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Love Well

Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2015 by Sanctuary staff

We are delighted to welcome Caroline Timmins, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, to our team at Sanctuary!

Love Well, Jamie George (2014)
A book review by Caroline Timmins, LMFT

A few years ago I participated in a small home group study of the book of 1 Peter. Determined to create a place of fellowship, we banded together, all of us friends, married, and in various stages of the parenting process. Each of us desired connection and to know more of God. We were eager, as well, to gain practical truth we could apply to the harder sides of family life.

One night as we read the passage aloud, we stumbled upon a small but profound phrase embedded within the text. It was pure and simple, but not simplistic. Meaty, but not quickly digested.

Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22).

What does it mean to love deeply? To love well? We spent the better part of the night chewing on the meaning. I still ponder this phrase, years later, as I struggle to live selflessly amid the constant pull of narcissistic flesh.

Recently I heard of someone asking that same question and since that someone was the brother of a dear friend from Buffalo, New York, and since that brother was from Nashville, and interesting things seem to be happening in Nashville, (beyond the catchy, messy, television drama) I was intrigued and bought the newly released book, Love Well, (2014), by Pastor Jamie George of The Journey Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

As I opened the book and began to unpack his thoughts on the idea of loving well, I found it similar to our little scripture phrase….pure and simple, but not simplistic, an easy read but not an easy task. Loving well is no simple thing.

I discovered the book to be not so much a “how to” love well as it is a “how to” think well… which is okay since it could be argued one cannot love well, until one thinks well.

C.S. Lewis said “to fools and weaklings one writes soft things” and George must believe his reader to be neither, for he offers challenges that run counter culture as well as counter nature. Love Well is not a soft book. But it is also not intellectual treatise. Written much like a journal, it is formatted with intentional spaces, full of meaningful quotes, and transparent. The reader becomes privy to the very personal thoughts of a man who is wrestling with the idea of loving well and has formulated some simple yet profound nuggets on what that really means.

In my work as a counselor, I feel compelled to stay abreast of the current literature on love and marriage. Out of this sense of obligation, I browse the new books table at Barnes and Noble every month or so, debating which one is worth the time and money. Honestly, I rarely leave the store with a purchase. Generally this genre leaves me feeling sickened or bored or both. People seem to enjoy making love into either a trite formula, or a heady science. But few will share their own struggle in the vulnerable way that George has chosen to do….in a way that hangs raw and unresolved while at the same time addressing deep questions.

Take for example, the question of ‘where is God amid marital pain?” While George introduces a God who cares deeply about meeting us in our stuck places, at the same time, he shares a radical insight he had during his own struggle:

”He (God) seemed….unaffected by our inability to thrive as a married couple” (page 47)…a bit shocking amid the “God wants you to be happy” philosophy of our time. It raises the possibility that perhaps our marital happiness is not God’s highest priority….that God can at the same time, care deeply for our pain while remaining unaffected by it. Is it possible He desires us to remain open and available to Him despite that pain? To refrain from making our little corner of pain the monopoly of our lives and instead, serve, and honor and, love each other well, in the midst of it? Nothing “soft” about this concept.

As I turn the pages of Love Well, I get a glimpse of a couple doing just that…forging ahead in their on-going battle to love well, without neglecting the work of ministry. The book tells candidly of a man and woman building a new church, learning to fully engage and listen to people’s stories as a means of loving others well, trying to remain authentic, despite and amid their own personal pain. They did not, however, use the busyness of ministry as a distraction from their own problems. Rather they faced their own dysfunction head on. They went to a marriage therapist. As a therapist, I have great admiration for that approach. Marriage is hard work and often requires the help of an outside resource, and they found a good one. George openly shares the winsome and wise tidbits gained from his own experiences with marriage counselor, Doyle, and how he and his wife did the hard work of applying this wisdom. I admired that as well. Many folks deceptively think the hour of therapy is what heals marriage. But they have it wrong. One hour of therapy a week offers no more healing for a marriage than one hour with a physical therapist will heal a broken leg. It is what happens outside of therapy…the exercises at home, building new habits of communication and practicing new emotional awareness…that shift a marriage from a place of brokenness toward one of wholeness. I appreciated the vulnerable and realistic view of how this worked in his life.

George also shares little incidents that happened along the way to challenge his thinking. Stories that move the reader to say to themselves…”hmmm…maybe I should re-think my perspective on that.” For instance, he brings the reader along on walk in the woods for a bit of a “come to Jesus” talk. One sees George standing in the forest gazing up through the sunlit branches, questioning his Creator in one of those intimate moments so characteristic of the privileged relationship believers have with their Maker. There he queries God about the wisdom of being led to start yet another church in Nashville, smack in the middle of the southern Bible belt where churches are like Starbucks in the Northwest, one on every corner. In response to his lengthy debate the Lord responds simply: “get over yourself” (pg. 141). I had to smile. How many times have I had a similar discourse with God, only to receive a similar response? Yet, George writes not in judgment but rather as invitation, suggesting through his own self deprecating style, that joining in on God’s agenda and setting our own aside might possibly be key to loving well: less stress, more peace, less strife, more love. It makes sense….pure and simple, but not soft… and not easy.

There is much more within the pages like questions at the end of each chapter to help the reader become “unstuck” and snippets of insights from the Bible, encouragement around building better boundaries, and an urging to risk sharing vulnerabilities as a way of connecting to others. He ends with an amazing chapter on living a Joy-filled life, suggesting wholehearted TRUST in the Lord is a main and necessary ingredient of joy.

By trusting God, doing the hard work of personal growth, and opening up to others in vulnerable, authentic ways a person can be liberated from the need to control and freed to enjoy life and love well. I would say that is a pretty good summary of what it means to “love one another deeply and from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Although there is much to “do” in order to love others well, it starts with thinking well, which starts with exposure to good and deep thoughts…and if you are looking for a pure and simple way to start that journey, Love Well is not a bad place to start.

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Welcome Caroline!

Posted on Saturday, November 1st, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

Caroline Timmins, LMFT
We are delighted to introduce Caroline Timmins, our newest staff member. Caroline is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and a wonderful addition to our staff!

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Introducing Aileen Tedrow, M.A.

Posted on Thursday, December 12th, 2013 by Sanctuary staff

I am delighted to welcome Aileen Tedrow, M.A. to our team at Sanctuary!

Aileen Tedrow, M.A.

 

Collaborative

Thoughtful

Wise

Dedicated

These are some of the words that best describe Aileen.  Her clients are fortunate people and we are blessed to have her commitment to our work here at Sanctuary!

Aileen’s passion is women’s health and she is an expert in soothing the symptoms of anxiety that life sometimes triggers in us.  I am proud to be connected to Aileen and to have her partnership in serving our clients and community.

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Introducing Rachel Lyon, MA

Posted on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 by Sanctuary staff

rachel-w-103We are thrilled that Rachel Lyon has joined our wonderful team. She brings the highest quality training, a warm and grounded personality, and a passion for making the world a better place. I’ll let Rachel introduce herself in her own words:

Have you ever felt like a broken record, talking to your friends or family about the same thing over and over again? Do you need someone who will help you really solve your problems? One of the things that I love about counseling is that understanding you and your situation is my job. Your therapist is not one of your friends and they are not your family. Your counselor is a person who has a more objective point of view on your family situation, other relationships, or work or school situation; someone who is 100% focused on you and your experience. As a therapist, it is my job to ask the hard questions and to be with you in the messy parts of life. I help my clients discover strengths you never knew you had and to support you as you gain the skills and knowledge to make things different in the future. I am passionate about therapy because I believe it can help each of us become our best self.

While I have been trained in many techniques, I have a couple of favorites. Solution Focused therapy is just what it sounds like. You and I will work together to find solutions that work for your life and for your situation. Change that lasts the longest is change that you choose for yourself, so our therapy will be very collaborative. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, examines the way we think and the behaviors that we do as a result of those thoughts. I have successfully used CBT with teens and adults. My clients have gained confidence, stress management strategies, and social and relationship skills, among other benefits. Therapy works when you are comfortable being honest with me about what you need. I will encourage you to let me know what techniques and suggestions make sense to you and are helping you achieve your goals.

I believe firmly that God connects us to the people we need for the different seasons of our lives. It would be my honor and pleasure to walk with you in this stage of your journey. Whatever your faith might be, I will honor your beliefs and incorporate them into our therapy in the way that works for you.

I have worked with clients dealing with:
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Addictions
• History of abuse
• Relationship problems-in romantic relationships and family relationships
• Children acting out in school
• Children struggling to interact with peers and parents/teachers
• Eating disorders

Thank you for taking the time to consider working with me in therapy. Let me commend you for your insight and bravery in pursuing counseling. This is a huge first step in learning about yourself and gaining the skills you need to conquer whatever aspect of your life has prompted you to seek help.

Degrees and Training:

I have my Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Walla Walla University. As part of my Masters program I participated in several internships; the University’s free clinic where I conducted individual therapy for adults ages 20-65, and at a community mental health clinic where I was part of the child and family team. I conducted group therapy sessions with a co-therapist and counseled individual clients ages 4-18. After graduation I worked at a residential facility for older adults with chronic mental illnesses for two years, where I gained experience in counseling clients with anxiety, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, the use of medications in mental illness as well as the importance for clients to have a strong support system.

You can connect with Rachel at 425-774-8049 and rachel@sanctuarypsychological.com

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