Transformation Tuesday featuring Monica Simpson

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How many of you have been inspired and blessed by these amazing personal journey’s of transformation? I know I have!! Today’s Transformation Tuesday is featuring a beautiful friend of mine, Monica Simpson. Monica and I first met during our counseling internship many years ago. In this post she shares her incredible transformation journey to becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. Enjoy!

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My Journey to Becoming an LPC – Inspiration to Motivate and Give Hope

by Monica Simpson

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

I never saw myself as a risk taker. I never dreamed of running my own business. Speaking in front of people or even confidently helping people through their difficulties was not on my radar. In fact, I’ve played it safe for most of life; I followed the rules and did what others expected of me.

When I began college, I had a deep desire to break out of my self-imposed box and blossom into the person I felt God wanted me to be. Looking back, I can confidently say that this was the beginning of my journey. I didn’t know it would take me another 30 plus years before I truly felt that I was walking in my purpose…in my truth.

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In those formative years I had glimpses of the woman inside of me waiting to blossom-a tight bud on the verge of blooming. After college graduation, and before international travel became mainstream, I worked in several different countries as a single woman, I started a small bookkeeping business, had two wonderfully strong and resilient daughters, and people came to me with their problems seeking advice or just a supportive ear.

But there were also years when I lost track of myself; I became pregnant while in college. I got married because I was afraid of being a single parent but became a single parent anyway for 17 years after our divorce. I stayed in unfulfilling jobs – too scared to leave for financial reasons, but also too unfulfilled to shine and progress in my field as an accountant.

I was discouraged and I knew God desired more of me, but I didn’t know what that looked like or what I was supposed to do. Four years after my divorce I took a leap of faith and decided to make a career change, which I knew would entail returning to school. My daughters were 5 and 15 – one ready to begin kindergarten and the other one entering high school.

I felt I had a natural talent of helping people – many of friends sought my insight. I returned to school to become a counselor with the vague idea of working for a company that helps people. Sounds good, right? I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had a business undergraduate degree. The only psych class I had taken was Psychology 101. Now I was surrounded by concepts that I had not been exposed to before. My learning curve was steep, but I was both confident and determined that I could be successful in all the arenas of my life: single-parent, full-time employee and master’s degree student.

Just when I felt I had it all figured out I was thrown a major curve ball. As part of the master’s program, students were required to complete 500 counseling hours prior to graduation. Where was I going to find time in my already stretched-thin schedule? How could I possibly do it all? I couldn’t see a way and knew that God would have to provide because I was all out of ideas. He blessed me in a way I never saw coming – I was laid off from my job, with full pay and benefits for 6 months. In one fell swoop, He afforded me the time and money to complete my degree. God was gracious and I had never felt more encouraged to finish the task before me.

I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern Christian University (now Regents University), the same year my daughter graduated from high school. Pride welled up inside of me thinking of us, together, on the brink to our futures. I believed that all my career desires were at my fingertips. And I was reminded, once again, that God’s plans were way bigger than mine.

In order to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas, applicants are required to complete 3,000 supervised counseling hours. I was back to working full-time and as a single mom with a family to support I could not imagine taking a drastic pay cut in order to complete my hours. I was overwhelmed with the weight of discouragement. I added hours to my full time job and began seeing clients in the evenings after work and on weekends. I prayed for God’s intervention, but once again I was wanting God to follow my plan: I’ll get married, my husband would support me, and I could quit my day job or at the very least work part-time. I know now that I was leaning on my own understanding and ability and not God’s. I had learned, again, that His way is so much better than my way.

I didn’t get married. I didn’t quit my full-time job. I prayed and relied on God to show me how this obstacle would be overcome. I became discouraged as I saw some of my fellow interns complete their hours in as little as 20 months while I was still slogging through my journey with no foreseeable end in sight. I held on to the belief that God would not have brought me on this journey just for me to abandon my calling. The longer my journey lasted, the more convinced I became that something bigger was happening. My journey could not just be for my benefit.

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Five years, 70 months, later I finally completed 3,000 hours. Finally. During that time, while I worked feverishly to meet the deadline set before me, my prayer life and full surrender to God was the strongest it had ever been. That was 4 ½ years ago. Last year, I stepped out on faith and left my full-time corporate job to work in my very own private practice full-time. What a beautiful, perfectly packaged gift God has cushioned and prepared each step that I have taken. I thank Him for each new client that calls my office because I know this is the client that God has for me. I’m often amazed and grateful for all that He has done for me, the opportunities that have come my way.

I believe that had I not stepped out in faith and courage; I would not be where I am now. I’m living in my purpose, in my truth: to strengthen families by helping, exhorting, and encouraging individuals and couples.

Above all else, seek Him always.

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Wow! Monica’s story is one of perseverance and hope. It encouraged me to never give up, keep holding onto Jesus, trust in His plan, and to not compare my journey to others. Thank you Monica for sharing your story with us today. Your transformation is truly inspiring!

Share in the comments what encouraged or challenged you the most for your own journey? How would trusting in God’s plan for your life change your current outlook or circumstances? What is holding you back from blossoming?

Anyone else struggle with selfcare? Join me next week as I share some powerful insights that have transformed my life!

10 Gratitudes, 10 Fears, 10 Truths

Last Fall was one of the most difficult seasons we have ever been through as a family, yet in the middle of it God gave us this incredible tool that I want to share with you today. My prayer is that this tool will be something you can use to draw closer to the Lord, to process deep emotions in a healthy way, and to walk in gratitude and truth with renewed hope.

But first, let me give you a little background. Y’all last Fall was rough! We had some pretty hard things at work, my husband is a Pastor, and potential changes at church were causing division and heartache. At the same time we got the call that I had a tumor in my right breast that needed to be surgically removed to determine if it was cancer (spoiler alert by the grace of God it was not cancer, more details on that here: Holding onto Him). All of this stress was affecting our marriage, our eating habits, our ability to be intimate, and especially my husband’s sleep. Insomnia plagued Adrian night after night, which in turn caused me to awaken often in concern for him, so neither of us were well rested.

One night I had enough of it. I was literally angry at the insomnia and the emotional turmoil we were feeling and knew we needed God to intervene. Before bed that night we prayed together and I felt God leading us to praise God and acknowledge 10 things we were grateful for. The number 10 stood out to me so vividly and I think the quantity was significant because it caused us to put in the work emotionally. We can easily share two or three things we are grateful for, but 10 made us really dig deep. We each praised God and acknowledged 10 gratitudes while lying there in bed before drifting off to sleep.

Around 2am Adrian woke up and was rolling around in frustration, which of course woke me up. Instantly I felt God leading us to surrender 10 fears. I had no idea where that idea came from except the Holy Spirit. The phrase “surrender 10 fears” was imprinted on my heart so vividly in that moment. I was barely awake myself and was most certainly not in the mindset of working through an exercise like that. However, we were both so defeated by this insomnia that we would do anything. ANYTHING! So I shared with Adrian that I felt God leading us to surrender 10 fears and my deeply sleep deprived husband obliged. Adrian shared as many as he could but only got to 5 or 6, then I took a turn. Y’all surrendering 10 fears in the middle of the night when you haven’t slept well in weeks is very VERY hard. I was lying in bed with tears dripping down my cheeks onto my pillow. We surrendered fears to God that night that we had never acknowledged and certainly never shared out loud.

As soon as we finished surrendering our fears I felt God leading us to declare 10 truths. 10 truths we could hold onto. 10 truths that would carry us through that moment. 10 truths that would combat every lie of the enemy, every crippling thought, and every fear. In bed that night we dug deep and pulled from scriptures that we have memorized. We believe God’s word, the Bible, is the ultimate source of truth. We also drew truths from knowledge & life experience. Again the number 10 was so significant because it pushed us. We weren’t just throwing a single Bible verse or rational fact at the problem, we were going to war!

There is so much power in gratitude, in surrender, and in declaration. SO. MUCH. POWER.

We are emotional, spiritual, and physical beings and each of those areas are interconnected & interdependent. If you think for a minute that issues you are having emotionally are not affecting you physically or spiritually you are sorely mistaken. This crippling insomnia was deeply rooted in not only the physical but the emotional & spiritual. After working through this exercise Adrian was able to fall back to sleep for the first time in weeks.

In the weeks that followed I couldn’t get that experience out of my mind. I began to regularly work through what I titled my 10/10/10 Exercise. This exercise made such an impact on me that I began to use it often during my morning devotions or times of journaling. After using this exercise for several months my husband and I decided to use it with a group of couples we were speaking to during a workshop on Spiritual Intimacy at a local conference center. Wow! I fought back tears watching couples sitting knee to knee and digging deep, working through painful fears and walking in gratitude and truth.

I wanted to share this simple tool with you because it has made SUCH a huge impact on our lives. You can walk through this exercise mentally or out loud as you’re going through daily tasks or lying in bed like we did. OR write them down, create 3 columns on a blank piece of paper or print out this pdf form I created to walk through the exercise 10 10 10 printable.

TIP: I highly recommend going through each column completely before moving on. For example acknowledge all 10 gratitudes before moving onto fears, surrender all 10 fears before moving onto truths.

Step 1: Acknowledge 10 Gratitudes
I like to work through my gratitudes like a prayer “Lord I thank you for…” or if you are not a Christian you might say “Today I’m grateful for…” Think of everything you are grateful for big or small. It could be as simple as being grateful for warm socks, or money to pay bills, or for your family, etc.

Step 2: Surrender 10 Fears
I also like to surrender my fears in prayer “Lord I surrender my fear of …” I believe that as we surrender these fears to the Lord it releases the power they have over us. Our fears once surrendered now reside in the capable and mighty hands of God.

Step 3: Declare 10 Truths
As I declare 10 truths on the go, I will draw from scripture I have memorized or rational facts. It’s beautiful how God will bring certain truths to my heart exactly when I need them. But my favorite way to declare truths is when I make the time to dig deep into God’s word and actually write the verses down. Often I will sit with my bible and look for scriptures that combat the fears I’ve surrendered. The truths you declare don’t necessarily have to be associated with the fears you’ve surrendered but I’ve often found myself drawn to ones that do. Don’t be afraid to Google key words or use Bible Gateway to search for verses.

TIP: It is very powerful to not only write down the fears I am surrendering & truths as I’m declaring them but to actually read them out loud. Romans 10:17 says that “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Reading it out loud engages our faith in the process in a powerful way.

GOING DEEPER: Working through this simple 10/10/10 Exercise with your spouse or together as a family (parents & children) provides a powerful outlet for communication, understanding, intimacy, and discipleship. I highly recommend it!

As you work through this exercise please let me know if it was helpful and what you are learning. Your feedback is invaluable! I pray that God will use this simple 10/10/10 Exercise to breakdown the stronghold of fear and release you to walk in truth & renewed hope!