Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coping During the Holidays

We all look forward to the Christmas holiday and many time have expectations on what they should look like. We have memories, images of media Christmas on commercials telling us how wonderful this season should be, magazines filled with happy families and beautiful gifts and holiday parties - everything looks so perfect. But reality is most people, especially during this time in our world, do not have the money to make it a "perfect" Christmas in terms of what society tells us what is "perfect", most people have some sort of crisis or at least disappointments going on in there lives so often our anticipation and excitement turns into feelings of depression and/or family disharmony.

Part of what happens in the holiday season, in terms of mood changes and anxiety, may occur because of the stressfulness of holiday events. It may also be caused by overeating, and fatigue. The demands of the season are many: shopping, cooking, and travel, house guests, family reunions, parties, office parties, and extra financial burden.

Sometimes people who are not generally depressed actually struggle with holiday depression. Symptoms can include headaches, insomnia, uneasiness, anxiety, sadness, intestinal problems, and unnecessary conflict with family and friends.

Here are some tools to get through the holiday season well as ways to prevent problems and misery for yourself and your loved ones:

1. Have an attitude of gratitude. Misery and gratitude cannot occupy the same space in our psychological house, and we have the power to choose between these emotional states. Keep it simple and keep in mind the "Reason for the Season" Christmas is a time of reflection of why we celebrate, it's about family and friends and just spending time together. Don't allow all the outside influences to affect your expectations of what this time of year "should" be like.

2. One golden rule to getting along with responsible for how you behave, You certainly have no control over how your relatives behave. The most important part of avoiding holiday stress with our families is for each of us to feel in control of our own behaviors, attitudes & feelings. If you know in your head and your heart that you've acted like the best parent, child, brother, sister, friend that you know how to be, you can walk away from any difficulty feeling good about yourself. Use Romans 12:8 as your guide. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

3. If you're feeling depressed and lonely, volunteer with groups that help children, the homeless, or the aged and disabled at the holidays. There are many, many volunteer opportunities this time of year. No one can be depressed when they are helping others

4. Decide upon your priorities and stick to them. Organize your time. Be reasonable with your schedule. Do not overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion--this makes people cranky, irritable, and depressed.

5 Remember, no matter what your plans, the holidays do not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear. In fact many times it magnifies it - lower expectations and keep a positive mindset. Ask a friend to keep you accountable.

6. Plan unstructured, low-cost fun holiday activities: window-shop and look at the Holiday decorations. Look at people's Christmas lighting on their homes, , etc.--the opportunities are endless.

7. Do not let the holidays become a reason for over-indulging in food and drink and create unnecessary weight gain and fatigue . This will create depression and anxiety. Keep up with your exercise routine or start on.

8. Give yourself a break; create time for yourself to do the things YOU love to do.
If you keep only one thing in mind to combat the holiday blues, make it be to remember: The choice is always yours: The sky is partly sunny, and the glass is half full, if you want it to be that way. The "blues" confront all of us, particularly at holiday time. It may be caused by the memory of loss, feelings of disappointment, or just being run down from parties, overeating, and shopping. But for many of us, holiday depression can be a choice we, in effect, choose to make. If we choose not to make this choice, we can choose instead to focus on the partly sunny skies and revel in our gratitude for our bounty, health, hope, and our courage to face each day with hope and determination.

and this is our HOPE:
Luke 2:9-12
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

A New First

Paul and Renee

There are many firsts in life, the first step, the first day of school, the first baby and on and on. Well, when you get into your fifties (can't believe I'm there!) you don't have as many "firsts" and when you do they aren't always positive. :-)

Well, I had a new first last week and it was a positive one. As many of you know I am a counselor and life coach. I work for two counseling agencies, PathSeeker Center and Faith and Hope Care Center. I have the opportunity occasionally to do pre-marriage counseling with engaged couples preparing for marriage.

I was seeing a sweet couple who I really connected with back in January and at the end of our sessions they asked me if I was authorized to do weddings. Well, I was ordained years ago as part of my requirement for my counseling degree so I told them I could but that I thought they should get someone who has done a wedding before. They continued to say they wanted me to do it and I continued to tell them that I have never done a wedding so I may mess their whole ceremony up. Well, they were a very determined couple and I really felt good about their marriage so I said I would do it.

The wedding was set for Dec 11 and it was at the beach - so Friday the day had finally came and I prepared the best I could and God was good and the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome and it was an amazing wedding. I walked away so glad that I said yes to them. It was right up there with being one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had.

So my take away from this is that no matter where we are in life we need to be willing to do something different and get out of our comfort zone. God never stops challenging us to continue to grow in all areas of our lives. Don't take the easy way but take the way that God leads you to take even if it's uncomfortable (and it will be) because in the end there will be great rewards and fulfillment when we are willing to stretch and grow.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Romans 8:37 (New Living Translation)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Do Cat's Like Hats?

No, I do not think cats like to wear Christmas hats or any other type of hat like dogs do. :)  I bought my kitty the cutest Christmas hat and here is the reaction I got. Just thought I send a little Christmas cheer today!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Will not Live in Fear! Part 2

As my last post stated fear causes us to want to flee what God wants us to confront.  We have to choose to be confident instead of fearful.  The devil hates confidence.  Again, you may not feel it but you can act confident. 

When God gave Joshua the job of leading the Israelites into the promised land, He said, "Be strong, vigorous and very courageous.  Do not be afraid."  Joshua 1:9

"Courage is not the absence of fear but it is the progress in it's presence."

Every time God leads us into a new area that will be better for us.  The Devil will launch an attack of fear against us.  Fear is the opposite of faith.

Here are some tips on overcoming fear in your life and your thinking
  • Confess with your mouth " I am a person of faith, I think faith, I talk faith and I walk in faith."
  • Meditate on scripture about faith.  Hebrews 11:6
  • Isolate repetitive fears (monitor them) and make a decision to overcome them - most fears are irrational. 
I have put this in a previous post but I I'm going to put it in this one again because it is something worth repeating.

Beth Moore had a great way of looking at fear. She told of a fear that was gripping her, it was tormenting her and finally God spoke to her heart and said, "Beth, What if it happens. What will you do." Beth replied, "I will be devastated! I will hide, I will cry, I will feel like my life is over." Then God spoke to her heart again and said," Then what" she replied," Well, I will tell people how bad it is, I will grieve, I will feel like I could never minister again." so He said, " Then what?" so she said, "Well, eventually I would start praying and reading your word and get back up and start moving forward because I know that you will help me and give me the strength." And then Beth said she realized what she said and that is was all true. Even if her worst fear came about, and usually they don't she would have the Courage eventually to get back up and keep going.

When you feel fearful, ask yourself what is at its source? Walk through Beth Moore's scenario of fear and see if your outcome isn't the same.

Romans 8:31  "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Will Not Live in FEAR!

Two more posts on challenging our thinking.  One of the biggest areas most of us struggle in with our thoughts is allowing fears to creep in and create havoc in our thoughts, emotions and even our physical health.  Joyce Meyer has a great chapter on this in her book "Power Thoughts."

To fulfill God's plans for our live and enjoy all His blessings we must refuse to live in fear.  In the world we live in that can be hard to do at times.  I have some personal challenges in my life that I could allow to keep fear alive in my thoughts and spirit but I have had to learn these concepts so I can enjoy life and allow God to use me.  I'm not saying it's easy and depending on what the situation is that we are dealing with, it may at times be a daily if not hourly process.

When we live in fear we can not enjoy anything.

This is how fear operates:
All fears come from the same source and has the same purpose.
  • They all begin and come from the enemy
  • They all steal from us
Types of Fears:
  • Fear we won't be accepted - so we develop masks
  • Fear of failure - so we don't try new things or stretch ourselves
  • Fear of the future - this causes us not to enjoy today  
Fear is the opposite of Faith - so if you are living in fear you are not living in faith.

Fear tells you what you aren't, what you don't have, what you can't do and what you will never be.  Romans 8:15

If fear begins to overtakes you - begin to pray and confess "I will not live in fear"  We will still "feel" afraid but feeling afraid is not being afraid - being afraid holds us back much like anger - it's not the feeling that is the problem it's what we do with it that is.

Is OK to feel fear sometimes there is nothing you can do about that feeling.  Being Afraid means "to take flight" to "run away from"  It causes us to want to flee what God wants us to confront.

As Joyce Meyer's has said "Do it afraid!"

Next post - "I will not live in fear" Part 2

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline" 
2 Timothy 1:7

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Well, after much preparation, a wonderful day of spending time with family, way too much good food, and ending up with fun games I am now sitting down.  :)

Thanksgiving is may very favorite holiday.  First because it's in the fall, next because it is mostly about family and just being thankful.  It's a time when we reflect on all the blessings in our lives.  We all have our struggles in different areas of life but no matter what those may be we always have something to be thankful for and usually it's many things.

This is a just a little photo journey of the day and once again I'm so grateful for my family, for the country I live in and most of all a gracious loving God who is always there for us and sees our every need and hears our every prayer.
 Dad and Daughter
 Some of the Girls
 The Turkey!
 My Sweet Sis in Laws
 Both Friends and Family
 The younguns
 My very cute girls!

The guys table
 The girls table

Friday, November 12, 2010

Challenging Unhelpful Thinking

Our last post we talked about Unhelpful thinking patterns and how they effect our feelings and our behavior. So now we need to pick out the unhelpful thinking styles that we most often go to. Now we want to challenge or get a different perspective on that thinking style so the following is what that looks like. The best way to do this is to chart it on a sheet of paper, with 5 categories:
  • Situation When did the situation occur? Who was involved? What happened?
  • Feelings Describe you feelings during the situation and it’s intensity
    ( 0 = no intensity, 10=great intensity )
  • Automatic Thoughts What were you thinking before you noticed the unpleasant feeling or emotional experience.
    Unhelpful Thinking Style
    Identify the mind trap you fell into: filtering overgeneralizing etc.
    Alternative thinking or response Challenge your unhelpful thinking style using an alternative thought or response

    Now you begin at least one time a day to record any unhelpful thinking styles and challenge them with healthier alternative thoughts. The purpose of this is to learn to think in a healthier more flexible way. Do this for about 4 weeks to create new habits in your thinking.
    If you would like the worksheet that goes to this exercise just email me at and ask for the "challenge your unhelpful thinking style" worksheet.

    The following is a list of alternative responses:

    • Instead of All or nothing thinking: (see things in black and white) use Seeing in Shades of Gray (ask yourself "Am I being fair?: Is anything except God 100% good or bad. What possibilities am a missing when I choose to see only black and white.)
    • Instead of Overgeneralizing:(focusing on the negative outcomes of events and use those outcomes as a general rule for everything in your life) use Being Specific (Ask yourself "What are the facts about this situation? Is it really as bad as I think? Avoid using the words always, all, none, never, everybody and nobody)
    • Instead of Jumping to Conclusions: (Making a negative conclusion even though there is no evidence to support it) use Sticking to the Facts (Ask yourself "What facts do I have that my conclusion is accurate?" What facts do I have that my conclusion in not accurate?
    • Instead of Magnification or minimization: (When thinking about yourself or others, or a specific situation you magnify the negative qualities or minimize the positive qualities.) use Keeping things in Perspective (Ask yourself "Is my opinion 100% accurate? What are some aspects of this situation that I'm not seeing?)
    • Instead of Emotional thinking (believing that your feelings are true judgments about who you are or the situation you are in) use Rational thinking (Ask yourself "What is the evidence that my judgments are 100% true? Is there another explanation for the way I'm feeling?)
    • Instead of Labeling: (The worse version of overgeneralizing. Instead of just being negative about yourself you label yourself or others or situations without looking at all the facts) use Remaining Non judgemental (Ask yourself "Am I being fair to myself, other and the situation? What possibilities am I cutting myself off from?)
    • Instead of Personalization: (You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which in fact you were not primarily responsible. Taking blame for things that you had no control over.) use Balancing Responsibility (Ask yourself "Am I really 100 percent responsible for this? if not, who should share the responsibility? Who else is at least partly responsible)
    • Instead of Should statements: ( having a fixed idea of how things "should" be and get angry when your expectations aren't met.) use Being Flexible (Ask yourself, " How can I be flexible in this situation so that everyone can be somewhat happy or satisfied? How can I make a fair compromise?)

    As you do this for at least 4 weeks you will see patterns in your thinking. Most people don't have all these unhealthy thinking styles just 1 or 2 that are dominate so once you see the pattern you can really zero in on it and correct it. It really does usually take 30 day to begin to break a habit so if you are serious about changing your thinking you need to do this for at least a month.

    Next post How to overcome 'Fearful Thinking"

    Watch your thoughts, for they become words,
    Watch your words, for they become actions,
    Watch your actions, for they become habits,
    Watch your habits, for they become character,
    Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Unhelpful Thinking....

If you have spent a few days identifying your automatic thoughts you have possibly noticed some patterns of similar, repeated thoughts.  We tend to have some common unhelpful thinking styles that have become habits in our thinking. These unhelpful thinking styles generate many of the distressing thoughts that lead to distressing emotions. 

These thinking styles could also be called mind traps because we get caught in them.  Here is the list, look through it and see if there are any that are getting in the your way -
  • All or nothing thinking: You see things in black and white - if your performance falls short of perfect you see yourself as a total failure.
  • Overgeneralization: You focus on the negative outcomes of events and use those outcomes as a general rule for everything in your life.  you use terms like every, all, always, none, never, everybody and nobody.  "I'm the one that always struggles" "I never do things right"
  • Jumping to Conclusions: You make a negative conclusion even though there is no evidence to support it.   Ex: you conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you without even checking it out as fact. You create situations based on emotions not fact.
  • Magnification or minimization: When thinking about yourself or others, or a specific situation you magnify the negative qualities or minimize the positive qualities. Only seeing how bad or how much you messed up something or not seeing how good you are at something.
  • Emotional thinking vs Rational thinking: With emotional thinking you believe that your feelings are true judgments about who you are or the situation you are in.  Rational thinking looks at the evidence not the emotions.  Emotions will lie to you - they aren't permanent and they are not accurate descriptions of who you are or the situation you are in. 
  • Should statements:  Oh we all do this one....You have a fixed idea of how things "should" be and get angry when your expectations aren't met. 
  • Labeling:  The worse version of overgeneralizing.  Instead of just being negative about yourself you label yourself or others or situations without looking at all the facts: 'I'm a loser" "They are just mean and evil!"
  • Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which in fact you were not primarily responsible. Taking blame for things that you had no control over. 
So what you do now is go through this list and pick out the thinking styles that seem familiar to you - you recognize this pattern in your thinking.   Next post we will talk about how to change them.

"Lean on, trust in and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding."  Proverbs 3:5

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teach Your Mind to Work for You

OK, so now we get into what my dad used to call, "The Hard Work of Change" We've talked about why we think like we do and how that affects us in every area of our lives. So now we are going to look at how do we change the way we think. The two key words to this is "Hard" and "Work." Not to discourage anyone but we need to be realistic. We have spent all of our lives thinking a certain way, we have ingrained patterns of thinking - habits of reacting a particular way so it only makes sense this isn't going to happen overnight.

I have been working on this for quite awhile and I still at times fall into old thought patterns, the difference is I know it pretty quickly if not right away so I don't stay there as long as I used to. I know if I do the result is only going to be harmful to me.

We all have different areas of struggle but these tools will help no matter what your particular toxic thinking may be. The key to remember is that your mind will either work for you or against you - it's up to you to train it in the right direction.

One of the first and most obvious things we need to change is to make an intentional decision to think positively. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a leading Neuro-Metracognitive learning specialist and committed Christian, says that the "human brain takes eighteen years to grow and a life time to mature" The good news is that you don't have to be stuck in old thought patterns, your brain is in the continuous process of maturing.

I'm not going to go into all the benefits of positive thinking because I think most of us know that - we get how good it is for us but how do we do it on a constant basis? In our next few posts I'm going to give some practical tools that will help in this process. But for today lets begin at the most basic part of changing our thought process, Joyce Meyers calls it "on purpose thinking" secular therapy calls it, "Challenging and correcting self-defeating thoughts." Its all the same, it's becoming very aware of our thoughts, what triggers them and then challenge and correct them.

The best way to start this to log on a piece of paper for a week what your "automatic" thoughts are, especially when they are connected to a distressing emotion, such as anger, sadness or worry.

So this is how you do this:
Begin a "Thought Journal" Divide your paper into 3 columns, 1. the situation 2. your feelings, 3. Your automatic thoughts. As you go through your day and you experience an unpleasant emotion, see if you can identify the situation and the thought that went with it.

"For we are God's (own) handiwork (His workmanship) recreated in Christ Jesus, (born anew)that we may do those good works that God predestined (planned beforehand) for us (taking paths which He prepared ahead of time) that we should walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live.) Ephesians 2:10 amp

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taking Your Thoughts Captive.....

We've talked about how our family of origin and our environment has influenced our thoughts and perspectives of ourselves and our world. There is one other very important influence that ties it all together, in fact this influence takes those negative events or thoughts that happened or began in our childhood and keeps them alive in our adult minds.

This influence is the most deceptive and clever and needs to be recognized. This influence is the enemy of our minds, our hearts and our spirits, Satan, the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10), the father of lies and of all that is false (John 8:44). The Bible tells us that he accuses us day and night. He knows our vulnerable areas and that is where he attacks us in our mind.

For example when I was really struggling with self esteem issues I would be bombarded in my mind in certain situations - such as a friend that had this gorgeous house or I met someone who had the perfect body - It did not take away what I thought of them - I saw them as great people and friends but I would begin to think about how I just don't fit in - I'll never be as good as them etc etc. Some of it was coming from me but most of it was being feed into my mind by the enemy and I was embracing the thoughts, dwelling on them and keeping them.

The difference now is that if that thought even begins - I first state to my mind that I am not going there, it is a lie. Then I begin to think about all the good things about my life and who I am. At first I would have to do this often but as you continue to discipline your mind in this way it becomes easier and easier. I will always have to be on guard against certain ways of thinking and I know what they are. It is something different for all of us, for some it may be more worry and fears but we all have areas we need to be aware of and take those thoughts captive.

The bible says that we should not be ignorant of the enemy's devices (1 Cor 2:11). The word device is defined as "a scheme to deceive" One way the enemy uses his devices against us is to plant thoughts in our mind. Toxic Thoughts! (ones filled with anxiety, depression, lies or that are harmful to us)

As I stated above it is important to know your "weak spots" The enemy does not simply want to plant individual lies in our minds - he wants to and will create "strongholds" in our life through our minds.

A stronghold is defined as, a fortress, an area dominated or occupied by a special group. Strongholds are wrong mind sets and thought patterns that are based on lies so the enemy can dominate certain areas of our life.

Satan creates strongholds in our life by hammering and hammering negative thoughts into your mind until you are convinced he is right - he wears you down. He has a custom made plan to stop you from fulfilling God's purposes in your life and the greatest tool he has in your mind.

This is why it is so important to recognize those lies and to begin to systematically destroy them, defeat them, correct them, replace them and break those strongholds. It is never to late to do this.

This takes us to were our next posts will go.... to renewing our mind. We need to examine what we believe and begin to ask why we believe that way. Why do we have the worries we have, the fears, the feelings of anger or rejection. All of the toxic thinking you have are based on lies. The biggest one being that you have no control over it.

I will end with 2 Corith 10: 3-5 and next post we will begin the process of renewing our minds and taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh, "For the weapons of our warfare are not the flesh but have Divine power to destroy strongholds. "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ"

Friday, October 22, 2010

You Have to Go Back To Go Forward Part 2

Last post we talked about how our family of origin forms some of our thinking but to a much greater degree I believe it is the world around us that forms our thought process and our view of ourselves.  School experiences, relationships with those outside of our family and the culture we grow up in.

We all have horror stories from school and as much as we laugh now or say it doesn't matter that fact is that the messages we were given in school has a huge impact on our thoughts.  The relationships with those outside of our family also have an impact on us - what they said to us, how we fit in, how we perceived ourselves in relation to our peers.  Early dating relationships and even beginning jobs and teachers all have had an influence on our thinking.

Again, as with our family of origin we have to take those messages that we have embraced as truth and realize they are lies and they are keeping us captive.

Some examples from my life:
I always struggled with my weight as a child and teen - I was called names at school always felt my friends (and they were :)  were thinner than me.  So one of my battles in my mind it to accept myself as God made me.  I do my part - I eat fairly well, I exercise but I in my mind will never be as thin as I feel I need to be.  For years I struggled with this, it hurt my self-esteem and confidence.  But although I am still conscious of it I no longer allow this to consume me.

My parents were older parents - my mom had me when she was 40 and back in those days 40 was 40 :) She was not someone that was conscious of style whether clothes or hair and we didn't have alot of money.  So I usually went to school with out the advantage of looking like everyone else.  In my perception everyone seemed to look better - clothes, hair, stuff they had.  Even going to their homes and seeing their rooms.  I always felt that I didn't measure up.  What that created in me was a discontentment throughout my life.  No matter what I finally obtained or looked like I still never felt as good or that I had as much as the others in my life.

Include with all this the influences of our culture - everywhere you look you are told what you need to look like, what you need to buy and how thin you should be - Every book, commercial and ad - shows pictures of perfection whether it be how you dress, look or your home and all that you own.  No one can possibly live up to these images.  A few years ago Dove soap came out with a very real video on how our culture is influence our daughters.  Here it is:  

Side note: We need to teach our kids these concepts and do all we can to help them to be confident people.  They are growing up in even a more difficult culture and environment than we did.

In both these cases I had to change my thinking.  I had to see that the messages that were brought into my life by early experiences where lies.  God made me the way I am and I choose to be happy with that.  I needed to begin to see all the good things in my life and what I do have not focusing on what I don't have.  In later posts I will give some tools to help with these processes.  And it is a process - when you have thought one way for years and years it takes time to reverse that thinking.

Next post we will talk about the third roadblock to our thinking -  "The enemy, the father of lies"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sometimes You Have To Go Back To Go Forward......

 In the process of changing and getting control of our thought process we first have to look at how our thought process was formed.  Well, we looked at in the last post how childhood experiences form many of our thoughts about ourselves, relationships and the world in general.  We all have positive things that we learn from our family of origin and we all have negative things.  What we have to do is number one make sure we have let go of any anger, bitterness or unforgiveness from our family.  That frees us to move forward - then we need to examine what negative messages we may have received and held onto.  Some of these negative message were made directly to us but most where given to us in modeling.

We tend to tag our kids with something that may have been negative for you or even a positive that then became an unrealistic expectation of you - she is the smart one, or he's our problem child, or she is our shy one, he's the one that I always depend on. You may need to let that tag go.   Personality and Birth Order ties in to this also.

Some examples of negative messages or examples are:
  • How conflict was handled in your home
  • Was your home one of peace and stability or an unstable household with people who always let circumstance control their moods.  
  • How people communicated their feelings in your home
  • How secure was your home, did you feel safe, did you feel loved, did you feel taken care of 
  • Did your environment promote confidence in yourself, where you encouraged and affirmed
  • Was there healthy discipline and structure in your home
  • Did you have fun and laugh
  • Where you emotionally, physically or sexually abused
All these factors and more contribute to how we think about life, ourselves and our relationships.  Of course the most damaging are the abuses but no matter what messages you were given you can reprogram the computer of your brain. You can replace the lies with truth.

Again a reminder, this is not to blame but to understand and to make sure we are not repeating the same mistakes in our families.  Once you look at the negative messages you have been given then you need to begin to see if any line up with God's truth and His Word and if they don't then they are a lie and need to be replaced in your mind with truth.  If conflict was not handed well in your family of origin then you begin to learn how to handle conflict in a healthy way - this is a process of changing your thinking.  Insecurities in childhood lead to low self esteem and lack of confidence so you know those are lies - you begin to see yourself as God says you are.

I have a list of affirmations that I give my clients and have them say them everyday until they begin to reprogram their thinking.  If anyone wants some copies just email me at and I will send them to you. 

As you forgive and understand your family of origin and the experiences you had you then need to look at all the positives you received from them and there were many, in fact God placed you in that family to make you the person he purposed for you to be so begin to acknowledge the negative messages and let them go, replace them with truth then embrace all the positives that came from your family.  As you do this you will look at your childhood in positive terms, because you will have a positive mindset with better thinking patterns. You will look at your childhood, your parents and family with an air of forgiveness and gratitude for all the experiences they have brought to you.

A few tips that may help the process:
  • Acknowledge that you are different from your parents and that it is OK.
  • Accept that your parents aren’t perfect (and neither are you).
  • Take responsibility for who you are today. Acknowledge what was troublesome about your growing up experience, accept it, and move on.
  • Realize that your parents are a product of their own growing up and life experiences.
  • Know that as an adult you are entitled to your own choices, opinions and decisions, even if they turn out to be mistakes. How else can you learn?
  • Understand that today you have the power to influence your relationship with your parents in a positive way, even though you’re still “the kid.
  • Stop trying to change your parents. Instead, think about how you can change your behavior so as to create better interactions with them.
  • Avoid old, toxic topics that are never resolved, and which only bring you pain.
  • Develop and enjoy interests and activities together, where you can participate as equals.
  • When issues come between you, treat them as problems external to you both, not as character flaws or as a battle to be won.
  • Notice and acknowledge the good things they have done, and continue to do for you. Thank them for these things.
  • Even if relations are strained, try to remain in contact, if only through notes, e-mail or voicemail.
 In rare cases even these steps won’t be enough. The pain you experience as a result of continued contact with your parents may be greater than any benefit you receive. 

"For if you forgive people their trespasses (their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment) your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their trespasses (their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go and giving up resentment) neither will our Father forgive you your trespasses."  Matthew 6:14, 15

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where do those thoughts come from??

I was planning to launch into the facts and tools we need to begin the process of changing and controlling our thought process but then began to think about my own journey (and it is a journey!) toward having better control of my thoughts. When I talk about how our thoughts control our life I am not just talking about a bunch of skills and tools I have learned but I really have applied these to my life. I am still learning and always will be, I sometimes find myself slipping back into old thought patterns but compared to where I was - it's so much better. So I know this works!

So I want to start with the basics today. Where do we get these thoughts? Why do we think like we do? Well, for most of us a great deal of our thinking came from the way we were raised, the world around us (school, relationships, work, culture) and the evil spiritual forces at work in our world.

I want to take a moment to say a disclaimer, Although a part of the way we think comes from how we were raised I want to make clear that we are not blaming our parents for our negative thought process. I always tell my clients, we are not looking to our family background to blame anyone but to understand so we can move forward. Our parents had their family background that influenced them and if we are parents I can promise you our kids will be one day say how our parenting negatively influenced them in some way. :) So keep in mind anything I say about my parents is said in the context of love and understanding that they did the very best with what they had. My parents had a very difficult family background. My dad had 2 alcoholic parents and my mom had a alcoholic dad and lived in poverty. I am sure I don't know alot of things that probably happened in their lives as people of that generation didn't talk about such things.

I am 53 years old. I really only really began to get this in the last 10 years and really applying it in the last 6. I wish I could have understood while I was still raising my kids how important it is to get control of your thinking. I realize now that I can live a life in which circumstances do not determine whether I am happy or not and stress does not have to overwhelm me. I now realize that other peoples behavior or my perception of their behavior does not have to affect me negatively. In fact, I have no one to blame for my anger, depression, attitude or any other feeling I may have but myself. Now they may have caused me to feel a certain way but it is totally up to me what I do with those feelings.

I certainly am still working on this and I'm quite sure I always will be but I used to be a very angry, depressed, unhappy, discontent, negative person. Now, most people didn't know that about me because I worn a very nice happy mask most of the time. But my husband knew and I'm sure my kids were affected by it. And if you were one of those unfortunate people that got on my bad side you definitely saw that side of me! :-)

But the point is that this was where my thoughts were most of the time and it affected me in every way. It affected my self-esteem and how I viewed myself. It affected my relationship with God. It affected my relationships with the people in my life. For example I was very sensitive and easily offended. If someone said something or did something that I "perceived" as criticism or judging me or the way I did something, I would spend literally days playing it in my mind - what was said, what I should have said, how could they, would do they think they are? I would create whole situations in my mind that didn't even exist. I would either avoid or shun the person after that or finally find out my whole perception was wrong. I would feel overwhelmed emotionally - I would lose my temper, spend days and weeks feeling depressed and angry and felt like everyone was better than me. I could go on and on but all I can say is that these negative thoughts and perceptions would consume my life. I hate to think how my hours, days and months I spend in a place of unnecessary emotional turmoil.

I finally began to see that I do not have to passively meditate on whatever comes into my mind not matter what someone says or does. I have a choice on how I respond to these situations and more importantly how I allow these things to affect me emotionally. I threw away my "excuse bag" and took responsibly for my own thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Next post we will talk about how our childhood experiences have affected our thinking especially about ourselves.

"Even if it's not true and you believe it - it is true for you and you are believing a lie"

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think" Romans 12:2

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Power Thoughts

Today's post will begin a new series on how our thoughts affects our life.   I'm reading the new Joyce Meyer's book "Power Thoughts"  and I would recommend it to anyone that struggles with their thoughts which is just about everyone. 

It says in Proverbs 23:7, "For as he thinks in his heart so is he."  If we think positive thoughts we become positive people and yet if we think negative thoughts we will probably be negative people and that will affect our life, our relationships and our success.

Neither I or Joyce are saying that we can think stuff into being - that is a humanistic belief but we need to recognize that our thoughts are powerful and it is a biblical concept that you see often stated in scripture.

In most secular therapy they use what is call "Cognitive therapy"  that is simply taking control of your harmful thoughts and replacing them quickly with healthy thoughts.  The only difference between that and what I am talking about is that instead of it being something we generate from within ourselves when we take our thoughts captive through Christ we are receiving more help and power from Him than ourselves - although I am a big believe that we always have to do our part first then God comes in and helps in the areas we can't. 

I believe we have the ability to choose what we think and decide what not to think and of course we have an enemy that is constantly trying to influence which way that goes. So that is what we are going to talk about for awhile - again it may be 2 posts and it may be 20.  :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Anna's Kitty Party

The Kitty Cake
 I am trying to get back to my Life Coaching posts but I had one more family event I wanted to make note of...... Saturday we had a birthday party for my now 4 year old granddaughter - Anna.   My daughter (one of the most creative people I know) asked Anna what kind of party she would like and Anna said a kitty party so Debbie created a party around kitties.  Anna had 3 little friends come to the party and of course her sister was part of it too.  As each little girl came in they picked out a little kitty that would be theirs, from the adoption center - then they went to a station that was set up like a bath area and they cleaned their kitty's (by the way, these were stuffed kitty's)  they they went on to "Kitty Doctor Kaitlyn" to examine the kitties.  The girls all made collars for their kitties and played all kinds of fun kitty games.  Here are a few pictures of a wonderful and fun day.
Oh I must mention that Mango my "real" kitty was the host for the party!
The Adoption Center

The Host Kitty!

The birthday table

The Kitty plate (Debbie made these!)

Cleaning the Kitty's

Doctor Kaitlyn is ready for business!

Mommy and Nana (I'm writing out the adoption certificates)

making the kitty collars

Ending the day in the playroom.

Friday, October 8, 2010


My FAVORITE word! HOPE...... in fact I have this word all over my house - it's kind of like the 'hidden mickeys" at Disney World. :)

A few months ago I had the opportunity to go to Washington state to see my Sister and her family. I was having a conversation with my niece Ginger and somehow we got on the subject of HOPE and she was telling me how she has been reading about HOPE and how it can make such a difference in how we maneuver through difficult situations. She sent me an article recently and I am going to share the basic concepts of it in today's post. The way the author categorized the way hope can be applied to a situation was something I haven't seen before. So here it is - I have reworded, added the definitions and paraphrased it some but the basic content is the same. This was a article written by David B. Ward.

Hope: a belief and feeling that a desired outcome is possible.

Foundations of Hope
  • 1. Your belief (faith) and feelings that you have options to choose from to achieve your desired outcome.
  1. 2.Your belief (faith) that you are willing and able to act on those options
  1. 3. By the evidence you have that the desired outcome is possible (past experience, other peoples experience)
  1. 4.The feeling of connection to others who support or help you achieve the desired outcome. (other people, God)
Applying Hope to Your Situation:
  • 1.How you view your situation, particularly the obstacles that stand in your way. Your view of the obstacles often determines perception of your options. Conclusion: Look at what your obstacles are and how to remove them or work around them. Look at your situation as an opportunity to grow.
  • 2.Having a time frame in place to work on a desired outcome with an attitude of hope. Putting energy into action that will make our goal more possible instead of spending time debating in our minds whether the goal is possible. Conclusion: commit to a certain amount of time and put your energy into moving toward your goal.
  • 3.Actively look for and seek out evidence that you can achieve your desired outcome. Conclusion: Sometimes this will come as you tell others about your hopes, as your research this subject or look at what God’s word says.
  • 4.Having a greater connection with people who support you goals or can help you achieve your goals. Conclusion: build into your week connecting rituals. Weekly times of connecting with those who support you.

In Summary, HOPE can prevail as we discover options, work toward action, remember evidence and create connections.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

Monday, October 4, 2010

REAL Fall!

Well, I've been gone again for a week. Honestly, this doesn't usually happen but we had 2 vacations this year very close together. As I posted earlier in the month we had a great Alaska vacation but our family tradition goes on no matter what other plans there may be so this week we went on our Annual North Carolina Vacation. This is something that we have done as a family since my daughter Debbie was 3 years old and she is in her early 30's now...very early 30's :)

Anyway, we have gone almost every year since then - which would be about 1981 to Maggie Valley N.C. with few exceptionS. This is the 4th year we have gone with our daughter and her family. We are hoping for our son Johnny and his family to be with us next year.

If you really love family movies here is a link to see a movie I put together but I will warn you it's long! :)

And just in case you don't want to watch my longgggg family movie here are a few pictures of our week. Back to Life Coaching tomorrow!

At the Candy Store at Mast General - we are in heaven!!

Our little cowgirls

Trying on hats

Apples, Apples, Apples!!

Me and my best buddy!

Beautiful Falls in Deep Creek

Helping Papa feed the birds

Just doesn't get any cuter than this!

Me and my hubby!

We even met some famous people there!

All wet from the boat ride but having lots of fun
Papa and Kaitlyn....priceless

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall!!!!!!

Today is it!!! It is the first day of FALLLLLLLLLL!  Yes, even in Florida there is a slight change to the weather.  I'm sure even more so in other parts of the country.  I have my home totally transformed to fall and I am pretending there are mountains and cold air outside. :)

Why do I love fall so much.  It started as a little girl who was raised in Pennsylvania.  After a hot summer of July and August you would begin to feel the slight change in the air and you could almost smell fall coming.  My mom would begin her canning during that time and we would buy buckets of apples from a local market to make pies.  We would also go out into the woods and country areas to gather black walnuts.  These are walnuts that fall on the ground in the fall, you dry them out and in the drying process they have a tar like coating on them that eventually drys off.  They have the most unique taste of all the nuts.   My mom would make black walnut cake and put them on ice cream and sometime we would just eat them by themselves. Oh the wonderful memories of fall!  Of course, in Pa the leaves would change and it was so beautiful to see all the colors, the reds, yellows and oranges.  The pumpkins would begin to pop up everywhere and of course my mom would make homemade pumpkin pie!  It was many times during the fall that my brother and sister would occasionally let me go on a hike with them.  :)   One of my best memories of fall was walking home from school on a crisp cool day and seeing the windows of our house all foggy - I knew my mom was making homemade soup and bread for dinner.  Yum.  (have you noticed how much food is involved in my fall memories?)  As I got older and moved to Florida - most years we have vacationed in North Carolina in the fall just to get a hint of "real" fall each year. 

So I just wanted to dedicate this blog post to my favorite time of the year - FALL

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Our Culture Influences Us

Today we will go to a more serious subject than vacations. As I noted in a previous blog, after I came back from my vacation I then had the opportunity to do a breakout session at my church's ladies retreat. Well, normally I choose my own topic but they asked me to specifically speak on a subject so I thought I would blog about some of my findings as I prepared for this talk.

It was not a talk that everyone flocked to, in fact I was expecting about 2 people, as the first two ladies came in I told them they may be the only ones. :) I ended up with 20 ladies. God took over as He has to anytime I do anything because he and I both know I do not have the ability in myself to pull these things off.

The topic I was asked to speak on was, Sexual Healing. For anyone that has abuse, trauma or misuse in their past or present. There is so much to that subject but the thing I wanted to share today was an article I found that I felt so describes and confirmed how controlled we are by our culture.

I knew the majority of ladies that would come to my talk would be probably in their 20 and 30s so I learned a long time ago just telling them what the bible says and listing a bunch of rules doesn't work so I wanted to find a way to help them understand that the sexual choices they are making are not their own, they are not more current and relevant than previous generations - they have just grown up in a culture that has influenced them more in this area. And in fact it has not been their choice - they have been controlled.

We really can look at this in many areas of our lives and as Christians may need to ask some hard questions - such as I am being controlled by the culture in this area (whatever that may be for you) of my life or I am following God's Word.

So here is the article - it is from the August 2010 Psychology Today - (not a christian magazine)

"If you don't think our culture controls you, try to break it's unwritten rules: At the crowded restaurant, eat a banana horizontally, as if it were corn on the cob; or join the nice couple in the booth at Wendy's --it's not illegal! The booth is a public place and there is room for 4. But you wont's do it. Why? Because society says so.

Society has its prints all over your sexual script. The idea of a boyfriend, for starters is a cultural invention. What you find attractive is culturally taught. Americans like deodorant. But the French may prefer body odor. Napoleon famously wrote to Josephine: "Coming home soon. Don't bath"

How, where, when, and with whom you have sex are culturally shaped decisions. Culture made them for you while you thought you made them yourself. Around the world today there are cultures that frown on kissing, and cultures that kiss constantly. There are cultures where you get married at 12; cultures where marriage is almost and afterthought; cultures where young people select their won mates through the ritual of dating and cultures where nobody is allowed to see a naked female, ever; and cultures where females walk around half naked as a matter of course.

The things you take to be natural are in fact mostly cultural. The things you take as your own tastes are to a large measure cultural tastes."

I think this is a good way to help young women really examine what they are going to allow to control them. To realize that choices they think they are making are really not their choices at all but the control of the culture. If you know of anyone that is struggling with these issues you may share this with them. The main point being that we need to have a guide for right and wrong or what is best for us as women or people and the culture is not going to do that for us.

"And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Yes, if you guessed Alaska from the picture on my last post, you are right. We went on an Alaskan Cruise and spent a couple days in Seattle with our family in WA State.

I have always wanted to go to Alaska, in fact I wanted to live there. You can ask my sister Betsy, when we were both at home in Pennsylvania I always hated the summers and she loved them. I always loved the winters and she hated them. So we would always say that she would move to Florida and I would move to Alaska. Well, at least one of us met our goal. :-) I really try not to complain, but really, for a Pennsylvania girl whose favorite season is fall first and winter second and wanted to live in Alaska it does seem a little cruel that I ended up in one of the hottest states in the country - FLORIDA.

Anyway, back to the vacation - I will share some pictures but some of the best parts were when we arrived at Tracey Arm Fjord. It is basically a melted glacier and big chunks of ice are everywhere. The other was just being with our family during the trip that really made it even better and last but not least was having the opportunity to reconnect with some of our family in WA state. they were so gracious and hospitable and we just had a great time with them. So here are a few pictures:
Me and My Sweet Brother George (this is at the Fjord)
this huge boat was going in the narrow passageway of mountains and glaciers
Ice chunks from the glacier

You can't go to Alaska without saying hello to Sarah!
Skagway, Alaska - everything grows so beautifully there
Some great traveling companions :)
Me and my hubby in front of a glacier in Juneau, AK
You can't show cruise pics without one of a towel animal!

Ketichikan, AK
Hubby and his mom.
My brother George, sister Pat, niece Ginger and me - Oh and of course STARBUCKS!!
(We missed you Betsy!)
Brother George, Hubby, Brian (Gingers hubby) Nephew Larry and Great nephew Jacob
Wild Salmon from Washington State!

"For the Lord is good, His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." Psalm 100:5