. The emotions that come with those situations are just part of being human. When the Bible says “My grace is sufficient” I can testify to the fact that it totally is.   

Even though I have been on a roller-coaster of emotions the past month, I have had perfect peace. I have known in my heart of hearts that everything was going to be ok. I have been able to sleep peacefully at night and pass the days with hopeful expectation. That doesn’t mean I am not sad and wondering what the outcome in my other situation will be like, but it does mean that I am at peace and that is something that cannot be explained, just felt. 

If I can leave you with one thought today, it would be to recognize that although the process of change sucks, really sucks. It is necessary and if you can get through it, it will produce a gift for which you will be grateful. At some point in your future, you will look back on this moment and know that although it was a very tough time in your life, you would do it all over again if it meant you would receive the same benefit.
Hold on….the storm doesn’t last forever. Seasons change, and a better day is just ahead.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


            I was having breakfast with my niece a couple of weeks ago and she told me how much her 6-year-old son hates school.  She describes it as being so bad that she has to go to class with him.  Gavin started Kindergarten late because he suffered from an enlarged heart when he was 2.  We almost lost him and if it wasn’t for answered prayers and the fantastic staff at Valley Children’s Hospital, we would have.   Gavin was in a coma for a period of time and during his illness, he had lost oxygen to his brain and had turned blue before paramedics arrived.  We do not know the extent of damage that was done to his brain during this period of time but we have come to understand that he is sensitive to stimulus and he cannot handle to much at once.  However, because he functions as almost a normal kid, the teachers at his school thought he was just acting up and would make an example out of him in class.  As a result of his teachers behavior, Gavin, at 6 years old, quickly realized he was different and now hates to go to class.  The other day he came over to visit with me.  As I was holding him, I asked him how school was that day.  He responded with, “I don’t know” so I asked him, did you have fun at school today? At which he replied, “I don’t want to talk about it.”  This broke my heart.  The reason it broke my heart is because I could relate to how this little guy was feeling.

            I grew up not fitting in and feeling like a spectacle of weirdness more than the girl that I was.  I was raised to wear dresses everyday and although I can look back know and appreciate all the nice dresses I had, at the time, being so different in my appearance drew a lot of unwanted attention and I felt like an outcast.  By the time I was able to make my own decisions, I was doing everything I could to “fit in” and be accepted.   This led me down a rabbit hole that changed the course of my life.

            Needing approval from others is innate in all of us.  I suppose it is because we are all connected in one form or another and our soul, on some subconscious level, understands this.  However, this need to be accepted, to have approval from our peers or our loved ones is often a negative force that creates far more harm than it does good.

            In my own life, I had created a persona that would deflect criticism.  I tried to have the perfect body, the right car, the right clothes, the right amount of money and the right friends.  I worked hard to become the woman I wanted to be.  I thought that if I was successful, then others would admire me instead of criticize me.   Actually, I think it worked to a degree, except I was living behind a mask and had built huge walls to keep people out.  I was a failure at commitment.  I didn’t commit to friends, to men, to homes, to family, I didn’t even commit to what city I was going to live in.  I was a vagabond.  Running from anything that could reject me. 

            I am writing about this because I think many people suffer from caring too much about what others think and my question is, who are these people and why does it matter what they think?
I can’t tell you when it happened but somewhere in the last several years, I got free.  I stopped putting other’s opinions about me above my own opinions about myself.  I think I became more concerned about pleasing God than pleasing people, but it was an evolutionary process.  I have spent a lot of time lately listening to Dr. Breńe Brown.  I mentioned her work in my last column.  She has spent her life studying vulnerability.  One of her favorite quotes is from a speech given by Theadore Roosevelt it goes like this:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”

I love this so much because it paints a picture of the bloody and messy reality of what overcoming a struggle requires.    It also reveals how unimportant the opinions of the spectator are. If your critics are not in the arena with you, they’re opinion should not matter. Living by this quote isn’t easy and for my 6 year-old nephew, it is impossible because he doesn’t understand.  However,  if you are reading this column then you have the ability to overcome what other’s think of you.  Here is the first step.  Bréne Brown suggests that you do the following.
1             1.  Cut a one-inch square of paper.
               2.  Write the names of people whose opinion you value.
               3.  Place that piece of paper in your wallet.
              4.   Next time you are criticized or judged, pull out the piece of paper and see if that person’s name                     is on the square.
       If it is, then take a look at your part.  If it isn’t, then disregard the criticism.  It doesn’t matter.

I hope this helps someone reading this today.  Life is hard enough without worrying about what everyone thinks of us.  Look around and ask yourself, who is in the arena with you!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I read an article a while back that disturbed me so much that I saved it in every conceivable place I could think of on my computer.  The article was about a Methodist Minister who became an Atheist after over 30 years of pastoring a church.  What struck me the most about this story was not that this person quit believing, but how they described the process of being a believer to becoming an unbeliever.  They wrote, “It was a very, very gradual process.  There was not one single moment where I can look back and say, ah, that was the moment.  It was kind of a slow progression.”  

Does that bother anyone else besides me?

            After I read that comment, the first thing I thought of was the word “drift.”  I thought about how easy it is to slowly drift away from the things and the people that had our complete attention at some point in time.  It happens all to easily.  All we have to do is look at the number of people who join the gym in January after making a New Year’s resolution to live a healthier lifestyle; or, look at the number of marriages that end in divorce, or the number of people using prescription and illegal drugs and alcohol to cope with depression.  I understand that divorce and depression occur randomly and sometimes for good reason, but the majority could be averted if people got back into the fight and demanded a better life for themselves.  Yes, you read that right, I said demanded.  Who is going to give you the life you want and deserve if you are not willing to fight for it?  Do you think success is just going to be handed to you?  Do you think a strong marriage is what happens because you love each other?  Do you think that depression and oppression is going to magically go away because you wish it to? 

             Anyone who knows me, or who has read my column, knows that my faith in God is the foundation on which my life is built.  I am all about faith and I am all about prayer and trusting God to provide.  However, the Bible says, “faith without works is dead.” (James 2).  James goes on to say that “I will show you my faith by my works” that means that we have a part to play in this relationship God.   The Bible is rich in metaphors of warfare.  It describes the Christian as a Soldier.  It also teaches us to “run the race with endurance that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).  The word endurance means to keep going no matter what until the race is finished.  To endure means to hold out, or sustain without yielding.”   We cannot quit !!!

            As much as I believe all things work together for the good, I am not naive.  Life is hard.  Marriage is hard.  Not quitting is hard.  Standing up for what is right is hard.  Loosing weight is hard.  Going to the gym is hard.  Making the life you want for yourself is hard, but so what !  We would never know joy if we didn’t know sorrow.  We would appreciate success if we hadn’t first failed.  We wouldn’t know love unless we first had to live without it.  Why are so many people willing to accept the deck of cards they are dealt in life?  Why are so many people living in bodies they can’t stand to look at in the mirror? 

            I am here to tell you that you don’t have to live with less that what you want.  I have seen to many miracles to believe otherwise.   This Saturday, I will be attending a baptism of a girl who was recently released from prison for armed robbery.  She was a gang member and she was a client of mine when she was first released from Prison.  When she left her re-entry program, everyone thought she would fail and return to the life she knew.  But she didn’t.  She got a job.  She started a relationship with God.  She wanted a different life and she is getting a different life.  I cannot wait to watch her get baptized on Saturday.

Change isn’t easy.  You’re going to have to fight.  You’re going to have to endure the temptation to give in.  You’re going to have to let go of your ego in order to see your dreams come true, but it really isn’t that hard once you determine that quitting is not an option.  I have lost everything in my life, including loved ones and my business. It was very difficult to get through it, but I wouldn’t go back and change one thing.  My life is better today than I would have ever thought possible and it is not better because of material possessions.  It is better because I am at peace with who I am.   My marriage isn’t great all the time, but it’s great sometimes.  My income isn’t what I want it to be right now, but it will be soon because I have a goal.  My body isn’t what it used to be, I am 47, but I still go to the gym and I eat right 70% of the time. 

            If you want a better life than the one you have right now, all you have to do is change your mind, that is where it starts.  We are what we eat.  I believe in that 100%.  It is biblical.  What we feed our mind is what we will become.  You may not know where to begin, but I can help you with that.  The point is to just begin and that starts with making a decision to change.  If you need a little more motivation, go to www.youtube.com and search for the audio book, “The Power of Vulnerability” by Breñe Brown or order her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.”  Just begin by feeding your mind something different, something encouraging and then call me.

            Don’t become like the Methodist minister who lost their faith in God after 30 years because she was not paying attention to her life.  Don’t be like so many people who drift slowly away from the life they once hoped to have.  As long as you’re still breathing, it is never to late to be who you want to be.  Just begin.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

“I am going to hell and I am ok with that…….”

This was the statement I heard my client say to me the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

My life for many years has been in the fitness and nutrition industry.  I have been a columnist for the Tulare Voice and other publications writing about nutrition and fitness.  I love to teach what I know about both subjects and in my everyday life, I still make a living as a nutritionist.  However, I have also finished my Master’s and have been gathering my hours to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  I am also a Licensed Christian Minister.  I currently work as a therapist intern in a female felony parolee residential treatment facility.  I love the time I spend with the girls in this program.   That may sound strange, but each and every one of the girls I work with has a story that is sad, shocking and courageous all at the same time.

It has surprised me that I could love working with this population with compassion instead of judgment because I come from a very pro law enforcement background.  Two of my uncles are retired California Highway Patrol Officers. One uncle is a retired Captain and one is a retired Sargent.  Many of my friends are police officers and I myself came very close to becoming a police officer many years ago.   While in graduate school, I struggled with my classmates because of my staunch position of people taking responsibility for their actions.  I haven’t been one who wanted to hear reasons or excuses for bad behavior, especially when I didn’t get to use excuses myself when I made a mistake.  I was especially predisposed to judgment when it came to matters of addiction.  I had a zero tolerance rule and that had much to do with my own experiences in life with loved ones and addiction issues.  So, working with female felony offenders is not something I ever thought I could do because I was always on the other side of the fence.  But, somewhere along the line, God really changed my heart.  Today, I care very deeply for the girls that I see as therapy clients because I see them as people, I see who they are behind the mask of self protection that they wear.

Just the other day, one of the women came to see me for her weekly appointment.  It was her second therapy session with me.  In her initial session, she stated she wanted help for her anger issues.  She felt angry all the time and she didn’t know why.  So when she came back this week, I asked her about how she was doing with the anger issues and to my surprise, she said that she felt much better and hasn’t felt angry since seeing me the week before.  That was great news for me and it allowed us to do some deeper work in that session.  Often, the subject of God comes up therapy sessions because some form of faith is at the core of all of us.  I can say all of us confidently because the Bible teaches us that God placed a need inside us all to know him.  Regardless of what people do with that void, it is still there, begging the question “what do I believe about God.”

On this day, my client said to me “I know this is off subject but can I ask you a question?”  I said of course and she asked me a very direct question about what I believed about her lifestyle and if I thought she was going to hell.  If you are like me, you are probably reading this thinking, holy moly, how are you going to bow out of that gracefully… I was thinking, oh God, please help me have the right words to give this girl that will show her your love.  I won’t go into the details of that conversation right now, but she did make the bold statement of “I am going to hell and I am ok with that….I don’t want to go to hell, I want to live right, but I know what the Bible teaches about my lifestyle.” 

As I was driving home late that evening I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times I have heard people make that statement and sing about it in music, totally unaware and in complete utter ignorance of what hell is going to be like.  I can’t even tell you what hell is going to be like but my experience with God tells me that if GOD can blow my mind with the kindness and love he has shown to me, and if the rolling thunder and lightning can cause me to be frightened when I hear it at night, how much more terrible is hell going to be?  The place that God has reserved for those who do not love him and follow him?  The closest thing I can think of as a comparison is an erupting volcano, which we have seen in the news recently.  Can you imagine being thrown into a volcano and not dying but having to suffer the pain of the burning?  I cannot.  Worse that that, I cannot imagine being separated from God for all of eternity never again able to feel his sweet spirit.  

I am not writing this article to incite fear.  I am writing this because I am coming to terms with my own complacency.  I try very hard to live the Christian life of loving God and loving people but the truth is, loving people is hard work and requires time and energy which most of us are in short supply of.

My heart is heavy because I see how easy it is to take care of my own needs instead of the needs of others.  I watch day after day as close personal friends post on Facebook about their daughter being diagnosed with a brain tumor, our friend, Joel who recently passed away too young from an illness, and a former co-worker of mine who at age 37 was diagnosed with cancer and undergoes blood transfusions every week.  There seems to be so many friends and acquaintances with major illnesses that I can’t remember to pray for all of them, and the truth is, I go about my life and forget about their suffering, I forget to pray for them.  I finally started making a list of the people I needed to remember in prayer but I know I am not getting everyone on that list and there are many days that I still forget.

I have become increasingly aware of two things:  1.  If it requires too much work, people will not bother.  I see this play out in marriages, parent-child relationships and numerous other instances.  People in general rather not bother with the struggle of conflict if it can at all be avoided.   2.  Life has become overly busy and any free time a person has to themselves is spent on their phone texting or using social media.  There is not time to stop and be still and be present in the moment.  We are complacent. 

So what is the solution?  For me, my unintentional solution has been waking up in the middle of the night to pray or write and focus on ways to love people and whenever possible, tell them about Jesus.  I don’t know what your solution is.  What I do know is that we all have a purpose to fulfill in this life on earth and I desire with all my being to fulfill the purpose God created me for.  I want people to know HIM and I want people to experience his goodness.  I want our community to get back to a place where talking about God is NOT politically incorrect and binding together in unity for the common good of others is what we are focused on.  I know it takes work.  I know it takes effort and I know it takes resources but I hope with all my heart that we have not become too complacent that we aren’t willing to slow down and spend our time on the things that are going to matter in eternity.  God said, If you love me, keep my commandments.  Love the Lord God with all thy heart, and love they neighbor as thyself.”    

If this resonates with you, please take some time and evaluate the area’s you might be complacent in your life.  What can you do to become engaged again?  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't give up when hope is deferred

When I was 28 years old, or somewhere in that age range, I ran across a scripture in the Bible that read “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

Up unto this point in time, I had made many wrong decisions that had major consequences for my life and future.  One of which was losing custody of my son because I chose to move out of Shasta County and return to Visalia.  If you are a parent, you might understand the enormity of this decision and many might even question “how could you ever leave your child?”  The answer is that I instinctively knew that if I did not make a change in my life, I would cease to exist.  Within 6 months of moving back to Visalia where my entire family lived, three of my friends where killed, all in accidents involving alcohol.  I have no doubt I would have been one of them had I not listened to my instinct that I was in danger.

I had been raised in a stable home, with two parents who taught my sister and I right from wrong.  We attended church my entire childhood and I knew what it felt like to have a relationship with the lord.  Yet, I flunked out of high school and had two DUI’s buy my 21st birthday.  I was like so many others, just looking for the place I belonged.  I had major insecurity issues and a real need to fit in and be accepted.  It was this very deep seeded need that dictated the decisions I made and the regret and sorrow that followed.

You may be wondering why I am sharing this or why should you care about my story when many people reading this article don’t even know me.  The reason why I am sharing this and why my story matters is because 8 out of 10 people have made mistakes that they regret and are living with the consequences of those decisions.  My story is not about me and how well I have turned out (by my standards) but my story is about how “all things work together for the good” and if you live long enough, you can look back at events in your life that appeared to be very bad but somehow turned out alright.

Today, as I write this article, my son is celebrating his 25th birthday and I am very much a part of his life.  He is his momma’s son through and through.  Also, I am writing as Marriage & Family Therapist, Trainee who recently graduated with my Master’s degree.  My life today is polar opposite from the girl I use to be.  If any of you reading this article could talk to my parents, they would tell you, they had no hope for me.  Even as believers, trusting in a God they prayed to, had no hope, because the circumstances of my life where bleak.  How many of you know someone that you have lost hope in?  Wondering what will become of them and if you will receive the dreaded phone call in the middle of the night?

Let me remind you of the scripture that I quoted at the beginning of this article.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”  What the Bible is saying here is that hope is not lost, it is simply deferred, which means it took a detour, but all detours eventually lead to the original destination.  I’d like to encourage you and tell you not to give up on the thing you are hoping for.   Whether it is hope for someone else or hope for yourself, nothing is impossible.  Life is not easy, even when you do all the right things.  The truly great people, the truly strong people and the truly courageous people have one thing in common…they never gave up, they persevered and they did whatever was necessary to overcome the struggle.  Like I said, it isn’t easy, but it is possible.

What is it that you have given up on?  Yourself?  Your physique?  Your relationship?  Your child?  Your friend?  GOD?  I promise you, if you make a commitment to yourself to  hope again, you won’t be disappointed.  Pay attention to the details that follow and you will see God’s hand at work on your behalf.

Kathy Looper, MA MFTi

Kathy Looper, MA MFTi
Marriage & Family Therapist