Setting Boundaries with Painful Memories – Stop Hoarding Your Hurts – Reader Feedback Questionnaire

Hoarding Junk in Head

Why Does Someone Live Like This?


I had just finished watching a movie on television and randomly clicked through the channels to see if anything else caught my eye. When I saw a woman teetering precariously atop a huge mound of junk, I stopped.

She was nicely dressed and appeared to be in her forties. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. The narrator said the woman worked part-time as a clerk for a local hardware store. As I watched her awkwardly navigate the space, I was stunned to hear the narrator say this was “Carla’s” bedroom.

Upon closer inspection, you could see piles of clothes, but they were strewn haphazardly among boxes, stacks of newspapers, magazines, and books. There was no visible furniture other than a broken lampshade lying on its side atop a mishmash pile of junk. Plastic trash bags filled with God knows what, dotted the space. Most disconcerting was the trash; food wrappers, pizza boxes, soft drink cans, yogurt containers, and obvious garbage contributing to the landscape.

Well over four feet of refuse and personal belongings covered the entire floor.

The camera followed Carla as she proceeded to what looked to be a walkway, where the tower of trash was somewhat less dense but nonetheless, still difficult for her to traverse. As Carla tried to get a foothold, she would often slip and fall into the rubble. Eventually, she reached a place where a slight clearing was carved out of the chaos, revealing what appeared to be a large circular micro-fiber dog bed.

“This is where I sleep.” She said quietly.

I stared in horror as the camera zoomed in on a visibly active roach population moving freely amidst the debris surrounding her “bed.” My initial horror was superseded by a scurrying pair of rodents vying nearby for their own turf.

Suddenly, I felt like a gawker driving by a horrendous accident—torn between the knowledge I should keep moving, but compelled to stare.

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Setting Boundaries with SANITY Support – March 2014 Newsletter

SS01_ABMarch 2014 Newsletter

Six Tips to Survive Challenging Seasons in Life


(NOTE: This newsletter was delivered to subscribers on Sunday, March 16, 2014.)


As a subscriber to the SANITY Support Newsletter, you’ve most likely read one or more of the five books in the Setting Boundaries ® series. And as a subscriber, I promised to send you regular updates on new books in the series, and provide you with SANITY Support Tips, helpful tools, and valuable resources to live hopeful lives. I promised to blog often and offer free downloadable information on my website to help you find (and keep) sanity in your challenging relationships. However, I have not been very good at consistently doing these things.


But that is about to change, starting with this communication, and I hope you’ll hang in and give me another chance.


I’m deeply humbled by the growing number of subscribers to the SANITY Support Newsletter. Clearly, I’m not alone in my desire to find freedom from living on the gerbil-wheel of insanity that often accompanies life when we have weak or non-existent boundaries. I greatly appreciate the questions, comments, and thank-you notes I receive every day from around the world. Your heartfelt support and encouragement have been such a blessing. Especially during the past few years as the enemy has tried so fervently to stop me from following the call the Lord has placed on my heart.


You see; Satan doesn’t want any of us to be free from the bondage of unhealthy boundaries. He doesn’t want any of us to read books that bring us closer to God—especially the Bible. And he certainly doesn’t want me to write books that promote the need to put God at the center of our lives in order to set healthy boundaries, find peace, and walk in sanity. The fact is, the enemy wants to use every bad choice, negative habit and challenging relationship we have to keep us from having a relationship with the One who matters most—Jesus.

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New Year Resolutions and Setting Healthy Boundaries

Lifeline RadioHappy New Year. May God richly bless and keep you and yours this coming year. Join me today on Lifeline Radio with host Neil Boron and LISTEN LIVE as we discuss how to make God-honoring New Year Resolutions by setting healthy boundaries and making intentional SANITY choices. Begin this new season by claiming God’s promises for your life and learn how to live in the fullness of love, joy, grace, and peace in the coming year. Streaming live online at on Thursday, January 2 from 3:00-4:30 PM (CST).

What Does God Expect from Women?

Cloud Heart Photo

As contemporary women, we have many responsibilities and tasks. We are single, married, divorced, or widowed. We are students, educators, volunteers, or retirees. We are employees or employers. We may be homemakers, wives, parents, and grandparents. We could be caregivers of our aging parents or our spouses with health challenges. Some of us are raising our grandchildren.

We take care of husbands, kids, houses, cars, cats, and dogs. We cook, shop, handle the budget, pay bills, and conduct household maintenance and upkeep. Many women do all of this while also working outside the home full-time or part-time.

We wear many hats, yet underneath all of this doing, being, and accomplishing, we are daughters of God, called to guard our hearts, fulfill the purpose of God, and fulfill our purpose as His ambassadors, His representatives. That is the core of who we are.

How about you? Think about your own situation. Ask yourself some questions you may never have asked before.

  • Does God want me to take responsibility for individuals in my life who aren’t taking responsibility for themselves?
  • Does God want me to pull out my checkbook every time my adult child gets into a financial bind?
  • Does God want me to endure fear and pain under physical, verbal, or emotional abuse?
  • Does God want me to put my health at risk by assuming responsibilities that aren’t really mine, simply because I’ve not been able to say no?

(Excerpt from Setting Boundaries® for Women, Six Steps to Saying No, Taking Control, and Finding Peace by Allison Bottke, Harvest House Publishers, © 2013. All rights reserved. Pages 47-48)

Dear Blog visitors, what do you think God expects from women?


What is Our Most Important Boundary?

Chocolate HeartDear Blog visitors, what does “guarding your heart” look like to you?

I’ve mentioned several important areas of life where women usually need to set boundaries, including relationships, home, workplace, church, and self. We’ve distinguished between helping and enabling, but I’ve deliberately set aside the most critical difference for this chapter. It’s that important.

Before a woman makes relational and psychological boundaries, she must consider her most necessary boundary—that of guarding her own heart. By that I mean a woman should know and respect the boundaries God has given for her heart’s protection. Protection is, after all, one of the purposes of boundaries.

According to Scripture, everything we do flows from our heart. Therefore, once this primary boundary is in place, we can set all other boundaries much more easily

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

(Excerpt from Setting Boundaries® for Women, Six Steps to Saying No, Taking Control, and Finding Peace by Allison Bottke, Harvest House Publishers, © 2013. All rights reserved. Page 57).

Countdown to Book Launch for Setting Boundaries for Women – Only 8 Days to Go!

Setting Boundaries for Women (02The 5th book in the Setting Boundaries® series from Harvest House Publishers will officially release Thursday, August 1. On that special book launch day, I’ll be giving away one free copy of Setting Boundaries for Women every fifteen minutes for three hours as I travel between this Blog and my Facebook Page from 11:00 to 2:00 (CST). Stop by and share your Setting Boundaries feedback, make comments, or ask me questions. Visit my website Home Page for more information.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some tidbits from Setting Boundaries for Women, Six Steps to Saying No, Taking Control, and Finding Peace. Tidbits that I hope you will find helpful on your journey to set or maintain healthy boundaries.

Many women live their entire lives unaware of how much better life could have been if only they had seen their need for boundaries and implemented them. Some women may neglect to set boundaries because the idea seems limiting, restrictive. But rather than restricting us, properly defined boundaries with others and with ourselves actually increase our freedom to be the women God designed us to be.

This is why boundaries can be so crucial. Boundaries properly set in place enable us to have control over our lives and our destiny.

“Control” is a word you’ll see often in this book. That’s because your goal in setting boundaries is to gain or regain healthy control over your own life whenever possible. Of course, sometimes you can’t control the unfolding panorama of external influences, circumstances, and situations. However, even then you can always control your responses and attitudes toward those circumstances as you also surrender them to God. That will be key to remember. You may not be able to control every outward influence or circumstance in your life, but you can control the way you react or respond.

Exercising this type of self-control with the help of the Holy Spirit is life changing. Women who passively accept the barriers that keep them from appropriately controlling their lives remind me of Proverbs 25:28—“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Broken walls are like broken boundaries. The good news is that just as a city can rebuild broken walls, so too you can build the boundaries that will allow you to control your life and fulfill God’s destiny for you.

(Excerpt from Setting Boundaries® for Women, Six Steps to Saying No, Taking Control, and Finding Peace by Allison Bottke, Harvest House Publishers, © 2013. All rights reserved. Pages 13-14).

Dear Blog visitors, how would you respond to this question, “Can I still be a good Christian woman if I take control of my life?”


Embracing the Most Important Relationship

Jeremiah 29 11If we believe wholeheartedly that God is personally involved in our life, we would expect that He has something specific in mind for us to do while we’re here on earth.

In their book, Being Christian, Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect, authors Stephen Arterburn and John Shore address four things every Christian will have at some point in life: answers, guidance, confirmation, and inspiration.  They address a question that has laid heavy on the heart of many believers: Does God Have a Plan for Me?

He certainly does.  God’s plan is for you to accept the fact that He loves you, has always loved you, and will always love you.  God’s plan for you is to trust in the truth of who He is, and in what He has done for you.  It’s for you to open yourself up to the wondrous powers of the Holy Spirit within you.

One of Satan’s most insidious strategies to attack and influence the children of God has been to keep them too involved with challenging relationships to care about a relationship with the One who cares the most—Jesus Christ.

Clearly, God wants us to be in loving relationships, starting with Himself.  Yet relationships are being destroyed, hearts broken, and families fractured as good Christian men and women forget what God has said about the most important priorities in life—to love Him first and to love our neighbors. This is the very essence of the gospel message.

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40.

Step One: Love the Lord Your God

It starts by acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Savior—our Lord.

Ryan Northcutt is the pastor of a small (but rapidly growing) community church in Haltom City, Texas.  Pastor Ryan talked passionately about a personal God who understands what it’s like to live in this world—to be involved with people, challenges, troubles, and trials. He said:

We can’t do it on our own.  When we trust in ourselves it’s too hard.  If we rely on only ourselves we will be left wanting.  When we are separated from God we feel it—we may not know what is missing from our life—but we know something is. When that something becomes a relationship with the Lord, it’s impossible to live the same way.  When our relationship with the Lord grows—we grow.

It’s not about what we have to do to get to God, for by grace we are all saved. It’s about what Jesus did for us to get to us.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Difficult People, Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships  by Allison Bottke © 2011. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information. 

Setting Boundaries with Difficult People

GET READY…Keeping Your Eye on the Goal!

It’s important to know our ultimate goal, no matter what we set out to accomplish. Runners who enter the annual Boston Marathon know if they want to successfully complete the marathon they will ultimately have to run an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (that’s 26 miles and 385 yards). No one enters this race unsure of the distance they are expected to run.

However, achieving this ultimate goal may require the accomplishment of several supplementary goals during pre-race training.

“After a scare with my heart, I entered the race mostly to get in better physical shape. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run the entire 26 miles, but I knew the training would help,” said one runner. “I needed to lose 60 pounds, that’s really why I entered the race. If I reached that goal before race day and never ran, I would have succeeded,” said another.

While it was important to know the ultimate goal of running 26 miles, for many the supplementary goals leading up to race day were every bit as important.

As we work toward our ultimate goal, we want to accomplish several other goals as well:  We want…

  • We want difficult people to stop hurting us
  • We want to take control and stop the stress
  • We want to become healthy and whole
  • We want to gain clarity in our life
  • We want to learn new skills to enhance our relationships
  • We want to live a life that is pleasing to God
  • We want to find SANITY

The Moment is Now

It was Palm Sunday at Harvest Church in Watauga, Texas, when Pastor Chuck Angel challenged those of us in the pews to find the courage to open the door to change and choice. I’ll paraphrase his message from the copious notes I took, when I wasn’t shouting, “Amen!”

When opportunity knocks, we need to have courage to overcome fear. There’s a difference between knowing what you should do and choosing to do it. The tipping point.

When we reach that point that takes us from “ought to do” to choosing to do it.

God will direct our path, but He won’t take the step for us. Some of us will stop on the journey. It’s not just knowing—it’s going. Often, there is a gap in the middle between knowing and going.

Life is a parade of “now” moments, not a series of tomorrows. No future moment is more significant than now.

Some of the boundary choices we face will be life-changing. Yet it’s not just about the monumental choices we make that dramatically change the course of our life, but the individual choices we make in the everyday moments of life as well. Combined they make us who we are, a rich tapestry of experience woven together with choice.

The journey to find SANITY doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t just a matter of understanding what the word definitively means, or what types of boundaries exist, although these are important things to know. Understanding boundaries really begins when we stop seeing ourselves as helpless in a drowning situation and realize how much power we have over our actions and emotions. More important, understanding boundaries is also being aware of what God’s Word teaches us about the critical aspect of protecting our heart. One of the most powerful actions we can take in life is to choose to be in relationships that bring out the best in us—that nurture our heart—and that allow us to bring out the best in others as well.

Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Difficult People, Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships by Allison Bottke © 2011. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.

Challenging Relationships

Setting Boundaries with Difficult PeopleI’d like to believe that most difficult people do not intentionally set out to be difficult, that the people who do cause us pain don’t wake up every morning and say, “Today I’m going to be as difficult as humanly possible and make life miserable for so-and-so.” Nonetheless, here’s the rub, depending on how much time we spend with this difficult person, life can range from uncomfortable to virtually unbearable, whether they intend to make it so or not.

We can and should set healthy boundaries with difficult people. Too often, we ignore the need to do so because of fear of being misunderstood, of not being a “good Christian,” and we simply wait passively. Or, we respond emotionally and aggressively, protecting ourselves at all costs. Either way, we are then put in the position of having to continually put out fires instead of preventing them in the first place.

If only we could change the difficult people in our life!

I will explore an uncomfortable truth regarding setting boundaries not only with people you love, but also with people you must interact with during the course of your life: If you’re struggling with difficult people, if you’re turned inside out and living from one crisis to the next in pain, fear, anger, or frustration because of the behavior and choices of others, there’s a strong probability that you’re making some poor choices yourself. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not blaming you for the problems you may be having with a difficult person. They may very well be off the mark and behaving in a reprehensible or inappropriate manner. But their actions, no matter how atrocious, do not dictate your response.

How you respond to them can make all the difference—and that’s what I want to address.

Could it be that God is using a difficult person or a difficult situation in our life to help us grow in wisdom and knowledge? To help us be the person He wants us to be? Could it be that we have difficult people in our life because we ourselves are difficult? Because we haven’t quite learned how to communicate effectively?

If, like me, you’ve had to deal with a difficult person for several years or more, it’s likely that even after all this time, you still have great difficulty saying and meaning two simple words: yes and no.  Other factors are also part of the equation, but these two simple words form the rudimentary basis of setting healthy boundaries.

I’ve come to realize that setting healthy boundaries is first and foremost about love – the love God has for us, the love He wants us to have for our own life, and the love He wants us to share with others.  Setting Boundaries with Difficult People will help you learn that boundaries are biblical—that in His compassionate love for us, even Jesus set boundaries.

The Six Steps to SANITY work and will help you get your life back. SANITY is possible, and I will to help you find it.


Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Difficult People, Six Steps to SANITY for Challenging Relationships by Allison Bottke © 2011. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.

The Power of SANITY

SANITY is what we gain when we shift our priorities and stop focusing on dieting, food, and on our weight—when we stop focusing on the problems of others, and on the situations and circumstances of life, and begin to focus on changing our own attitudes and behaviors—starting with our hearts.

SANITY is living in the peace that comes when we put our trust in God.

S – Stop your own destructive patterns.           Stop Sign 2

STOP repeating our destructive patterns.

STOP ignoring our personal issues.

STOP being alone in our confusion and pain.

STOP pushing God out of the picture.

A – Assemble a support

If you feel the need to communicate with other people in your same situation, ask God to open the door for you to get connected. God already knows the plans He has for you to be in fellowship with others. Ask Him to reveal that knowledge to you, praying for wisdom and discernment to walk boldly in God’s purpose.

N – Nip excuses in the bud.I-cant

There are so many different excuses for why we live in bondage to poor choices, challenging situations, and painful circumstances. Yet as different as the excuses are, many begin with the same two words—two words we need to ask God to help us remove from our vocabulary—two words that cut right to the heart of God, telling Him we do not believe His Word, and calling Him a liar—“I can’t.”

I – Implement a plan, define your

Although we may not have been responsible for some of the things that happened to us in the past, we are responsible for our future, and our future depends on the choices we make today to take full responsibility for every aspect of who we are.

Hope lies in learning to depend on God and to make intentional choices that will change our lives and not just perpetuate the status quo.

T – Trust the voice of the Spirit.worship photo1

The Bible teaches us in Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).

Trusting your spiritual intuition and not worldly lies, emotional uncertainly, or even the head knowledge you may have becomes more natural as we understand God’s truth and hide it in our hearts.

Y – Yield everything to God.prayer-on-my-knees4

I have found that it’s often easy to see God in the exceptional things of life that make our spirits soar, or in the crisis situations that bring us to our knees. But it’s much more difficult to see God each and every day in the places in the middle, in the ordinary living of life; this requires a spiritual discipline that is beyond our human nature to acquire, a habit that can only come when we YIELD Everything to God and trust Him to be the Lord of our lives.


At some point, every Christian adult will have to release his or her problems to God and learn to trust Him for whatever happens.

Come near to God and He will come near to you.  James 4:8 NIV



Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.